02 SES 13 C, Transitions: Developments in VET
This work analyzes the influence of the experiences in the first year of college on student outcomes in subsequent courses, considering the variables type of study and path to reach the degree.
The issue is significant in the Spanish university context. Nationally, in recent years, several reports show that key issues are the high dropout rates of college and its extension in time. And stand differential trends by type of university (open universities) and careers (MEC, 2010; MEDC, 2014).
Undoubtedly, the increase in university fees in Spain -from 2012-13- the grants’ reduction and the economic depletion of some families, will anticipate changes in the college social composition and will increase the problems of inequity in the university system (Troiano and Elias, 2013).The problems are more acute in certain vulnerable groups and confirm that the transition paths, the risk of dropout and the persistence give different results among individual student profiles. Those from unconventional way, older students and / or students who combine studies with work, have higher dropout rates, lower graduation rates and a lengthening of their studies (Gairín et al., 2014; Torrado, 2012; Figuera, Torrado, Freixa & Dorio, in press). These data are similar to those in other countries (Crawford & Harris, 2008; Rosário et al., 2014).
Our research identifies a number of factors involved as barriers in promoting these students. Cabrera, Burkum, La Nasa & Bibo (2012) put the previous academic background (knowledge and skills to manage the academic demands) as the differentiating factor of persistence and graduation students from low-income families. In the case of working students, variables and the difficulties of managing the academic demands, lesser involvement and contact with peers (Crawford & Harris, 2008) are indicated. For these students, the attendance requirements and monitoring of lessons and activities -Bologna’s new model- have increased the dropout of their training projects (Troiano & Daza, 2013).
Beyond these data, research has confirmed that the probability of persistence increases as the student perceives a better fit between their abilities, skills and knowledge and career requirements (Figuera, 2014). Thus, self-efficacy expectations and outcomes promote involvement, motivation and career satisfaction. (Nonis & Hudson, 2010; Lent et al. 2009). These variables affect the college first year, just when newcomers build their identity and they are therefore particularly sensitive to actions and institutional factors (organizations, academic and social climate or interaction with faculty) (Figuera, Torrado, Freixa and Dorio, in press).
Previous research agrees to place the transition in the first year as a determinant of students’ persistence or desertion decisions (Johnston, 2013). In this regard some data are conclusive: students who abandon at the end of this stage have lower academic adjustment, and their academic outcomes are significantly lower than peers who persist (Strydom & Mintz, 2010; Yorke & Longden, 2008). Although the data are relevant, research conducted so far in Spain has not undertaken the influence of these variables on the final configuration of their trajectories, something that would allow a better understanding of the impact of the transition in the first year.
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