Emotion and Health:
Emotional Intelligence and Academic Achievement
have always been aware of the simple and consistent fact that some students
are academically successful while others are not. Psychologists, educators
and researchers have long speculated on the root causes of this issue,
identifying cognitive abilities, previous academic performance and personal
issues such as birth order as possible factors in the mastering of academics.
However, much of the research conducted in this area has been limited.
Many questions have been left unanswered in identifying exactly why some
people succeed in school.
Dr. James Parker, Canada Research Chair in Emotion and Health, is addressing
these questions in his groundbreaking research. He is seeking answers
to such lines of thought as "how do personality and emotion contribute
to academic success" and "how might our emotional abilities
contribute to our mental or physical health?"
It may ultimately come down to something called emotional intelligence.
Comprised of social and emotional competencies, this concept spans intrapersonal
abilities (which include recognizing and understanding ones feelings),
interpersonal abilities (recognizing the feelings of others and expressing
empathy), adaptability (adjusting ones behaviours and emotions to
changing situations and conditions) and stress management (which includes
the ability to resist or delay impulses).
Measuring emotional intelligence is possible with the use of a specific
and detailed set of questions. Upon completion of this type of survey
a persons overall emotional intelligence is mapped and identified.
Consistently, this information is revealing noticeable trends to Dr. Parker.
Over the past three years, for instance, Dr. Parker has been able to survey
entire groups of first-year students arriving at Trent University in Peterborough,
Ontario. This study called the Trent Academic Success and Wellness
Project (TASWP) is one of the most ambitious studies ever conducted
in Canada on personality and health factors that influence academic success.
Dr. Parker doesnt just identify the emotional intelligence of first-year
students on a one-time basis. He is also tracking the academic achievement
of these students as they move through their undergraduate career. Results
indicate associations between those students who score poorly on emotional
intelligence tests and those who drop out of school. This may eventually
lead to novel tools which universities can use to identify students most
likely to drop out, and interventions which may be employed to help them
achieve their academic goals. It may also lead to tools that health care
organizations can use to identify patients susceptible to mental disorders
or unexplained physical health problems.
Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canadian
Foundation for Innovation, the Premiers Research Excellence Awards
and the Canada Research Chairs Secretariat, Dr. James Parkers explorations
into the realm of emotion and health are far-reaching and of immense significance.
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