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Description: Think about your experience in making a transition from high school to university. What sorts of things do you think contributed both to your making a successful transition and to successful academic performance at college or university? What role did your general mood state play in your transition? After you’ve thought about this, read the article linked below (or at least look at the beginning of the introduction and the beginning of the discussion sections of the paper) and see if your hypotheses match the findings of the authors of this paper.

Source: Barker, E. T., Howard, A. L., Galambos, N. L., & Wrosch, C. (2016). Tracking Affect and Academic Success across University: Happy Students Benefit from Bouts of Negative Mood. Developmental Psychology.


Photo Source: Andresr/
Date: October 16, 2016

Links:  Article Link —

The results of this study are interesting in that they show a clear developmental trajectory. Students who have developed a high level of positive affect (happiness) while in university seem to have higher grade point averages than students without such a high-level positive affect. While the statement may not be surprising, as one would expect students are doing better to be happier, it turns out that students who do not start out so happy seem to become so as a result of learning how to better manage their emotional states with the ones showing the most improvement in mood management showing the highest levels of GPA success. In addition, these effects are most clearly seen among students who, in addition to developing a high level of positive affect, also experience brief periods of negative affect. The bottom line seems to be that having some adversity and learning how to cope with that effectively and then moving on to maintain a generally positive outlook seems to produce higher levels of academic success throughout the University years. It is interesting to speculate on what sort of factors might influence this particular type of development trajectory as students move through the undergraduate studies.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What relationship was observed in the research described in the link above between student’s level of positive affect in their academic performance?
  2. Given that the study was longitudinal in nature how did it help sort out the question of whether high levels of student happiness lead to good grades as opposed to the alternative that happiness simply follows from achieving good grades?
  3. What sort of support or intervention strategies might we put in place to assist students in making the transition from high school to university study if it turns out that these findings are replicable?

References (Read Further):

Parker, P. C., Perry, R. P., Hamm, J. M., Chipperfield, J. G., & Hladkyj, S. (2016). Enhancing the academic success of competitive student athletes using a motivation treatment intervention (Attributional Retraining). Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 26, 113-122.