Self-Assessments for Study Orientation: Per Self-Advice for Successful Study?

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Self-assessment systems are intended to give prospective students a foretaste of their studies and thus help them to decide for or against a field of study. How does this work in detail?

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What are Self Assessment Centers?

HAW navigators - sounds a bit like student guides and in principle it is the same: The Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW) wants to give their graduates a taste of their studies with their self-assessment system and thus decide for or against them Faculty of study easier.

As with a virtual student advisory service, prospective students get a lot of information and quickly notice whether a subject suits them or not. However, participation in most subjects is not voluntary: anyone who wants to apply for a place at the HAW should first test their “fit” for the course.

How helpful are self-assessments?

In contrast to assessment centers, which are known from application procedures, one is not observed and assessed by an assessor during the online self-assessment, but assesses himself and tests his suitability for a degree program. Internet-based exercises will be used to check different personality traits according to fitness-diagnostic criteria. The test results are only intended for one person. Self-assessment procedures are used not only at universities, but also by companies specifically for the information of applicants.

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“When I'm with mine Casting I would not have done the self-assessment at the university,

is the twenty-three-year-old Benjamin Pridat from Hamburg, who is now studying mechanical engineering at the HAW in the third semester. Benjamin, who had chosen the course of study in a targeted way, felt strongly supported by the HAW navigators in his study decision. In retrospect, therefore, is glad to have gone through the virtual study advice:

“The program prepared me very well for everything that was later asked of me during my studies. In the test tasks, the focus was exactly on what will be important later in the course. And I also immediately noticed where I still had gaps in knowledge - for example in computer science. ”

What distinguishes self-assessments from suitability tests?

Exactly this orientation is the goal of the HAW navigators, which were developed by the Hamburg CYQUEST GmbH especially for the HAW: In different modules they show with texts, pictures and videos, which contents and requirements the future students expects. The perspectives on the job market are also important: in short films, HAW graduates will inform you about your professional life. You also learn what it means to study. It shows, for example, that you have to organize your own timetable and how to study in a big city like Hamburg - because such factors will decide later on the success of the study, as Joachim Diercks, managing director of CYQUEST explains:

“In Hamburg it can quickly lead to long travel times between the individual study locations. Students who find that too much quickly notice through the self-assessment that they should better study in a small town. Otherwise it is a shame if someone has to stop studying because of such framework conditions. ”

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In addition, the students in Spe also have to solve a number of tasks and test their skills. However, what is inquired is not the material that is dealt with in the study, but the knowledge that should be available from the school. However, the results of these tests are only given to prospective students themselves: they receive feedback on how good they were and an assessment of their level of expected success. Based on this result, they can decide for themselves whether the results seem good enough for them to start their studies. A kind of voluntary self-control, then: Some, like Benjamin, thereby confirmed in their choice of study. Others notice that you have completely misconstrued a course of study: for example, you find that studying psychology also includes a large portion of mathematics and statistics. Or they realize that they lack important fundamentals, which may make it difficult to successfully complete their studies.

Example 1: Technical understanding of the Department of Mechanical Engineering

When designing machine parts spatial imagination is required. Of course, the developer also needs a good understanding of the functional relationships in his design. The abilities discussed here are generally not trained at school. However, the applicants should check whether they can get the job done (the complete task and the solution can be found in the HAW Navigator of the Department of Mechanical Engineering):

When the gear 1 is turned clockwise, in which direction does the gear 6 move? Please mark the variant that you think is correct and then click on Next.

Example 2: Business Case of the Department of Economics

Applicants for the Degree Programs in Foreign Economics / International Management (AIM), Logistics / Technical Business Management or Marketing / Technical Business Administration should, inter alia, go through an interactive case study, familiarizing themselves with the day-to-day work of a product manager and dealing with typical business and economic aspects. We show you a part of the task (you can find the complete task and the solution in the HAW-Navigator of the Department of Economics):

“You are a product manager at“ BEANZ AG ”and responsible for the successful coffee brand“ Jungle-High ”, a high quality coffee from the best Colombian highlands, which is mainly bought by young and trend-conscious target groups. As a product manager, you are the central person responsible for all aspects relating to the “Jungle-High” brand. This means that your strategic decisions influence, for example, the costs of raw materials, transport or production as well as the packaging design or the sales price. You buy the raw coffee directly from the producer in Colombia, have it brought to Germany by ship, roast it in the company's own roasting plant and then sell it through various supermarket chains.

