Effects of Romantic Relationships on Academic Performance in College
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
PHAM, P. T. (2002). Effects of Romantic Relationships on Academic Performance in College. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 5. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved April 25, 2017 .

Effects of Romantic Relationships on Academic Performance in College

Sponsored by: MUKUL BHALLA (bhalla@loyno.edu)
The researchers explored the relationships between dating and college performance in this study. It was hypothesized that dating and involvement in romantic relationships will result in a lower GPA. There were a total of 74 college undergraduates (35 males and 39 females), who completed surveys regarding their dating status and academic performance. The participants supplied us with demographic information such as age, gender, class standings, dating status and levels, and certain academic information. Certain problems, mainly instrumentatal, did not allow the rejection of the null hypothesis.

College life can be stressful, but it is surely one of the most memorable experiences in a person’s life. It represents a critical developmental period for late adolescents and young adults (Chickering, 1969). The daily hassles of college ranges from sleeping and eating habits to increased workloads and new responsibilities. College students, especially freshmen, are a group particularly prone to stress due to the transitional nature of college life (Towbes and Cohen, 1996). They must adjust to being away from home, in most cases, for the first time, maintain a high level of academic achievement, and adjust to a new social environment. College students, regardless of year in school, often deal with pressures related to finding a job or a potential life partner. These daily stressors do not cause anxiety or tension by themselves. Instead, stress results from the interaction between stressors and the individual’s perception and reaction to those stressors (Romano, 1992). When faced with these numerous responsibilities and roles, the student may feel stressed and fail at what they are there for- in this case, school. The amount of stress experienced may be influenced by the individual’s ability to effectively cope with stressful events and situations (D’Zurilla & Sheedy, 1991) In an internet article, Furman and Wehner found that romantic views are related to the current status of the relationship, being in a romantic relationship allows a person more responsibilities and makes them feel more important. With all the hassles that a student faces in college, it is good to have close friends to help them cope with the pressures. It was found that students who had a strong sense of community on campus perceived a high degree of support, involvement, and achievement at the university (Berger, 1997). They may form relationships with many people, and it would help them. Even in some cases, romantic relationships, or intimate dating, would be formed. According to Paul and White (1990), being behaviorally intimate involves acting in a trustworthy way, being sensitive and responsive to the other`s feelings, being able to make a commitment to the relationship, striving for equity and mutuality, and working to communicate effectively. Zimmer-Gimmbeck, Siebenbruner, and Collins (2001) found that participation in dating relationships has some positive effects on emotional health for adolescents. But from that, also brings another hassle- maintaining the relationship. In 2001, a study was conducted by Quatman, Sampson, Robinson and Watson that studied dating status and academic achievement and motivation in high school students in California. They researched the relationships between dating status and academic achievement, as well as academic motivation, depression, and self-esteem. They found that there was a relationship between students that dated more frequently had a lower academic performance. This study supported the fact that there is a significant relationship between dating status and academic achievement. Concerns about dating are prevalent and often related to serious problems among college students (Prisbell, 1986). While having a romantic partner may have benefits on emotional health, it appears that being overly involved in dating relationships is associated with more negative affects on psychosocial functioning and health (Baumeister 1995). A study was also conducted by Quatman, Sampson, Robinson and Watson (2001) among high school students in California. The research found that that there was a significant relationships between frequent dating and lower academic performance. Even though college life brings more responsibilities than high school, dating status and school motivation should still be the same. Relationships and college somehow doesn’t seem to fit in the same field. On the one hand, the student is spending time with their potential lifelong partner, but on the other, they are busy trying to fulfill other responsibilities, like maintaining grades, finding a job, studying, and coping with everyday stress. This research tested if romantic relationships, academia, and stress have any relationship with one another. This study correlated romantic relationships affecting a college student’s academic achievement. It was hypothesized that the more serious and intimate a student may be in a relationship, the lower their GPA becomes due to the lack of time that they are able to spend at school. As noted, stress levels implicated from romantic relationships can be directly related to grade point average according to Quatman, Sampson, Robinson and Watson. Certain variables that pertain to the intensity of romantic relationships was measured, like number of years together, shared dwelling, and time consumption was measured. Variables relating to stress factors was also asked, like grade-point average, personal opinions on stress related factors, and general happiness.

