First-generation students' underperformance at university: the impact of the function of selection

Abstract : According to recent research, university not only has the role to educate and train students, it also has the role to select the best students. We argue that this function of selection disadvantages first-generation students, in comparison with continuing-generation students. Thus, the mere activation of the function of selection should be sufficient to produce achievement differences between first-generation and continuing-generation students in a novel academic task. Furthermore, we propose that when the function of selection is salient, first-generation students would be more vigilant to a cue that may confirm their inferiority, which should explain their underperformance. In the present experiment, participants were asked to complete an arithmetic modular task under two conditions, which either made the function of selection salient or reduced its importance. Participants' vigilance to a threatening cue (i.e., their performance relative to others) was measured through an eye-tracking technique. The results confirmed that first-generation students performed more poorly compared to continuing-generation students only when the function of selection was salient while no differences appeared in the no-selection condition. Regarding vigilance, the results did not confirm our hypothesis; thus, mediation path could not be tested. However, results indicated that at a high level of initial performance, first-generation students looked more often at the threatening cue. In others words, these students seemed more concerned about whether they were performing more poorly than others compared to their continuing-generation counterparts. Some methodological issues are discussed, notably regarding the measure of vigilance.
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Article dans une revue
Frontiers in Psychology, Frontiers, 2015, 6, pp.710. 〈10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00710〉
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01859638
Contributeur : Mickaël Jury <>
Soumis le : mardi 20 novembre 2018 - 16:40:09
Dernière modification le : samedi 1 décembre 2018 - 01:11:52

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Mickaël Jury, Annique Smeding, Céline Darnon. First-generation students' underperformance at university: the impact of the function of selection. Frontiers in Psychology, Frontiers, 2015, 6, pp.710. 〈10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00710〉. 〈hal-01859638〉

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