The Elective trajectory for higher professional education: a quality improvement of the educational choice process of students in post-secondary vocational education?

Jeany Slijper*, Saskia Kunnen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

This article reports on a longitudinal research on the relationship between identity development and participation in the Elective trajectory for higher professional education among last year students of post-secondary vocational education, specialized in economic studies. The overall purpose of this Elective trajectory is to improve the study progress in higher professional education. Based on the theoretical concept of identity development, the research focused on the development of exploration and commitment in the educational choice process, using a mixed methods design. A pre-test was done before the Elective trajectory and a post-test after. The qualitative study gave insight into experiences, factors and concerns that play a role in the educational choice process. Vocational students of economic studies especially showed the socalled Diffusion Status, characterized by low levels of commitment strength and exploration. The quantitative research showed a significant difference between commitment before and after the Elective trajectory. The qualitative data showed that the Elective trajectory stimulated further exploration for subsequent studies, but not in-depth exploration. After the Elective trajectory, students talk with important others about their educational choices and projects for visiting open days or study trial days. Few students mention the Elective trajectory itself as being a preparation opportunity. This may be due to the compulsory character of this Elective trajectory, with consequences for the low levels of explorations and commitment after this trajectory. In addition, these low levels of exploration and commitment turned out to be typical for these post-secondary vocational education students studying economics.

Translated title of the contributionThe Elective trajectory for higher professional education: a quality improvement of the educational choice process of students in post-secondary vocational education?
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)250-267
Number of pages18
JournalPedagogische Studiën
Volume98
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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