Associations between the Wellbeing Process and Academic Outcomes

Main Article Content

Andrew P. Smith
Kirsty L. Firman


Background: The Student Wellbeing Process Questionnaire (Student WPQ) has been used to identify predictors of both positive and negative wellbeing. These variables can now be used to investigate whether different aspects of the wellbeing process are associated with academic outcomes.

Aims: The wellbeing process involves established predictors such as exposure to stressors, negative coping, social support, positive personality, and conscientiousness. The wellbeing outcomes are positive (e.g. happiness, positive affect, and life satisfaction), and negative (e.g. stress, anxiety and depression). The aim was to examine associations between these variables and academic outcomes (Grade Point Average [GPA]; perceived efficiency; perceived course stress, and perceived workload).

Methodology:  The research described in this paper was carried out with the approval of the ethics committee, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, and the informed consent of the participants (1296 psychology undergraduates; 89.4% female; 49.7% year 1; mean age 19.5 years). An online survey was carried out and this included the Student WPQ and academic outcomes. A MANOVA was conducted to examine associations between the wellbeing process variables and the academic outcomes.

Results: The main factor associated with the academic outcomes was conscientiousness. Those in the high conscientiousness category had higher GPA sores, reported greater efficiency and higher course stress and workload. GPA scores were also associated with student stressors, with those in the high stress category having lower GPA scores. Greater efficiency was associated with higher scores for positive wellbeing and social support, and lower negative coping. Higher course stress was associated with higher scores for exposure to stressors, negative coping and negative wellbeing. Higher negative wellbeing was also associated with higher perceived workload.

Conclusion: Conscientiousness is the best predictor of academic outcomes. Other components of the wellbeing process have selective effects on academic outcomes.

Well-being, DRIVE model, student WPQ, conscientiousness, academic outcomes.

Article Details

How to Cite
P. Smith, A., & L. Firman, K. (2019). Associations between the Wellbeing Process and Academic Outcomes. Journal of Education, Society and Behavioural Science, 32(4), 1-10.
Original Research Article


Chamorro-Premuzic T, Furnham A. Personality predicts academic performance: Evidence from two longitudinal university samples. Journal of Research in Personality. 2003;37(4):319-338.
DOI: 10.1016/s0092-6566(02)00578-0

Furnham A, Chamorro-Premuzic T, McDougall F. Personality, cognitive ability and beliefs about intelligence as predictors of academic performance. Learning and Individual Differences. 2002;14(1):47-64.
DOI: 10.1016/j.lindif.2003.08.002

Laidra K, Pullman H, Allik J. Personality and intelligence as predictors of academic achievement: A cross-sectional study from elementary to secondary school. Personality and Individual Differences. 2006;42:441-451.
DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2006.08.001

Komarraju M, Karau SJ, Schmeck RR, Avdic A. The big five personality traits, learning styles, and academic achievement. Personality and Individual Differences. 2011;51(4):472-477.
DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2011.04.019

Chemers MM, Hu LT, Garcia BF. Academic self-efficacy and first year college student performance and adjustment. Journal of Educational Psychology. 2001;93(1):55.
DOI: 10.1037//0022-0663.93.1.55

Putwain D, Sander P, Larkin D. Academic self-efficacy in study-related skills and behaviours: relations with learning-related emotions and academic success. British Journal of Educational Psychology. 2013; 83:633-650.
DOI: 10.1111/j.2044-8279.2012.02084.x

Bembenutty H. Academic delay of gratification, self-efficacy and time management among academically unprepared college student. Psychological Reports. 2009;104:613-623.
DOI: 10.2466/pr0.104.2.613-623

Bouffard-Bouchard T, Parent S, Larivee S. Influence of self efficacy on self-regulation and performance among junior and senior high-school age student. International Journal of Behavioural Development. 1991;14:153-164.
DOI: 10.1177/016502549101400203

Struthers CW, Perry RP, Menec VH. An examination of the relationship among academic stress, coping, motivation, and performance in college. Research in Higher Education. 2000;41(5):581- 592.
DOI: 10.1023/a:1007094931292

Halamandaris KF, Power KG. Individual differences, social support and coping with the examination stress: A study of the psychosocial and academic adjustment of first year home students. Personality and Individual Differences. 1999;26(4):665-685.
DOI: 10.1016/s0191-8869(98)00172-x

DeBerard MS, Spielmans G, Julka D. Predictors of academic achievement and retention among college freshmen: A longitudinal study. College Student Journal. 2004;38(1):66-80.

