Background: The Five-Factor Model (FFM) of personality traits is one of the most comprehensive personality models in modern psychology. The traits, or domains, of the model, provide an extensive framework, which allows researchers to analyse the correlation between the aspects of personality and various aspects of social behaviour. Academic achievement is a key factor in a subject’s success, and a more comprehensive understanding of its potential factors could improve educational programs and teaching strategies. Objectives: The purpose of this paper is to consider the correlations between the FFM (Big Five) personality traits and the academic achievement of university students in various fields of study.
Design: This study has adopted a descriptive analytic approach by exploring previous research data. In the present empirical research, the Big Five factors were measured with the Russian NEO Five-Factor Inventory adaptation by S. Biryukov and M. Bodunov. Academic achievement was defined as the average value of the semester final grades. The Spearman correlation analysis was used for statistical analysis. The sample includes 207 first- and second-year university students in the Linguistics Department.
Results: The analysis of the published data revealed that Western psychological studies show that consciousness and openness, two values in the model, are more closely connected with the peculiarities of the students’ academic achievement in different fields of study, but similar studies conducted in Russian universities do not fully confirm this data. Findings of our research proved that consciousness is more associated with greater academic achievement of Russian linguistics students in most fields of study compared to the other FFM traits, while other traits showed more specific correlations with particular fields of study.
Conclusions: The data suggests that both environmental and internal psychological factors, such as motivation, intelligence, inclinations, abilities, etc. affect academic achievement. However, further research suggests that volitional and cognitive personality traits considered in the framework of various models of personality may have a great influence on academic achievement and should also be taken into consideration. Personality traits, especially consciousness and openness of the FFM, are significant factors of academic achievement. The associations between academic achievement and FFM traits are more prominent in those fields of study that include such features as their relative novelty, difficulty or interest for students (Second Foreign Language, Special Disciplines, and Psychology & Pedagogics).
Keywords: Five-Factor Model (FFM), academic achievement, personality traits, linguistics students; Russian NEO Five-Factor Inventory