Academic Orientation, Academic Achievement, and Noctcaelador: Does Interest in Night-Sky Watching Correlate with Students' Approach to the Academic Environment?

By Kelly, William E.; Daughtry, Don | Education, Winter 2007 | Go to article overview

Academic Orientation, Academic Achievement, and Noctcaelador: Does Interest in Night-Sky Watching Correlate with Students' Approach to the Academic Environment?


Kelly, William E., Daughtry, Don, Education


A recent study found that 17.8% of a general college student sample endorsed purposefully viewing the night-sky at least once a night, and that an average of 19.6% of the sample had either engaged in some form of astronomy-related tourism, owned night-sky viewing equipment, or attended planetariums or observatories (Kelly, Kelly, & Batey, 2006). Other research has found that students with an interest in night-sky watching were likely to consider opportunities to view the night sky when making certain life-decisions, including choosing living accommodations and a willingness to sacrifice needed sleep before an important examination to watch the night-sky (Kelly, 2004a).

These findings suggest that a substantial number of students endorse an interest in night-sky watching, have invested resources in night-sky watching activities, and could be influenced by opportunities to watch the night-sky when making some life-decisions. Given that a substantial number of students place some importance on night-sky watching, researchers and educators might find it of interest to better understand characteristics of this segment of the student population, such as their motivations, interests, and academic preferences. The purpose of this study was to examine the potential relationships between night-sky watching and academic orientation and achievement.

Noctcaelador

Previous research (Kelly, 2003, 2006; Kelly and Kelly, 2003) identified a single factor which accounted for the majority of the variance in night-sky watching attitudes and behaviors across different measures and samples. Kelly (2003) termed this construct noctcaelador (from Latin: noct from nocturnus meaning night, cael from caelum meaning celestial or sky, and ador from adorare meaning to worship or adore) and tentatively defined the construct as an "emotional attachment to, or adoration of, the night-sky" (p. 196).

Noctcaelador has been related to a miscellany of individual differences variables in student samples. For instance, noctcaelador has been associated with higher openness to experience (Kelly, 2004b), investigative and artistic vocational interests (Kelly, 2005a), sensation-seeking (Kelly, 2007), a rational, cognitive approach to problem solving and need for cognition (Kelly, 2005b), a propensity to engage in fantasy (Kelly & Batey, 2005), a tendency to become deeply involved and attentive to stimuli of interest (Kelly, Daughtry, & Kelly, 2006), and a willingness to consider unusual ideas and possibilities (Kelly & Daughtry, 2005).

Academic Orientation

One academic variable which may be related to noctcaelador is academic orientation. Academic orientation can be conceptualized as students' perceptions of, and approach to, the academic environment. Previous research examined academic orientation using various approaches. For instance, academic aspirations and achievement have been used as measures of academic orientation (i.e., Windle & Mason, 2004). Davidson, Beck, and Silver (1999) developed a six-factor measure of students' academic orientation which included such elements as perceptions of instructors, dependence on structure in the academic environment, as well as degree of apathy towards academic pursuits. Findings of previous studies indicate that more positive academic orientations are related to less substance use and delinquent behaviors (Windle & Mason, 2004), increased psychological distress (Adlaf, Gliksman, Demers, & Newton-Taylor, 2001), academic achievement (Beck & Davidson, 2001), as well as greater intrinsic motivation, openness to experience, and more focus on learning than attaining high grades (Davidson et al., 1999).

The Current Study

Previous research has found noctcaelador to be related to academically-related variables such as an interest in effortful, rational thought (Kelly, 2005b). Another possible link between noctcaelador and academic orientation is both domain's relationships with the broad personality factor of openness to experience (Davidson et al. …

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