In a bid to help students, a recent study shows that traditional university lectures may not be building the skills students are hoping to acquire and their future employers have come to expect. The study has been published online in the journal of Higher Education.
Problem solving was defined as person’s capacity to use their brain power to resolve a real, cross-disciplinary situation in which a solution was not immediately obvious. The findings showed that traditional university lectures may not be building the skills students are hoping to acquire and their future employers have come to expect.
“There is strong evidence that different methods of teaching can heavily influence the development of problem-solving skills,” said study author Andis Klegeris from University Of British Columbia Okanagan Campus in Canada. “It does not appear that the traditional, lecture-style of information delivery is well-suited to helping students build those skills,” Klegeris added.
The team of researchers developed a testing system to measure the problem-solving abilities of students in various stages of their undergraduate degrees. They adapted a test used by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), so that students could be assessed in 15 minutes.
The test was written by nearly 1,000 students at various stages of their undergraduate degree, with one problem-solving test given at the beginning of first semester and the other at semester’s end.
The study concluded that only first-year students saw significant improvements in their problem-solving abilities.
Their data shows that while freshman students see their problem-solving skills increase by nearly 10 percent in their first semester, students in the majority of disciplines experience little-to-no improvement in all the semesters that follow.
“As problem-solving is becoming an increasingly sought-after skill, it is likely post-secondary institutions will need to adapt their teaching styles to ensure students are able to better participate in a skill-based economy,” says another researchers Heather Hurren.
“If they haven’t already, professors will need to move from traditional lectures and expectations of memorisation to approaches that see small groups of students actively discover knowledge on their own,” Hurren added.