22 SES 04 B, Students' Readiness and Expectations
The period between school graduation and the first months of study in a university is characterized by high level of stressfulness and uncertainty for applicants and students. A college life requires from freshmen a higher level of independence, self-regulation, and initiative in comparison with a school (Bryde & Milburn, 1990). Most researchers concerned with the analysis of student experience in higher education institutions agree that different aspects of student behavior in a university such as engagement and investment in curricular and extracurricular activities, communication with faculty and administrative workers, social activity etc., are inevitably linked with pre-university educational expectations and it’s (in)congruence with actual experience. According to [Chapman 1981], educational expectations refer to student perception of what he or she will be doing or will have accomplished during study at university and involves an estimate of reality and future performance. Students do not enter university tabula rasa. They come with some socio-economic background and academic experience, which shape their attitudes about higher education in general and a certain institution in particular. Mismatches between expectations and real student experience can lead to difficulties in adaptation to university life, dissatisfaction with study, and finally withdrawal decisions. Therefore, the difference between educational expectations about student life and real student experience at university is a topic of great concern among scholars, who interested in transition from school to college. Many research projects in this field were focused on measuring solely (mis)match between expectations and reality (for example, Cook, Leckey 1999). Other studies tried to investigate factors influenced student’s expectation or their match with reality. The third group of research examined the effect of expectations on learning outcomes, student satisfaction and some psychological characteristics like optimism. There are few studies that develop complex models of student transition and specifically the role of educational expectation in it, which include (1) factors that influence forming student expectations, (2) match between expectations and reality, and (3) effects of differences between expectations and reality on satisfaction with learning and academic outcomes. This article goes on to offer such a complex model of the role of educational expectations in the student transition process.
A lot of freshman studies were dedicated to exploring student expectations about their future experience at university and actual experience in a higher education institution. They found that student expectations are more positively toned than their real first year experience (Stern 1966; Berdie 1968; Buckley 1971; Herr 1971; Pate 1970; Schoemer 1973; Watkins 1978). This empirical fact was called “freshman myth” (Baker, McNeil, Siryk 1985). Contrary, some studies (for instance: Cook, Leckey 1999) indicated that student’s expectations are lower than estimates of real student experience.
Some research in this field indicated that mismatch between student pre-university expectations and reality of the first year of study negatively affects the process of adaptation to higher education (Tranter 2003, Smith & Hopkins 2005). In the theoretical model developed by Chemers, Hu, and Garcia (2001), academic expectations were considered as moderator variables through which academic self-efficiency and optimism indirectly influence classroom performance, stress, health, and overall satisfaction and commitment to remain in university.
Mainardes, Alves and Raposo (2014) considered the extent to which a university meets student expectations as an indicator of its efficiency that is measured by the level of student satisfaction. According to them, educational expectations are a main prerequisite for satisfaction with study. They found the correlation between student expectations and overall satisfaction. In addition, they showed that this relationship depends on the institutional characteristics. For example, it was observed, that the link between expectations and satisfactions is stronger for smaller-scale universities (Mainardes, Alves, & Raposo 2014).
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