09 SES 04 C, Assessment in Higher Education (III)
Parallel Paper Session
The purpose of this study was to investigate the relations between argumentative writing, critical thinking, and educational achievement at the university-level. Specifically, we want to make a contribution to research on writing in higher education. In contrast to our knowledge of writing development from elementary school through high school, scientific knowledge of writing development at the university-level is relatively less advanced (Manzi, Flotts, & Preiss, In press). Interest on university-level writing has grown as a consequence of the deficits in proficiency showed by students entering tertiary education. As a large part of high-school graduates lack the abilities required to produce good writing, many universities -including very selective ones- have been forced to pay attention to their students’ entry-level writing skills as well as their development during undergraduate education.
In Chile, where the research initiative here described was implemented, there is a growing concern for the writing proficiency reached by high school graduates (Manzi, et al., In press). Although Chile does not possess an initiative for assessing writing on a systematic basis, such as the NAEP, international evidence shows that Chile performs below the international average in related measures of literacy (Unidad de Currículum y Evaluación, 2011).
In addition to our interest in writing, we want to make a contribution to the current debate on the nature of the measures used in university admissions. There is a growing awareness shared by psychologists and educationalists alike that the set of measures conventionally used in university admissions possesses several limitations (Atkinson & Geiser, 2009; Grigorenko, et al., 2009; Sternberg, 2004). Present initiatives targeting these limitations have called for the inclusion of alternative measures to conventional IQ tests such as measures of creativity, practical intelligence, critical thinking, and rational thinking (Kaufman, 2010; Stanovich & Stanovich, 2010; Sternberg, 2004). As part of this trend to look for alternatives to the usual constructs measured in university admissions processes, writing and critical thinking assessment has seen a resurgence (Shaw, Mattern, & Patterson, 2011).
The introduction of writing measures for admission purposes have brought to the fore the issue of gender differences in academic achievement. In contrast to the male advantage in performance on standardized tests of mathematics, females score better than males in verbal tasks and, particularly, in writing measures (Halpern, 2000). Because of the existing evidence of gender differences in verbal skills, we explore whether gender differences are related to differences in performance in our measures.
In summary, we investigate the relations between argumentative writing, thinking skills, and educational achievement at the university-level. We assess whether proficiency in writing is related to performance in a test measuring argument analysis skills and a test measuring skills in thinking as hypothesis testing as well as using likelihood and uncertainty. In addition, we assess whether writing proficiency is related to performance in syllogistic reasoning as well as to performance in proxies of knowledge in the verbal and mathematical domains. Speciall attention is given to gender differences.
Atkinson, R. C., & Geiser, S. (2009). Reflections on a century of college admissions tests. Educational researcher, 38, 665-676. Grigorenko, E. L., Jarvin, L., Diffley III, R., Goodyear, J., Shanahan, E. J., & Sternberg, R. J. (2009). Are SSATs and GPA Enough? A Theory-Based Approach to Predicting Academic Success in Secondary School. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101, 964-981. Halpern, D. F. (2000). Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Kaufman, J. C. (2010). Using creativity to reduce ethnic bias in college admissions. Review of General Psychology, 14, 189-203. Manzi, J., Flotts, P., & Preiss, D. D. (In press). Design of a college-level test of written communication. Theorethical and methodological challenges. In E. L. Grigorenko, E. Mambrino & D. D. Preiss (Eds.), Writing. A Mosaic of perspectives. New York: Psychology Press. Shaw, E. J., Mattern, K. D., & Patterson, B. F. (2011). Discrepant SAT Critical Reading and Writing Scores: Implications for College Performance. Educational Assessment, 16, 145-163. Stanovich, K. E., & Stanovich, P. J. (2010). A framework for critical thinking, rational thinking and intelligence. In D. D. Preiss & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.), Innovations in educational Psychology. Perspectives on learning, teaching and human development (pp. 195-237). New York: Springer Publishing Company. Sternberg, R. J. (2004). Theory-based University admissions testing for a New Millennium. Educational Psychologist, 39, 185-198. Unidad de Curriculum y Evaluación. (2009). Informe de resultados de escritura SIMCE [Report of SIMCE Writing results]. Santiago, Chile: Ministerio de Educación. Unidad de Currículum y Evaluación. (2011). Resultados PISA 2009 Chile. Competencias de los estudiantes chilenos de 15 años en lectura, matemática y ciencias. [PISA results 2009. 15-years old Chilean students' competencies in reading, mathematics, and sciences]. Santiago, Chile: Ministerio de Educación.
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