Self‐directed learning is recognised as a key goal of higher education. To facilitate self‐directed learning, emotional intelligence (EI), which encompasses the ability to regulate one's own emotions and to generate positive emotions, is important. The present study aimed to examine the effects of EI on self‐directed learning and how EI and self‐directed learning contribute to key learning outcomes in higher education, including grade point average (GPA), generic learning outcomes (including social, cognitive and self‐growth outcomes) and students' satisfaction with their university experience. The study adopted a prospective longitudinal design with 560 first‐year undergraduate students completing different measures at the beginning and end of the academic year. Results of the structural equation modelling showed that EI had a strong effect on self‐directed learning, which in turn was positively associated with GPA and various generic learning outcomes that are related to students' satisfaction with the university experience. To better delineate the relationship between EI and self‐directed learning, multiple regression was performed. Results indicated that three key emotional abilities—emotional regulation of the self (ERS), appraisal of emotions in the self (AES) and emotional regulation of others (ERO)—were positively associated with self‐directed learning. This study provided empirical evidence that students who are more emotionally intelligent are more self‐directed, leading to higher achievement in both academic and generic development, which in turn results in higher university satisfaction. Implications of the findings are discussed. Copyright © 2018 British Educational Research Association.
CitationZhoc, K. C. H., Chung, T. S. H., & King, R. B. (2018). Emotional intelligence (EI) and self‐directed learning: Examining their relation and contribution to better student learning outcomes in higher education. British Educational Research Journal, 44(6), 982-1004. doi: 10.1002/berj.3472
- Emotional regulation
- Emotional intelligence
- Higher education
- Self‐directed learning