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Various costs flow into the later end product, namely the “one pound pack” of “Jungle-High” on the supermarket shelf.

Together with your colleagues from Controlling, you have listed these different types of costs and broken them down into a “one-pound package”.

  • Coffee: 1,25 Euro
  • Packing / transport (final product), Green point: 0,20 Euro
  • Marketing costs: 0,40 Euro
  • Production costs (roasting, refining): 0,40 Euro
  • Transport costs (raw material): 0,30 Euro
  • Raw material costs: 1,20 Euro

Task 1:

What is your total cost per "one pound pack"?

Task 2:

Simply make a recommendation based on your gut feeling at what price “jungle high” should be sold to the end consumer. Of course, you have to keep in mind that not only do you want to earn something from each pack sold (ie achieve a so-called contribution margin), but trade also needs a margin, of course.

It is precisely in this mixture of extensive information about studying, background knowledge from professional practice and self-test that CYQUEST's managing director Diercks sees the advantages of his self-assessment system as opposed to mere aptitude tests, with which only knowledge resources are queried.

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“In the end, our applicants are not told: 'You are suitable for studying and you are not.' Rather, the future students should independently decide on the basis of the information and test results whether they feel fit for studying at the HAW. The university does not see the test results at all, so they are not taken into account when applying. ”

Self-assessments and aptitude tests at universities at a glance

More and more universities are offering their students virtual study counseling, web-based aptitude tests or self-assessments. Contents and orientations are very different: Some are pure aptitude test, in which only the existing (subject) knowledge is queried and the candidate receives a recommendation at the end. Others help with self-assessment with information to make a decision. Most offers include only the subjects of their own university, some universities have their online offer limited to certain subjects. One exception is the University of Stuttgart-Hohenheim.

University of Applied Sciences Hamburg (HAW):

Duration: 25-60 minutes

Structure: Depending on the subject, different modules on career prospects, study contents and requirements or study organization.

Evaluation: Feedback how good you were and a non-binding assessment of what level is expected in your studies.

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Association of North German Universities:

Duration: 90-120 minutes

Structure: The inclination and suitability for the subjects in social, social, humanities, linguistics, law, economics and natural sciences are examined.

Evaluation: In the end, individual feedback on the extent to which your abilities and inclinations match the requirements of the study subjects of the Association of North German Universities.

Ruhr-University Bochum:

Duration: 90-120 minutes

Structure: Two modules: Module A contains a performance and aptitude test, module B contains information about the study program and career prospects.

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Evaluation: very detailed on more than 20 pages, tailored to the Bochum offer

Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH):

Duration: 90 minutes

Structure: Increasing the level of difficulty, first questions about school grades, personal strengths and weaknesses and interests, but also about logic and mathematics.

Evaluation: Based on the Aachen study program

University of Stuttgart-Hohenheim:

Duration: 20 minutes

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Structure: 136 questions about school subjects, grades, interests and hobbies, self-assessment in certain areas from "I am interested to not interested at all" on a scale of 1 to 5.

Evaluation: The test refers not only to the own subjects in Hohenheim, but nationwide to about 160 subjects and about 500 professions, so the recommendations are not always accurate.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main:

Duration: 90 minutes

Structure: Self-assessment for the subject of computer science, which explicitly acts as part of the course guidance and should therefore not serve as the sole basis for decision-making. The system is still in the test phase. To carry out the self-assessment, it is not necessary to stay online. Once individual self-assessment modules have been downloaded, you can disconnect from the Internet and, if necessary, be prompted to activate the Internet connection. The data is then transmitted to the server.

Evaluation: After completing the self-assessment, you will receive detailed feedback that can assist you in your choice of study.

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Albert Ludwigs University Freiburg:

Duration: 60 minutes

Structure: Selfassessment only for the subject Anglistik, which on the one hand gives a realistic preview of the contents, workflows and requirements of English studies at the University of Freiburg and on the other hand offers the opportunity to test one's own competencies.

Evaluation: On the basis of an immediate individual feedback, one can estimate whether studying English in Freiburg would be the right choice.

What are the advantages of self-assessments?

