The Transferability of Coping on the Subjective Achievement and Psychological Adjustment of Students and Recent Graduates: A Series of Dual-Domain Studies

Title: The Transferability of Coping on the Subjective Achievement and Psychological Adjustment of Students and Recent Graduates: A Series of Dual-Domain Studies
Authors: Chamandy, Melodie
Date: 2023-01-24
Abstract: Do the factors that help students attain desirable outcomes in university transfer to help them attain desirable outcomes upon work entry? The overarching goal of this dissertation is to examine the role of coping in helping university students and recent graduates maintain positive levels of achievement and psychological adjustment during the short- and long-term pursuit of their academic and career goals. Based on the extant literature on stress and coping, three studies document the achievement and psychological adjustment of young adults along theoretically relevant time points in their academic and career development. Study 1 builds on prior findings from Chamandy and Gaudreau (2019) by bridging the academic and career strivings of 550 university students across two examination periods to consider the domain specificity and changing nature of the coping process. We first examined the contemporaneous interplay between perceived control, coping, goal progress, and burnout in both the academic and career domains. We then examined if these patterns translated at the longitudinal level. Results indicated that earlier coping predicted change in goal progress, but not in burnout, in both domains. In the career domain, earlier goal progress also predicted change in task-oriented coping, thus revealing a bidirectional effect. No cross-domain effects were supported. Overall, the associations between coping, goal progress, and burnout differed both within and across time and contexts. Study 2 re-examined these associations among employees who had recently gone through the transition to work. In a two-wave longitudinal study, a sample of 153 recent graduates completed measures of appraisal, coping, goal progress, satisfaction, and burnout while retrospectively assessing their past experiences as university students and their current experiences at work. Results indicated that task-oriented coping in school was related to greater change in goal progress and satisfaction from school to work, whereas disengagement-oriented coping was related to greater change in burnout and to lower change in satisfaction. In turn, change in task-oriented coping was related to lower work burnout, whereas change in disengagement-oriented coping was related to greater change in work burnout and to lower change in work satisfaction. The findings also revealed bidirectional effects across school and work. Finally, graduation grades were shown to be useful but insufficient for our understanding of successful adaptation in the workplace, thus proving new insights on the psychological mechanisms involved in both the successful transition from university to work and the short-term adaptation of recent graduates at work. Study 3 takes a novel perspective on the experience of university students by testing a coping intervention involving hypothetic impediments to the pursuit of their career goals. In a two-wave randomized controlled study, 275 university students completed measures of transition-related controllability appraisals and school-related coping, satisfaction, burnout, and goal progress. The experimental condition elicited self-regulatory benefits by demonstrating group differences in the growth, decline, and follow-up levels, as well as in some of the associations between the intercepts and slopes of controllability appraisals, coping, satisfaction, and burnout. These findings indicate that a coping intervention can improve students’ perception of the transition to work and promote a more positive university experience. This thesis provided new knowledge on the role of coping in offering an advantage to university students on the job market beyond its role in facilitating goal progress and psychological adjustment. Our work opens the door to a long-term research agenda deemed necessary for practitioners and administrators with regards to the role of coping processes in the lives of university students during and beyond their post-secondary education. As a whole, the current dissertation makes theoretical, methodological, and empirical contributions to the coping and transition literature in social, educational, and organizational psychology.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -