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PELEDU: Personality in learning and education

Individual’s personality is highly significant for their own but also economic and societal development. The present project focuses on two conceptualizations of personality. A widely accepted taxonomy of personality is the “Big Five” model.

The Big Five are conscientiousness (reflecting dependability and will to achieve), agreeableness (likability and friendliness), openness (broad-mindedness and imaginativeness), extraversion (sociability and assertiveness), and emotional stability (adjustment vs. anxiety). Further, a higher-order personality dimension has recently been proposed: the Core Self-Evaluations (CSE) that cover the emotional stability dimension of the Big Five as well as general self-efficacy, self-esteem, and locus of control. To date, very brief, economic measures of these personality characteristics have been developed–the 10-item Big Five Inventory (BFI-10) and the 12-item Core Self Evaluation Scale (CSES).

Assessment of personality characteristics is key, because personality characteristics have been empirically proven to show impressive predictive capabilities for a large variety of life-outcomes, involving educational attainment, career success, and health. Further, personality processes that affect educational attainment are of major importance as these effects may cumulate to indirectly affect many key life-outcomes later in life. Crucially, although considerably knowledge exists on personality assessment and personality processes, the empirical basis of this body of knowledge is less strong for adolescent students. The overarching goal of the present project is therefore scrutinize adolescents’ personality in learning and education.

Drawing on a representative longitudinal sample of Luxembourgish persons (i.e., the MAGRIP sample, N = 745), Study 1 examines how personality characteristics (measured by teacher and self-reports) at the age of 12 affect life-outcomes, involving educational attainment, health (including mortality), and career success (i.e., job performance and job satisfaction) at the age of 52. A key aspect of Study 1 is to investigate how the effects of personality characteristics on health and career success are mediated via educational attainment and whether these effects remain when intelligence and socio-economic family background at the age of 12 are controlled for.

Study 2 analyzes the measurement equivalence of a German and newly developed French version of the BFI-10. Further, this study examines how the personality scales of the BFI-10 are related to learning outcomes – students’ achievement and achievement motivation. Data stem from over 4000 adolescent students who participated in two national extensions of the PISA 2009 cycle in Luxembourg.

Study 3 analyzes the measurement equivalence of a German and newly developed French version of the CSES. Moreover, Study 3 also examines how the CSES is associated with students’ achievement and achievement motivation. Data stem from the year 2010 cycle of the national school monitoring program Épreuves Standardisées (EpStan) where all seventh and ninth graders (total N > 9000) completed the CSES either in German or French.

To conclude, the empirical insights gained in this project inform on how students’ personality is related to learning outcomes as well as the mechanisms how Luxembourg’s educational system capitalizes on students’ personality in achieving career success and good health. Further, this project examines how to economically assess students’ personality and informs on the distribution of vital personality characteristics in today’s student population in Luxembourg. Thus, the outcomes of this project have profound significance for evidence-based educational policies that target students’ personality development which in turn may promote educational attainment, career success and health in Luxembourg.

For further information or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Romain Martin