Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, O., & Schlax, J. (2020). Entry Assessment of Student Learning Preconditions in Higher Education: Implications for the Transition from Secondary to Tertiary Education in Germany. European Review, 28(S1), S67-S84. doi:10.1017/S1062798720000915

Impact Factor: 1.575 (2014)

The acquisition of domain-specific knowledge and interdisciplinary skills such as critical thinking is increasingly gaining significance as key learning outcomes in higher education that are crucial for all professionals and engaged citizens and that enable lifelong learning. Despite this socio-political consensus, up until the last decade there have only been a few evidence-based insights into the competencies of higher education students. Therefore, the Germany-wide research program Modelling and Measuring Competencies in Higher Education (KoKoHs) was established in 2011 by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. In the 85 projects, theoreticalconceptual competence models and corresponding assessments were developed for selected large study domains (e.g. economics) to reliably measure the students’ competencies in different phases of higher education (entering, undergraduate, graduate). More than 100 technology-based assessments of both discipline-specific competencies and generic skills were validated across Germany at over 350 universities with over 75,000 students. This article presents findings from the Germany-wide entry diagnostics in the one KoKoHs project (WiWiKom II) with beginning students in business, economic and social sciences that provide evidence-based insights into students’ learning preconditions and their impact on domain-specific knowledge acquisition in bachelor’s degree courses. The results lead to far-reaching practical implications for successful transitions between secondary and tertiary education, including recommendations for the development of mechanisms to support access to tertiary education and to prevent high dropout rates.