The use of past assessments as a deductive learning tool? Perceptions of students at a South African university
Promoting critical thinking skills in the higher education setting is noted as a key skill required by students. Using a questionnaire approach, this study examined whether first-year students perceived the use of past assessments in preparation for upcoming assessments as a deductive learning tool and used them solely as a study aid and predictor at a South African university, with the focus on the deductive and conductive learnings styles, with specific reference to whether students perceive the past assessments to be used as tools to indicate specifically what will be assessed in terms of historical frequency. The findings suggest that students utilise past assessments as a deductive tool in order to predict future areas that will be assessed, as well as certain characteristics, such as the level of difficulty of question papers. The authors argue that when past assessments are used as a deductive “predictor” of future assessment, this then potentially acts as an inhibitor of developing critical thinking skills. The findings therefore, although acknowledging the value added in terms of higher education students of the revision and practising of past assessments, highlight that assessors in higher education need to be conscious that the use of past assessments as a “predictor” through the repetitive nature of the items being assessed may result in students who are able to pass assessments but who are unable to necessarily demonstrate critical thinking skills as required by module outcomes. The findings of this study therefore present various streams of areas for future research into the better understanding of how past assessments can be used in order to promote critical thinking within higher education modules.
Biggs, J. B. 1978. Individual and group differences in study processes. British Journal of Educational Psychology 48: 266–279.
Biggs, J. B. 2001. Enhancing learning: A matter of style or approach. In Perspectives on thinking, learning and cognitive styles, ed. R. J. Sternberg and L. Zhang, 73–102. Mahwah: Erlbaum.
Bokwana, K. G. and D. D. Tewari. 2014. Determinants of student success at a South African university: An econometric analysis. Anthropologist 17(1): 259–277.
Broekkamp, H. and B. H. A. M. van Hout-Wolters. 2007. Students’ adaptation of study strategies when preparing for classroom tests. Educational Psychology Review 19: 401–428.
Careers24.com. 2019. Matrics: A past paper a week keeps your finals results on fleek. https://careeradvice.careers24.com/career-advice/career-growth/matrics-a-past-paper-a-week-keeps-your-finals-results-on-fleek-20190724
Cilliers, F. J., L. W. T. Schuwirth, H. J. Adendorff, N. Herman and C. P. M. van der Vleuten. 2010. The mechanism of impact of summative assessment on medical students’ learning. Advances in Health Sciences Education 15: 695–715.
Cronbach, L. J. (Ed.). 2002. Remaking the concept of aptitude: Extending the legacy of Richard E. Snow. Mahwah: Erlbaum.
Decoo, W. 1996. The induction-deduction opposition: Ambiguities and complexities of the didactic reality. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching 34(2): 95–118.
Dochy, F., M. Segers, M. Segers, D. Gijbels and K. Struyven. 2007. Assessment engineering: Breaking down barriers between teaching and learning, and assessment. In Rethinking assessment in higher education: Learning for the longer term, ed. D. Boud and N. Falchikov, 87–100. Oxford: Routledge.
Dwyer, C. P., M. J. Hogan and I. Stewart. 2012. An evaluation of argument mapping as a method of enhancing critical thinking performance in e-learning environments. Metacognition and Learning 7: 219–244.
Dwyer, C. P., M. J. Hogan and I. Stewart. 2014. An integrated critical thinking framework for the 21st century. Thinking Skills and Creativity 12: 43–52.
Felder, R. 1988. Learning and teaching styles in engineering education. Journal of Engineering Education 78: 674–681.
Fischer, R. A. 1979. The inductive-deductive controversy revisited. The Modern Language Journal 63(3): 98–105.
Goswami, U. 2002. Inductive and deductive reasoning. In Blackwell handbook of childhood cognitive development, ed. U. Goswami, 282–302. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.
Kolb, A. Y. and D. A. Kolb. 2013. The Kolb Learning Style Inventory 4.0: A comprehensive guide to the theory, psychometrics, research on validity and educational applications. Boston: Hay Resources Direct.
Massa, L. J. and R. E. Mayer. 2006. Testing the ATI hypothesis: Should multimedia instruction accommodate verbalizer-visualizer cognitive style? Learning and Individual Differences 16(4): 321–335.
Nijhuis, J. F. H., M. S. R. Segers and W. H. Gijselaers. 2005. Influence of redesigning a learning environment on student perceptions and learning strategies. Learning Environments Research 8: 67–93.
Paul, R. and L. Elder. 2010. The miniature guide to critical thinking concepts and tools. Dillon Beach: Foundation for Critical Thinking Press.
Ramsden, P. 1979. Student learning and perceptions of the academic environment. Higher Education 8: 411–427.
Smith, S. N. and R. J. Miller. 2005. Learning approaches: Examination type, discipline of study, and gender. Educational Psychology 25(1): 43–53.
South Afican Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). 2019. Proposed SAICA Competency Framework: CA 2025. SAICA.
VanderStoep, S. W., P. R. Pintrich and A. Fagerlin. 1996. Disciplinary differences in self-regulated learning in college students. Contemporary Educational Psychology 21: 345–362.
Webster, J. and R. T. Watson. 2002. Analyzing the past to prepare for the future: Writing a literature review. MIS Quarterly 26(2): xiii–xxiii.
This journal is an open access journal, and the authors and journal should be properly acknowledged, when works are cited.
Authors, copyright holders, may use the publishers version for teaching purposes, in books, theses, dissertations, conferences and conference papers.
A copy of the authors' publishers version may also be hosted on the following websites:
- Non-commercial personal homepage or blog.
- Institutional webpage.
- Authors Institutional Repository.
The following notice should accompany such a posting on the website: This is an electronic version of an article published in SAJHE, Volume XXX, number XXX, pages XXX “XXX", DOI. Authors should also supply a hyperlink to the original paper or indicate where the original paper (http://www.journals.ac.za/index.php/SAJHE) may be found.
Authors publishers version, affiliated with the Stellenbosch University will be automatically deposited in the University Institutional Repository SUNScholar.
Articles as a whole, may not be re-published with another journal.
The following license applies:
Attribution CC BY-NC-ND 4.0