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Negative Affect and Performance on Exam Day in College Students: The Role of Self-Regulation

Abstract

In the U.S., college transition grows increasingly difficult, with students experiencing rising levels of stress and anxiety. Such challenges may arise as students face normative but novice stressors while working towards professional goals. Students’ ability to engage in successful self-regulation may be especially important in response to these challenges. The goals of the present study were to assess a) the mediating role of  self-regulatory behaviors on the relationship between trait emotion regulation and negative affect (NA) on the day of a first major college exam; and, b) the mediating role of exam-day NA on the relationship between self-regulatory behaviors and exam performance. Results show that trait-level challenges in emotion regulation are associated with increased procrastination behaviors in the days before the exam, which in turn is associated with higher NA on exam day. Implications are discussed for well-being and success of students, particularly for students who struggle with self-regulation.

Published: 2021-03-15
Pages:35 to 46
Section:Articles
How to Cite
Russell, A., Thursby, K., Aubele-Futch, T., & Stoddart, R. (2021). Negative Affect and Performance on Exam Day in College Students: The Role of Self-Regulation. Student Success, 12(1), 35-46. https://doi.org/10.5204/ssj.1645

Author Biographies

Saint Mary's College
United States United States

Alissa Russell is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Saint Mary’s College, in Notre Dame, Indiana. She earned her Ph.D. in Psychology in 2012 from the University of Notre Dame. Her research interests include adult development and stress and coping, with a particular emphasis on normative daily stress and how resilience resources like self-regulation and mindset can buffer against normative stress. Her research often additionally explores the interplay between within-person processes and between-person characteristics with regard to daily well-being.

Saint Mary's College
United States United States

Kay Thursby is a current first year doctoral student in the Community and Prevention Research program at The University of Illinois at Chicago. Her general research interests include the role of mentors and parents in underrepresented youth's positive development and outcomes, primarily educational outcomes. Her current work is on the role of mentors in undocumented Latinx youth's academic outcomes, and the positive and negative influences of parents among Latinx youth pursuing a higher education and career in the sciences. Kay graduated from Saint Mary's College in May 2018 with a degree in Psychology and minors in Biology and Justice Education. 

Saint Mary's College
United States United States

Terri Aubele-Futch is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and member of the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN. She earned her Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2010 from Stony Brook University in New York. Her overall research focuses on the influences of both gonadal (e.g. testosterones, estrogens) and stress (e.g. cortisol) steroid hormones on neurotransmitter systems and their associated behaviors in rodents. Particular areas of focus in her lab are the understanding of divided attention and ADHD, anxiety- and depressive-like behaviors, and the control of mating.

Saint Mary's College
United States United States

Rebecca Stoddart is Emerita Professor of Psychological Sciences at Saint Mary’s College. A developmental psychologist, her teaching & research focuses on emotional, communicative, & neurodevelopment in children, adolescents & older adults. She has supervised hundreds of undergraduate psychology students’ research projects & sponsored their presentations at APA, APS, & MPA, & served as President & Midwestern Vice President of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology. 

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795