Date of Award

12-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)

Legacy Department

City and Regional Planning

Advisor

Dr. Eric A. Morris

Committee Member

Dr. Cliff Ellis

Committee Member

Dr. Steven Sperry

Abstract

Purpose: Different travel behavior, particularly the choice of commuting modes, will have different impacts on students. On one hand, it has been suggested that active commuting (walking, cycling, and taking transit) will add routine daily exercise. Moreover, health benefits (improved cognitive function and reduced anxiety) from physical activity might increase students' academic performance. Nevertheless, too much physical activity may reduce the time for students to study. Travel time may shorten study time, and study time has been identified as positively contributing to academic performance. Considering that there is limited research examining travel behavior and academic achievement of university students, this field is worthwhile for further study. The purpose of this study is to explore the relationships between travel behavior and academic performance among a sample of university students. Methods: One hundred and nine (109) students from Clemson University were recruited to complete an online questionnaire asking about their gender, school year, travel behavior (travel mode, travel time, travel distance), social time, study time, height and weight, late-to-class frequency because of transportation, travel-time reliability, stress level, and academic performance (high school GPA, SAT, GPA). These potential variables affecting academic performance were identified through theory and previous empirical studies. The author used a path analysis model to test which variables are most crucial in predicting academic performance. In this study, GPA was the outcome variable, and other variables were causal variables. Results: By analyzing the models' direct effects, indirect effects, and total effects in Stata 12.0, only six variables were found to be significantly related to GPA. Students were more likely to receive poor grades if they did not carpool, had a high late-to-class frequency because of transportation, had a low reliability of travel-time, had a high body mass index, had limited time engaging in exercise outside of that related to travel, or were undergraduates. I hypothesized that travel behavior might influence academic performance through two major intermediate variables: physical activity and study time. However, study time did not show a significant correlation with GPA. This might be because of the small sample size. Conclusion: In this study, some aspects of travel behavior (carpooling, late-to-class frequency because of transportation, reliability of travel-time) are significantly associated with GPA, whereas other travel behavior (travel modes excluding carpool, travel distance, and travel time) is found to have little association with GPA. In order to improve the academic achievement of students from Clemson University, the most effective strategies might include increasing the number of apartments near campus, adding to the number of the bikeways and sidewalks, and providing additional fitness facilities or exercise classes.

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