TheEnhancing Learning Experiences in Higher Education: International Conference Assessment experience of first-year univer...
Outline<br /><ul><li>Academic challenges experienced by first-year students
Background of the study
Initial findings of two research questions
Limitations of the study</li></ul>2<br />
Unfamiliar: high school to university (1) <br />Students experience a number of problems when they transit from high schoo...
Unfamiliar: high school to university (2) <br />Many academics made complaints about students’ attitude towards university...
Assessment experience: high school<br />Learning culture: assessment driven, competitive [non-collaborative], assessment o...
Background to the study<br />Sampling of the study <br />Students from three universities in Hong Kong were invited:<br />...
Background to the study (2)<br />Grouping of interviews<br />Local  (52 students in 14 focus group interviews) – reported ...
Summary of institution participation<br />8<br />
Research questions<br />What experiences of assessment interviewees had when preparing for internal and public examination...
RQ1: Assessment experiences in high school<br />10<br />The A-level curriculum is not designed to prepare school students ...
RQ1: Assessment experiences in high school (2)<br />11<br />School teachers inculcate a reading culture; students do it to...
RQ1: Assessment experiences in high school (3)<br />Students were required to write short essay questions in public examin...
RQ1: Assessment experiences in high school (4)<br />Arts stream<br />“I was an art stream student in my secondary school. ...
RQ1: Assessment experiences in high school (5)<br />Science stream<br />“As I studied a science course, I did not have to ...
RQ1: Assessment experiences in high school (6)<br />Businessstream<br />“I was a business student taking accounting, econo...
RQ1: Assessment experiences in high school (7)<br />School students in Hong Kong are used to studying in subject streams a...
RQ1: Assessment experiences in high school (7)<br />They pay attention to the marking criteria and formats, whether struct...
RQ2: Assessment experiences in the first year of university study (1)<br />University students are expected to reframe a n...
Comparison of the reading culture<br />High school<br />University<br />Assigned readings<br />More emphasis on student-ch...
RQ2: Assessment experiences in the first year of university study (2)<br />Types of assessment in university are more dive...
Assessment experience (1)<br />“I am studying engineering and doing mathematics and computer programming, whose works are ...
Assessment experience (2)<br />“The group project in high school would take up our time as well as the mark but the mark w...
Assessment experience (3)<br />“The workload is much greater than the one in high school. As I am studying a double degree...
Expectation on academic writing (1) <br />“My biggest challenge is that I am required to put references. During my school ...
Expectation on academic writing (2)<br />“About the referencing, we were required to provide the source of references and ...
Assessment experience: Having intellectual exchange<br />“During high school, the presentation is simply the PowerPoint an...
Assessment experience: Developing critical thinking<br />“In high school, we memorized all materials. However, university ...
Assessment experience: achieving sustainable learning process<br />“The core assessment here is through the learning. Lect...
Assessment practice<br />School<br />Subject-specific<br />Individuals<br />Assessment format: timed tests and examination...
Unfamiliar<br />30<br />Prior assessment experience<br /><ul><li>Academic expectations
Social integration</li></ul>Assessment becomes a catalyst for:<br /><ul><li>Developing academic proficiency
Preparing students to be lifelong learners</li></ul>First-year assessment experience<br />
Spectrum of liminality*<br />31<br />The rate of transforming from school baggage / culture of learning to becoming an aut...
