Inquiry: The Journal of the Virginia Community Colleges

Author Bio(s)

Andrea Palmisano, PhD is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Tidewater Community College. She holds a PhD in Psychology, a Masters in Clinical Psychology, and a Virginia Supreme Court mediation certification.


Community colleges are academic institutions with a large number of nontraditional students whose needs must be understood before their academic needs can be fully addressed. Previous research studies have established a positive correlation between academic performance and the personality traits of Conscientiousness and Openness to Experiences, and to a lesser extent the traits of Extraversion and Agreeableness. In contrast, a negative correlation has been demonstrated between the trait of Neuroticism and academic performance. These studies were conducted primarily in four-year institutions, making the generalization of results to community college students inappropriate. The present study explored the predictive relationship between personality traits, GPA, and membership into a traditional and nontraditional student category using a non-experimental regression research design. A stepwise forward logistic regression was conducted with data provided by 163 students attending a major community college in the Southeastern region of the United States. Results indicated the trait of Neuroticism accounts for about 10% of the variability between traditional and nontraditional students, thus serving as a predictor variable. Information regarding how faculty members and staff can utilize study findings, as well as recommendation for future studies, are included.


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