The purpose of this paper is to compare the emotional competence of first year undergraduates enrolled on a high or low drop‐out rate (HDR and LDR, respectively) course, at a newly established university within the UK.
A mixed methods approach using both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods was used. The Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (TEIQue) established participants' emotional competence, and semi‐structured interviews were used to probe the findings from the TEIQue.
The results indicate that typical HDR course participants have high self‐esteem and a good level of interpersonal skills, but are controlled by their emotions and exhibit an external locus of control. This manifests itself in a distrust of peers as a source of support and a reactive attitude to self‐improvement. Typical LDR course participants have low self‐esteem and a good level of intrapersonal skills, but have developed the ability to control their emotions and exhibit an internal locus of control. This manifests itself in a high level of confidence in peers as a source of support and a proactive attitude to self‐improvement.
The paper contributes to the learning styles literature by investigating the impact of students' characteristic affective behaviours on their vulnerability to drop‐out.
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