Academic journal article Journal of Psychological and Educational Research

Evaluation of an Academic Satisfaction Model for First-Year University Students

Academic journal article Journal of Psychological and Educational Research

Evaluation of an Academic Satisfaction Model for First-Year University Students

Article excerpt

Introduction

In Argentina, access to university education is restricted by completion of a series of courses, which seek to ensure foundation studies and knowledge and skills across all students, followed by an entrance exam. During this transition period from high school to university, students must take on new roles and face new challenges, which can cause stress, loss of confidence and demotivation, factors that affect academic performance and psychological wellbeing of first-year students (Medrano, Galleano, Galera, & Fernández, 2010; Medrano & Marchetti, 2014).

Access to university education is one of the most significant moments in a person's life and has the greatest impact on people's lives. A wide corpus of research has highlighted that employment prospects, social mobility opportunities, and personal development depend in large part on undertaking and continuing higher education studies (García Fanelli & Jacinto, 2010). However, several works have indicated that a high percentage of students that enroll in university do not successfully finish their degree. In particular, it has been observed that most dropouts occur during the first year, making this group the most vulnerable university population (SITEAL, 2012; Shih, 2011).

As highlighted by the Social Cognitive Theory (Bandura, 1987), people act proactively in academic adaptation processes and their opinions regarding Academic Satisfaction (AS) play an important role. This variable has reported key contributions in the development of academic behavior (Kuo, Walker, Schroder, & Belland, 2014; Özgüngör, 2010). On the other hand, AS is negatively impacted by postponing enrollment, academic failure, stress during educational transitions and dysfunctional behavior throughout the degree (Lounsbury et al., 2003; Tessema, Ready, & Yu, 2012), and it is positively impacted by academic fit (Lent, Taveira, Sheu, & Single, 2009), social integration (Suldo, Riley, & Shaffer, 2008), and academic persistence and retention (Fernandes Sisto et al., 2008; Kuo et al., 2014). The importance of AS, which refers to how positively the student evaluates their university learning experiences (Kuo et al., 2014), lies in that the cognitive opinions students form guide their behavioral processes. That is, it allows the student to determine if they will continue to invest energy and resources in a particular behavior or goal or if, to the contrary, it would be wiser to re-direct these resources and efforts.

According to the model created by Lent (2004), AS is affected by students' goals, more specifically, by their perception of goal progress. That is, people are more likely to be satisfied if they have been actively involved and have made real progress toward their key goals. On the other hand, feeling capable of successfully completing a task (self-efficacy) and expecting positive results (outcome expectations), encourages people to become actively involved in accomplishing their goals and making the progress they seek. In addition, support from the environment can help develop efficacy beliefs, which triggers visualizations of positive scenarios and consequences, and ultimately, provide resources that contribute to goal attainment (see Figure 1). Similar to what is affirmed by Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT; Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994), which recognizes the mediator role that other proximal or distal variables could assume (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 2000), the AS model integrates the role of positive features or affects (Lent, 2004), which influence one's perception of support from the environment, self-efficacy beliefs, and opinions regarding satisfaction.

In educational literature, different variants of the satisfaction model have been evaluated in samples of students in the United States (Lent et al., 2005; Lent, Singley, Sheu, Schmidt, & Schmidt, 2007; Navarro, Flores, Lee, & Gonzalez, 2014; Lent et al., 2013; Lent et al. …

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