Human capital theory suggests that any increase in skills translates into greater productivity of the workforce. Non-cognitive skills, in particular, play a critical role in many domains in life. The aim of this study is to gain a greater understanding of one such skill, discipline. Viewing discipline as a tool for enhancing learning, personal development and increasing overall achievement, this study offers an alternative way to measure discipline in higher education.
This paper presents the results of an online survey of 537 current students and recent graduates from the United States, South Korea and China. Principal component analysis was used to test the overarching assumption that student discipline is composed of five dimensions. Multiple analysis of variance (ANOVA) with post hoc analyses and t-tests were applied to test for country and gender-related differences between the three country groups. Cluster analysis was used to profile the respondent groups based on similarities across the samples.
The results confirm that student discipline is a construct comprising five discipline dimensions – focus, intention, responsibility, structure and time (F.I.R.S.T). In addition, the identification of low, medium and high discipline levels among the respondents provides support for the recently introduced concept of a layered “threshold of Discipline”.
A F.I.R.S.T. discipline measurement questionnaire for capturing student discipline – underpinned by a conceptual model encompassing self-determination, goal setting, self-efficacy, self-regulation and time management principles – was developed and tested. Suggestions for enhancing graduate work readiness through increasing levels of the skill of discipline are outlined.
An earlier version of this article formed part of a thesis presented for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Macquarie University. The authors wish to thank the editor of Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning for his kind guidance, and the authors wish to acknowledge the generous input from the anonymous reviewers. The authors would also like to thank the survey respondents for helping them to gain a greater understanding of their levels of discipline and also Glyn Mather and associate professor Peter Petocz, from the department of statistics, for their support and help.
Krskova, H., Baumann, C., Breyer, Y. and Wood, L.N. (2020), "The skill of discipline – measuring F.I.R.S.T discipline principles in higher education", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/HESWBL-10-2019-0128Download as .RIS
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