INTRODUCTION On a daily basis, college students are faced with a conflict of interest: to study or not to study. Often times these decisions are affected by outside factors that are beyond the control of the student (i.e. work, athletics, involvement in organizations). One other factor that is believed to be a major influence is the existence of a significant other. While involved in a relationship during college, one might be forced to choose either studying for school or spending time with the significant other, leaving the student with increased amounts of stress. Level of commitment to the relationship must also be taken into consideration. A student who is involved in an exclusive relationship differs from the student involved in a casual dating relationship. Many factors contribute to a studentís struggling grades; the aim of this research was to isolate the effects of dating on a studentís academic performance. An article found on the Internet, which related to the topic of interest, showed research where Sgobbo(2000) studied the disadvantages and advantages of dating in college. It was found that one hundred percent of the fifty male participants surveyed agreed that dating in college provides benefits. It was also shown that males who dated while in college felt a higher level of self-esteem through social interaction. Dating provided them constant interaction with students of the opposite sex. The research mainly focused on the benefits of these relationships in college as it related to the individuals self esteem and interaction while in social settings. An individualís social skills are being developed throughout life. One of the most crucial times in this development is high school.A study conducted by Quatman, Sampson, Robinson and Watson (2001) among high school students in California. Researchers examined the relationship between dating status and academic achievement, academic motivation, depression, and self-esteem. Although high school students do not face as many distractions, the affiliation can still be made between the two. The research focused on the frequency of dating and not so much the level of commitment. Results showed a relationship between dating more frequently and lower academic performance. Dating frequency and level of commitment are two of the underlying factors that define a relationship; marriage being the highest level of commitment and frequent dating of more than one person being towards the bottom of the scale. Research conducted by Chilman and Meyer (1963) in the early sixties surveyed academic performance of undergraduate married students as compared to the single undergraduates. Researchers followed a sample through one semester of school. One of the objectives of the study was to find if married undergraduates achieved higher success in college through future vocational plans. Researchers used a stratified random sampling of one hundred nine married men and women, forty-seven single men and fifty-five single women. Grades from the previous semester were obtained and compared to the grades from the current semester, measuring academic performance. Results indicated differences based on (1) educational values, goals, and attitudes (2) family background, current life situation (3) dating and courtship (4) perceived satisfaction. Of the participants followed that semester, the married couples received higher G.P.A.ís. Married couples were shown to have a goal minded approach to academics. Dating is shown to affect students both favorably and adversely, but the present seems to be affected by a personís future plans. Archival data was studied by Vockell and Asher (1972) in the early seventies that related to high school seniors dating frequency and their scholastic aptitude, achievement, and school related activities. Future plans of the individuals positively affected their frequency of dating, with respect to certain occupational goals. The main theme involved in most of the literature from the past was frequency of dating. All of the studies were conducted in a manner as to relate the prevalence of a significant other to the studentís academic achievement. Researchers were able to find a positive correlation to the role of dating on academic achievement. Researchers studied the main hypothesis that the prevalence of a significant other negatively affects the academic performance of an undergraduate student. Our study intended to positively link these two factors. Students answered questions regarding personal life and habits that might affect their academic performance in a self-reporting survey. Data was synthesized in hopes of finding the existence of a relationship between social dating and academic performance. Acknowledging that attaining an undergraduate degree requires a lot of time and involves many increased stressors associated with that time adding one more personís beliefs and wants to the equation leads to strain in the classroom. If students are involved in a social dating parameter, then school will in turn suffer.
METHODSeventy-five participants took part in the study ranging in age from eighteen to twenty four. The population consisted of undergraduate students from Loyola University who participated on a strictly voluntary basis. The participants selected, to the best of the investigatorís knowledge represented all racial/ethnic groups. Participants were encountered both in the classrooms at Loyola and in random social interaction. Convenience sampling was used in the selection of the participants. The most easily accessible students were those attending undergraduate studies at Loyola University New Orleans.
