Original Articles

Psychological Well-Being and Resilience as Predictors of First-Year Students' Academic Performance

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 23, issue 1, 2013 , pages: 51–59
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2013.10820593
Author(s): Martina KotzéUniversity of the Free State,, Ronel KleynhansUniversity of the Free State,


This study investigated aspects of psychological well-being (burnout and engagement) and resilience as predictors of the academic performance of a group of first-year students at a higher education institution. Participants included 789 first-year students at a South African university (females = 43%, majority ethnicity Black African = 58%). They completed measures of burnout, engagement and resilience. Data were analysed using stepwise multiple regression to determine whether burnout, engagement and resilience were statistically significant predictors of first year students' academic performance. The results indicated that burnout (specifically Emotional Exhaustion and Cynicism) and resilience (specifically Religion) were statistically significant predictors of academic performance. Students with lower levels of cynicism, who are emotionally and cognitively more involved in their studies, seem to perform better. Surprisingly, students who reported being emotionally more exhausted performed well in their studies. Those students who seem to have strong spiritual/religious beliefs also fared better with regard to academic performance than those of lower religious faith. Strong spiritual/religious anchors and continuous cognitive and emotional involvement in academic work are valuable resources to students in their academic performance.

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