Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Ed Psychology and Research


Educational Research

Committee Chair

John C. Smart

Committee Member

Corinna A. Ethington

Committee Member

Ernest A. Rakow

Committee Member

Yonghong J. Xu


The purpose of the study was to test the hypothesis presented in Holland's theory that academic achievement is a function of the congruence between students' personality types and their academic environments. Holland asserts that higher levels of stability, satisfaction, and performance are a function of the fit or congruence between students' personality type and the environment in which they reside. The subjects in the study were 741 students who graduated from high school between 1998 and 2007 and matriculated to a private, Catholic, comprehensive university in the mid-South during those years. Students were assigned to one of six Holland personality types based on their highest score on the ACT Interest Inventory which was sent to the university from the American College Testing Program. Students' academic majors were classified into six academic environments proposed by Holland using The Educational Opportunities Finder. Congruence levels were calculated for students using Holland's first letter hexagonal distance measure. Students with perfect congruence were identified as congruent. All other students were identified as incongruent. The means of the grades of students in the two categories of congruence were analyzed using repeated measures analysis of variance. When significance was found, Tukey-Kramer post hoc tests were used for pairwise comparisons to determine significant group differences. Effect sizes were then calculated to ascertain the substantive importance of the findings. Results for the Artistic personality type demonstrated a statistically significant relationship between person-environment congruence and academic achievement (p < .05). Though not statistically significant, results for the Realistic personality type suggest support for the congruence assumption while results for the Conventional and Investigative personality types are contrary to the congruence assumption. Results for Social and Enterprising personality types also suggest support for the congruence assumption, but weak effect sizes for the two, 0.07 and 0.08 respectively, do not offer any substantive importance in the findings. Results of this study are discussed with reference to the psychological and sociological components of Holland's theory and how each provides explanations for the findings of this study. Suggestions for incorporating both components in the academic advising and counseling of postsecondary students are discussed.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.