The validation of a study crafting scale within the South African higher education context
MetadataShow full item record
Students at higher education institutions (HEIs) face various challenges in their studies. Higher education students, particularly first-year students, are, for instance, faced with increasing study demands, despite having insufficient resources and can be confronted with difficulties of time management. These challenges can negatively impact on student success, also affecting graduate dropout rates. In order to address such challenges and add to student success during the first year of study, students need to learn to function more proactively in addressing the challenges they face. Given the importance of proactive student behaviour, for the present research study, a new type of proactive behaviour was introduced, labelled ‘study crafting’. Furthermore, as this study is the first to introduce and evaluate the study crafting construct within the higher education context, no existing crafting measure could be used for this evaluation. A need was, therefore, identified for a valid study crafting scale (SCS). The general aim of this study was thus to validate a newly-developed SCS for South African HEIs by investigating the factorial validity, reliability, convergent and discriminant validity, as well as the criterion validity of the newly-developed scale. For this study, a cross-sectional research design was employed to gather data. Data were collected from a sample of 611 first-year students from a HEI in South Africa. These participants took part voluntarily as a convenient sampling method was used. After collecting the data from the participants, the statistical modelling programmes of JASP 0.9.2.0 and Mplus 8.1 were used to investigate the psychometric properties of the SCS. In particular, exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was used to ascertain the number of study crafting factors, whilst confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) confirmed the factor structure of the scale. With CFA, the fit of the measuring model to the data was considered. The results from the factor analysis provided evidence of a three-factor structure of study crafting, namely: applying internal resources (AIR), seeking lecturer support (SLS), and seeking peer support (SPS). The researcher also attempted to establish the reliability of the SCS for all three factors. To determine the scale’s reliability, Cronbach’s alpha coefficients were considered acceptable at a value of 0.70 and above. The research findings provided sufficient evidence of acceptable reliability. Additionally, the convergent and discriminant validity of the SCS were investigated. The findings indicated that the scale correlates positively with the theoretically-similar constructs of strengths use behaviour (SUB) and deficit correction behaviour (DCB). These results, therefore, provided evidence of convergent validity. Thereafter, discriminant validity was determined where acceptable intercorrelations between all of the latent variables were found. Discriminant validity was established further by comparing constrained versus unconstrained models where a significant difference was found. Finally, the criterion validity of the SCS was investigated by inserting regression paths in the final measuring model where the significance but also the size and direction of the beta coefficient values were considered. The reported findings indicated that AIR significantly predicts both outcome variables of student engagement and study-course fit. On the other hand, the findings showed that the study crafting factors of SLS and SPS do not relate significantly to either variable of student engagement or study-course fit. Based on the research findings, the researcher drew conclusions about the phenomenon of study crafting. To round off the study, recommendations were made to apply the SCS in practice and for future research in this field.