09 SES 01 B, Measuring Cognitive Processes and Domain-General Competencies
The further development of a knowledge-based society depends on the degree to which people are able to formulate appropriate questions and people’s skills to find answers to these questions. Society hence expects people to be able to cope with complex problems (Commission of European Communities, 2002; De Groof, Donche, & Van Petegem, 2012). From this perspective it is an important goal for students in upper secondary education (Brew, 2013; De Groof, Donche, & Van Petegem, 2012). Research on educational attainment shows that research competencies are a crucial element of a successful trajectory for students in university education (Brew, 2006). Paying more attention to research skills in upper secondary education thus may increase the amount of students that complete undergraduate university education.
In Flanders the upper secondary education curricula demand acquiring research competencies. Also for behavioral and social science subjects specific goals related to these competencies are formulated (VLOR, 1999):
- Students can orient themselves on a research problem by collecting, organizing and editing information
- Students can prepare, execute and evaluate a behavioral and social science research problem
- Students can report on the results of research in behavioral and social sciences (including discussions that include different points of view)
Based on these goals students with a background in behavioral and social sciences in upper secondary education should possess a fair amount of research competencies before they enter university. However, students with a high school degree in behavioral and social sciences show (much) lower success rates in their first year of undergraduate education than students with a background in mathematics, economics, languages and/or sciences (Ministry of Education, 2014). This might be an indication of a discrepancy between the formulated goals and the attainment of these goals. Thus far no validated tests are available to assess research competencies among upper secondary school students in behavioral and social sciences. To heighten the formative potential of upper secondary regarding research competencies, one first of all needs to assess which precise competencies students have and which they lack. Therefore a Research Competencies Test (ReCoTe) has to be developed.
In this paper we describe the development and validation of a test measuring research competencies among upper secondary school pupils in behavioral and social sciences.
For designing the test the researchers used the specific research goals for behavioral and social sciences as stipulated by the department of education in Flanders, information from tests in other domains (e.g. sciences and health sciences: Clase, Gundlach & Pelaez, 2010; Bracke & Graveel, 2014), and general information on assessment and on research competencies in social sciences and humanities at university level (Billiet & Waege, 2003; Dochy & Janssens, 2003) as a starting point to formulate a mix of constructed response and forced choice items. Subsequently the long version of the test was used in focus groups (Vogt, King & King, 2004) and cognitive interviews to adapt, validate and reduce the proposed items. Finally the items were tested on approximately 250 upper secondary school students in 28 behavioral and social science classes.
The design of the test will be discussed in more detail in the methods/methodology section.
Billiet, J. & Waege, H. (2003). Een samenleving onderzocht: Methoden van Sociaal-Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek. Antwerpen: De Boeck. Bracke, S. & Graveel, J.G. (2014). Using Calibrated Peer Review to Teach Basic Research Skills, Natural Sciences Education, 43 (1), 11-15. Brew, A. (2013). Understanding the scope of undergraduate research: a framework for curricular and pedagogical decision-making. Higher Education, 1-16. doi:10.1007/s10734-013-9624-x Clase, K.L., Gundlach, E. & Pelaez, N.J. (2010). Calibrated peer review for computer-assissted learning of biological research competencies. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 38 (5), 290-295. Commission of the European Communities, Strata-Etan Expert Group (2002). Developing foresight for the development of higher education/research relations in the perspective of the European research area (ERA). Brussels: European Commission, Directorate General for Research. De Groof, J., Donche, V., & Van Petegem, P. (2012). Praktijkgerichte literatuurstudies onderwijsonderzoek: Onderzoekend leren stimuleren: Effecten, maatregelen en principes. Leuven: Acco. Dochy, F. & Janssens, S. (2003). Evaluatie en assessment. In N. Verloop & J. Lowyck (Eds.), Onderwijskunde. Groningen: Wolters-Noordhoff. Ministerie van Onderwijs en Vorming (2014). Onderwijskiezer. SO: 3e graad Algemeen Secundair Onderwijs (ASO). [14.12.2014, Ministerie van Onderwijs en Vorming: http://www. onderwijskiezer.be/v2/secundair/sec_3graad_aso.php]. Vlaams Ministerie van Onderwijs en Vorming. (n.d.). Curriculum. Wat heb je vandaag op school geleerd? Secundair onderwijs, derde graad ASO, humane wetenschappen, specifieke eindtermen. Retrieved from http://www.ond.vlaanderen.be/curriculum/secundair- onderwijs/specifieke-eindtermen-aso/-/humane-wetenschappen/specifieke-eindtermen.htm Vogt, D.S., King, D.W. & King, L.A. (2004). Focus Groups in Psychological Assessment: Enhancing Content Validity by Consulting Members of the Target Population. Psychological Assessment, 16 (3), 231-243
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