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Assessment experience of first-year university students:Dealing with the unfamiliar in The Enhancing Learning Experiences in Higher Education: International Conference 2010

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Assessment experience of first-year university students:Dealing with the unfamiliar in The Enhancing Learning Experiences in Higher Education: International Conference 2010

  1. 1. TheEnhancing Learning Experiences in Higher Education: International Conference Assessment experience of first-year university students: Dealing with the unfamiliar<br />Paula Hodgson1, <br />Paul Lam2, <br />Charlotte Chow3<br />1Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong; 2Centre for Learning Enhancement And Research, The Chinese University of Hong Kong; 3Faculty of Social Sciences and Law, University of Bristol<br />1<br />
  2. 2. Outline<br /><ul><li>Academic challenges experienced by first-year students
  3. 3. Background of the study
  4. 4. Initial findings of two research questions
  5. 5. Limitations of the study</li></ul>2<br />
  6. 6. Unfamiliar: high school to university (1) <br />Students experience a number of problems when they transit from high school to university study, such as failure to undergo suitable orientation regarding academic expectations and social integration (Tinto 1993).<br />3<br />
  7. 7. Unfamiliar: high school to university (2) <br />Many academics made complaints about students’ attitude towards university study (Paula’s observation).<br />They often rely on their existing skill sets when they have ventured into an unfamiliar journey: university study (Kuo, Hagie and Miller 2004).<br />‘Learning cultures that students experience before university are a powerful influence on expectations, attitudes and practices as they progress into higher education’ (Ecclestone 2009: 154).<br />4<br />
  8. 8. Assessment experience: high school<br />Learning culture: assessment driven, competitive [non-collaborative], assessment of learning<br />Internal assessment in school<br />Tests (vary in frequency)<br />Sit-in examination (bi-annual)<br />Public examinations<br />General Certificate of Secondary Education<br />Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (Equivalent to A-level in UK, and maths and science one grade higher than UK)<br />Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (new)<br />5<br />
  9. 9. Background to the study<br />Sampling of the study <br />Students from three universities in Hong Kong were invited:<br />The University of Hong Kong<br />The Chinese University of Hong Kong<br />The Hong Kong Polytechnic University<br />First-year students were invited to participate in group interviews on a voluntary basis<br />6<br />
  10. 10. Background to the study (2)<br />Grouping of interviews<br />Local (52 students in 14 focus group interviews) – reported initial findings in this conference<br />Mainland students (44 students)<br />Overseas excluding exchange students (6 students)<br />Sampling representing a mixture of disciplines: <br />arts and humanities, business, health sciences, science, and engineering<br />7<br />
  11. 11. Summary of institution participation<br />8<br />
  12. 12. Research questions<br />What experiences of assessment interviewees had when preparing for internal and public examinations in high school; <br />What experiences they have had when preparing for different assessment activities in the first year in university; <br />What types of feedback experienced in university; <br />What key skills they consider developing further for studying in subsequent years in university; and <br />What types of support services provided by the institution they would like to have<br />9<br />Prior assessment experience<br />First-year assessment experience<br />
  13. 13. RQ1: Assessment experiences in high school<br />10<br />The A-level curriculum is not designed to prepare school students for higher education. It is merely a means of selection for higher education (Birnie 1999). <br />“Examinations in Hong Kong are about the good grade. We never focus on our personal growth, I thought. We were driven to [get] good grades and get in a good university. Therefore we went out and searched for the best and worked with the best.”<br />Student from University A<br />
  14. 14. RQ1: Assessment experiences in high school (2)<br />11<br />School teachers inculcate a reading culture; students do it to prepare for an assignment or examination:<br />“definitely read the textbooks to learn more about…things relating to the assignment questions. And I searched on the Internet because the textbooks were not covering all materials we wrote.”<br />Student from University B<br />“For biology, we were asked to have newspaper cuttings. And we read and collected articles in the newspapers for writing assignments.”<br />Student from University A<br />“The examination was mainly focusing on current affairs. I had the habit of reading newspapers.”<br />Student from University B<br />
  15. 15. RQ1: Assessment experiences in high school (3)<br />Students were required to write short essay questions in public examinations. Generally, writing in high school is more about structured presentation with a clear introduction, a logical flow of the main points and a sound conclusion<br />12<br />
