P3 – The role of time perspective in study success

Room C – TUESDAY 14:15-15:15

Drs. Jeany van Beelen-Slijper

University of Groningen – faculty of behavourial and social sciences / developmental pscychology

Inholland University of Applied Sciences / domain Business, Finance, Law

I am working at Inholland university as account manager for incoming students. I am also coordinator for different orientation trajectories for prospects. For Inholland, I am doing a Phd study about the study process of first year students, from a developmental psychological perspective, at the University of Groningen.


We examined how we can help students effectively in the process from study-choice to study-succes. The paper-session focuses on the difference in time perspective with which first year students start their studies. Students with a distal time perspective run higher risk to drop out than students with a proximal perspective. Furthermore, more intensive preparation to study choice is related to less drop out.


In my paper I will present the first results based on a Phd study aiming at the improvement of the transition from secondary to higher education. I will discuss the first preliminary analyses, relevant for one of the main themes of the conference: How do we prepare students for subsequent studies, and according to this theme, what kind of interventions could be used when guiding future students in their study process?

In the longitudinal study, 89 first-year law students were investigated before and during the first year of their bachelor studies in law1. Based on Erik Erikson’s seminal work on IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT THROUGHOUT THE LIFE SPAN, study and career choice can be considered as the most central domain of identity formation (Erikson,1968). Furthermore, exploration and commitment formation are seen as two fundamental aspects of identity development. In the exploratory study, students were interviewed and an instrument of the Groningen University was used: the Groningen Identity Development Scale, called GIDS. (Bosma, 1985; Kunnen & van der Gaag 2012). Interviews were used to shed light on the students’ development before and during their first year, and focused on a qualitative approach. Moreover, the GIDS helped us to measure the strengths of exploration and commitment scores over time. By following each student individually over time, we investigated how students develop in their study choice process. The scores for commitment strength and exploration strength allowed us to distinguish between different sequential patterns of identity statuses (Marcia, 1966), that can be considered as indicative of stable, progressive, regressive or fluctuating developmental pathways (Bosma & Kunnen, 2001).

Preliminary analyses suggest that students differ with regard to the time perspective with which they start their studies, and this time perspective is related to their study results. Students that put the focus on the here and now in general continue their studies, while students focussing on the future, the ulterior profession being their main concern, drop out more frequently. Their doubt about the rightness of their choice is rather a doubt about the profession, and not about the study itself. Their image of this profession is abstract and simple, and they have a future time perspective that seems to be driven by extrinsic motivation. Students that are more successful are more present-oriented and focus more on study related topics, such as the study programme. They are less occupied with what they are going to do in the future, are more task-oriented and more intrinsically motivated. These results are in accordance with the self-determination theory of Deci and Ryan (1985).

Furthermore, first analyses suggest that the more intensive and the longer students prepare themselves for their future study, the less they drop out. The respondents in our study were distributed over 6 groups, on the basis of introduction programs of different length and intensity. Especially for this conference it is interesting to discuss these different trajectories, such as summer school or trial days. How can we help students effectively in their study choice process, and what kind of choices should institutions make when approaching their prospect students?


Bosma, H. A. & Kunnen, (2001). Determinants and Mechanisms in Ego Identity

Development: A Review and Synthesis. Developmental Review 21, 39–66

Deci, E. L., and Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behavior, Plenum, New York

Erikson, Erik H.(1968) Identity: Youth and Crisis .London, Faber & Faber.

Kunnen, E.S., Bosma, H.A. & Gaag, M.A.E van der (2012). Groninger Identity Development

Scale Revised 2012. , Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.

Marcia, J. E. (1966) Development and validation of ego-identity status. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,3, 551-558.

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