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Results of the first study (that extremely elaborate questionnaire…)

By: Jennifer Schijf, PhD-student at the University of Groningen
06 November 2019

Time flies! Almost half a year ago you started with the Honours College programme. For me, this was also an important moment: it was the kick-off of my longitudinal research project into the learning outcomes of interdisciplinary honours education. The last couple of months I processed all data I collected during your first honours year and I started with collecting a lot of new data in the Broadening Modules. In this update I share some first insights with you.

As many of you’ve already noticed, I’m busy with collecting data in the Broadening Modules. Yes, I’m the one who’s sending you the weekly reflection questions in which you are invited to share your learning experiences in the Broadening Modules with me. There are three closed questions about challenge, motivation and capabilities. In two open questions you get opportunity to explain your answers. It may look like a lot of work, but you could actually fill it out in a couple of minutes. Your answers give me a clear insight in the learning process you are going through. At the end of the Module I’ll invite a group of students to participate in an interview. In the interview we will discuss what makes feel you challenged and motivated in the honours programme and what the honours programme contributes to your study path.

In the first study - the extensive questionnaires you filled out in Spring 2019 - I asked you all kinds of questions about your learning preferences, academic self-confidence and your perceptions of your knowledge and skills acquisition so far. I also collected data on your academic and social background (e.g. study programme, previous education, how you perceive yourself in contact with others). By doing so, I aimed to get a better understanding of the characteristics of honours students at the start of the honours programme.

I not only collected data among honours student, but also included 250 other first-year students in the study. These students form a control group and make it possible to compare the data of the honours group with the non-honours group. A total of 500 students are included in the data collection, which is definitely great because a lot of participants are needed for the more complex data analysis techniques. Below I share two of these techniques with you.

My first analyses focused on the validation of the questionnaire with exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses. These techniques make it possible to find clusters of questions within a questionnaire that measure in a reliable manner a particular topic or construct. Factor analyses could also be used to shorten a questionnaire, because its results suggest which questions may not fit well within a topic group. As a result I now have a smaller questionnaire than the one you filled out the first time (yippee!).

In addition, I contrasted the results of you (honours students) with students who are not enrolled in the honours programme (analysis of variance and profile analysis). At the start of the honours programme these groups do not differ significantly from each other on the aspects I included in the questionnaire. Since the study focuses on the longitudinal development of honours student, I’m very curious how the two groups will develop themselves over time. At the end of the Honours College programme, will honours students differ from non-honours students with regard to their acquired learning outcomes? We’ll see! A follow-up of this research will be conducted in June 2020 and June 2021.

Last modified:22 November 2019 09.41 a.m.

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