European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) edition:19 location:Cádiz (Spain) date:17-21 September 2012
The present study examines the choice of a major in university using a sample of 2284 students in Flanders (Belgium) with a special focus on the type of major chosen in the first year and success/failure at the end of this first year. Using multinomial analyses, the effect of prior subject uptake, interest pattern, math and Dutch achievement, gender, SES, academic self-concept and future aspirations was tested. In summary, our results show a persuasive association between on the one hand students’ interest pattern and subjects chosen in secondary school and on the other hand the type of major chosen at the university. Additionally, prior achievement, gender and future aspirations significantly affect the choice of a major. In agreement with stereotypes, female and male students are more oriented towards social and engineering/science majors respectively and this gender-effect mainly goes through different interest patterns. With respect to success/failure, the results of the binary logistic regression model show that a higher achievement, more math and classical languages chosen in secondary school and a higher SES are important buffers against failure in the first year in university. Practical implications for teachers and educational counselors are discussed.