Introduction to Special issue Vol. 9 No. 2 (2021)


Transition to higher education is a widely examined topic. However, higher education is currently a field in continuous change, due to global health, economic and social developments. This special issue provides empirical research on transition to higher education in the context shaped by these developments, where especially diversity of the student population is a salient feature. The special issue contributes to a better understanding of factors that can influence successful or less stressful transitions into higher education for a diverse student body. To achieve this aim, the special issue goes beyond considering individual factors, such as student characteristics, to examine also the impact of the institutional environments and of national educational policies. The methodological contribution complements the substantive one, through employing research designs that can allow a widened empirical examination combining the various individual, institutional and policy levels. The studies focus on different methodologies and approaches to studying the role of diversity in the transition process. 

The study of Van der Zanden, Denessen, Cillessen, and Meijer longitudinally investigates the relationships between teacher practices in secondary education and first-year student academic achievement and social and emotional adjustment at university. Results show that teachers in secondary education have a long-term impact on first-year students’ social and emotional adjustment. 

Willems, van Daal, Van Petegem, Coertjens and Donche investigate how students’ psychosocial variables at the end of secondary education impact academic adjustment in two HE contexts: professional and academic. The findings highlight that the role of individual characteristics for academic success differs from one context to another. 

The study by Jenert and Brahm identifies three profiles of first-year students that demonstrate the individual diversity of the student body, with different reactions to the characteristics and events of the first-year environment among students, emphasising the need for more customised support structures during the first year of higher education.

Bohndick, Bosse, Jänsch, and Barnat endorsed a person-centred approach combined with structural equation modelling on the perception of institutional requirements, suggesting the value of differences in the perception of requirements as a guideline for the design of support activities.

The study of De Clercq, Hospel, Galand and Frenay highlights the diversity of the student body in 21 study programs, with students’ differences in perception as the characteristics of the context explaining success variation. 

Balloo and Winstone provide a methodological demonstration on how institutions can carry out nuanced analyses of their institutional data by combining different levels of analysis of diversity. The findings inform understanding of potential reasons for differential study success during transition to HE and the design of context-specific interventions focused on reducing achievement gaps. 

In their study, Dalhberg, Vigmo and Surian, compare institutional policies of two higher education institutions in Sweden and Italy and ethnographically  investigate generated student narratives regarding their individual transition to Higher Education from a migrant perspective. Results show how policy ideas about widening participation and transition shape students’ experiences of participation, normalisation, and marginalisation in their own HEI. 

The commentary article by Van der Meer connects the articles from this special issue to research in the New Zealand HE context and poses the question of diversity in relation to the concept of “the whole student”. The discussion engages with issues raised by the contributions in the field of transitioning to HE as well as further developing the theoretical model of addressing diversity in HE.

Introduction to Vol. 9 No. 1 (2021)


Learning and Instruction is mostly a complex process. This assumption is more and more reflected by measures and methods. The first two studies in this issue demonstrate that with elegant methods the process over time can disentangle individual learning processes. The third study shows a simple method to avoid assessment errors in judging learning outcomes.

Schick et al. used the Q-methodology for sorting questions in a longitudinal study. They measured the attitude towards patient communication of senior medical students across one year. The resulting attitude profiles reflect different developmental patterns over time. 

Davis & Hadwin introduced a diary tool for self-regulated learning for university students. They differentiated the individual regulation processes over time and show that the students who always attained their goals end up with higher personal well-being. The results from the process mining were visualized with two videos: video 1 and video 2

Jansen et al. explored the influence of spelling errors on the overall assessment of second-language student essays. They identified a halo effect that spelling errors negatively bias processing of the content. Prompting this fact in a second study could reduce these halo effects.

Introduction to Vol.8 No.6 (2020)


Dear reader,

The quest for scientific knowledge is always a long and winding pathway. This issue of FLR reflects this pathway and possible crossroads. All articles in this issue try to find different data sources to improve empirical data quality. The message is clear: don’t trust only one data source and use multiple data sources creatively. 

Klaus Beck analysed the role of expert for ensuring content validity of psychological and educational test. For this purpose, he reviewed 72 published reports within two research programs in Germany for academic and vocational education. His conclusion was that methodological procedures of qualitative and quantitative input from experts should be improved. 

Heemskerk & Malmberg triangulated self-reports and observations in the classroom for 5 days to identify the engagement of pupils in the classroom. Engagement varied more greatly within lessons than between lessons and whole-group instruction was associated with the lowest level of engagement. 

Zhao et al. introduced an interesting new online measure: the distance to the screen. Closer head-to-screen distance can indicate a challenging task. Larger fluctuation can indicate high cognitive load and predict upcoming response accuracy. 

Jorion et al. used log files generated by an interactive tangible tabletop. Different museumgoers collaborated in a complex situation to catch fish. With clustering techniques and heatmaps, patterns for unstructured activities were identified. These patterns appear to be a meaningful addition to observation data. 

Mouw et al. combined person-oriented, process-oriented, and effect-oriented analytical approaches for analysing the perspective-taking ability of primary-school children. The effect of perspective-taking ability on cooperative behaviours and learning outcomes depends on its conceptualization and measureme

You can find the complete issue of Frontline Learning Research here.

Stay healthy!

Prof. Dr. Thomas Martens

Editor-In-Chief Frontline Learning Research

Introduction to Vol. 8 No. 4 (2020)


Dear reader,

As you might already know, our dear colleague and friend Dr. Stuart Karabenick passed away on August 1st. Just a few weeks ago, he finished a very thoughtful review for this issue of FLR. We are all very sad and will miss him and his valuable expertise. I am sure that his research ideas will continue to inspire a lot of researchers in the future.

This issue of Frontline Learning Research covers an interesting variety of learning research: person-centered approaches, interactions between teachers and students and interactions between peers. 

Li et al. show that interest-driven socio-digital participation between friends in grade 7 becomes more similar over time. This could be used for bridging the gap between students’ informal interests and educational practices.

Draijer et al. explore the structure of interest. With the help of latent profile analysis, they show that homogeneous and heterogeneous structures co-exist. Measures of interest should account for this multidimensionality.

Knoop-van Campen and Molenaar show ­that dashboards have the potential to enhance teachers’ feedback practices and to complement human-prompted feedback, especially when dashboards are integrated into teachers’ professional routines.

Broda et. al. examine the relations between student reports of their own writing-related self-regulation and teacher reports of student writing-related self-regulation. Preliminary evidence points to the durable nature of student-teacher discrepancy as a predictor of more subjective academic outcomes.

Hirt et. al. differentiate types of help-seeking strategies with a person-centered approach. Avoiding help-seeking can be separated from working independently and individual help-seeking strategies can be switched over time.

Stay healthy!

Prof. Dr. Thomas Martens

Editor-In-Chief Frontline Learning Research