ARE 4TH GRADE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS COMPETENT IN ELABORATING FINAL DEGREE THESIS: RESULTS OF A SURVEY AMONGST TEACHER TRAINING STUDENTS
Certain transformations related to the implementation of the European Higher Education Area ( EHEA) that have occurred in recent years in the university institution, such as:
a) increasing the number of subjects studied per academic year;
b) signified changes in the processes and methods of teaching and learning;
c) decreasing the weight of the "closed book" exams and intensified the importance of assessment based on coursework for the students (Moreno Pérez-Ariza & Ferris, 2009); conjugated with, the dense overcrowding and massification of classrooms, and certain technological advances that greatly facilitate the work of documentation and access to information, have led to the fact that elaborating academic essays has become the axis and the epicenter of all learning model aiming to provide autonomy to the student in the process of building their own knowledge.
Furthermore, the EHEA has meant an important novelty: a proposed new organization, which particularly affect the evaluation system. This new approach to learning, includes much more than just the theoretical aspects of the subjects as part of the curriculum and syllabus of the different degrees by incorporating a common element in all universities: the final degree thesis (FDT), regulated in Spain by the Royal Decree 1393/2007.
At this point we should ask ourselves whether university students are competent in developing academic activities such as writing and presenting academic essays. Much of the existing literature directs a negative answer to the question (Area 2010; Comas Sureda & Oliver, 2011; Garcia Lopez & Santos, 2010; Gonzalez & Santana, 2008; Mages & Garson, 2010).
According to two studies conducted at the University of the Balearic Islands -Sureda and Comas (2006) and Morey (2011)- the main difficulties presented by the students in preparing academic assignments and essays have to do with:
- Lack of identifying information needs
- Difficulties in locating and managing information
- Difficulties in assessing the information
- Difficulties in communication and presentation of information in the form of academic
In this paper we present the results of a survey completed by 227 students enrolled in the last course (4th) of teacher training degree at Balearic Islands University during course 2013-14. One of the dimensions studied in the research was if 4th grade students have followed specific courses/seminars on how to ellaborate an academic essay and if they knew what it is an academic citation and what it is a bibliographic reference. Results show that almost half of students have never been trained in ellaborating academic essays and 20% do not know what it is a reference and nearly 10% do not know what it is an academic citation.
This article is part of the activities of the project “Elaboració d’un manual d’estil i videotutorials de suport per a la redacció de Treballs de Fi de Grau per a l’alumnat dels estudis d’Educació Infantil i Educació Primària” funded by the Institut de Ciències de l’Educació of the Balearic Islands University. The co-authors are members of the research group “Educaction and Citizenship” that has consideration of Competitive Group and is sponsored by the Autonomous Community of the Balearic Islands, through the Directorate General for Research, Technologic Development and Innovation of the Ministry of Innovation, Interior & Justice, and has co-financing FEDER funds.