Cutrona CE, Cole V, Colangelo N, Assouline SG, Russell DW. Perceived parental social support and academic achievement: an attachment theory perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1994;66(2):369.
DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.66.2.369

Fazio NM, Palm LJ. Attributional style, depression, and grade point averages of college students. Psychological Reports. 1998;83:159-162. DOI:10.2466/pr0.1998.83.1.159

Leppink EW, Odlaug BL, Lust K, Christenson G, Grant JE. The young and the stressed: Stress, impulse control, and health in college students. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 2016;204: 931-938. DOI:10.1097/NMD.0000000000000586

Turner DP, Thompson ME, Huber LRB, Arif AA. Depressive symptoms and academic performance of North Carolina college students. Mental Health. 2012;73: 169-175.

Chambel MJ, Curral L. Stress in academic life: work characteristics as predictors of student well‐being and performance. Applied Psychology. 2005;54:135-147.

Cotton SJ, Dollard MF, De Jonge J. Stress and student job design: Satisfaction, well-being, and performance in university students. International Journal of Stress Management. 2002;9(3):147-162.

Haines ME, Norris MP, Kashy DA. The effects of depressed mood on academic performance in college students. Journal of College Student Development. 1996; 37:519-525.

Andrews B, Wilding JM. The relation of depression and anxiety to life- stress and achievement in students. British Journal of Psychology. 2004;95:509-521.
DOI: 10.1348/0007126042369802

Surtees PG, Wainwright NWJ, Pharoah PDP. Psychosocial factors and sex differences in high academic attainment at Cambridge University, Oxford Review of Education. 2002;28:1:21-38.
DOI: 10.1080/03054980120113616

Eisenberg D, Golberstein E, Hunt JB. Mental health and academic success in college. The BE. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy. 2009;9(1): (Contributions):Article 40.

Hysenbegasi A, Hass SL, Rowland CR. The impact of depression on the academic productivity of university students. The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics. 2005;8:145-151.

Quinn PD, Duckworth AL. Happiness and academic achievement: Evidence for reciprocal causality. In: The Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Society. 2007;24-27.

Richardson M, Abraham C, Bond R. Psychological correlates of university students’ academic performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin. 2012;138:353.
DOI: 10.1037/a0026838

Elias H, Siew Ping W, Chong Abdullah M. Stress and academic achievement among undergraduate students in Universiti Putra Malaysia. Social and Behavioral Sciences. 2011;29:646-655.
DOI: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.11.288

Stewart SM, Lam TH, Betson CL, Wong CM. A prospective analysis of stress and academic performance in the first two years of medical school. Medical Education-Oxford. 1999;33(4):243-250.
DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2923.1999.00294.x

Siraj HH, Salam A, Roslan R, Hasan NA, Jin TH, Othman MN. Stress and its association with the academic performance of undergraduate Fourth year medical students at univeristi Kebangsaan Malaysia. The international medical journal Maylaysia. 2014;13(1):19-24.

Kumari R, Radhakanta G. Relationship between stress and academic achievement of senior secondary school students. Asian Journal of Multidimensional Research. 2012;2278-4853.

