Applying social cognitive theory to the university adjustment process: an examination of student behaviours and the corresponding types of self-efficacy
University of New Brunswick
University students are experiencing more mental health problems than at any other time in the previous three decades. Data obtained from the Center for Disease Control National University Health Risk Behaviour Survey indicated that among the top ten health impediments to students’ academic performance were excessive substance use, sleep difficulties, depression, and Internet/computer use. Based on the available literature, the following student behaviours were chosen for further investigation: depression, Internet addiction, sleep, and affect regulation. In turn, the corresponding types of self-efficacy for each of the behaviours were also selected for investigation. The three goals of the study were: 1) to examine the associations of four domains of self-efficacy (depression, Internet addiction, sleep, and affect regulation) with the corresponding behavioural domains; 2) to examine the prediction of behaviours related to depression, Internet addiction, sleep, and affect regulation on university adjustment; and 3) to examine the role of self-efficacy in the prediction of university adjustment over and above the stated domains of behaviour. First-year undergraduate students (N=164) from the University of New Brunswick-Fredericton completed self-report questionnaire packages. Through multiple regression analyses we found that several types of self-efficacy (i.e., depression, Internet addiction, sleep, and affect regulation) predicted their corresponding behaviours: depression, Internet addiction, sleep, and affect regulation. Furthermore, we found that students who are depressed, experience problematic Internet use, frequently use affect regulation strategies, and have poor sleep quality have a more difficult time adjusting to university. In particular, we found that only Internet addiction uniquely affected university adjustment. Greater insight was gained about the determinants of students’ behaviours and suggestions are made regarding interventions aimed at helping emerging adults successfully transition to university.