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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 114-122

A cross-national, cross-cultural comparison of predictors of academic performance among Canadian and Malaysian university students

1 Institute of Medical Science, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2 Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
3 Institute of Medical Science; Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto; Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Arun V Ravindran
University of Toronto, 250 College St., Toronto, Ontario M5T 1R8
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jncd.jncd_32_19

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Background: Poor academic outcomes among postsecondary students are a concern to academic institutions globally. Several sociodemographic, psychosocial, and academic functioning factors are proposed as contributory. As most literature is from Western countries, global generalizability is limited. The aim of this 1-year study was to conduct a prospective cross-cultural comparison of factors impacting academic performance among university students from Canada and Malaysia. Methods: First-year undergraduate students were recruited from University of Toronto Scarborough and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia at the start of their academic year. Participants completed a comprehensive range of self-report measures on relevant factors. Information on their year 1 academic performance was obtained from the universities. The data were assessed using Chi-square, analyses of variance, and multiple linear regressions. Results: For Canadian students (n = 224), parents' educational levels, self-reported stress, coping, mental health knowledge, and physical activity were predictors of year 1 academic performance. For Malaysian students (n = 139), gender, ethnicity, academic amotivation, and peer engagement were predictors of year 1 academic performance. Attrition over the year was higher among Canadians (6%) than Malaysians (0%), but numbers were insufficient to determine likely predictors of dropout. Conclusions: The differences in predictors of academic performance between the Canadian and Malaysian students suggest that cultural factors may play an important role in academic outcomes. Intervention and prevention strategies customized to the local context are supported.

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