Merel Dutry

Constructing a tool to support study choice in secondary education

Today in Flanders, secondary education students often make their study choice based on recommendations of class committees, study results, preferences and perceptions of parents and friends. Accordingly, background variables (e.g. SES, gender …) are often given too much weight in the process of choosing a field and level of study. As a result, many students end up in a study program that does not fit their interests and capacities. Such mismatches often have the consequence that students change track multiple times during their secondary education, a phenomenon which is often referred to as the waterfall system.

The Flemish Government has started developing instruments to support the study choice process for higher education (Columbus), in addition to institution-specific instruments (UGent SIMON). However, the need for support in the study choice in secondary education remains.

Moreover, the choices made in secondary education are important and often decisive for careers and possibilities on the labour market. That is why the goal of this Phd is to construct and validate an evidence based tool that helps secondary education students to make a choice that optimally matches their own interests and talents.