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Predicting academic strength emotionally

28 June 2011 Inderscience

It may not come as a surprise to learn that students who are good at stress management, time management, are very driven and have a strong commitment ethic are the ones that achieve greater academic success, particularly on business courses.

What is surprising is that training in those areas rarely features on the curriculum, according to a paper published in the International Journal of Economics and Business Research. The authors of the paper suggest that teaching such aspects of "emotional intelligence" alongside knowledge, cognate and transferable skills might reduce the risks that lead to the kind of global economic meltdown in which we currently find ourselves.

Chu-May Amy Yeo of Tunku Abdul Rahman College in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Steve Carter of Leeds Metropolitan University, UK, have investigated the characteristics of undergraduate students studying business at a large, established institution in Malaysia. Their work is part of an ongoing study into emotional intelligence. Their statistical analysis of survey data for a mixed age and mixed gender cohort of students revealed four areas of personal strength - stress management, time management, drive strength and commitment ethic to be good predictors of academic achievement.

Emotional intelligence (EI) emerged from concepts of social intelligence developed in the 1920s that suggest a high level of EI in an individual equates to "an ability to understand and manage people and to act wisely in human relations". The results support the hypothesis put forward other scholars researching emotional intelligence that such factors are important in emotional and social assessment and that traditional tests of performance are constantly challenged by such insights, with important implications for the development of the curriculum for many different course types. The results also showed that the older the student, the more they were able to deal with emotions like self-esteem, stress management, commitment ethic, empathy, comfort, assertion and aggression. Again, this is perhaps not surprising, but hard evidence has not necessarily existed in this area until now.

The team suggests that their findings are timely given society's current ills. "One of the practical implications for industry and commerce would be that a more holistic extracurricular activity, encompassing the ability to handle stress and self-management, for example, should be at the forefront of corporate planning and development," they say.

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