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A Comparison of Educationally Advantaged and Disadvantaged College Students: Academic Goal Engagement and Psychological Well-Being

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Title: A Comparison of Educationally Advantaged and Disadvantaged College Students: Academic Goal Engagement and Psychological Well-Being


1
A Comparison of Educationally Advantaged and
Disadvantaged College Students Academic Goal
Engagement and Psychological Well-Being
  • Presented by
  • Daniel K. Park
  • Undergraduate Research Symposium
  • University of California, Irvine
  • Saturday, May 14, 2005

2
Why is Education Important?
  • Education plays an important role in the future
    plans of adolescents.
  • Past research has shown that higher levels of
    education are associated with
  • Higher income
  • Lower unemployment
  • General well-being
  • (Garb et al., 2002)

3
Past Research
  • Research consistently shows that educational
    achievement is highly correlated with social
    class (Ballantine, 2001).
  • Previous research has found that mothers and
    fathers SES, education, and family background
    influences ones educational and career
    attainment (e.g., Beeghley, 1996)

4
Why Look at Psychological Well-Being?
  • Performing beyond normative expectations by
    outperforming their parents educationally can
    lead to
  • Fear of failure
  • Lack of parental guidance
  • ?Vulnerability to more depressive symptoms and
    less life satisfaction

5
The Life-Span Theory of Control
  • Addresses engagement with and disengagement from
    life goals during the life course.
  • Primary control Behavior directed at producing
    effects in the environment and attempts to
    change the world to fit the needs and desires of
    the individual (Heckhausen Schulz, 1995)
  • Secondary control Addresses internal processes
    related to ones motivation and emotion.

6
The Present Study
  • This study examines college students with parents
    from high vs. low educational backgrounds and
    students utilization of control strategies ?
    psychological well-being (e.g., satisfaction with
    life, CES-D).
  • Parents with high educational (HE) attainment
  • Bachelors degree (B.A., B.S.) and beyond
  • Parents with low educational (LE) attainment
  • Associates degree (A.A., A.S.) or less

7
Hypothesis One
  • H1 College students with parents from LE
    backgrounds will report higher scores of
    depression and be less satisfied with life in
    comparison to students from HE backgrounds.

8
Hypothesis Two
  • H2 College students with parents from LE
    backgrounds are more likely to use secondary
    control strategies in order to overcome
    disadvantage
  • Self-protection
  • Goal engagement
  • Goal disengagement

9
Hypothesis Three
  • H3 Use of control strategies (primary,
    secondary) make a greater difference for
    predicting psychological well-being in students
    from low educational backgrounds than for
    students from high educational backgrounds.

10
Research Methodology/Design
  • Surveys were distributed in four Social Ecology
    courses during the first and second summer
    sessions in 2004.
  • Participants were asked to complete a survey at
    home that consisted of the following
  • Demographic section (including parents level of
    education)
  • Primary and secondary control strivings scale
    General OPS scale (Heckhausen Schulz, 1995)
  • Academic OPS scale OPS domain-specific academic
    achievement scale (Heckhausen, 2004)
  • Satisfaction with life scale (Diener et al.,
    1985)
  • CES-D 10-item version scale (Radloff, 1977)

11
Parents Educational Attainment
N152
12
Participants by Gender
  • N152
  • 51 M (33.6), 101 F (66.4)

13
Participants by Race/Ethnicity
  • N152

14
Operationalization of Variables
  • Educationally advantaged vs. disadvantaged
    students (Independent variable)
  • Parents educational attainment
  • Two-year college degree or less low educational
    attainment (LE)
  • Four-year college degree and/or beyond high
    educational attainment (HE)
  • Control strivings (Independent variable)
  • Primary and secondary control scales General
    OPS scale (Heckhausen Schulz, 1995)
  • Academic OPS scale (Heckhausen, 2004)
  • Psychological well-being (Dependent variable)
  • Satisfaction with life scale (Diener et al.,
    1985)
  • Center for Epidemiological Studies Short
    Depression scale (Ten-item version Radloff,
    1977)

15
Results
16
H1 Psychological Well-Being Lower in LE
Compared to HE Students
t(146) 2.046, plt.05
17
H1 Psychological Well-Being Lower in LE
Compared to HE Students (cont.)
18
H2 Secondary Control Strategies Higher in LE
than HE Students
19
H3 Parents Education and Use of Control
Strategies as Stronger Predictors of
Psychological Well-Being for LE Students
  • No interactions were found.
  • ?Hypothesis not confirmed.

20
Additional Findings
  • Predictors of Psychological Well-Being
  • Utilization of primary control strategies is
    associated with greater life satisfaction.
  • Secondary control strategy of goal disengagement
    is associated with greater life satisfaction.

21
Main Findings
  • College students with parents from LE backgrounds
    report more depressive symptoms, but are not more
    likely to be less satisfied with life in
    comparison to those from HE backgrounds.
  • Students from LE backgrounds utilize the
    secondary control strategy of goal disengagement
    less than those from HE backgrounds.
  • Use of primary and secondary control strategies
    didnt make a greater difference for predicting
    LE students psychological well-being.

22
Discussion
  • Implications of findings for educationally
    advantaged and disadvantaged college students
  • Do depressive symptoms of LE students persist
    throughout time?
  • HE students more aware of their limitations
  • LE students more persistent about attaining goals
  • Perception of impossible goals is subjective.

23
Future Directions for Research
  • Future research should consider the following
  • Longitudinal research
  • To examine other disadvantaged college students
  • Transfer students
  • Low-income students
  • First-generation college students
  • Nontraditional students (e.g., older students who
    return to earn their college degrees).

24
Acknowledgments
  • Professor Jutta Heckhausen, Ph.D.
  • Professor Valerie Jenness, Ph.D.
  • Esther S. Chang, Laura Gil-Trejo, and Sarah
    Roper-Coleman
  • Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program
  • School of Social Ecologys Honors Program
  • PSBs Excellence in Research Program
  • Study participants, Summer Session instructors in
    Social Ecology

25
Contact Information
  • Daniel K. Park
  • Department of Psychology and Social Behavior
  • School of Social Ecology
  • University of California, Irvine
  • danielkp_at_uci.edu
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