22 SES 14 A, Modeling and Measuring Academic Competencies in Higher Education
The increasing importance of tertiary education to society has led to ongoing changes in education policy as well as higher education structures and practices in Europe. Nevertheless, the effects of these transitions on the learning outcomes of students of higher education institutions have been neglected in international empirical education research. Current research on assessing students’ knowledge and skills in higher education is limited (cf. Blömeke, Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, Kuhn & Fege, 2013; Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, Shavelson & Kuhn, 2015). Some instruments for measuring learning outcomes in higher education in standardized ways have been developed in Australia and the USA and have been implemented in some OECD countries, for example, within the framework of the “Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes” (AHELO) (Tremblay et al. 2012). These existing approaches reveal the manifold challenges entailed in endeavoring to assess academic knowledge and skills validly and reliably. When modeling academic competencies theoretically, curricular and occupational requirements, must be considered. Assessing competencies in higher education is challenging because of limited time for testing resulting from specific course timesslots. Moreover, it has to account for the structure of the competencies being assessed and the possibility of that structure changing over time. Although there is a strong need for appropriate instruments for assessing competencies in higher education, it is hardly surprising that there is a lack of them for most university subjects in the whole of Europe (cf. Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, Shavelson & Kuhn, 2015).
The aim of this symposium is to draw attention to various important aspects of and steps in the process of modeling and measuring academic competencies in higher education. One of the focuses of this symposium is the validation of test instruments. Studies are presented on the predictive validity of a criterion to judge the accuracy of transition decisions in school and the factorial validity of a test battery assessing preschool teachers’ knowledge. In addition, the influence of gender - one of the most relevant background variables of a student – on the acquisition of academic knowledge is analyzed in a cross-national comparison. Moreover, questions about the correlation of competencies and performance and decisions during academic education (e.g. drop-out rates in engineering mechanics) as well as on aspects of in-school performance (e.g. teachers’ diagnostic competencies) will be discussed. Finally, the question of potential didactic solutions and possible interventions is tackled in this symposium: findings will be presented on a fully integrated cooperation-based project curriculum in business education as well as on the potential of using knowledge of pre/misconceptions for a formative assessment of students of engineering mechanics.
By integrating five national perspectives and focusing on various facets of the valid assessment of academic knowledge and skills, the symposium contributes to the overall discourse of measuring learning outcomes in a transforming higher education system in Europe.
References Blömeke, S., Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, O., Kuhn, C., & Fege, J. (Eds.) (2013). Modeling and measuring competencies in higher education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Trembley, K., Lalancette, D. & Roseveare, D. (2012). Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes. Feasibility Study Report. Volume 1 – Design and Implementation. OECD. Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, O., Pant, H. A., Kuhn, C., Toepper, M. & Lautenbach, C. (2014). Sachstandexpertise zu Messung akademisch vermittelter Kompetenzen und Leistungen von Studierenden bzw. Hochschulabsolventen – Analyse zum nationalen und internationalen Forschungsstand. Im Auftrag des Bundesministeriums für Bildung und Forschung. (unveröffentlichtes Dokument).
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