Keywords Work-study congruence · Work-study conﬂict · Work-study facilitation
Congruence des limites travail-études: relation avec le bien-être et l’engagement des étudiants. Nous avons testé un modèle de congruence travail-études, dans lequel la congruence des rôles des étudiants était liée à leur engagement et bien-être via le conﬂit travail-études et la facilitation. Nous avons trouvé (avec 251 étudiants qui tra- vaillent; 70% de femmes; âge moyen 24,68 ans) qu’une plus grande congruence est associée à un niveau élevé d’engagement et de bien-être, et le conﬂit et la facilitation jouent un rôle médiateur partiel entre congruence et bien-être, expliquant 37,5% de la variance de l’engagement et 41,1% du bien-être. L’étude a démontré que l’approche de la congruence des rôles est utile pour comprendre les expériences des étudiants qui travaillent, et montre comment les interventions pourraient aider les étudiants aux prises avec des rôles multiples et opposés.
* Moong L. Chu firstname.lastname@example.org Elizabeth G. Conlon e.conlon@griﬃth.edu.au Peter A. Creed p.creed@griﬃth.edu.au 1 School of Applied Psychology, Griﬃth University, Gold Coast 4222, Australia
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Arbeits-Studium Grenzen Kongruenz: im Zusammenhang mit dem Wohlbe- ﬁnden und Einsatz von Studenten. Wir testeten ein Arbeits-Studium Kongruenz Modell, bei dem die Rollenkongruenz der Studenten mit deren Einsatz und Wohlbe- ﬁnden zusammenhing, via Arbeits-Studium Konﬂikt und Erleichterung. Wir fanden (mit 251 arbeitenden Studenten; 70% Frauen; Durchschnittsalter 24.68), dass eine grössere Kongruenz mit besserem Einsatz und Wohlbeﬁnden zusammenhängt, und dass Konﬂikt und Erleichterung eine teilweise vermittelnde Rolle zwischen Kon- gruenz und Wohlbeﬁnden spielen, was 37.5% der Einsatz-Varianz und 41.1% des Wohlbeﬁndens erklärt. Die Studie beweist, dass der Rollen-Kongruenz Ansatz hil- freich ist, die Erfahrungen von arbeitenden Studenten zu verstehen, und führt auf wie Interventionen Studenten, die sich mit zahlreichen, im Wettbewerb stehenden Rollen abmühen, unterstützen können.
Congruencia de los límites entre trabajo y estudio: Su relación con el compromi- so y bienestar del estudiante. Pusimos a prueba un modelo de congruencia entre tra- bajo y estudio, en el que la congruencia del rol de los estudiantes estaba relacionada con el compromiso y el bienestar de los estudiantes a través del conﬂicto y la facili- tación entre el trabajo y el estudio. Encontramos (con 251 estudiantes que trabajan; 70% mujeres; edad media 24.68 años) que una mayor congruencia está asociada con un mejor compromiso y bienestar, y el conﬂicto y la facilitación como mediadores parciales entre la congruencia y el bienestar, explicando el 37.5% de la varianza en el caso del compromiso y el 41.1% en bienestar. El estudio demostró que el enfoque de congruencia de roles es útil para comprender las experiencias de los estudiantes que trabajan y señala cómo las intervenciones podrían ayudar a los estudiantes que tienen que hacer frente a múltiples y competitivos roles.
The number of students working while studying is increasing worldwide (Ryan, Barns, & McAuliﬀe, 2011). In 2007 in Australia, 65% of ﬁrst-year university stu- dents and 71% of later-year students worked while studying. By 2012, these percent- ages increased to 69% and 76%, respectively (Coates, 2015; OECD, 2012), which are similar percentages to those reported in other countries, such as the USA (from 72 to 80%; Davis, 2012; Park & Sprung, 2013) and the UK (from 70 to 77%; End- sleigh, 2015). Students work while studying for many reasons, including to support their education, generate discretionary spending (Devlin, James, & Grigg, 2008; Richardson, Evans, & Gbadamosi, 2014) and to gain experience and generic labour market skills (Broadbridge & Swanson, 2006; Curtis & Shani, 2002).
