I ran two independent sample t-tests to compare the sample means between males and females
and also between Hispanic and non-Hispanics with GPA as the DV.Males (x= 3.244) and
females (x= 3.355) did not differ significantly on GPA (t(56)= -1.075, p= .287) and, likewise,
neither did [Hispanics (x=3.207) and non-Hispanics ( x=3.316)] (t(56)= .826, p= .
I then ran an ANOVA on class status in order to find any differences among sample
means between freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, and graduates. No significant
differences were found between years in college in regard to GPA (F(4, 53)= 1.611, p= .185).
The relationship between SE and AP has been studied extensively in the literature.
It has already been found by many studies that a relationship between SE and AP exists;
however, the interplay of possible third variables with SE and AP is an interesting
theme that I wanted to explore and one which is only informally addressed in some of the current literature.
There was insufficient support for my hypotheses, and the null hypotheses could not
It is interesting that I found no significant predictive relationship between SE and
AP since this is inconsistent with several studies within the reviewed literature
(Choi, 2005; Coutinho, 2008; Lane, Lane, & Kyprianou, 2004). However, this could be
due to my small sample, which was a convenience sample of 58 undergraduate and graduate
students. A small sample size means a decrease in the power of my test statistic to
detect a significant relationship between variables, and the non-probablistic character
of my sample means that it may have been biased. This is a threat to the external
validity of my study since the sample tested may not have been representative of the
population at large (i.e. college students).
In addition to the non-probablistic character of my sample, AE may have had a role
to play as a third variable in the relationship between SE and AP. AE is the tendency
to expect academic success regardless of how one performs (Chowing & Campbell, 2009).
Jean Twenge (2006) speculates that, since the 1970s, children have been raised to
be self-focused and to feel affirmed and entitled in all areas of life, whether it
be relationships, sports, or academia, with little or no merit on their part. That
would put the current generation of college students among some of the first to be
raised with an entitled mindset since birth.
SE has been found to inversely and moderately predict AE among undergraduate students
(Boswell, 2012). This could account for the lack of a significant relationship seen
in SE and AP. It is possible that students are now relying less on their own ability
to succeed and, instead, are externalizing responsibility for their academic performance
outcomes, deviating from the typical patterns seen in the current literature. Though
I did not include AE in the design of my study, if anyone wishes to explore AE in relation to academic SE or AP, I would suggest testing
the linear relationship between these variables to see if they are significantly correlated.
This would be an interesting topic for future research.
There was also little ethnic variety among the sample tested. The majority of students
that attend UD are of caucasian ethnicity, while the second largest prevalent ethnicity
is Hispanic. For this reason, I dichotomized ethnicity to only include Hispanic or
non-Hispanic as options, and I looked at differences between sample means in regard
to GPA. In addition to UD being ethnically exclusive, I also had an imbalance between
number of Hispanics and non-Hispanics in my sample (11:47); however, since UD is an
academically rigorous school, it is possible that its admitted students perform similarly
academically, regardless of their ethnicity. All of these are threats to the external
validity of my study since my sample is not representative of the population at large
(i.e. college students). Although I found no significant results, it has been suggested
that there are differences among other ethnicities in AP (Jaret & Reitzes, 2009).
It would be interesting to see if AP or SE differed among different ethnicities at
a larger or more ethnically diverse college campus. For researchers who wish to explore
this topic further, I would suggest making ethnicity an IV in two multiple regression
designs with SE and AP as CVs.
I also did not take into consideration immigrant status among Hispanics, which has
been shown to affect SE and AP among college students (Aguayo, Ojeda, Herman, & Flores,
2011; Jaret & Reitzes, 2009). It would be a worthwhile topic for future research to
look at the influence of not only ethnicity but also immigrant status on SE and AP
since there is an overall lack of current research that identifies this as a possible
third variable. I propose that the best statistical design to test for differences among immigrant statuses would be an ANOVA with immigrant
status as the IV consisting of five levels (i.e. immigrant, first generation, second
generation, third generation, fourth generation or above) and AP as the DV.