  16. 16. RQ1: Assessment experiences in high school (4)<br />Arts stream<br />“I was an art stream student in my secondary school. I used to write newspaper reviews every week for the English lesson. I wrote an essay each week to practise the format… I wrote down some vocabularies and phrasal words which I could use during the exam…as I reviewed past exam questions, I would jot down the main points and did mind mapping. It was about 1,000 words for subjects like history and geography.”<br />Student from University C<br />13<br />
  17. 17. RQ1: Assessment experiences in high school (5)<br />Science stream<br />“As I studied a science course, I did not have to do much essay writing for such subjects, like mathematics. We worked on the equations and solutions…There were about 600 words for an English essay… For biology, it required about a few hundred words to answer a question. We often went through the points but not the skills in writing.”<br />Student from University B<br />14<br />
  18. 18. RQ1: Assessment experiences in high school (6)<br />Businessstream<br />“I was a business student taking accounting, economics and statistics…My work really depended on everyday practices and exercises, such as doing calculations and problems before reading books on the subjects… Indeed, I don't know how to write essays in university.”<br />Student from University C<br />15<br />
  19. 19. RQ1: Assessment experiences in high school (7)<br />School students in Hong Kong are used to studying in subject streams and have experience of searching for information on the internet.<br />They are exposed to different genres and learn a variety of writing styles needed for subjects across the curriculum in high school. <br />16<br />
  20. 20. RQ1: Assessment experiences in high school (7)<br />They pay attention to the marking criteria and formats, whether structure, construction of logical arguments or points depending on the marking system for a given subject.<br />17<br />School graduates from different streams are accustomed to writing from a few hundred to around 1,000 words without making reference to sources in timed public examinations.<br />
  21. 21. RQ2: Assessment experiences in the first year of university study (1)<br />University students are expected to reframe a new learning culture as they start university life.<br />Independent learning is certainly a significant skill that freshmen are required to master, having been guided closely by school teachers (Smith and Hopkins 2005).<br />Furthermore, they are required to do a lot more reading than in high school. Reading quickly and efficiently and reading widely and for synthesis are the key skills required in university study (Ellis 2008, Green 2006).<br />18<br />
  22. 22. Comparison of the reading culture<br />High school<br />University<br />Assigned readings<br />More emphasis on student-chosen mixed and diverse sources:<br />media,<br />newspapers,<br />journals,<br />books, and <br />web resources (critical analysis of sources and NOWikipedia)<br />Assigned readings<br />Textbooks, newspaper, the Internet,<br />Past exam papers<br />19<br />
  23. 23. RQ2: Assessment experiences in the first year of university study (2)<br />Types of assessment in university are more diverse, and there can be a mixture of assessment tasks within one course. <br />20<br />
  24. 24. Assessment experience (1)<br />“I am studying engineering and doing mathematics and computer programming, whose works are very different. I needed to write essays of around 1,500 words only for the course offered by General Education. The amount of words is double the one in high school.”<br />Student from University B<br />21<br />
  25. 25. Assessment experience (2)<br />“The group project in high school would take up our time as well as the mark but the mark would not affect any of my promotion of class to the next year. We don’t care much. <br />However, the significance of group work in university would affect my GPA and the graduation. That is different from high school. ”<br />Student from University A<br />22<br />
  26. 26. Assessment experience (3)<br />“The workload is much greater than the one in high school. As I am studying a double degree programme, I have projects for business administration and engineering. <br />I am required to take courses from both faculties. Their projects are totally different. For engineering, they are mostly computer programming. I am usually responsible for the logical part. I develop the whole structure and schedule for the part. We use our strengths doing part of a project and learn through others’ work. <br />23<br />For businessadministration, I am experiencing more to develop new ideas with other students. I also have interviews with business leaders. And these interviews contribute a lot to projects.”<br />Student from University B<br />
  27. 27. Expectation on academic writing (1) <br />“My biggest challenge is that I am required to put references. During my school [days], I write what I like. Even though I may not have enough examples for my points, I could elaborate and write it very convincingly. In university, people are always looking for evidence and references. If my writing lacks references and quotes to back up my points, it may affect my grade. I have to maintain a good balance between evidence and my ideas. If I am trying to include too many references, my writing becomes less original. At the same time, I could not just present my own ideas. It has been difficult for me during my first year in university.”<br />Student from University C<br />24<br />
