AN ASSESSMENT OF STUDENT MOTIVATION AND KNOWLEDGE CONCORDANCE IN BIOLOGICAL SUBJECTS AT THE UNIVERSITY DEGREE
University professors are being increasingly concerned by the low capacity of the students arriving at the university degrees, mainly in the subjects related to biology. In fact, the level of students passing the biology matter in the access test to university is reduced to 45-60%. A progressive decreasing content in the biological subjects and in the time to perform them may be a disadvantage in the development of future students to attend degrees related to life sciences (as Environmental Sciences, Teacher training, etc...). As university Professors of biological subjects at the University of Huelva, Spain, we are specially concerned because of the low background in biological matters in our students from different degrees disables them to acquire and consolidate new knowledge in sciences and to develop related competences and skills as accuracy in the language, a research attitude and the application of the scientific methodology.
The general aim of this study is to evaluate and connect the pre-university preparation of the students in the biological subjects with the development of the learning and the academic success of the subjects related to biology of different degrees at the University of Huelva; this would let us to anticipate and adapt as much as possible the learning tools to the specific characteristics of these students.
We utilized two sources of information from the students to obtain statistical inferences: a) Pre-university academic information (marks from secondary education and from the access test to university) and b) University academic information obtained from the e-learning and teaching process and from ad hoc surveys of students taking biological-related subjects from two different degrees: Teacher Training (TT) and Environmental Sciences (ES).
Briefly, the following are some interesting topics that will be treated more extensively hereinafter (in the paper). A 36% and 80% of students from TT and ES had attending biological subjects in secondary education. The marks of the secondary education and the access test in the TT vs. the ES students are (ranging from 0 to 10) 5.5 vs. 6.0 and 6.1 vs. 6.5, respectively. Academic marks in the first application of the university biological-related subjects are in total 4.6 vs. 5.4 and in those who passed 5.1 and 6.8 in TT (38% passed) and ES (63% passed) respectively. Individual perception and experience about biological-related matters have also been assessed. In a scale from1 to 5, TT students showed a preference of 2.5 vs. 4.1 in the ES group. The difficulty of these subjects in the pre-university education was expressed as 4.4 by TT and 3.5 by ES and the difficulty of the subjects in the university degrees as 4.5 vs. 3.7, respectively, even though the teachers of these subjects (teaching both degrees) have assign a level of difficulty of 2.0 vs. 3.8 for TT and ES. Finally, a correlation exists between the pre-university marks (in both, global and the biology subject) and the academic success in the university biological subjects for all the students and for each degree.
We have detected a positive relationship between pre-university skills in biological subjects and the academic success in the biological-related subjects of different degrees at the university. Furthermore, motivation and the individual perception about preference and difficulty on these matters also appear as a major factor.