That there were no differences between men and women for GPA is perhaps not a surprising
finding since current research has also found no significant gender differences in
regard to SE (Choi, 2005; Jonson-Reid, Davis, Saunders, Williams, & Williams, 2005),
and SE has been shown to be directly and strongly related to AP among college students
(Chemers et al.,2001). However, since SE did vary when a subject, specifically math, was introduced (Fast
et al.,2010), this suggests that perhaps AP for a specific subject could also differ between
men and women; however, there are studies that contest this and an overall lack of
studies in the current literature that emphasize gender as a third variable in the
relationship between SE and AP. Although it was not looked at in this study, future
researchers who wish to look at gender and AP could see if means for men and women
differ significantly from each in regard to GPA.
Although there were no differences found between years in college for GPA, this could
be due to the uneven samples of participants from different classes. Freshmen, sophomores,
and graduate students were all under 10 participants. Juniors and seniors were larger
sizes but still not representative of University of Dallas students or the population
at large, which threatens the external validity of my study. The strength of correlation
between SE and AP has been found to vary from weakly to strongly positive depending
on level of education (Alivernini & Lucidi, 2011; Multon, Brown, & Lent, 2012). This
suggests that either different ages or classes could differ significantly in regard
to SE or AP or both; this is a worthwhile potential third variable in the relationship
between these two variables. I would suggest, for anyone who wishes to replicate this study, that he/she use an equal and substantial amount of participants (i.e.
30 or more) from separate classes using stratified random sampling from a representative
college student sample and use an ANOVA design to explore differences between years
in college in regard to GPA.
There is a lack of current literature that takes age into account among college students
Another limitation of this study was that I did not ask for the major of the participants.
It has been found that subject or task-specific SE was moderately and positively correlated
with the specific subject or task evaluated among a variety of age groups (Bruning
et al., 2013; Choi, 2005; Fast et al., 2010). This suggests that it would be of value
to also consider differences between majors in college in regard to SE and GPA if
one was interested in studying the effects this would have for subject-specific tests
or measures of performance. This is a threat to the internal validity of my study
since I am not sure that I am most effectively measuring SE by having participants
take a general SE survey as opposed to a subject-specific SE survey according to different
majors and in relation to subject-specific AP. For researchers who wish to explore
this topic further, I would suggest using stratified random sampling in order to collect
data from students of a variety of different majors, pulling from a representative
college student sample and looking at differences among group means in two ANOVA designs
with subject-specific SE and GPA as DVs.
Though I was not able to reject the null hypothesis with regard to any of my alternate
hypotheses, one significant result was found that was not expected. I ran a series
of seven two-sample independent t-tests with GPA as the IV, dichotomized between high
and low using a mean split, to compare group means on each measure of the SE survey.
I found that, for item four ofthe SE measure (i.e. You often feel helpless in dealing with the problems of life),
the GPA means differed significantly (t(56)= 3.062,p= .003). Those with higher GPAs
(m= 5.11) scored higher on the SE measure for this statement than those with lower
GPAs (m= 3.64). This suggests that those students who have a higher measure of AP
feel a higher sense of responsibility when it comes to dealing with problems in their
lives. This further suggests that having confidence in ones own abilities in difficult
situations may lead to higher levels of performance. This would be an interesting
topic for future research.
In conclusion, the relationship between SE and AP is a dynamic one, and it is important
to take into consideration variables that may affect both (e.g. academic entitlement,
the size of the sample tested, ethnic variation, gender, year in college, and many
more). Past studies have explored the relationship between SE and AP extensively but
taken certain third variables into account rather sparingly. My results show that
there is much left to be explored in these areas; especially in the college world
where academics are privileged, knowledge of performance-related variables can become
a valuable topic of interest.
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