One size fits all?

Jan Cornelis Kamphorst

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    Higher vocational education has to deal with low study success of students in terms of study progress, dropout and perceived competence. What actions can educators take to address this problem? This contribution, based on the PhD-thesis ‘One size fits all?’, is about psychological factors and interactionalist factors, which help to explain study success in the first year. The thesis shows how many variables are related with study success. Using linear structural models, the author makes cautious statements about the effects, which factors exert on each other and on study success. Concerning the psychological factors, self-confidence and motivational aspects (intrinsic motivation and procrastination) showed the strongest relationship with study success. From an interactionalistic perspective, intention to stay was the most crucial factor. The relationships with study success of other factors from both approaches were small (deep approach to learning) or fluctuated strongly per model and group (self-regulation, self-efficacy; social and academic integration, satisfaction with active learning and academic knowledge and skills, contact hours, independent study). Many factors play a role. The relationships between these factors vary with background characteristics (gender, type of secondary education, ethnicity, study program). Also, several factors do no exert similar, but rather contradictory effects on competing outcomes, such as the number of credits and the acquisition of competence. The result is not a cookbook with tailor made recipes for solving the problem of low academic success. Educators (higher vocational institutions, study programs, lecturers) could do more with these important insights. Meanwhile, more research is needed (a) into the interactions between factors of different models and theories that help to explain study success and (b) into the effects of interventions aimed at improvement of study success.

    Original languageDutch
    Pages (from-to)55-74
    JournalTijdschrift voor hoger onderwijs
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


    • higher education
    • study success
    • psychology

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