My publications

Recent international publications

Find below my five most recent international publications. At the bottom of the page, links to all my publications can be found, ordered by topic.

2021 Who are the low educational achievers? An analysis in relation to gender, emotional stability and conscientiousness
Applied Economicswehnerschils

Low educational qualification, i.e. reaching no or only a very basic educational degree, substantially decreases an individual’s prospects on todays labor market. Emotional stability and conscientiousness are known to be predictive of educational achievement. Nevertheless, the moderating role of these two personality traits on the outcome of low educational qualification, and the interaction with gender are far less explored. In this paper, we use rich data from the British Cohort Study 1970 to analyze the relationship between personality measured in adolescence and educational achievement in adulthood. Our results show that less emotionally stable and less conscientious females have the highest risk of reaching only a low educational qualification. In contrast, more emotionally stable and less conscientious males face an above average risk of reaching a low educational qualification. Our results suggest that neglecting gender differences in the moderating relation of these two personality traits on low educational achievement is likely misleading.

2021 When academic achievement (also) reflects personality: Using the Personality-Achievement-Saturation-Hypothesis (PASH) to explain differential associations between achievement measures and personality traits
Journal of Educational Psychology

Students’ academic achievement is a key predictor of various life outcomes. The two most prominent measures of academic achievement are grades and standardized test scores. Both measures are commonly used during selection processes as well as for educational monitoring and accountability. Research has suggested that grades and test scores are strongly related to students’ characteristics (e.g., cognitive abilities) but might differentially reflect personality. In order to better explain differential personality-achievement associations, it is important to move beyond the dichotomy of grades versus test scores. To this end, we propose the personality-achievement saturation hypothesis (PASH), which suggests that associations between personality and achievement vary, depending on four main features of the achievement measure used: level of standardization, relevance for the student, curricular validity, and instructional sensitivity. The PASH suggests that conscientiousness should typically be more strongly associated with grade point average, followed by course grades and final examination grades, whereas openness should be more strongly associated with test scores. We used data from three large-scale studies (total N = 14,953) and aggregated our findings. In line with the PASH, conscientiousness was most strongly related to grades, which have lower standardization, moderate to high relevance, high curricular-validity, and high instructional sensitivity, whereas it had substantially weaker associations with more highly standardized, less curriculum-valid, and less instructionally sensitive measures. In addition, openness was most strongly related to highly standardized, less relevant, less curriculum-valid, and less instructionally sensitive measures in English. Implications for the ways in which achievement measures can be used are discussed.

2020  A randomized field experiment using self-reflection on school behavior to help students in secondary school reach their performance potential
Frontiers in psychology – Personality and Social Psychology, 11(1356), 1-18
Recent policy reports documented that a growing group of students in secondary education could perform better given their expected performance. Studies showed that school performance is related to a range of social-emotional factors, including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and responsible decision making. However, experimental studies in schools on the relation between these factors and school performance are scarce and results are mixed. This study used a randomized field experiment to examine whether self-reflection on school behavior of underperforming secondary school students affected their school performance (GPA), school engagement and self-concept. The sample comprised 337 9th grade students (M = 15.74 years old; SD = 0.58) from 18 secondary schools in the Netherlands. The intervention was designed in co-creation with teachers, to be as close to school practice as possible. Underperformance was measured using achievement test scores from both primary and secondary school, supplemented with teacher and parental assessments. Different model specifications were estimated to perform the analyses, and test for robustness of findings. The results showed that for treatment compliance, students with higher school motivation were approximately 29 percent more likely to comply. Students who reported higher levels of self-concept of school tasks were 17 percent less likely to comply. No significant effects of the treatment were observed on students’ GPA, school motivation, hours spent on homework or self-concept of school tasks. The treatment showed a negative effect on self-concept of leadership skills.

2019  Positive social relationships with peers and teachers as moderators of the Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect
Learning and Individual Differences, 70:21-29.
Students’ academic self-concepts (ASCs) are largely formed relative to the ability of their reference group. The Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect (BFLPE), according to which equally able students have lower ASCs in high-achieving classrooms than in low-achieving ones, is extremely robust. Social relationships are known to be important for self-perception. This study aims at analyzing social relationships as potential moderators of the BFLPE, focusing on two core partners in classrooms: peers and teachers. Multilevel structural equation modeling was applied to test the moderator hypotheses, drawing on data from a sample of N=7004 secondary school students. Whereas no support was found for a moderating effect of peer relationships, data supported the assumed moderation of the BFLPE through student-teacher relationships. Students with positive teacher relations experienced smaller BFLPEs than students with negative or average teacher relations. The study illustrates how relationships moderate frame of reference effects that are central to the formation of ASCs.

2016  Does the teacher beat the test? The additional value of teacher assessment in predicting student ability
De Economist, 164(4): 391-418.
eftsbwThis research investigates to what extent the subjective teacher’s assessment of children’s ability predicts children’s outcomes in the transition from primary to secondary school in terms of initial track allocation, track switching in the first three years of secondary education and subsequent test scores. We apply micro-data from the Netherlands about cognitive test scores and teacher’s assessment in primary schools and about track placement, track switching and test scores in secondary schools. Our estimates suggest that the subjective teacher’s assessment is about twice as important as the primary school cognitive test scores for initial track placement in secondary school. In addition, the teacher’s assessment is more predictive of track allocation in 9th grade compared to cognitive test scores. Next, children who switch tracks are more likely to be placed in tracks based on test scores. Also, test scores in 9th grade are predicted by the subjective teacher’s assessment, not by test scores in 6th grade.

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