Everybody fails sometimes : exploring relations between self-compassion for poor academic performance, first generation status, and the strategic learning beliefs and processes of college students
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First generation (FG) students are twice as likely as their non-first generation peers to drop out of college (Chen, 2005), experiencing a host of challenges related to their FG status including poor academic preparation, limited familial support, nonstrategic college learning beliefs and processes, and problematic coping with academic disappointment. FG students who earn low grades often attribute these outcomes to an uncontrollable factor such as low intelligence (Dweck & Leggett, 1998) rather than a more controllable factor such as poor preparation for success or misunderstanding of the path to success. Some FG students matriculate through college successfully despite their risk status and one reason might be FG students who exhibit more self-compassion in the face of perceived or actual low grades are resilient even with their risk status. The study investigated relations between self-compassion for poor academic performance and the learning beliefs and processes (i.e., motivation, goal orientation, fixed theory of intelligence, self-efficacy, anxiety, and fear of failure) of FG students using hierarchical regression. Overall, findings suggested that students with more self-compassion had more strategic learning beliefs and processes on ten out of eleven variables, regardless of their FG status. FG students did have a lower GPA and however only Asian FG students had less strategic learning beliefs in their fixed theory of intelligence. Contrary to hypotheses, however, as a group FG students did not have less self-compassion. Further research is needed on contextual factors surrounding FG status in other FG student populations.