"What Matters When? Social and Dimensional Comparisons in the Context of University Major Choice"
In recent research, von Keyserlingk focused on the role of domain specific ability beliefs and interests in secondary school on university major choice in in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). She received her Diploma (equivalent to M.S.) in Psychology at the Technical University Dresden in Germany prior to studying abroad at the University of La Serena in Chile. Subsequently, she moved to Berlin and worked with longitudinal large-scale data at the Leibniz-Institute for Research and Information in Education (DIPF), investigating students’ motivation and self-concepts at the transition from secondary school to higher education while pursuing her Ph.D.
Dicke’s work examines how structural and instructional features of the school environment influence students’ motivational well-being, academic success, career, and life choices in the short- and long-term. Her research focuses on improving the assessment and validation of motivational measures to better understand the nature of the underlying constructs. Dicke received her B.A. in English and American Studies and Psychology from the University of Freiburg, Germany; her M.A. in Psychology from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich; Germany, and her Ph.D. from the Eberhard-Karls-University of Tuebingen, Germany.
Students compare their achievement to different standards in order to evaluate their ability. We built on the theoretical frameworks of situated expectancy-value theory, dimensional comparison theory, and the big-fish-little-pond effect literature to examine the role of social and dimensional comparisons for ability self-concept and subjective task value (STV) in secondary school and university major choice. We used two German longitudinal data sets from different cohorts with data collection in 12th grade and 2 years after high school graduation (Study 1: N = 2,207, Study 2: N = 1,710). Dimensional and social comparisons predicted students’ self-concept and domain-specific STV in school: Individual achievement was positively related to ability self-concept and STV in the corresponding domain and negatively related in the noncorresponding domain. School-level mean achievement was negatively related to ability self-concept and STV in the corresponding domain. Dimensional comparisons were directly related to university major choice, social comparisons were only indirectly related.
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