Earning and learning: Role congruence, state/trait factors and adjustment to university life



Swanson V, Broadbridge A & Karatzias A (2006) Earning and learning: Role congruence, state/trait factors and adjustment to university life. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 76 (4), pp. 895-914.

Background. Undertaking term-time employment is increasingly commonplace for university students. Much research suggests that combining 'earning and learning' may be detrimental to university life, generating role conflicts, increasing stress and reducing academic success, participation and overall adjustment to university. Potential positive effects of term-time employment on well-being are often neglected. Aims. This study adopted a balanced perspective, investigating the relationship between role congruence in academic, social and career domains and adjustment, with state and trait psychological factors as mediators/moderators. Methods. A questionnaire measuring perceived role congruence, adjustment to university life and psychological state and trait characteristics was mailed to all undergraduates at a Scottish university during term-time. Sample. Results for a subsample of 625 university students currently in term-time employment were included in this paper. Results. Findings suggested that students generally perceived employment and university roles to be in balance, and there was no difference in adjustment for students whether currently in term-time employment or not. However, psychological factors, particularly positive affectivity and stress were important mediators of the relationship between role congruence and adjustment. Conclusions. Since promoting role congruence may enhance students' adjustment and well-being, the study has implications for universities, student welfare organizations and employers offering term-time employment.

University students; stress; role congruence; term-time working

British Journal of Educational Psychology: Volume 76, Issue 4

Publication date31/12/2006

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Professor Vivien Swanson

Professor Vivien Swanson

Professor, Psychology