, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 40-49
Date: 29 Nov 2011

Development of Self-regulation Abilities as Predictors of Psychological Adjustment Across the First Year of College

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Abstract

The first year of college can be a difficult developmental transition for many students, although it is also a time of personal growth and maturation. Little is known about how self-regulation abilities mature across this transition, nor whether maturation predicts better adjustment across the first year. We investigated the development of three self-regulation abilities (constructive thinking, emotional regulation, and mastery) and relations of this development to adjustment (depression, anxiety, and stress) in a sample of 162 first-year students. Data were gathered at two time points: just prior to their attendance at a large public northeastern university and then again at the end of the first year. Results indicated that, on average, students did not increase in their constructive thinking or emotion regulation abilities and actually decreased in their sense of mastery. In bivariate analyses, increases in all three self-regulation abilities were related to better adjustment across the year, effects that remained when examined simultaneously in multiple regression analyses. Further, analyses showed that change in self-regulation abilities, rather than mean levels per se, predicted changes in adjustment over the first year. Implications for interventions to assist students in the development of these self-regulation skills in regard to adjustment are discussed.