Changes in the first year: research report innovation project Mandy van der Gaag

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The department of psychology at the University of Groningen has implemented several innovations in the curriculum, in order to meet the requirements of the performance agreements the university has made with the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science. One of the main aims is to reduce drop-out rates and at the same time improve quality of higher education.
To gain some insight in the possible effectiveness of the implemented educational innovations, we investigated changes in the types of commitment trajectories that occur among first year psychology students and changes in the occurrence of different types of experiences (positive, negative, mixed and neutral) across the three academic years (2011-2012, 2012-2013, 2013-2014). The first wave of innovations where implemented in 2012-2013, a second wave of innovations was implemented in 2013-2014.
Using cluster analysis, three types of commitment trajectories where found. Results show a significant change in the distribution of the three different types of trajectories across the three academic years. In 2011-2012, students show fluctuating commitment trajectories, accompanied by both weak and strong commitments. In 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, a large proportion of students show stable and strong commitment trajectories, and the occurrence of a weak, fluctuating commitment trajectory decreases with respect to 2011-2012.
Across the three academic years, we find differences in the occurrence of positive, negative and mixed experiences. In academic year 2012-2013, the occurrence of positive experiences is higher, and the occurrence of negative and mixed experiences is lower, than in the year 2011-2012. However, these tendencies do not seem to persist toward academic year 2013-2014, in this year the differences with 2011-2012 are in the same direction as the differences we find for 2012-2013, but smaller and not significant.
The results show a relation with the implementation of the educational innovations. Since the innovations were implemented, there are fewer students with periods of doubts about the choice of education they have made, fewer students who experience continuous doubts, and more students who have a strong and stable commitment. The experiences of students have become more positive, and less negative since the implementation of innovations, though this only seems to be the case in academic year 2012-2013, this result seems to disappear again in 2013-2014.
It is concluded that the educational innovations coincide with positive developments for students. However, caution is warranted for attribution of causality, because of the lack of a simultaneous control-group. Further study of the content of experiences is recommended to gain more insight in the possible effects of specific innovations.
Originele taal-2English
Plaats van productieGroningen
UitgeverijHeymans Institute, University of Groningen
Aantal pagina's20
StatusPublished - dec-2014

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