Within the STELA project, the case studies take a central role. Furthermore, they are all founded on three common underlying principles.
Feedback has been a proven powerful tool for improving student achievement, but its effectiveness depends on the type of feedback and the circumstances under which feedback is given. During the transition from secondary to higher education this feedback is considered pivotal regarding student motivation, confidence, retention, and success.
Interventions are designed such that they allow for a good return-on-investment. The interventions within the project aim at achieving this good return-on-investment in two ways: 1) by targeting particular online courses, reaching a lot of users, with tailored-solutions. 2) by targeting entire programs at higher education institutes with rather generic, but scalable solutions such that they can be easily transferred to other programs or higher education institutes.
The transition from secondary to higher education is challenging both from the academic and social perspective. Students have to adapt their study and learning strategies to the new context of higher education, but, a priori it is often not clear for students how and to what extend they have to adapt.
The social-comparison theory states that people evaluate their abilities through comparison to others when they are lacking objective means of comparison. As students enter a new social group when starting in higher education, they lack a comparison framework, which induces uncertainty about their abilities. Social comparison has shown potential to increase student achievement. The feedback in the interventions of the STELA project provide prospective or first-year students with the ability to position themselves with respect to their peers.