However, engaging in these two competing roles can aﬀect students’ involvement in study-related activities, including reducing university engagement and academic performance. It can also negatively aﬀect their well-being (ACER, 2011; Butler, 2007; Cinamon, 2016; Creed, French, & Hood, 2015) and have detrimental eﬀects
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on their later achievements and success in the work force (Schneider & Yin, 2011).
When students under-perform, fail or drop out of study, this aﬀects them, their families and the community, and is costly for teaching institutions (Hare, 2010).
Thus, how students eﬀectively manage their work and study is an important area of research.
The goal of the current study is to contribute to the work/study management lit- erature by testing a process model based on boundary congruence theory (Kreiner, Hollensbe, & Sheep, 2009). In this model, work–study boundary congruence (i.e. the ﬁt between personal preferences for a strong or weak work–study boundary and the environmental constraints on these preferences) is related to student well-being and university engagement, and these relationships are mediated by work–study conﬂict (i.e. the degree to which work interferes with managing study responsibili- ties; Markel & Frone, 1998) and work–study facilitation (i.e. the degree to which work experiences assist study performance; Greenhaus & Powell, 2006). The pro- posed model is shown in Figure 1.
Boundary congruence, a construct derived from boundary management theory (Kreiner et al., 2009), has been used to explain the congruence or ﬁt that peo- ple experience at the interface between competing roles (e.g. work and non-work roles). Congruence occurs when individuals can structure their role boundaries to meet their preferences and the preferences of those around them. In the work–study domain, congruence would reﬂect having one’s own preferences aligned with an employer’s expectations and study colleagues’ needs (Kreiner et al., 2009; Le Comte-Hinely, 2013); For example, students who would like to engage in study activities (e.g. discuss assignments, read when work is slow and use the internet in downtimes) while at their paid job and are allowed to do so by their employer expe- rience alignment between their own preferences and the situational constraints; that is, experience boundary congruence (Kreiner et al., 2009).
There are multiple aspects to boundary congruence for students who must not only manage the boundary between work and study (e.g. having manageable work hours) but must also consider their social (e.g. family responsibilities) and leisure (e.g. time for other activities) preferences and their own values (e.g. job content
Outcomes - Well-being - Engagement
Work-study boundary congruence
Figure 1 W ork–study boundary congruence associated with work–study facilitation and work–study conﬂict, in turn, associated with student well-being and university engagement
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and goals consistent with own principles) (Chu, Creed, & Conlon, 2019a). Thus, when considering and managing how the work role interfaces with their study, students need to consider ﬁt among work, study, family, leisure and values’ pref- erences and constraints. When preferences are more aligned with environmental constraints (e.g. employee and others’ needs), there is more congruence among boundaries.
Boundary congruence, which is the desired outcome of social processes that align personal preferences with environment restrictions/opportunities, fosters per- sonal agency and typically results in positive outcomes, such as increased satisfac- tion and improved performance (Kreiner et al., 2009). Contrarily, boundary incon- gruence frustrates and reduces conﬁdence and generates undesirable results, such as strain and conﬂict (Ford & Jin, 2015; Lin, Yu, & Yi, 2014; Rhodes, 2016); For example, individuals with a strong leaning towards segmentation, which is a prefer- ence for keeping roles separate by implementing strong boundaries (Kreiner, 2006), will feel better and perform at a higher level when they can arrange their work and study roles to be kept distinct, whereas integrators, who prefer a blending or merg- ing of roles and having more permeable boundaries (Kreiner, 2006), will be more satisﬁed and eﬀective if their work and study roles can overlap. For both segmentors and integrators, if they do not manage boundary congruence between their work and study roles, their outcomes will be less positive (Kreiner et al., 2009).
