Academic journal article College Student Journal

Studying as a Source of Life Satisfaction among University Students

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Studying as a Source of Life Satisfaction among University Students

Article excerpt

For thousands of years, Confucius and his disciples have inculcated the contribution of studying to the good life. Despite its importance for contemporary education, this teaching has evaded the empirical test. On the other hand, the teaching is justifiable by social constructionist theory concerning people's making sense of reality through studying. To verify this theoretical claim, the present study tests a causal model involving the process of social construction with data collected from 813 university students in Hong Kong. It measured studying as a latent factor reflected by elaboration, effort regulation, critical thinking, and theorizing. Results of causal modeling demonstrate the significant contribution of studying on the student's life satisfaction and studying as a result of attention to public affairs, past achievement, study time, and majoring in social science. They support all hypotheses pertaining to the social construction explanation of studying.

In the very beginning of Analects (the Book of the Master's Sayings),Confucius asked: "Isn't it also delightful to study a thing and review it frequently?" This great Chinese educator and philosopher went on to encourage his student to "study vigorously to forget eating, enjoy life to forget worrying, and neglect the coming of old age (Luo & Kai, 1992)." Since then, Chinese scholars have repeatedly advocated that "nothing but studying leads to the greatest happiness" and "studying that does not lead to happiness does not qualify as such (Hu, 1993)." These lessons appear to demonstrate studying is morally good and causal for life satisfaction. Although they tended to be the fruit of much thought, wisdom, and research of ancient educators and scholars, evidence that bolsters their validity for contemporary students is missing. To address the empirical question, the present study aspires to verify the importance of studying for Hong Kong university students' life satisfaction.

The present study assumes that strengthening students' life satisfaction and intellectual development are important missions of education, that pertaining to education for the good life (O'Neill, 1981). The former mission also promotes students' internationalization and adaptation to societal norms and lifestyles so that they can enjoy their lives. It therefore requires students to have thorough understanding of social reality and public affairs as well as knowledge of major subjects. To grasp the knowledge, students need to study with learning strategies including elaborating messages communicated in lessons and the literature and regulating the pace of learning (Alexander et al., 1997; Schunk & Zimmerman, 1996). To fill the loophole found in the learned knowledge and make sense of reality, students need to theorize about the reality by themselves (Norman, 1991). For instance, having students theorize about causes and consequences of crime can substantially enhance their understanding. On the other hand, fostering students' critical thinking is an integral part of education for promoting their intellectual development (Misra, 1997; Pascarella et al., 1996). This orientation has been increasingly crucial to education nowadays (Siegel, 1988).

Theoretical framework

To be justifiable, the central concern about the contribution of studying to the student's life satisfaction needs both theoretical and empirical support. The theoretical support stems largely from social constructionist theory which posits that an individual needs and desires to create well-being by actively making sense of reality that is consistent with other people's stocks of knowledge (Berger & Luckmann, 1966). Social construction involves a circular process from an individual's (1) typifying and constructing a personal stock of knowledge about reality, (2) objectivating and externalizing the stock to society, and (3) internalizing and reconciling stocks of knowledge externalized by other people. …

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