Sofie Van Cauwenberghe

The Columbus instrument: a tool for study orientation towards higher education

My doctorate is embodied in the ‘Columbus’ project and targets on cognitive and non-cognitive predictive skills and concepts on study orientation, academic achievement and decision-making in Flemish higher education. To improve the process of making the transition towards higher education, the Flemish government gave order to develop a study orientation tool. The high rate of students that doesn’t manage to pass in the first year of post-secondary education proves that students are in need of valid tools that help them choose a study program that maximally suits their interests and potential. Therefore ‘Columbus’ combines several tests, questionnaires and scales measuring constructs as motivation, areas of interests, self-efficacy, choosing processes, study strategies, reasoning, vocabulary, academic language proficiency, and basic and advanced mathematics. ‘Columbus’ aims to (re)orient students at risk by giving feedback and boosting their self-reflection. I intent to further investigate the validity and reliability of the orientation instrument. Due to the rich data set another purpose is to explore whether Columbus effectively can predict the academic achievement of students in their first years in tertiary education.