Few studies have examined work–study congruence in students (Park & Head- rick, 2017). One exception is Chu et al. (2019a), who found that better work–study boundary congruence was related to better student well-being and academic perfor- mance. Other studies have been conducted in the work–family domain, and these have generally supported the positive relationships between boundary congruence and well-being and work engagement (Allen, Cho, & Meier, 2014). Kreiner (2006), for example, found that congruence between work segmentation preference and work supplies were associated with less stress, greater job satisfaction and reduced work–family conﬂict. Le Comte-Hinely (2013) found that boundary congruence was related to better well-being and that there was an indirect link via work–family con- ﬂict. Mellner (2016) found that greater control over work–family boundaries was related to better psychological detachment from work during leisure, and Piszczek (2017) found this to be related to less emotional exhaustion.
Additionally, few studies have examined mechanisms that might underlie the rela- tionships between boundary congruence and important outcomes for the individual.
No studies were found in the work–study domain. An important consideration is whether work–study conﬂict and facilitation operate as mediators in these rela- tionships, as they have been shown to be important mediators between workplace demands/resources and well-being and performance in the work–family area (Liao, Lau, Hui, & Kong, 2019; Zhang, Xu, Jin, & Ford, 2018). Several studies have shown that role congruence is related to more work–family facilitation and less conﬂict (Chen, Powell, & Greenhaus, 2009; Le Comte-Hinely, 2013), and one study found indirect eﬀects between work–family congruence and well-being (Le Comte-Hinely, 2013). In the work–study domain, indirect evidence comes from studies that show that student workplace demands are related to more work–study conﬂict and less work–study facilitation, with indirect eﬀects on well-being, university engagement
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and academic achievement (Butler, 2007; Creed et al., 2015; Park & Sprung, 2013; Owen, Kavanagh, & Dollard, 2018).
Little research has examined the associations between work–study boundary congruence and well-being and performance in university students (see Chu et al., 2019a), and no studies were identiﬁed that tested for underlying mechanisms in this population. The current study extends boundary congruence research to the work–study domain by testing for indirect eﬀects between congruence and well- being and student engagement via work–study conﬂict and work–study facilitation.
This research extends knowledge related to how students manage their dual compet- ing roles of work and study, contributes to theory development by testing two poten- tially important underlying mechanisms and provides evidence that can be used to improve interventions for students.
Role conﬂict and facilitation
Whereas boundary congruence refers to having one’s preferences along the role segmentation–integration continuum aligned with situational restrictions (Kreiner et al., 2009; LeComte-Hinely, 2013), role conﬂict exists when activities and rela- tionships demanded in one role (e.g. work) negatively aﬀect participation or ‘spill over’ (Staines, 1980) to another role (e.g. student role; Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985; Zedeck & Mosier, 1990); For example, students who work in part-time jobs expend energy and resources in those roles, which means that these resources and energy are not available for their study role. Conversely, role facilitation refers to the propo- sition that participating in one role will enrich participation in a second role (Zim- merman & Hammer, 2010). This might occur, for example, when a student acquires skills and knowledge from their work role that can be applied in their study role.
Conﬂict between roles (i.e. role conﬂict) is typically associated with negative out- comes (e.g. poor well-being and performance), whereas role facilitation is associ- ated with positive outcomes (Wayne, Grywacz, Carlson, & Kacmar, 2007).
Conﬂict theory states that competing roles (e.g. work and study) have distinct and competing norms and necessities, and both vie for the limited resources available to the individual. This is referred to as the ‘scarcity hypothesis’ (Greenhaus & Powell, 2006) and inevitably results in role conﬂict to the detriment of the individual. Park and Sprung (2013) showed that work–study conﬂict was the main stressor for poor psychological health in college students, and Brunel and Grima (2010) found that greater work–study conﬂict was associated with more stress and greater turnover intentions from university and work.
