Emotional Intelligence in College Students

Subject: Psychology
Type: Exploratory Essay
Pages: 6
Word count: 1467
Topics: Self Esteem, Academic Success, Emotions, Nursing

Assignment 1

Emotional intelligence is a term that has emerged in recent decades that seeks to articulate an individual’s ability to manage his or her own emotions and to manage the emotions of others. While emotional intelligence is a significant factor for people at all stages of life, it is a particularly relevant area of interest for studies of college students, as this student population is for the first time managing but academic obligations and the newfound challenges of independent living. A comprehensive literature review was undertaken that explored recent studies into emotional intelligence in this student population. The findings of this literature review were broken into primary themes.  

One major theme that emerged in the literature was studies that considered the relation between college students’ emotional intelligence and their general life satisfaction. Saklofske (2012) implemented a survey mechanism among 163 students. The original survey measured the students’ levels of stress and academic success, while a subsequent investigation measured the the students’ levels of emotional intelligence. The research implemented structural equation modelling, which demonstrated that emotional intelligence in the form of emotional regulation was positively correlated with students having higher levels of life satisfaction and reduced stress. Kong, Zhao, and You (2012) partially confirmed Saklofske’s (2012) findings, yet this research emphasized that other factors can potentially influence this connection. Specifically, this study considered the connection between emotional intelligence and life satisfaction among 489 Chinese college students. Although the results showed that life-satisfaction and emotional intelligence were correlated, this research also argued that a substantial amount of these results were the the product of either the individual having or not having social support. 

A significant amount of literature explored the connection between college students’ emotional intelligence and their academic performance. MacCann et al. (2012) employed such a study among 159 community college students. This research used a quantitative design that explored the connection between student emotional intelligence (EI), coping styles, and academic achievement. The study measured emotional intelligence through the Mayer–Salovey–Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT). While some variables of emotional intelligence and coping were found to be associated with improved academic achievement, others were not. For instance, students that exhibited high levels of emotional intelligence in relation to problem focused coping were shown to have correspondingly high GPA levels. Conversely, students that had high levels of emotional understanding did not exhibit correspondingly high GPA levels. While Saklofske (2012) found that college students’ emotional intelligence was associated with stress reduction, stress reduction was not significantly correlated with improved academic performance. However, this research did confirm MacCann et al.’s (2012) study in that it indicated that some emotional intelligence factors were positively correlated with academic performance; specifically, this study found that conscientiousness, agreeableness, and positive affect had this association.   

Other studies focused on the correlation between student academic achievement and/or life satisfaction and emotional intelligence within specific student populations. For instance, Fernandez, Salamonson, and Griffiths (2012) examined the impact between trait emotional intelligence and academic achievement among first-year accelerated nursing students. Specifically, this study implemented a quantitative study with a sample of 81 students. The results indicated that emotional intelligence was positively associated with academic achievement. Further, the study found that emotional intelligence was positively related to students’ improved critical thinking, help seeking, and peer learning, but not with goal orientation. Por (2011) examined whether or not a correlation existed between the emotional intelligence of nursing students and perceived stress and subjective well-being. This quantitative research study found that emotional intelligence was positively associated with well-being. problem-focused coping, and perceived nursing competency, and negatively associated with reported stress levels. 

Finally, gender was another factor that consistently emerged as significant in investigations into college students’ emotional intelligence. Perhaps most significant amount such studies was Landau (2011). This study examined the correlation between emotional intelligence and academic achievement, particularly in relation to classroom participation. The research found that opportunities for classroom participation – and subsequently higher achievement – was positively associated with emotional intelligence for males, but not for females. Further, a supportive academic climate was found to be positively associated with high levels of emotional intelligence. Kong, Zhao, and You’s (2012) study supplemented these findings. Specifically, this study, which considered the connection between college students’ emotional intelligence and life satisfaction, indicated a gender component, with males having higher social support gaining greater life satisfaction than females. Such a result would appear to support Landau’s (2011) finding that higher emotional intelligence contributed to greater chances of participation among males but not females. 