As part of the HEAP University E-Assessment project, various self-assessment and aptitude tests in four pilot projects were extensively examined between 2004 and 2006 in Hamburg - with consistently positive results for the self-assessments. Reason enough for HAW Hamburg to introduce the system throughout the university for all subjects and to make it a compulsory part of the study place application process.

This virtual study counseling has several advantages: Firstly, the system taps prospective students throughout Germany - far more than a handful of student advisors could cover on site. First-year students are also supported in choosing the right subject from the very beginning. As a result, you have a lower risk of losing time due to a change of subject or dropout. Applicants are not simply informed, but are encouraged to actively participate.

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Against wrong ideas

And the quality of the study is generally better, because the students are better prepared for the requirements and fit the subject, such as Professor Dr. Monika Bessenrodt-Weberpals, Vice President of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, explains

“We simply noticed again and again that freshmen had completely wrong ideas about the content of the course and then stopped it more often. This is all the more annoying when they have laboriously taken up a place in the course and then find that it is the wrong thing. One example are our media degree programs: Many applicants completely overlook the fact that a great deal of technical content is conveyed here. On the other hand, anyone who knows what to expect will study more successfully right from the start. ”

Where are the HAW navigators?

HAW has so far introduced self-assessments for the following programs:

  • Care and management,
  • Social work,
  • Foreign Trade / International Management (AIM),
  • Logistics / Technical Management Economics,
  • Publicmanagement - Logistics / Technical Management,
  • Marketing / Technical Management Economics,
  • Public Management Mechanical Engineering and Production,
  • Hamburg industrial engineering.

Navigators for the degree programs Education, Ecotrophology, Health Sciences, Environmental Technology, Process Engineering, Biotechnology, Hazard Control, Rescue Engineering, Medical Technology, Media Technology and Media Systems are also currently being developed at HAW. At the end of the year, all degree programs at the HAW will be equipped with the Navigator system.

Does self-assessment make students more successful?

It remains to be seen whether self-assessment before graduation will actually lead to a more successful course of study: The first students who have gone through the application process with integrated self-assessments have just completed their first semester - still too early to say anything about the success of the study hold true. After all, the multi-payer of the prospective students, who could be virtually advised, the HAW navigators at the end of the procedure as a good to very good study preparation.

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At other universities one is already one step further: For the project Megadigitale at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt / Main the first evaluation results are already available at least for the subject computer science. Here, the results of 76 Self-Assessments were compared with the results of the first exams using a pseudonym. The evaluation confirmed that there is a correlation between good test and test results.

The limits of self-assessments

As sensible and practical as self-assessments in study orientation are, of course, such systems also have limitations. Example HAW: Since it is only important for the university that an applicant has completed the virtual study orientation at least once and that one is not judged on his performance, it can also happen that an applicant simply clicks through the navigator without using the content. just to tick off the participation. But he is especially bad for himself.

In the view of the German Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance (dvb) eV, it is problematic to rely solely on the results of such online procedures in the self-assessment: even if these are what you can usually expect from self-assessments at universities , have been prepared according to strictly scientific methods and have been adequately tested in advance: the contents, requirements and results presented do not always correspond to reality. Often only partial areas of one's own abilities are tested, so test results are not always accurate.

Do not consider self-assessments

And self-assessments usually do not take into account that prospective students can still develop over time. For this reason, you should definitely discuss the recommendations of virtual study counseling with teachers or student advisors.

In addition, prospective students should make it clear that a university pursued with such a test, of course, always own interests: For example, the HAW wants to use their navigators specifically study subjects with very low numbers of applicants particularly attractive, for example, by exciting job opportunities. At the same time, in subjects with a large number of interested applicants, potential students should be made aware of possible difficulties during their studies - the deterrent effect is quite deliberate. This can be positive if it clears up misconceptions about a field of study, but it also shows that the quality of a self-assessment always depends on the intentions of its creators. This makes this virtual orientation method not less recommendable, but it should never be considered completely uncritical.

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Practical examples - here you will find an overview of all navigators at the University of Applied Sciences. To test one of the navigators, you can use the eMail-Address Log in with the password “guest” and find all information, tasks and solutions as well as your personal recommendation.

Examples of self-assessment procedures when looking for a job are the “CyPRESS” applications, which offer insights into the Hamburg media group Gruner + Jahr, or the career orientation game “Tr.AX”, which provides information about the wide variety of apprenticeships at Deutsche Bahn.

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