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A person-centred approach to students' transition into Higher Education

2015-08-25 , Brahm, Taiga , Wagner, Dietrich , Jenert, Tobias

A highly selective first study phase in many Swiss study programs leads to a rather competitive climate among students. However, the atmosphere at the university is an important factor for students' transition into Higher Education. An important question in this context is whether students' are equipped with different dispositions influencing how they cope with this transition. Other research has already shown that different groups of students can be identified regarding their student behavior. Yet, so far little is known about patterns of variables characterizing students, transitioning successfully. The paper takes advantage of a person-centered approach, i.e. the latent-class analysis, which makes it possible to identify groups of individuals, sharing common attributes. The research was conducted as a longitudinal study during their first year at a Swiss university. The return rate was about 67%, with 820 utilizable questionnaires at t1. Based on the analysis of students' anxiety, intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy, three distinct classes of students could be identified. The first class can be called the "highly motivated and self-confident" students. The second class is characterized by the same pattern, however, on a more intermediate level and the last class can be described as the "least motivated and most anxious" group of students. This study contributes to research and theory on students' transition into higher education and could be a first hint that students' experiences of this transition can vary substantially.