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An item has always two values the value on the server (session), and on the client (browser).
If you want the value of the browser to be written to the server you need to make contact with the database somehow.
One way is ofc a full page submit, but thats a little overkill for one item. An easy workaround since Apex 4.0 is creating a dynamic action.
The event is then the change of the item select list.
And the action is PL/SQL code. As code you can just type NULL; and in items to submit you enter your item. This way the value of the browser is written to the session after the item was changed in the browser.
Or, if you need a persisted session state value, but you don't want to submit the whole page, then you can create a Dynamic Action that fires when the select list changes:
Event: Change, Selection Type: Item(s), Item Name,
Specify Action as "Execute PL/SQL Code",
as the code to be executed,
and finally enter the select list's item name in "Page Items to Submit".
This will momentarily send the select list's value to the server and persist it in session state.
@Joni: you were faster :-)