The Science Students Skills Inventory: Capturing Graduate Perceptions of Their Learning Outcomes

Kelly E Matthews, Yvonne Hodgson

Abstract


Within the context of changing government policies demanding accountability and a desire for science
curricular leaders to draw on evidence to inform on-going curricular reform efforts, we report on an Australian
cross-institutional benchmarking study of graduates’ perception of their learning gains across the whole of their
degree program. The study utilises a purpose-built instrument, the Science Students Skills Inventory (SSSI),
which we suggest is one tool for evidencing the obtainment of the recently articulated national Learning Threshold Outcomes in Science. The results indicate that students gained content knowledge along with writing, oral communication and team-work skills at equal levels with no statistically significant differences across the two university cohorts. The exception was student’s low perception of building quantitative skills, which differed significantly across the cohorts. The benefits, limitations and scope of the SSSI as one tool for evidencing learning outcomes are discussed. Implications are presented for evaluating program-level learning outcomes framed within the quality assurance versus quality enhancement national policy debate, along with directions for further research.

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