Student Perceptions of the Role of Emotional Intelligence in College Success: A Phenomenological Stu

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Student Perceptions of the Role of Emotional Intelligence in College Success: APhenomenological StudyIntroductionRecently the focus of research in the area of emotional intelligence (EI) hasshifted from leadership and workplace performance to include its ability to predictstudent outcomes. Nelson and Low (1999) posited that with more than 25 years ofinvestigation they “have documented the importance and value of emotional and personalskills in high achievement, retention, career excellence, and responsive personalleadership” (p. 21). Robbins, Lauver, Le, Davis, Langley, and Carlston (2004) stated thatboth academic and nonacademic factors have some bearing on a student’s decision onwhether to remain or leave school. Lotkowski, Robbins, and Noeth (2004) affirmed thatsome non academic factors such as academic self-confidence, social support, and socialinvolvement could positively affect student retention.As noted by Low, Lomax, Jackson, and Nelson (2004) the incorporation of EI instudent success programs and instructional practices was a key component toenlightening education and aiding students and faculty members in achieving superiorlevels of success and individual well-being. Developing EI competencies and abilities arevital to designing and preserving a productive and vigorous college climate.A number of factors have traditionally been used to predict the future collegesuccess of students and these include past performance, grade point average (GPA), testsof intellectual abilities (IQ), and tests of academic achievement (e.g., American CollegeTesting [ACT]; Scholastics Assessment Test [SAT]; Drago, 2004). However, recentinvestigation has shown a positive correlation between EI and academic achievement,pointing to a need to further understand EI in educational settings, particularly in relation
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2to its influence on student success. EI may be a meaningful predictor of success in highereducation and “awareness is growing of the role EI plays in academic achievement”(Kamarinos, 2002, p. 92). The problem addressed by this study was the need tounderstand the experience of students with regard to how EI impacts student success, if atall, from the students’ perspective.EI can be described as the capacity to recognize and convey emotions, to utilizeemotions to enable thinking, to comprehend and infer with emotions, and to handleemotions efficiently within oneself and in interactions with others (Mayer, Salovey, &Caruso, 2000). EIas a concept began as an observation that some peopleseem to know how to better utilize their emotions than others in arange of areas (Goleman, 1995; Mayer & Salovey, 1997).Goleman (1998)indicated that EI was one of the most significant influences in career performance,individual adaptation, and relationships, and advocated EI as the “best predictor ofsuccess in life” (p. 31).

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