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First-Gen Students May Find Positive Satisfaction by Undermatching

Greg Wolniak

Greg Wolniak and Marjolein Muskens find that attending an undermatched institution “appears to have a positive influence, or no influence, but never a negative influence” on attributes, such as motivation, satisfaction, and self-efficacy.

The researchers studied over 14,500 incoming post-secondary students in the Netherlands to see if undermatching is associated with development of an individual’s affective-psychology. The study intentionally focuses on noncognitive and noneconomic outcomes.

They uncovered strong levels of college satisfaction among first-generation students in undermatched situations and write, “Among first-generations students, undermatching had a positive, statistically significant effect on developing academic self-efficacy.”

The current study does not find to evidence of negative peer-effects. Instead students in the sample were able to participate in more extracurricular events and activities that potentially helped them develop in beneficial ways beyond the classroom.

“Undermatching and Noncognitive Development during the First Year of College: A Longitudinal Study of College Students in the Netherlands” appears in Research in Higher Education

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Associate Professor of Higher Education
Wednesday, February 10, 2021 - 4:30pm

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