When beneﬁts accrue from the workplace, there can be positive consequences, or spill over, for the individual (Creed et al., 2015). This is reﬂected in enrichment the- ory, which states that beneﬁts gained in one role can facilitate positive experiences in another role (Carlson, Kacmar, Wayne, & Grzywacz, 2006; Greenhaus & Powell, 2006). Enrichment theory, which both challenges and complements conﬂict theory, is based on the idea that enabling resources (e.g. skills and attitudes) obtained in one role can be used to enhance performance or mood in another (Carlson et al., 2006). An enabling resource is any ‘asset that may be drawn on when needed to
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solve a problem or cope with a challenging situation’ (Greenhaus & Powell, 2006, p. 80); For example, communication skills learned at work can be applied in the study role. Researchers have shown that the development of inter-role facilitation at work enhances involvement in the study role (Creed et al., 2015; Friedman & Greenhaus, 2000; Greenhaus & Powell, 2006).
Thus, the evidence, both direct and from the work–family conﬂict area, suggests that work–study conﬂict functions as a stressor for working students, and this can be harmful to their psychological health, educational performance and retention; whereas, work–study facilitation functions to improve outcomes. Work–study con- ﬂict and work–study facilitation can be inﬂuenced by how well young people man- age the boundaries between their work and study roles. However, no research has examined work–study conﬂict from the perspective of boundary congruence, which is the focus of this study.
University engagement and student well-being
University engagement and student well-being are important outcome variables, as individuals manage their role boundaries to maintain or improve performance and healthy functioning (Krause, 2005; Steele & Fullagar, 2009). Work environments often cannot facilitate these outcomes, for example, due to workplace policies and practices that are set by employers (Rothbard, Phillips, & Dumas, 2005), resulting in role conﬂict, which potentially leads to unfavourable outcomes for the individ- ual. Where students are concerned, these unfavourable outcomes are threats to their well-being and engagement in their studies.
University engagement is ‘the time, energy and resources students devote to activities designed to enhance learning at university’ (Krause, 2005, p. 1). Engage- ment is an important construct as it delivers opportunities for students to learn and develop. Developmental opportunities include self-challenge, applying eﬀort, hav- ing contact with lecturers, participating in academic and other activities provided by the university and developing a sense of belonging and self-worth (Devlin et al., 2008). Higher student engagement is associated with greater persistence (Bridges, Cambridge, Kuh, & Leegwater, 2005), better performance (Pike, 2000) and higher satisfaction (Kuh, Kinzie, Schuh, & Whitt, 2005; see Trowler, 2010, for a review of engagement and outcomes).
Well-being refers to the individual’s feelings (i.e. emotional or mood states) that are related to life generally or to speciﬁc aspects of life, for example, the work and study domains (Warr, 1994). Two largely independent dimensions of well-being have been identiﬁed, namely pleasure (i.e. the intrinsic attractiveness/aversiveness of the feeling) and arousal (i.e. physiological and psychological alertness), which in combination, can account for the wide variety of feelings experienced (Warr, 1990). Anxiety, for example, reﬂects low pleasure and high arousal. As well- being enhances personal functioning, it is essential for students if they are to suc- ceed at their studies (Steele & Fullagar, 2009). It has been shown that well-being is related positively to feelings of autonomy and competence, being goal-oriented and focussed on self-growth (Ryﬀ, 1989). This is related to study persistence (Perrine,
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1999) and university success (Pritchard & Wilson, 2003), and student role conﬂict and facilitation are associated with well-being in the manner expected (Butler, 2007; Lenaghan & Sengupta, 2007).
This study assesses the process model of work–study boundary congruence pro- posed in Figure 1. In this model, better or higher boundary congruence between work and study (i.e. congruence with university demands/resources, occupational/ work, family and leisure) is associated with reduced work–study conﬂict and bet- ter facilitation, which in turn, are associated with higher well-being and university engagement. In addition, work–study conﬂict and facilitation mediate the associa- tions between boundary congruence and the outcomes (well-being and university engagement). This study used a sample of university students who were working while studying to evaluate the proposed model.
