Mental Fitness Variables in an Academic Setting

Christopher Hammer, Eastern Washington University, USA

Theme: Novel applications (music, dance, military)

Poster Number: 64

Program ID: POS-1

Presentation: October 3, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


Compared to students whose parents have earned a college degree, First Generation College Students (FGCS) are more likely to encounter difficulties in the academic, cultural, financial, and emotional aspects of their collegiate experience (Terenzini, Springer, Yaeger, Pascarella, & Nora, 1996). While it is clear that FGCS experience adversity in their pursuit of higher education, the mechanisms for remedying these issues are not well understood. In the realm of athletics, high-level performers have been shown to possess a constellation of “mental fitness skills” (MFS) which appears to contribute to their ability to outcompete their less successful peers (Gould, Dieffenbach, & Moffett, 2002). This relationship between MFS and good performance outcomes is relatively well established in both the sport and military literature (Gould et al., 2002; Hammermeister, Pickering, McGraw, & Ohlson, 2010). Given the apparent relationship between mental fitness and good performance outcomes in sport and the military, it is hypothesized that these skills will be associated with success in the academic realm as well. This hypothesis, while intuitive, remains relatively unexplored in both the academic and performance psychology literature. Therefore, the purpose of the present study is threefold: (1) to investigate the presence of various MFS-related variables in an academic setting, (2) to assess if those variables are related to academic success, and (3) to compare FGCS and non-FGCS on the aforementioned MFS variables. Participants (n = 460) were students at a regional university in the Pacific Northwest. Participants completed a variety of measures adapted from the sport psychology literature as well as self-reported academic variables such as GPA. Statistical analysis largely supported the hypothesis. Results reveal significant relationships between mental fitness skills and academic variables of interest as well as significant differences between the FGCS and non-FGCS populations.

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