ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 49 ›› Issue (12): 1513-1523.

### Long-term effects of choice of major, social support, learning engagement on college students’ interest in their major

PAN Yingqiu

1.  (Institute of Psychology, School of Public Policy, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361005, China)
• Received:2016-05-13 Published:2017-12-25 Online:2017-10-25
• Contact: PAN Yingqiu, E-mail: ypan001@xmu.edu.cn
• Supported by:

Abstract:  Previous research suggested that about 40% of Chinese undergraduate students report that the majors they are studying are not congruent with their interest. To shed light on the underlying factors and processes that shape college students’ interest in their major, a longitudinal study was conducted to investigate whether and how factors including students’ initial choice of major, academic engagement (i.e., critical thinking, and time and study environment management) and social support (i.e., peer relatedness and help-seeking from teachers) in the first three years of college would shape students’ interest in their major in the third year of college. A total of 729 freshmen from a comprehensive university with high academic reputation in southern China participated in the study. 633 (305 males and 328 females) of them (87%) continued to participate in the study in the second and third years of college. The sample attrition rate for each year was about 8%. The main reason for the sample attrition was that students were not available at the time of data collection. Students from the same major program completed questionnaires in a group at a specific time in their classroom. Questionnaires were collected in the same procedure by the same experimenter in December of each year. Latent Growth Modeling was used to analyze data. It was found that students’ critical thinking as well as time and study environment management steadily decreased from Year 1 to Year 3 while peer relatedness showed an increasing pattern over the three years. It was also found that the students’ initial choice of their major and a higher level of critical thinking in the first year positively predicted students’ interest in their major in the junior year. The slopes of both critical thinking and time and study environment management from Year 1 to Year 3 also showed a positive prediction to students’ interest in their major. That is, students who demonstrated a higher level of critical thinking or were better in time and study environment management from Year 1 to Year 3 were more interested in their major in the junior year. Help seeking from teachers in the junior year also had a positive contribution to students’ interest in their major. In short, college students’ initial choice of major, critical thinking, time and study environment management, and help seeking from teachers are critical for college students’ interest in their major. College students’ deceasing critical thinking and time and study environment management is worthy of attention for researchers and educators in higher education institutes.

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