Adjustment to university and academic performance among disadvantaged students in South Africa

SOURCE: Educational Psychology
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2009
TITLE AUTHOR(S): I.Petersen, J.Louw, K.Dumont
KEYWORDS: PSYCHOSOCIAL ENVIRONMENT, SELF-ESTEEM, STRESS, UNIVERSITIES, UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
DEPARTMENT: Education and Skills Development (ESD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 5671

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Abstract

Adjustment to the university environment is regarded as an important factor in predicting university outcomes. This study explores the pathways taken by adjustment and other psychosocial variables (help-seeking, academic motivation, self-esteem, perceived stress, and perceived academic overload), in relation to the success of economically and educationally disadvantaged students at university. Participants were 194 first-year students on need-based financial aid at a South African university; they completed questionnaires that measured these psychosocial variables, and their final first-year academic results were obtained via the university's records office. Path analyses showed that adjustment did not function as a pure mediator on academic performance as the dependent variable. Furthermore, the psychosocial factors explained much (59%) of the variance in the students' adjustment and 20% of the variance in their academic performance. Hence, the psychosocial variables better explained the students' adjustment to university than academic performance.