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Self assessment tasks in tertiary level geography courses: Creating a positive learning ethos for students in transition

Graham Thompson
Curtin University of Technology
In light of rapidly increasing diversity in higher education in terms of students' socio-economic, cultural and academic backgrounds, universities are beginning to develop more appropriate teaching and learning methods. Of particular concern to university staff are those students in transition. This is a broad term, but for the purposes of this paper refers to first year students entering university direct from high school, mature age students returning to study, overseas students for whom English is a second language and/or who are unfamiliar with Australian university codes of practice, and students enrolled in other courses who have chosen geography as an elective or second subject and may be unfamiliar with geographical knowledge, understanding or methods of enquiry. Students in transition are important because they are often uncertain or unclear about what is required of them at tertiary level in terms of learning processes and outcomes. Some may even become so disaffected during their first year(s) at university that they choose to discontinue their studies.

Consequently, this exploratory paper, as the first in a series of proposed studies in geographical education, investigates ways of introducing students to self assessment tasks. Students are initially provided with well-structured self assessment sheets that state clearly the knowledge, understanding and skills required for a particular geography unit/course, possibly some other units/courses and everyday life. It is proposed that in this way a positive learning ethos will be created: students (in particular potentially disaffected students) will gradually become familiar with and appreciate the value of tertiary-level learning requirements, less reliant on precise written instructions, more motivated and hence responsible for their own learning.

Please cite as: Thompson, G. (2003). Self assessment tasks in tertiary level geography courses: Creating a positive learning ethos for students in transition. In Partners in Learning. Proceedings of the 12th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 11-12 February 2003. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/thompson-g-abs.html

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Last revision: 5 Feb 2003. This URL: http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/thompson-g-abs.html