An Examination Of Happiness And Its Relationship To Community College Students' Coping Strategies And Academic Performance

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Community College Leadership Program


Doctor of Education

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The purpose of this study was to examine happiness and its relationship to the coping strategies and academic performance (grade point average) of community college students. The independent variable was happiness and the dependent variables were coping strategies and self-reported GPAs (academic performance). A commuter community college campus located in an urban-suburban area with a focus on student-centered learning and improving academic performance was chosen. The study focused on 139 student participants between the ages of 18 and 53. With a focus on positive psychology's framework, well-established questionnaires with reported measures of reliability and validity were used. The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire (OHQ), the Ways of Coping Questionnaire (WCQ), and the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients (Pearson r) were used to compute and test hypotheses. The mean happiness score for this sample of community college students was 4.44 with a standard deviation of 0.65. This mean happiness score indicated a moderate, but normal level of happiness. With a mean happiness score of 4.44, this sample of community college students' happiness level is slightly above the national average for happiness (Diener, 2000; Hills & Argyle, 2002). The OHQ was found to be positively correlated with the WCQ subscale positive reappraisal (r = 0.27, p=.001), and negatively correlated with the WCQ subscale, escape-avoidance (r = -0.23, p=.01) suggesting that students had higher scores on the happiness scale if they used positive reappraisal often and escape-avoidance seldom as a coping strategy. The OHQ and the WCQ were used to measure the students' happiness and coping strategies, respectively, and were framed within the study of positive psychology. These instruments had reported reliability and validity of OHQ, alpha = 0.92, and the WCQ, alpha between 0.61 and 0.79. The findings of this study explained the correlation between happiness and coping strategies, and happiness and academic performance (GPA) of community college students. Overall, the study found that happy or moderately happy students tended to cope just as well as those students who had high happiness scores. The mean GPA for this sample of students was 2.85. There was no correlation between community college students' happiness and GPAs. Recommendations and suggestions for community college counselors, leaders and other constituents were made pertaining to how this research information aided in understanding community college student happiness and its relationship to the strategies these students used to cope.