The participants were 251 tertiary students drawn from one Australia university (70% female; MAGE = 24.68 years, SD= 9 .69). Their mean academic achievement level in Year 12 was 2.08, SD = 0.79 (5-point scale from 1 = very high achievement to 5 = very limited achievement); 91.2% were domestic students who spoke English as their ﬁrst language; and 8.8% were international students studying in Australia.
The mean self-reported socioeconomic status (SES) level (‘when you compare yourself to others at university, how would you describe your current ﬁnancial posi- tion?’ 1 = much better oﬀ than others to 5 = much worse oﬀ than others) was 2.72, SD = 1.00. All students reported working (3–50 h per week) in various occupations (e.g. retail, waitering, hospitality, kitchen hand, fast food, tutoring, social work and nursing). Most, 79.9%, were studying full-time, with 21.1% studying part-time. Stu- dents were recruited from various degree programmes, including nursing, exercise science, communication, business, commerce, psychology, criminology, engineer- ing and design, with 50.2% being ﬁrst year, 27.5% second year, 3.6% third year, 5.2% fourth year and 13.5% postgraduates.
Measures Work–study boundary congruence
This was measured using the 16-item Work–Study Congruence Scale (Chu, Creed, & Conlon, 2019b), which taps four areas of work congruence with leisure, family, occupational/work preferences and university demands and resources (e.g. ‘My fam- ily understands that I need time to study and work’; 6-point Likert-like scale ranging
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from 1 = strongly disagree to 6 = strongly agree). Chu et al. (2019b) provided sup- port for a second-order conﬁrmatory factor analysis (CFA) model, where the four factors identiﬁed initially loaded onto a higher-level general boundary congruence factor. Based on this, we examined boundary congruence using the full-scale score.
The authors reported sound internal reliability for the full scale (α = .88) and sup- ported validity by showing that the scale was related to Kreiner’s (2006) brief con- gruence scale. Cronbach’s alpha in this study was 0.87.
This was assessed using the 5-item Work–School Conﬂict Scale (Butler, 2007).
A sample item is ‘Because of my job, I go to university tired’ (response format: 1 = strongly disagree to 6 = strongly agree). Previous reliability was sound (α > .80), and validity was supported as the scale related to other measures in the expected direction, for example, negatively associated with facilitation, eﬀort and university attendance (Butler, 2007). Cronbach’s alpha in this study was .88.
This was measured with the 5-item Work–School Facilitation Scale (Butler, 2007).
A sample item is ‘Having a good day at work makes me a better university student’ (response format: 1= s trongly disagree to 6= s trongly agree). Previously reported coeﬃcient alpha for the scale was .85, and validity was supported by ﬁnding expected correlations with other school-based constructs, such as satisfaction (But- ler, 2007). Cronbach’s alpha in this study was .83.
Student well-being was assessed using a brief context-speciﬁc aﬀective well-being scale (Warr, 1990). The original scale was devised to assess work-related well-being, which we adapted by replacing the word ‘work’ with ‘university studies’. Students responded to the stem, ‘Thinking of the past few weeks, what has been your attitude towards your university studies?’, using 12 descriptors such as relaxed, contented, worried and uneasy (6-point scale, 1 = none of the time to 6 = nearly all of the time).
Consistent with previous studies that used the scale as a global measure (Morrow & Brough, 2019; Oliver, Jose, & Brough, 2006), we scored all items so that higher scores indicated better well-being and based all analyses on the full-scale score. Pre- vious studies have reported good reliability (α = .91) and supported validity by ﬁnd- ing positive correlations with measures of person–job ﬁt and work engagement and negative associations with turnover intentions (Morrow & Brough, 2019). Cronbach alpha for the adjusted 12-item scale in this study was .90.