Mckenzie K, Schweitzer RD. Who succeeds at university? Factors predicting academic performance in first year Australian university students. Higher Education Research & Development. 2001;20:21-33.
DOI: 10.1080/07924360120043621

McFadden K, Dart J. Time management skills of undergraduate business students. Journal of Education for Business. 1992;68 (2):84-88.
DOI: 10.1080/08832323.1992.10117592

Pascarella ET, Terenzini PT. How college affects students (Vol. 2). K. A. Feldman (Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; 2005.

Romer D. Do students go to class? Should they? The Journal of Economic Perspectives. 1993;7(3):167-174.
DOI: 10.1257/jep.7.3.167

Schuman H, Walsh E, Olson C, Etheridge B. Effort and reward: The assumption that college grades are affected by quantity of study. Social Forces. 1985;63(4):945-966.
DOI: 10.1093/sf/63.4.945

Nonis SA, Hudson GI. Academic performance of college students: Influence of time spent studying and working. Journal of Education for Business. 2006; 81(3):151-159.
DOI: 10.3200/JOEB.81.3.151-159

Dolton P, Marcenaro OD, Navarro L. The effective use of student time: A stochastic frontier production function case study. Economics of Education Review. 2003;22 (6):547-560.
DOI: 10.1016/s0272-7757(03)00027-x

Williams GM, Smith AP. A holistic approach to stress and well-being. Part 6: The Wellbeing Process Questionnaire (WPQ Short Form). Occupational Health (At Work). 2012;9(1):29-31.

Williams GM, Smith AP. Using single-item measures to examine the relationships between work, personality, and well-being in the workplace. Psychology: Special Edition on Positive Psychology. 2016;7: 753-767.

Williams GM, Smith AP. A longitudinal study of the well-being of students using the student well-being questionnaire (WPQ). Journal of Education, Society and Behavioral Science. 2018a;24(4):1-6.

Williams GM, Smith AP. Diagnostic validity of the anxiety and depression questions from the Well-Being Process Questionnaire. Journal of Clinical and Translational Research. 2018b;10.

Williams G, Pendlebury H, Smith AP. Stress and well-being of nurses: An Investigation using the Demands-Resources- Individual Effects (DRIVE) model and Well-being Process Questionnaire (WPQ). Jacobs Journal of Depression and Anxiety. 2017;1:1-8.

Williams G, Thomas K, Smith AP. Stress and well-being of university staff: An investigation using the Demands-Resources- Individual Effects (DRIVE) model and Well-being Process Questionnaire (WPQ). Psychology. 2017; 8:1919-1940. Available:

Smith AP, Smith HN. An international survey of the wellbeing of employees in the business process outsourcing industry. Psychology. 2017a;8(1):160-167.

Smith AP, Smith HN. Workload, fatigue and performance in the rail industry. In L. Longo & M. C. Leva (Eds.), Human Mental Workload: Models and Applications. H-WORKLOAD. 2017. Communications in Computer and Information Science. Cham: Springer. 2017b;726:251-263.

Smith AP, Smith HN. A short questionnaire to measure wellbeing at work (Short-SWELL) and to examine the interaction between the employee and organisation. In R. Charles & J. Wilkinson (Eds.), Contemporary Ergonomics and Human Factors 2017 Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors. 2017c; 200-205.

Fan J, Smith AP. Positive well-being and work-life balance among UK railway staff. Open Journal of Social Sciences. 2017a; 5:1-6. Available:

Fan J, Smith AP. The impact of workload and fatigue on performance. In L. Longo & M.C. Leva (Eds.), Human Mental Workload: Models and Applications. H-WORKLOAD 2017. Communications in Computer and Information Science. Cham: Springer. 2017b;726:90-105.

Fan J, Smith AP. The mediating effect of fatigue on work-life balance and positive well-being in railway staff. Open Journal of Social Sciences. 2018;6:1-10.

Williams G, Pendlebury H, Thomas K, Smith AP. The student wellbeing process questionnaire (Student WPQ). Psychology. 2017;8:1748-1761. Available:

Alharbi E, Smith AP. Studying-away strategies: A three-wave longitudinal study of the wellbeing of international students in the United Kingdom. The European Educational Researcher. 2019;2(1):59-77.