Packets for the research contained the thirty three-question survey and two informed consent sheets, one for the researcher and one for the participant. The informed consent sheet disclosed information about the research and provided the participants with information regarding any counseling that might be needed because of the study. The survey consisted` of a broad range of questions aimed at gauging the studentís level of involvement in a relationship and its adverse affects on their schoolwork. The first thirteen questions regarded biographical information of the participant, i.e. ďworking status, relationship involvement, age and approximate GPA.Ē The remaining twenty questions were rated on a scale of one through five and were intended to gauge the participants social involvement, i.e. ďSpending time with your significant other takes time away from school?Ē Questions pertaining to the studentís academic performance were asked to coincide with the participantís relationship status. Number seventeen of the survey was put in place to eliminate participants not fully cooperating. It requested the participant to simply answer the question ď1Ē on a scale of one to five.
The design was non-experimental correlational research. The two variables evaluated were grade point average and dating status. Procedure asked the participants to fill out a survey prepared for the research. For the purposes of remaining anonymous, participants were also asked not to put their names any where on the survey. Participants were given up to 15 minutes to perform this task, although extra time was allotted if needed. Once the task was completed, participants were debriefed and the experimenters answered any questions they may have. No potential risks were expected. Students were instructed that all information surveyed is both voluntary and anonymous. Information regarding counseling services on campus was provided to all participants.
REULTSAn independent samples T-test was performed to find any relationship between grade point average and involvement in a romantic relationship. It was hypothesized that students who were involved in romantic relationships would not perform as well academically in undergraduate course work. However, statistical data was not obtained to support the theory (t < .01, N.S.). A relationship was observed between participants involved in relationships and higher levels of stress. Deadlines coupled with academic motivation illustrated higher levels of stress amongst participants involved in relationships as measured by a Pearson Correlation (p = .486). In a sample of seventy-five undergraduate students attending Loyola University New Orleans, the mean age was 20.7(SD = 1.67) and the mean grade point average was 3.09(S.D. = .57).
DISCUSSION The main hypothesis of the study was that students involved in romantic relationships would not perform academically as well as their counterparts who do not date in college. No significant relationships were found between the two variables of grade point average and involvement in a romantic relationship. In fact, the t value was so insignificant the number must be taken out four decimal places. Although the original hypothesis was not statistically proven, a correlation was found between motivation and higher stress levels amongst the participants involved in romantic relationships. Students involved in relationships were motivated more to perform academically (p = .322) and faced higher stress level in facing deadlines (p = .28). Individuals involved in relationships are forced to manage their time and experience more stressors because of the relationship. Time management was believed to be a deciding factor in an individualís performance in school, therefore participants were asked to provide an approximation of time spent during the week. Time was broken down into three activities: studying, working, and time spent with the significant other. Amount of time studying on an average week was analyzed with a mean score of 14.8 (SD = 9.9). Approximately 63% of the students surveyed worked either part time or full time occupying a mean of 11.22(SD = 9.96) hours per week. An individualís significant other occupied approximately a mean of 13.16(SD = 19.83) hours per week.A higher number of participants would have been beneficial to the research. Seventy-five students did not prove to be a big enough sample. Researchers used a convenient sample, but in the future would recommend a larger sample size from differing sources. Another factor influencing data was the composition of the survey. The scale, rating zero through five, should have been presented at the top of each page limiting the amount of confusion from flipping back to the original scale. Numbering might also been improved. The scale used rated strongly disagree as a numerical value of five and strongly agree rated as a one. Data might have been compromised by the confusion of the participants. Romantic relationships, or the lack there of, play a role in the majority of people in society. Individuals involved in relationships face shoulder more responsibility than their counter part. Factoring in the beliefs and ideas of another person into daily decision-making, possesí unique challenges to the individuals involved; challenges that are widely accepted and enjoyed throughout the world on a regular basis. It is partaking in these relationships which shape and mold people into the individuals that they are.
REFERENCES ReferencesVockell, E.L., Asher, J.W., (1972). Dating frequency among high school seniors. Psychological Reports, 31, 381-382.
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