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Pia Rosander

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Research description

Three studies are planned with the aim to explore to which degree personality factors (based on the Five-Factor Model), cognitive ability and learning approaches can predict academic success.

The Five-Factor Model of personality (McCrae & Costa, 1997) represents the dominant conceptualization of personality structure in the current literature. This model posits that the Big Five personality factors of Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism, reside at the highest level of the personality hierarchy. These factors are thought to encompass the entire domain of more narrow personality traits that fall at lower-levels of the hierarchy. The Five-Factor Model has received tremendous empirical interest over the past several years. As a consequence, some consensus is emerging among personality researchers with regard to its components (Digman, 1990; John & Srivastava, 1999) and its role in explaining a wide variety of important life outcomes (Ozer & Benet-Martinez, 2006), including academic performance (Chamorro-Prmuzic & Furnham, 2004; 2008; O´Connor & Paunonen, 2007). Consientiousness seems to be the most significant correlate of academic success followed by Openness to Experience.

Another determinant of academic success is students approach to learning (Biggs, 1978). Biggs (1978) distinguished between three major approaches; deep, achieving and surface. Deep learners are intrinsically motivated and they want to, and enjoy, exploring the subject matter. Achievement learners, on the other hand, are extrinsically motivated and want to do well because of the rewards which are associated with high performance. Surface learners are interested in learning the facts needed with minimum effort.

Cognitive ability can also predict academic success but not so much one could believe. IQ tests rarely account for more than 50% of the variance of academic performance (O´Connor & Paunonen, 2007), indicating that factors other than cognitive ability contribute to individual differences in academic performance.
The planned studies will try to contribute knowledge in the field of academic performance and personality by examining adolescents in secondary school, with both cross-sectional and longitudinal designs.

Study 1
Cross-sectional design
Datacollection sep 2008
300 students at secondary school in Sweden (first grade, age 16)
Academic success by final grades at elementary school

Study 2
Cross-sectional design
Datacollection may 2009
300 students at secondary school in Sweden (third grade, age 19)
Academic success by final grades at secondary school

Study 3
Longitudinal design
Datacollection 1 – sep 2008 (300 students at secondary school, age 16)
Datacollection 2 – may 2011 (now at age 19)
Academic success by final grades at both elementary and secondary school

References
Biggs, J., (1978). Individual and group differences in study processes. British Journal of Educational Psychology 48, 266–279.

Chamorro-Premuzic, T., & Furnham, A. (2004). A possible model for explaining the personality-intelligence interface. British Journal of Psychology 95, 249–264.

Chamorro-Premuzic, T., & Furnham, A. (2008). Personality, intelligence and approaches to learning as predictors of academic performance. Personality and Individual Differences, 44, 1596-1603.

Digman, J. M. (1990). Personality structure: Emergences of the five-factor model. Annual Review of Psychology, 41, 417-440.

John, O. P., & Srivastava, S. (1999). The Big Five trait taxonomy; History, measurement and theoretical perspectives. In L. A Pervin & O. P John (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (2nd ed., pp.102-138). New Yourk: Guilford Press.

McCrae, R. R., & P.T. Costa. (1997). Personality trait structure as a human universal. American Psychologist 52, 509–516.

O'Connor, M., & Paunonen, S. (2007). Big Five personality predictors of post-secondary academic performance, Personality and Individual Differences 43, 971–990.

Ozer, D. J., & Benet-Martinez, V. (2006). Personality and the prediction of consequential outcomes. Annual Review of Psychology, 57, 401-421.

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