Hope, social support, intelligence, and academic performance of first year students at a higher education institution
Jooste, Kevin Jonathan
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Higher education systems are imperative to social and economic upliftment in any society, the ability of the national labour force and income disparity differentials between members of the populous are directly associated to academic achievement and associated pass rates in higher education. The apparent utility of higher education is however overshadowed by poor student retention, academic performance and consequent pass rates and is an issue of concern at both an international and local level. The identification of factors that could potentially improve student academic performance and consequent attainment of a tertiary qualification is becoming an increasingly important field of research. Research into such factors would have wide reaching implications in South Africa, where high unemployment rates and talent migration plague efforts to build a strong national economy. The primary imperatives of this research undertaking were to investigate the relationship between hope, social support, fluid intelligence and academic achievement in the form of grade point average (GPA), as well as determine the extent to which hope and social support moderate the relationship between fluid intelligence and GPA. The research method is comprised of a literature review and empirical study. Data collection was conducted via a cross-sectional survey design, with an availability sample (N = 308) being taken from first year students at a higher educational institution. The Hope Scale (HS), Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS), Abstract Reasoning Test (ART) and biographical questionnaire were administered. Statistical analysis was carried out with the SPSS 20.0 programme. Principle component factor analysis provided confirmation of a four factor structure for the MSPSS, with the resultant factors being labelled Friend Support, Significant Other Support, Family Support and Lecturer Support. In this study the original 3 factor structure of the MSPSS was supplemented by adding the fourth dimension of lecturer support. A two factor structure for the HS was confirmed, with the resultant factors being labelled Agency Hope and Pathways Hope. All utilised scales indicated acceptable levels of reliability, with the resultant Cronbach alpha statistics ranging from 0,75 to 0,89. Pearson correlation coefficient correlations gave indication of a statistically and practically significant correlation of positive medium effect between fluid intelligence and grade point average. Social support from lecturers showed statistically and practically significant correlations of medium effect with social support from friends. Pathways hope was statistically and practically related to agency hope with a positive medium effect. No practically significant relations in this sample could be established between hope and grade point average and social support and grade point average. Statistically significant relations were established between lecturer social support and fluid intelligence and between agency hope and social support from significant other sources. The ability of fluid intelligence to predict grade point average was proven via regression analysis in which fluid intelligence was found to be a statistically significant predictor of grade point average. Proposed moderating effects of hope and social support on the relation between fluid intelligence and grade point average were tested via multiple regression analysis. Results indicated that within the parameters of the research sample in this study, no statistically significant moderating effects could be established for hope or social support. Based on these findings, a hypothesised cause for such relations was established based on the characteristics of the current research sample and research literature. Recommendations for future research were made, as well as organisational recommendations for the participating higher educational facility.