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Academic Help Seeking Constructs and Group Differences: An Examination of First-Year University Students
AuthorFittrer, Perry Robert
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Academic help seeking is viewed as a positive and beneficial academic behavior for students. The purpose of this study was to examine group differences in the academic help seeking behaviors of first-year university students in order to better understand how demographic factors relate to help seeking behaviors. Specifically, group differences were examined for several demographic variables across five constructs of academic help seeking: Instrumental Help Seeking, Executive Help Seeking, Help Seeking Threat, Help Seeking Avoidance, and preference for Informal versus Formal Help. A sample of 394 first-year university students at a public-research university in the western United States was surveyed in the spring of 2015. Results indicated that there were no group differences among the five constructs of help seeking by gender, ethnicity, SAT Score, first-generation college student status, and socioeconomic status. However, students with lower GPA’s reported greater levels of executive help seeking and help avoidance. Use of academic support services was also analyzed across the five help seeking constructs with no differences between students who used services and those students who did not use services. Help avoidance and SAT score were predictive of the number of distinct services used. Help avoidance, being female, and SAT score were predictive of first-semester GPA. Results from the study suggest that institutions should analyze the non-psychological barriers to help seeking and consider intrusive systems that encourage help seeking and reduce avoidance for students who need help most. Further research should examine help seeking beyond the constructs used in this study and include qualitative measures in order to obtain a deeper understanding of academic help seeking behaviors.