Conscientiousness in Education: Its Conceptualization, Assessment, and Utility
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Conscientiousness is the personality domain most strongly associated with academic performance and is similar to important drivers of educational success, such as grit and time management. There are many slightly different theoretical models that describe the constituent components (or facets) of conscientiousness. In this chapter, we outline the main theoretical models of conscientiousness and synthesize empirical research examining its underlying structure. We review the conscientiousness/academic achievement association for (a) the broad domain versus constituent facets of conscientiousness, (b) self-ratings versus observer ratings of conscientiousness, and (c) conscientiousness as a characteristic of teachers as well as students. We outline two main applications of conscientiousness in education: large-scale multi-country comparisons (such as PISA) and student selection for undergraduate or postgraduate study. These applications rely on accurate assessment procedures, raising issues with standard rating-scale assessments of conscientiousness. For this reason, we discuss two alternative directions for assessment: forced-choice assessments and anchoring vignettes. Lastly, given the research indicating that conscientiousness changes with time, we consider whether students’ conscientiousness can be enhanced as a way to increase educational success. In summary, this chapter outlines the conceptualization, measurement, and applications of conscientiousness in education.
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