Impact of Noncognitive Factors on First-Year Academic Performance and Persistence of NCAA Division I Student Athletes
Ting, Siu-Man Raymond, Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development
SAT scores and noncognitive factors (acquired knowledge in a field, community service, positive self-concept, and preference for long-term goals) were found to be related to academic performance and persistence among 1st-year NCAA Division I student athletes (N = 109). Implications for college counselors and future research directions are discussed.
Student athletes constitute a specialized campus population who confront unique challenges when adjusting to the demands of college or university life (Engstrom & Sedlacek, 1991; Petrie & Russell, 1995; Sedlacek & Adams-Gaston, 1992; Shriberg & Brodzinski, 1984; Watt & Moore, 2001; Young & Sowa, 1992). For example, they tend to experience unique emotional pressure to succeed academically and athletically (Engstrom & Sedlacek, 1991). This pressure is often compounded by time-management problems and absence from campus because of extensive competitive travel demands (Wolverton, 2006). Regarding social adjustment, previous researchers have found that student athletes may experience loneliness and feelings of isolation (Carodine, Almond, & Gratto, 2001), negative reactions when attempting to engage peers and faculty members (Engstrom & Sedlacek, 1991, 1993; Engstrom, Sedlacek, & McEwen, 1995), and a lack of role models and mentors or a lack of representation in their areas of academic study (Watt & Moore, 2001). Furthermore, student athletes may be especially likely to engage in problematic use of alcohol and other substances (Etzel, Ferrante, & Pinkney, 2002). Similarly, Hill, Burch-Ragan, and Yates (2001) reported that student athletes may be especially likely to confront problems of sexual assault and violence. Taken together, a growing body of research exists that supports the suggestion that student athletes face heightened college adjustment demands. In fact, two earlier studies found that 10% to 15% of student athletes seem to experience distress at a level warranting clinical attention (Hinkle, 1994; Murray, 1997).
ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE AND STUDENT PERSISTENCE
Student athletes seem to experience heightened academic adjustment concerns. For example, participation in major intercollegiate sports previously was found to have a negative effect on academic performance (Astin, 1993) and on other cognitive outcomes including reading comprehension and math skills in football and basketball players (Pascarella et al., 1999). Among the findings in the extant literature, psychosocial, or noncognitive, variables may play an important role in student athletes' academic performance. The term noncognitive refers to "variables relating to adjustment, motivation, and perceptions, rather than the traditional verbal and quantitative (often called cognitive) areas typically measured by standardized tests" (Sedlacek, 2004, p. 36). For example, in one study (Simons, Van Rheenen, & Covington, 1999), college student athletes who were highly motivated to succeed academically (the success-oriented overachievers) displayed higher self-worth, exhibited better metacognitive study strategies, demonstrated higher academic performance, and had fewer reading and study problems than did the student athletes who were less highly motivated (the failure avoiders and the failure acceptors). Student athletes who were more involved with their studies and worked with faculty members were found to have better academic performance than those who were less involved (Schroeder, 2000; Watt & Moore, 2001).
Furthermore, those student athletes with greater access to social support from teammates, family, and institutional sources seem more likely to experience academic success (Petrie & Stoever, 1997; Young & Sowa, 1992). Unfortunately, although access to institutional support seems to mitigate some difficulties, student athletes tend to underuse college and university counseling services (Birky, 2007; Watson, 2005). Birky found that social pressure from student-athlete peers and coaches, emphasizing self-reliance, may interfere with these students' decisions regarding appropriate help-seeking behavior. Therefore, gaining a better understanding of the noncognitive factors associated with student-athlete academic adjustment can enable college counselors to work more effectively with this population.
APPLYING SEDLACEK'S NONCOGNITIVE VARIABLES TO COLLEGE STUDENT-ATHLETE ACADEMIC ADJUSTMENT
Sedlacek (2004) developed the Noncognitive Assessment Model explaining academic performance and student persistence from a psychosocial perspective. He found that the model was particularly applicable for nontraditional students including African American and Asian American students (Ting, 2000; Ting & Robinson, 1998; Tracey & Sedlacek, 1984, 1985, 1989), low-income students (Ting, 1998), and academically high-risk students (Ting, 1997a; White & Sedlacek, 1986). Sedlacek and Adams-Gaston (1992) considered student athletes as nontraditional students because they seem to have a culture and a
Siu-Man Raymond Ting, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, North Carolina State University. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Siu-Man Raymond Ting, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education, North Carolina State University, 520 Poe Hall, Campus Box 7801, Raleigh, NC 27695 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
set of life experiences that differentiate them from other student populations. Sedlacek (2004) defined nontraditional students as those facing challenges that are different from the challenges faced by the traditional and majority student population, such as systemic or group biases. Because of their unique background, student athletes may also face environmental pressures including a lack of role models, among others. From this perspective, they are nontraditional because the environmental pressures to which they are subjected include faculty member and student biases (Engstrom & Sedlacek, 1991, 1993; Engstrom et al., 1995). Furthermore, student athletes are a minority group, and they may be viewed as lacking peer role models.
The Noncognitive Assessment Model (Sedlacek et al., 2004) has been widely studied and seems to apply particularly well to nontraditional students: Hispanics (Fuertes & Sedlacek, 1995), Asian Americans (Ting, 2000), Native Americans (Ting & Bryant, 2001), and African Americans (Ting & …
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Publication information: Article title: Impact of Noncognitive Factors on First-Year Academic Performance and Persistence of NCAA Division I Student Athletes. Contributors: Ting, Siu-Man Raymond - Author. Journal title: Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development. Volume: 48. Issue: 2 Publication date: Fall 2009. Page number: 215+. © 2007 American Counseling Association. COPYRIGHT 2009 Gale Group.
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