ARE THE RESULTS OF A BASIC DIAGNOSTIC ASSESSMENT A GOOD INDICATOR OF SUCCESS IN ACADEMIC EVALUATIONS? SPECIFIC CASE OF A STATISTICS INTRODUCTORY COURSE
University of Mons (BELGIUM)
About this paper:
Conference name: 11th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2019
Location: Palma, Spain
Abstract:Our paper presents the results of a research conducted with 386 students starting their university studies in human sciences (psychology and education sciences, humanities and speech therapy). The initial purpose of our study was to verify if some essential skills necessary for learning the basic concepts and techniques of statistical data processing in the humanities were, or not, acquired. A diagnostic assessment was so organized by the teaching staff at the beginning of the academic year (in September). This assessment was composed of 10 selected items gathered from the external certification tests organized by the French Community of Belgium at the end of primary schooling in order to deliver the Certificate of Basic Studies. The basic skills implemented in these tests are indeed quite close to those that any student should at least be able to mobilize at the very beginning of our introductory course in Bachelor. This study is part of a broad reflection that the pedagogical team of the Department of Human Development and Data Processing (University of Mons) conducts on its teaching practices in order to implement an effective support of success for beginner students. The study thus completes other research carried out in the Department (Bruyninckx, Couvreur & Landercy, 2002, Couvreur, Bruyninckx, Rebella, De Schryver & Leplat, 2005, Bruyninckx, Couvreur & Eboli, 2005, Dutrieux, Cauchie & Bruyninckx, 2010, Dutrieux, Geva, Cauchie & Bruyninckx, 2012).
If we set the performance level at 10/20, our results indicate that almost all students succeed the diagnostic assessment (356/386, or 92.23%). However, given the very basic level of the assessment, we can consider that the average skill level is quite low (m= 15.66/20, SD = 3.33). If we set the threshold at 15/20 (which could reasonably be expected), they are only 254 (65.80%) to succeed. Furthermore, the different questions are associated with rather variable success statistics (between 73.83% and 79.02% of students for six items, between 32.90% and 54.5% for the other four). We also analyzed the individual outcomes trajectories of all the students during the academic year. Thus, we can note that only 116 of the 254 students who passed the diagnostic test (that is 45.67%) also passed the course examination during the first evaluation period in January; 108 (42.52%) failed and 30 (11.81%) did not even try. If mastering basic prerequisites does not seem to be a direct predictor of immediate success in academic evaluations, we however notice that it is strongly related to a longer-term success. Indeed, at the end of the academic year (after three evaluation periods), among the 200 students who finally passed the examination, we found 151 (75.5%) who had a satisfactory level at our diagnostic assessment at the beginning of their cursus. In other words, even if they do not succeed at the first opportunity (perhaps because they need time to adapt to the university environment), they are the ones who seem to persevere and finally succeed.
Keywords: Higher Education, Academic Evaluations, Basic Diagnostic Assessment.