Nor NIZ, Smith AP. Psychosocial characteristics, training attitudes and well-being of students: A longitudinal study. Journal of Education, Society and Behavioral Science. 2019;29(1):1-26.

Galvin J. A multi-method approach to researching stress and mental health in two groups of healthcare students: Nursing students and trainee clinical psychologists. (PhD Thesis, Cardiff University, Cardiff); 2016.

Nelson K. Behind the frontlines: Occupational stress and well-being in Jamaican police officers. (PhD Thesis, Cardiff University, Cardiff); 2017.

Mark GM, Smith AP. Stress models: A review and suggested new direction. In J. Houdmont & S. Leka (Eds.), Occupational health psychology: European perspectives on research, education and practice Nottingham: Nottingham University Press. 2008;111-144.

Mark G, Smith AP. Effects of occupational stress, job characteristics, coping and attributional style on the mental health and job satisfaction of university employees. Anxiety, Stress and Coping. 2011;25:63-78. Available:

Mark G, Smith AP. Occupational stress, job characteristics, coping and mental health of nurses. British Journal of Health Psychology. 2012;17:505-521.

Mark G, Smith AP. A qualitative study of stress in university staff. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal. 2018a; 5(2):238-247. Available:

Mark G, Smith AP. Coping and its relation to gender, anxiety, depression, fatigue, cognitive difficulties and somatic symptoms. Journal of Education, Society and Behavioral Science. 2018b;25(4):1-22. Available:

Smith AP. A holistic approach to stress and well-being. Occupational Health (At Work). 2011a;7(4):34-35.

Smith AP. A holistic approach to stress and well-being. Part 2: Stress at work: models, practice and policy. Occupational Health (At Work). 2011b;8(1):33- 35.

Smith AP, Wadsworth E. A holistic approach to stress and well-being. Part 5: what is a good job?, Occupational Health (At Work). 2011;8(4):25-27.

Smith AP, Wadsworth EJK, Chaplin K, Allen PH, Mark G. The relationship between work/well-being and improved health and well-being. Leicester: IOSH; 2011.

Wadsworth EJK, Chaplin K, Allen PH, Smith AP. What is a Good Job? Current Perspectives on Work and Improved Health and Well-being. The Open Health & Safety Journal. 2010;2:9-15.

Omosehin O, Smith AP. Adding new variables to the Well-being Process Questionnaire (WPQ) – Further studies of workers and students. Journal of Education, Society and Behavioral Science. 2019;28(3):1-19.

Ahmad MI, Firman K, Smith H, Smith AP. Short measures of organisational commitment, citizenship behaviour and other employee attitudes and behaviours: Associations with well-being. BMIJ. 2018a;6(3):516-550. Available:

Ahmad MI, Firman K, Smith H, Smith AP. Psychological contract fulfilment and well-being. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal. 2018b;5(12):90- 101.

Capasso R, Zurlo MC, Smith AP. Ethnicity, work-related stress and subjective reports of health by migrant workers: A multi-dimensional model. Ethnicity and Health. 2016a;23(2):174-193. Available:

Capasso R, Zurlo MC, Smith AP. Ethnicity and work-related stress in Eastern European care workers for the elderly: An application of a proposed multi-dimensional model. Diversity and Equality in Health and Care. 2016b;13(2):197-205.

Capasso R, Zurlo MC, Smith AP. Stress in factory workers in Italy: an application of the Ethnicity and work-related stress model in Moroccan factory workers. Psychology and Developing Societies. 2018;30(2):1-34. Available:

Zurlo MC, Vallone F, Smith AP. Effects of individual differences and job characteristics on the psychological health of Italian nurses. Europe’s Journal of Psychology. 2018;14(1):159-175.

Nor NIZ, Smith AP. Attitudes to training and its relation to the well-being of workers. Journal of Education, Society and Behavioural Science. 2018;27(2):1- 19.