Research Questions 

Based on the literature review a number of research questions were established: 

-What types of academic achievement are most positively associated with emotional intelligence?

-Do different scholastic environments cater more to emotional intelligence than others?

-Do factors other than social support, such as cultural and socioeconomic background, mitigate the important that emotional intelligence has on academic achievement?

-Are there any situations in which emotional intelligence can be negatively associated with academic achievement? 

Assignment 2

After comprehensively reviewing the existing literature on the subject, a study was designed to examine gaps in existing literature. While a significant amount of studies had sought to investigate the correlation between emotional intelligence and academic achievement from a bottom-up perspective, very few studies sought to map academic achievement metrics to emotional intelligence from a top-down approach. While the distinction may initially appear arbitrary, with the significant amount of different ways to quantify emotional intelligence, a study that first examined high achieving students and then considered emotional intelligence could reveal significant insights into areas in which emotional intelligence played greater or lesser importance and reveal insights into its relative importance across academic departments. 

Sampling Strategy

The study will implement nonprobability purposive sampling. Purposive sampling is a sampling procedure in which participants are not selected randomly from the population, but instead chosen because of their affiliation with a specific population criterion. Within this study, purposive sampling of students with the top 5% of their class across a broad spectrum of college majors and departments will be used. Depending on the amount of students that agree to do the study, the sampling pool will be limited to certain amounts of students from certain departments.  

Data Collection Methods

A qualitative study was proposed both because of the study’s unique approach of seeking to give primacy to academic achievement in the research findings over emotional intelligence, and as a way to find fresh insights in an academic world that is changing rapidly. Following this approach, semi-structured interviews will be conducted with students from the participant pool. These interviews will focus on questions related to the students’ levels of academic achievement, factors that facilitate that academic achievement (friends, finances, motivation, etc.), as well as the greatest challenges they face in maintaining that academic achievement. Another set of questions will be used to gain insight into these students’ emotional intelligence. Rather than basing this emotional intelligence on a specific metric or trait theory, mixed approach will be used that combines different correlates of emotional intelligence.  


While qualitative research does not generally implement and measure independent and dependent variables in the traditional sense, the present research has particular focus on examining the connection between types of academic achievement and types of emotional intelligence. The intention of this research will be to gain new insights into the way the changing academic landscape is successfully navigated based on different levels of emotional intelligence across assorted academic departments.  

Limitations of the Methods 

As qualitative studies rely on the researcher to interpret the results, the greatest limitation of this study is potential researcher bias. This limitation is particularly true in relation to determining students’ levels of emotional intelligence, since no single metric will be used for that category. 

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  1. Fernandez, R., Salamonson, Y., & Griffiths, R. (2012). Emotional intelligence as a predictor of academic performance in firstyear accelerated graduate entry nursing students. Journal of Clinical Nursing21(23-24), 3485-3492.
  2. Kong, F., Zhao, J., & You, X. (2012). Emotional intelligence and life satisfaction in Chinese university students: The mediating role of self-esteem and social support. Personality and Individual Differences53(8), 1039-1043.
  3. Landau, J., & Meirovich, G. (2011). Development of Students’ Emotional Intelligence. Academy of Educational Leadership Journal15(3), 89.
  4. MacCann, C., Fogarty, G. J., Zeidner, M., & Roberts, R. D. (2012). Coping mediates the relationship between emotional intelligence (EI) and academic achievement. Contemporary Educational Psychology36(1), 60-70.
  5. Por, J., Barriball, L., Fitzpatrick, J., & Roberts, J. (2011). Emotional intelligence: Its relationship to stress, coping, well-being and professional performance in nursing students. Nurse education today31(8), 855-860.
  6. Saklofske, D. H., Austin, E. J., Mastoras, S. M., Beaton, L., & Osborne, S. E. (2012). Relationships of personality, affect, emotional intelligence and coping with student stress and academic success: Different patterns of association for stress and success. Learning and Individual Differences22(2), 251-257.
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