Social Support Systems, Gender Differences, and Undergraduate Students' Academic Success

Schneider, Ashley Megan
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University reports on the academic progress of undergraduate students reveal that there are significant problems with student retention and graduation rates. Furthermore, male students struggle more than their female counterparts. Research suggests that social support is a key determinant of student success. The current study aimed to examine the relationships between emotional, instrumental, and faculty support systems and multiple measures of student success, including possible gender differences between these relationships. The current study utilized data collected by the Academic Success Collaboration at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) as part of a larger study "designed to measure the psychological variables associated with student success" (S. Lopez, personal communication, 2017). Undergraduate participants from UTSA completed the Brief Cope (Carver, 1997) the Social Provisions Scale, (Cutrona & Russell, 1987), and the Research Methods Questionnaire (Silva & Lopez, unpublished, 2015) and provided other demographic information. Data were analyzed using correlational analysis and independent t-tests. It was hypothesized that greater perceived emotional support and instrumental support and more positive perceptions of faculty would be associated with higher self-reported cumulative grade point averages and estimated course grades and with shorter expected times to graduate. It was also hypothesized that there would be significant differences between gender and perceptions of each of the three types of social support. While these hypotheses were not entirely supported, social support may still be an important factor in adjusting to the demands of an academic college environment.

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gender, student success, undergraduates, university