Friday
Oct042013

7. Does EI impact academic success in grade 9 girls?

Summarised by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute.

Does emotional intelligence play a role in predicting the scholastic success of year 9 girls? This important question was one of several asked in a study conducted by Luke A. Downey and his colleagues at the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology at Swinburne University in Melbourne.

They specifically asked, can differences in scholastic success be attributed to emotional intelligence when controlling for personality and fluid intelligence?

Subjects used in Year 9 emotional intelligence study

  • Australians.
  • 243 girls.
  • Year nine, (age 13-15 with mean 14.63 years).
  • All from the same all girls' school.
  • In Melbourne, Victoria.
  • Assessed during a 3 year period.

Study design in Year 9 emotional intelligence study

Measured scholastic success by Grade Point Average (GPA).

Divided the subjects into 3 sub-groups:

  1. High GPA: those with a GPA at the 80 percentile or higher. (n=50)
  2. Middle GPA: those with a GPA between 80 percentile - 20 percentile. (n=145)
  3. Low GPA: those with a GPA at 20 percentile or less. (n=48)

Each subject completed the:

  1. Adolescent Swinburne University Emotional Intelligence Test. This is a self-report questionnaire of 57 items with four sub-scales: Emotional Recognition and Expression (10 items), Understanding Emotions (19 items), Emotions Direct Cognition (10 items) and Emotional Management and Control (18 items).
  2. The Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices were used to measure fluid intelligence. This is designed to measure a person’s ability to form perceptual relations and to reason by analogy. The results are said to be independent of language and formal schooling.
  3. The Mini IPIP was used to measure 5 personality traits. This involves a 20-item scale, with four items each measuring extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experience.

Results of Year 9 emotional intelligence study

Higher GPAs were related to higher scores on two of the emotional intelligence sub-scales: "Emotional management and control" and "Emotional recognition and expression".

  • The 80th percentile group scored significantly higher on the "Emotional management and control" dimension than both the middle (p = 0.005) and low GPA (p = 0.001) groups.
  • "Emotional management and control" was significantly correlated with academic success (r=.24, < 0.001). 
  • "Emotional management and control" was observed to predict a significant amount of variance in GPA irrespective of IQ and the personality dimensions.
  • "Emotional management and control" was found to be a predictor of academic success.

Each factor accounted for different percentages of the variation in GPA:

  1. Emotional management and control: 2%
  2. Emotional recognition and expression: 1.5%
  3. IQ: 21.8%
  4. Personality characteristics - conscientiousness: 3.8%
  5. Personality characteristics - openness: 1.8%.

Summary from year 9 emotional intelligence study

EI does significantly contribute to the prediction of academic achievement above and beyond that of personality and IQ. 

Downey et al concluded that:

The consistent predictive efficacy of EI skills in relation to scholastic outcomes, though modest in comparison to IQ, should be considered important, especially in the context of students achieving grades appropriate to their intellect across their schooling experience.

Students may be helped by their ability to understand what emotions they are experiencing, and to be able to harness positive emotions or manage negative emotions in common scholastic environments such as exams. In the case of exams, all the advantage of greater intellectual capacity and good quality study can be lost if a student is overwhelmed by exam conditions, or unaware of the emotional experience of written or verbal examination. 

Consideration of the emotional intelligence abilities of students during this pivotal year, (if not before), should be an additional focus of educators.

My brief comments on this year 9 emotional intelligence study

  • This is one of several studies that have found correlations between emotional intelligence and academic success.
  • This is one of Downey's earlier studies and there have been later studies too.
  • It is an initial study. Further studies into different groups of girls and at different schools, with boys and girls, and at different ages would now be valuable.
  • There were a lot more students in the middle group, which may reflect a normal spread of scores in a school - but what type of school was it?
  • How valid are self-report measures of emotional intelligence? They are of value and the assessment used is statistically verified, but would other ways of measuring EI tell a different story? Maybe teacher assessments of the students EI would also be useful or ability measures?
  • Research results are only as good as the research instruments used - how good are these instruments? Would other instruments provide different results? We shall see as more research is done in the area.
  • It is an exciting time and this study is an important step for EI in Australian schools.

For further details of this emotional intelligence study

"Scholastic Success: Fluid Intelligence, Personality, and Emotional Intelligence," by Luke A. Downey; Justine Lomas; Clare Billings; Karen Hansen and Con Stough.

If you would like to know more about Professor Con Stough's work and research on emotional intelligence in school-age children and teenagers, please visit his new website: www.Aristotle-EI.com

Correspondence on this study: Luke Andrew Downey, Brain Sciences Institute, Swinburne University, PO Box 218 (H99), Hawthorn, 3122, Australia. E-mail: ldowney @ swin.edu.au

Develop your school's emotional intelligence

There is so much that your leadership team can do to develop their emotional intelligence and the emotional intelligence of their school. We have a number of options to help:

  1. There is a series of emotional intelligence workshops, including: "Mastering emotional intelligence". 
  2. There is an emotional intelligence 2 DVD program "How to develop emotional resilience and manage your emotions".
  3. We provide a face-to-face 5 star emotional intelligence coaching package which can be conducted online or in our Kelmscott office.
  4. Emotional intelligence asessments can be conducted using the MSCEIT.
  5. We can also bring a whole emotional intelligence programme to your entire school for your students and teachers, under the guidance of Professor Con Stough.

For more details, or to make a booking, e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us.

Develop the emotional intelligence of your teachers now and be an emotionally intelligent school.