Adaptive-Positive vs. Maladaptive-Negative Structures and Processes in Learning: Towards the Comprehensive Model of Academic Performance

Rogaten, Jekaterina (2014). Adaptive-Positive vs. Maladaptive-Negative Structures and Processes in Learning: Towards the Comprehensive Model of Academic Performance. PhD thesis London Metropolitan University.

Abstract

The goal of this Ph.D. research was to develop an empirical foundation suitable for designing educational interventions and programmes aiming to improve students’ learning. In order to achieve this, a series of studies was conducted that supported the development and test of a comprehensive, chained mediation model of academic performance. The proposed chained mediation model comprised of adaptive-positive and maladaptive-negative submodels. The adaptive-positive submodel hypothesised firstly that trait intrinsic motivation and adaptive metacognition would facilitate the use of creative cognition in studying (first-level mediator). Secondly, the model hypothesised that the use of creative cognition in studying would lead to the experience of positive affect in studying, and to the development of adaptive approaches to studying (second-level mediators). Finally, the submodel hypothesised that positive affect in studying and adaptive approaches to studying would facilitate academic performance. The maladaptive-negative submodel hypothesised firstly that trait extrinsic motivation and maladaptive metacognition would lead to evaluation anxiety (first-level mediator). Secondly, the model hypothesised that evaluation anxiety would lead to the experience of negative affect in studying, and to the development of a maladaptive approach to studying (second-level mediators). Finally, the submodel hypothesised that negative affect in studying and the maladaptive approach to studying would undermine academic performance.

A total of five studies were conducted employing 2140 university students. Study 1 tested the effects of approaches to studying and positive and negative affect in studying on students’ academic performance. The results strongly indicated that positive and negative affect in studying explains students’ academic performance better than approaches to studying. Studies 2 and 3 developed and validated a new Use of Creative Cognition Scale (UCCS), which measures students’ tendency to deploy creative thinking strategies in studying. Study 4 tested longitudinal relationship between positive affect in studying and the use of creative cognition. The results supported the reciprocal, longitudinal relationship between the two constructs. Finally, Study 5 proposed and tested the comprehensive, chained mediation model of academic performance. Structural equation modelling (SEM) showed that the model explained 90% of the variance in students’ academic performance, and that prior academic performance and positive affect in studying were the only significant correlates. The use of creative cognition in studying was the strongest correlate of positive affect in studying, and also mediated the effect of trait intrinsic motivation and adaptive metacognition on positive affect. Overall, adaptive-positive psychological variables were superior to maladaptive-negative ones in explaining students’ academic performance. Therefore, educational interventions aiming to enhance students’ learning should target particularly adaptive-positive psychological variables in students. The possible model-based intervention is outlined.

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