Personality Characteristics and Favorite Topics of Students Enrolled in Introduction to Psychology, Honors

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The Honors Program at Austin Community College (ACC) is relatively new. Admission to the Honors Program is by invitation and is separate from admission to ACC, which currently enrolls 32,000 students. Students are invited to join on the basis of criteria set each year by the Honors Coordinator and the Honors Council. A major goal is to produce a program membership of the top 8-10 percent of the students entering ACC each semester. There are approximately 350 students who have been accepted into the Honors Program. The program's mission is to provide an enhanced and supportive learning climate that encourages community involvement for outstanding students who meet the criteria for admission into the Honors Program. Admission to the program requires that an applicant meet one of the following criteria: top 10% of graduating high school class, cumulative high school GPA of 3.5 or higher on a 4-point scale, ACT score of 26 or higher or SAT score of 1170 or higher, or a cumulative college GPA of 3.25 or higher.

The first honors psychology class was offered during the fall 2002 semester at the Rio Grande Campus, which enrolls approximately 7,500 students and is located in close proximity to downtown, the state capital, and The University of Texas. The class reflected the cultural diversity of the college and the campus. The initial class contained ten students, including three females and seven males. The ethnicity makeup of the class follows: 5 White, 3 Hispanic, 1 African-American, 1 Native- American. The chronological age of class members ranged from 18 to 51 (mean = 24, median = 19, mode = 18). Two students were dropped from the class by the professor for excessive absences and missing assignments.

There is an interest among faculty associated with the Honors Program to better understand the students. A study was conducted to investigate the personality characteristics of students enrolled in Introduction to Psychology, Honors at ACC as well as to survey the popularity of topics covered during the semester. Although the sample size is very small, the methodology and results of this study may be of general interest to honors faculty and administrators.

RELATED STUDIES

Larry Clark (2000) pointed out that the literature on personality characteristics of collegiate honors students is limited. He also noted the range of honors programs (i.e. admissions criteria and program goals) that exist on college campuses. Clark found in his review of the literature that most studies involved administration of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to students described as academically gifted. Studies have also employed the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16 PF), the Edwards Personal Preference Schedule (EPPS), or Jackson's Personality Research Form (PRF). The present study utilized the EPPS.

The EPPS (1959) is presented in a forced choice format that includes 225 pairs of statements. The test developer assumed that each of the statement pairs is equal with respect to their social desirability. Test takers must choose the statement in the pair that is more characteristic of them. For example:

A. I like to talk about myself to others.

B. I like to work toward some goal that I have set for myself.

Normative data were developed for two groups of subjects: college students and adults who were household heads in the United States. There are separate norms for men and women. The college sample was composed of high school graduates with some college training, including 760 college men and 749 college women, ranging in age from 15 to 59. Students in the 20-24 and 15-19 age groups were especially well represented. Colleges denoted in the sample were diverse in terms of school size and included public and private institutions from every region of the United States. Although the EPPS has not been updated in the past four decades, it is still in popular use with college students. …