Proactive behaviour towards strengths use and deficit improvement : validating a scale for first- year university students
Numerous challenges contribute to the high drop-out rate of first-year students. University stressors can also cause a student to experience stress and inadequate coping ability. Certain students may wish to change stressful life events themselves by using proactive behaviour. Recently, two new types of were identified, namely of proactive behaviour towards strengths use (PBSU) as well of proactive behaviour towards deficit improvement (PBDI). Although these new scales were conceptualised in the organisational context, the constructs also appear valuable for first-year students. The general objective was to validate the PBSU and PBDI scales with specific focus on the following measurements: factorial validity, factorial invariance, reliability as well as convergent, discriminant and predictive validity. A sample of 776 first-year students from a tertiary education institute was included to gather the data by means of a convenience sampling method. Mplus was used to determine the psychometric properties of the adapted questionnaire. A cross-sectional research design was employed in the study. The results showed that a two-factor structure fitted the data significantly better compared to a one-factor structure. Positive results were found for invariance testing, as the PBSU and PBDI scales were interpreted similarly between the three campuses and across the Germanic and African language groups. Furthermore, the PBSU and PBDI scales indicated favourable reliability scores (α ≥ 0.70). Convergent validity was found in that PBSU and PBDI were moderately related to proactive behaviour and strengths use. The scales were found unrelated x to gender. Both PBSU and PBDI proved to be significant predictors of student burnout, engagement and life satisfaction. After conclusions for the study were drawn, recommendations were made to be applied by universities and students, and explored for future research.
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