How does ‘Emotional Intelligence’ impact academic performance?
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How does ‘Emotional Intelligence’ impact academic performance?

How does ‘Emotional Intelligence’ impact academic performance?

The term emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to identify and control your own emotions, and having an awareness of the emotions of others.

“Individuals high in emotional intelligence pay attention to, use, understand, and manage emotions, and these skills serve adaptive functions that potentially benefit themselves and others,” Professors Peter Salovey and John D Mayer noted in an American Psychologist article.

Therefore, learners that have a high emotional quotient (EQ) may be at an advantage, but how?

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The power of emotional intelligence could trigger extraordinary learning success. Disruptivo/ Unsplash

In her study, Emotional Intelligence Predicts Academic Performance: A Meta-Analysis, lead author Carolyn MacCann from the University of Sydney concluded: “It is not enough to be smart and hardworking – to have the added edge for success, students must also be able to understand and manage emotions to succeed at school.”

To reach this finding, MacCann and her team analysed more than 160 EI-based studies from various databases such as the ISI Web of Science and PsycINFO.

Representing more than 42,000 students worldwide from elementary to university level, the studies that they chose was a balance of K-12 education and higher education EI findings.

The key strengths of EI

From their results, the research team found that there were various strengths attributed to emotional intelligence.

For instance, they discovered that desirable graduate attributes often include social-emotional skills such as leadership, communication, teamwork, and intercultural competencies, with some institutions explicitly including EI as a graduate attribute.

“Schools and universities are increasingly attempting to embed these graduate qualities within the content that is taught and assessed. As such, high grades might increasingly reflect skill development in these areas.”

And with the rise of online universities, the study found EI to be a tool to overcome communication problems.

For example, in a traditional brick and mortar university course, the schedule of learning is set by the schedule of the face-to-face lectures.

Whereas, online courses require learners to take control of accessing their content, plan their schedule and to communicate with professors and peers.

“Most neurotypical people find it more difficult to detect another person’s emotions and social needs from text rather than face-to-face contact.

“As such, greater emotional skills are required to build relationships with the instructor or other students in an online environment. Thus, social and emotional skills (both self-regulation and interpersonal skills) may become increasingly important as tertiary education involves a greater amount of online content,” the study notes.

However, on the academic front, the study’s results demonstrated that EI and academic performance are significantly associated, but having a higher EI doesn’t cause higher achievement.

Despite suggesting that EI was the third most important predictor of academic performance, after intelligence and conscientiousness, the research did not indicate that EI was the magic formula for gaining top academic results.

But what is clear from the study is that emotional intelligence is an essential skill to have, and it is one that compliments a student’s social and study success.

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