Assessing the link between emotional intelligence and online student achievement
Goodwin, William N.
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Research on the success of online students has focused primarily on the characteristics of students that predict success or failure in the online learning environment. Emotional intelligence (EI) can be instrumental in addressing the challenges related to the lack of personal interaction in online environments. Research points at EI as a means of supporting the development of transformational leadership behaviors and leadership success, possibly contributing to business student success. The study was guided by the following research question: To what extent does a business student’s level of emotional intelligence, as measured by interpersonal, leadership, self-management, and intrapersonal competencies, explain academic success in online business courses? The study employed a correlational design. Data were collected electronically, using an online survey instrument. The non-probability sample consisted of 198 undergraduate students enrolled in an online business program at a university in Texas. Due to the non-experimental nature of the study, no causal inferences were drawn. Univariate and multivariate statistical techniques were used to analyze the data. The results indicated that the emotional competency of self-management was endorsed the most, followed by leadership, interpersonal, and intrapersonal competencies. The best predictors of academic achievement were interpersonal and leadership competencies. Accommodator was the most popular learning style, followed by Converger, Diverger, and Assimilator. The EI and Grade Point Average (GPA) differences among the learning styles were statistically significant. Emotional intelligence skills can be used to predict student success in online business education, particularly the skills related to leadership and interpersonal competencies (social awareness, empathy, decision making, effective communication, emotional self-control, and understanding differences in others). Because research has shown that EI can be taught and integrated into the curriculum, EI skill development may serve to support the education and development of more effective business leaders. Future research, examining the potentially interconnected roles of the EI, transformational leadership development, and student achievement in business education, may suggest a mediating role of one of the variables. Specifically, the author recommends examining the EI as a potential mediating variable on the impact of transformational leadership skills supporting student achievement.