  28. 28. Expectation on academic writing (2)<br />“About the referencing, we were required to provide the source of references and the links when we copied from a journal or news magazine. It was very troublesome. In high school, we simply copied and pasted into our essay. Now we are required to change the sentence structure and deliver the same meaning of messages in our own words.”<br />Student from University A<br />25<br />
  29. 29. Assessment experience: Having intellectual exchange<br />“During high school, the presentation is simply the PowerPoint and outlines. In university, the presentation is held like a mini-seminar. We need to prepare a lot more content, analyse the data, leading the discussion among the classmates. Videos, role plays or some games are required here. It is totally a step up [in] level.”<br />Student from University C<br />26<br />
  30. 30. Assessment experience: Developing critical thinking<br />“In high school, we memorized all materials. However, university encourages us to do lots of critical thinking. And our argument is supported by the information I searched through. The more information to support my points, the stronger my points are. And for what reasons my points are valid. It helps my thinking.”<br />Student from University C<br />27<br />
  31. 31. Assessment experience: achieving sustainable learning process<br />“The core assessment here is through the learning. Lecturers could talk about the theory briefly until you do your projects, [but] you understand more in depth through searching and reading more materials. Thereafter the assessment is kind of the learning process. Doing them, more materials I searched and I read through. I found out I could really learn a lot through doing the presentations and essays.”<br />Student from University C<br />28<br />
  32. 32. Assessment practice<br />School<br />Subject-specific<br />Individuals<br />Assessment format: timed tests and examination<br />Requires less complex information analysis<br />Expect knowledge mastery <br />University<br />Course-based (programme)<br />Individuals/groups<br />Diverse assessment tasks<br />Requires higher-level thinking<br />Expect knowledge mastery and personal growth<br />29<br />
  33. 33. Unfamiliar<br />30<br />Prior assessment experience<br /><ul><li>Academic expectations
  34. 34. Social integration</li></ul>Assessment becomes a catalyst for:<br /><ul><li>Developing academic proficiency
  35. 35. Preparing students to be lifelong learners</li></ul>First-year assessment experience<br />
  36. 36. Spectrum of liminality*<br />31<br />The rate of transforming from school baggage / culture of learning to becoming an autonomous learner in university differs between students.<br />Learning-driven university assessment<br />Examination-driven school assessment<br />*Prof Caroline Baillie, <br />University of Western Australia<br />
  37. 37. Limitations of the study<br />Sample size (14 focus group interviews from three universities in this study)<br />Sampling: not stratified samples; should include university students from disciplines <br />Not a longitudinal study: capturing student reflections on high-school experiences<br />32<br />
  38. 38. References<br />Birnie, J. (1999). Physical geography at the transition to higher education: the effect of prior learning. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 23(1), 49–62.<br />Ellis, D. (2008)In at the deep end? The first year in undergraduate English literature. English Subject Centre Report Series No. 7. Accessed on 28 April 2010 from www.english.heacademy.ac.uk/explore/publications/reports.php<br />Ecclestone, K. (2009). Instrumental or Sustainable Learning? The Impact of Learning Cultures on Formative Assessment in Vocational Education. Assessment, Learning and Judgement in Higher Education, 1-22. <br />Green, A. (2006) University challenge: dynamic subject knowledge, teaching and transition. Arts & Humanities in Higher Education, 5(3), 275–90.<br />Kuo, J., Hagie, C. and Miller, M.T. (2004) Encouraging college student success: the instructional challenges, response strategies, and study skills of contemporary undergraduates. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 31(4), 60–7.<br />Smith, K. and Hopkins, C. (2005). Great expectations: sixth-formers’ perceptions of teaching and learning in degree-level English. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 4(3), 304–18.<br />Tinto, V. (1993) Leaving College: Rethinking the Causes and Cures of Student Attrition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.<br />33<br />
  39. 39. Acknowledgement<br />The project is supported by Seed Funding for Basic Research, Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong.<br />34<br />
  40. 40. 35<br />Q&A<br />Assessment experience of first-year university students: Dealing with the unfamiliar<br />
  41. 41. THANK YOU<br />Contact:<br />Paula Hodgson<br />Email: etpaula@hku.hk<br />Paul Lam<br />Email: paul.lam@cuhk.edu.hk<br />Charlotte Chow<br />Email: edhhcc@bristol.ac.uk<br />36<br />

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