The relationship between emotional intelligence and academic achievement: Implications of birth order based on social rank for nontraditional adult learners
Emotional intelligence of adults has increasingly become the focus of research and educational reform efforts in recent years (Bar-On, 2004a; Drago, 2004; Goleman, 1997; Salovey, Brackett, & Mayer, 2004). Researchers have discovered that factors other than performance on intelligence tests contribute to academic performance (Collier, 1994; Jensen, 2001; Sulloway, 1997). The main purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between emotional intelligence and academic achievement based on the birth order of nontraditional adult learners in a private liberal arts university based in Phoenix, Arizona. For the purpose of this correlational study, a convenience sample, of 115 male and female adult nontraditional undergraduate learners at Ottawa University-Arizona during or after the Proseminar class, was selected. Measures for emotional intelligence, gender, and age were operationalized by the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (Bar-On EQ-i) survey instrument. Birth order was operationally defined as the sequence in which children are born into a family, such as first born, middle child, last born, and including only children. Social rank was included in this definition. Grade point average was based on a 4.0 scale reflecting all semester hours attempted by students, including transfer credits within the last five years from other institutions from the point of entry to Ottawa University. The statistical findings showed that there was a weak positive relationship between emotional intelligence and academic achievement of the adult learner in that the higher the participant's emotional intelligence, the more likely the participant will have a high grade point average; similarly for the converse. Further analysis showed that the relationship between EQ and GPA did not vary across individuals with different birth order. However, one test revealed that the measures for Birth Order and Emotional Intelligence were significantly related to the GPA measures for academic achievement. One implication of the research findings is that liberal arts education curricula may need to be redesigned or strengthened to better accommodate emotional intelligence instruction to ensure a holistic approach to adult learning. Future studies should consider using a larger representative sample with a balanced mix of genders and a more representative sample in terms of GPA.
0745: Higher education