ParticipantsSeventy-four Loyola undergraduates were recruited to participate. They were recruited via convenience sampling from around the campus of Loyola University as well as by approaching professors to have them announce the study in their classes. Students were given a brief summary of the research project and were asked to participate during class time. Some who volunteered for research received some course credit for participating. To the best of the investigator’s knowledge, the participants represented all racial/ethnic groups. All subjects were treated according to the Ethical Principals of the American Psychological Association.Materials A six-page packet was used, which contained all the necessary paperwork. The first and second were consent forms, one of which is for the investigators and the other for the participant for their records The remaining four pages contained the survey (see Appendix A for reference). The participants were given different choices on a Likert scale, which they were to base their answers on the survey. The survey consisted of 33 multiple answer questions that asked about demographic information, classification and GPA, if they are in certain groups, study habits, and certain social information such as employment, relationships, school abilities, general happiness as well as a red-flag question where they were to answer “yes”. Questions one to thirteen asked certain demographic questions such as age, sex, classification, and dating and employment status. The remainder of the survey asked for student’s opinions on academic stress and dating factors, such as study habits, academic motivation, personal happiness, and time and stress management. Pre-sharpened pencils were also handed out to participants who are in need of one. If the classroom did not have a clock, one was brought to keep track of time.Design and Procedure The research is a Quasi-experimental design. The independent variable was the intensity of the relationship itself, which is hypothesized to affect the dependent variables. It was measured through a Likert scale rating of 1-5, with 1 being strong and 5 being not strong. The dependent variables were the general happiness of the person in school and employment and approximate academic achievement according to their GPA. Other descriptive variables was also asked, such as time and stress management, obligations, and other aspirations. The investigators approached certain classes for recruitment of subjects using the convenience sampling method since the majority of the classes that are visited will only include psychology classes from Loyola University. The students received an introduction on the nature of the study and a schedule were handed out on the assigned session times and places. Any students interested had to sign their name and were asked to mark it in their agenda as a reminder. The investigators also asked for contact information so they could be reminded of the test times. When the scheduled participants arrive to the classroom, they were seated accordingly. The survey packets were then handed out, one for each participant. After every participant has received his/her packet, the investigators briefly read through the sections of the informed consent forms, allowing each participant to follow along and ask any questions that they may have along the way. After the consent forms were completed and the participant has properly understood the study, the actual survey was administered. The participants were given 10 minutes to complete the survey. When completed, the participant were to remain seated until the rest of the participants are finished. When every participant has completed their survey, there was a debriefing on the nature of the research as well as other information, such as counseling services. When completed, one last call for questions were made, and if none, the participants were free to leave.

The study consisted of 35 males and 39 females, aged 18-24, with a mean age of 20.78 (SD= 1.67) for 74 participants. The minimum was 18 and the maximum as 21. Of the 74 participants, 36 reported to be in a current relationship, and 38 reported to be single. We had an equal amount of participants who are dating to those who are single. It was hypothesized that students who are more involved in a romantic relationship, measured through their answers, would have a lower grade point average. An independent samples t-test and correlations were used to examine whether a relationship existed between dating status and school performance. Our information revealed that the 36 single students had an average GPA of 3.09 (SD=.570), which was almost identical to our 36 dating students, who also had an average GPA of 3.09 (SD=.580). This revealed that there are no significant differences between dating status and academic performance. A Likert scale was used to measure the intimacy of a relationship and analysis were conducted to see if there were any correlation with grade point average or school performance (F =.003, sig.=.954). We found that there were also no other related significant relationships worth noting. In this research we, however, found other relationships present in our data. There was a significant negative correlation between (r= -0.358, P= .027) studying because of school and studying with one’s romantic partner and happiness in school. We also found that there was a major significant effect (r= .436, P= 0.006) of residential distance from one`s significant other and study habits within relationships. We found that if a subject’s significant partner lives in the same town as the subject, then they felt that their time might be better spent studying.

