Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


Date of this Version

July 2006


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Major: Psychological and Cultural Studies With Emphasis in Counseling Psychology
Under the supervision of Professor Roger Bruning, Ph.D. & Michael Scheel, Ph.D
Lincoln, NE, August, 2006

Copyright 2006 Kelly S. Petska.


Personality is a collection of emotional, thought and behavioral patterns that are unique to each person and relatively stable over time. How and why people differ from each other is a question that has been asked for centuries with various answers, hypotheses and theories. The five factor model (FFM) is the most-agreed upon personality model to date. The FFM consists of five factors that are used to globally describe personality: neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. While personality has been studied fairly extensively in the traditional classroom; which typically involves face-to-face lectures, discussions, and in-classroom assessment of ability/comprehension, almost no research has been tied to newer methods of academic instruction. This study explored how personality variables contribute to academic success in a nontraditional environment. Results suggest that while personality does have a relationship with academic success, as measured by final course grade, the relationships do not appear to be direct. The final model in the path analysis was deemed to “fit” and is said to be consistent with iii the empirical data. The final path consists of indirect relationships between ACT scores and the personality variable, Conscientiousness. In the present study these two variables account for approximately 14% of the variance in GPA. GPA in turn, has a direct relationship with final course grade and accounts for approximately 22% of the variance in letter grade. Contrary to the hypothesis, but consistent with the mixed results regarding extraversion, the proposed model suggested that extraversion does not have a direct or indirect relationship with academic success, as measured by final course grade. Additional analyses suggest that certain variables from the model can predict group membership, as successful or unsuccessful, in UNL’s Introduction to Psychology- 181 PSI course. The variables shown to correctly classify those students are Conscientiousness and Unit Completion, which is a measure of learning strategy. Implications for PSI, and other nontraditional courses, coupled with the use personality assessment for exploring academic success are discussed.
Advisor: Roger Bruning, Ph.D. & Michael Scheel, Ph.D.

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