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Competence Assessment in Higher Education. A Pilot Study on the Measurement of Competencies in Empirical Social Research Methods among University Students

Wolter, Felix; Schiener, Jürgen; Ehler, Ingmar

Abstract: In the general education system, standardized competence assessment of students are by now well established (cf. the PISA studies). As concerns the higher education sector, however, evaluation of student achievement is still mostly based on subjective indicators or on indicators that measure input into the educational system (e.g., the funding of universities), although research has clearly pointed out the flaws of this practice. Given the general demand for an objective, standardized competence assessment among university students, it is astonishing that especially in sociology, a discipline which is supposedly sensible for the need of valid measurement instruments and at the same time has the methodological competency to develop them, virtually no research has focused on this issue yet. Our article is intended to start filling this gap. We present results from a pilot study devoted to the definition and measurement of competencies in quantitative empirical social research methods - a core sub-discipline of all social sciences which is particularly well suited for competence measurements - among university students. For this purpose, we present a structural competence model, that was operationalized into test items which were administered to 776 sociology students in Germany and Switzerland. The resulting data were scaled into competence indicators using methods of item response theory. The resulting indicators show satisfactory scale properties and good external validity. Content-related analyses on determinants of student achievement, as measured by the competence indicators, show a fruitful analysis potential of the data. All in all, the results are in favor of further pursuing competence assessments of university students in sociology. For this goal, however, several problems that we also discuss in the paper have to be addressed in the future.

Zugehörige Institution(en) am KIT Institut für Soziologie, Medien- und Kulturwissenschaft (ISMK)
Publikationstyp Forschungsbericht
Jahr 2016
Sprache Englisch
Identifikator DOI(KIT): 10.5445/IR/1000053798
ISSN: 2363-8079
URN: urn:nbn:de:swb:90-537981
KITopen ID: 1000053798
Verlag KIT, Karlsruhe
Umfang 29 S.
Serie Working Paper Series in Sociology ; 3
Schlagworte Competence assessment, measurement, item response theory, higher education, empirical research methods.
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