The present research explored the relationships between romantic relationships and academic performance among Loyola undergraduates. Results did not support a strong relationship between dating and academic performance. As Prisbell (1986) noted, concerns about dating are prevalent and often related to serious problems among college students. Our research results conflict with this idea, finding that there are no significant relationship between academic performance and dating. But certain information in our research findings proving that there is a slight correlation between dating and academic performance may lead to further research. As for our significant findings between proximate distance from one`s significant other and study habits (r= .436, P= 0.006), we conclude that this could be because of the time dating students are able to spend with their relationship, they might feel as though they could lack the time to do more studying. Also, we found that there was a significant negative relationship (r= -0.358, P= .027) between studying because of school and studying with one’s romantic partner and happiness in school. This could mean that if a person studies with a significant partner, they are less likely to be doing it because of their academia, and as a result, they are less happy with school. There was, however, a major limitation to our study, which probably resulted from our failure to conduct an adequate research. We could have done a better job in writing our survey. After conducting the first set of surveys, we’ve noticed that we put our response scales in a direction that many students were not accustomed to taking, with agreement on the left and disagreement on the right. A student noted to me that if I put them in opposite directions or notified other subjects that the scale was backwards, I would get better results. After the first session, we started notifying subjects of this matter and found that many started to erase their answers and put new ones on the survey. This reflected a poorly written survey. We could have also put anchors with each numerical scale in order to remind the subjects of their values. We also threw out a total of 14 surveys due to incompleteness or failing the red flag question. This can be a sign that some subjects were there to receive their extra credit points or because of disinterest. This could also be a mistake due to instrumental problems on our behalf. We accidentally printed out our draft copy of the survey, which was not edited completely. When asked to answer the question "yes," we gave a Likert scale choices were from one to five. This could have also confused the participants into leaving it empty, but in accordance to rules, we still had to omit the information since a majority of the participants answered “1.” To further support this study since there were many research errors to consider it credible, more research must be conducted in the future. A different type of survey should be written in order to properly measure the targeted variables. There are a few suggestions for future studies on dating and academic performance: 1) finding participants who are willing to participate on a volunteer basis because they might better find interest or impartiality in the study; 2) create a more valid and reliable survey to answer questions that were addressed in this study; 3) recruit more participants for this study in order to verify this study, or pick a limited amount of students and follow their progress while in a relationship and see if there is a declination while in school.

Baumeister, R. F. & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need between residence hall climate and adjustment in college students. College Student Journal, 29, 465-475.Berger, J. B. (1997). Students’ sense of community in residence halls, social integration, and first-year persistence. Journal of College Student Development, 38, 441-452.Chickering, A. W. (1969). Education and identity. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.D’Zurilla, T. J. Sheedy, C.F. (1991). Relation between social problem-solving ability and subsequent level of psychological stress in college students. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 841-846.Felsten, G. Wilcox, K. (1992). Influences of stress and situation-specific mastery beliefs and satisfaction with social support on well-being and academic performance. Psychological Reports, 70, 291-313.http://www.du.edu/psychology/relationshipcenter/developmental.pdfPaul, E. L. White, K. M. (1990). The development of intimate relationships in late adolescence. Adolescence, 24, 375-400.Prisbell, M. (1986). The relationship between assertiveness and dating behavior among college students. Communication Research Reports, 60, 659-664. Quatman, T. Sampson, K. Robinson, c. Watson, C.M. (2001). Academic, motivational, and emotional correlates of adolescent dating. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 127 (2), 211-234.Romano, J. L. (1992). Psyoeducational interventions for stress management and well- being. Journal of Counseling and Development, 71, 199-202.

Towbes, L. C. Cohen, L. H. (1996). Reported personal stress sources and adjustment of entering freshmen. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 14, 371-373.Zimmer-Gembeck, Siebenbruner, J. Collins, W. A. (2001). Diverse aspects of adolescent dating: Associations with psychosocial functioning from early to middle adolescence. Journal of Adolescence, 24, 313-336.

Submitted 12/17/2002 2:30:52 AM
Last Edited 12/17/2002 3:07:14 AM
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