Developing a Test for Assessing Incoming Students’ Cognitive Competences

Veronika Thurner, Daniela Zehetmeier, Sabine Hammer, Axel Böttcher


Every year, a few weeks after new freshmen students started on their course of studies in Computer Science, many lecturers complain that some of their students are ill-equipped with those competences that are necessary to study successfully. Hence, these students struggle. This situation can be observed universally, at different universities and in various countries. On the other hand, at the same time there usually are some students around which meet study requirements rather easily. To effectively deal with this heterogeneity, lecturers need to gain a quick overview of initial competences in their student cohorts. This paper describes the development of a test that assesses first-year students' initial cognitive competences as well as basic knowledge in maths and computer usage. On this basis, lecturers can adapt their lectures to address the students’ current level, in order to quickly develop those skills that are still missing. We have been using this test for four years, for a pilot study as well as three regular runs. So far, we have collected test results of over 750 students. First insights into the results confirm our assumption that important competences are lacking in many freshmen students. As a consequence, we adapt our teaching in introductory courses, to enable students to close the gap and quickly meet study requirements.


cognitive competence, assessment, skill level

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International Journal of Engineering Pedagogy (iJEP) – eISSN: 2192-4880
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