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Issues in Educational Research, 2018, Vol 28(1), 120-137
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Students' perceptions toward academic competencies: The case of German first-year students

Dana-Kristin Mah
University of Potsdam, Germany

Dirk Ifenthaler
University of Mannheim, Germany and Curtin University, Australia

Students often enter higher education academically unprepared and with unrealistic perceptions and expectations regarding academic competencies for their studies. However, preparedness and realistic perceptions are important factors for student retention. With regard to a proposed model of five academic competencies (time management, learning skills, technology proficiency, self-monitoring, and research skills), incoming students' perceptions concerning academic staff support and students' self-reported confidence at a German university were examined. Using quantitative data, an initial exploratory study was conducted (N = 155), which revealed first-year students' perceptions of the role of academic staff in supporting their development, especially in research skills, as well as low self-reported confidence in this competence. Thus, a follow up study (N = 717) was conducted to confirm these findings as well as to provide an in-depth understanding of research skills. Understanding students' perceptions is crucial if higher education institutions are to meet students' needs and provide adequate support services in the challenging first year. Thus, in order to increase student retention, it is suggested that universities assist first-year students in developing academic competencies through personalised competence-based programs and with the help of emerging research fields and educational technologies such as learning analytics and digital badges.
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Authors: Dana-Kristin Mah MA is currently a doctoral candidate as well as research and teaching assistant in the Department of Educational and Socialization Processes at the University of Potsdam, Germany. Her recent research focuses on students' first-year experience in higher education with regard to academic competencies, digital badges and learning analytics.
Email: dana-kristin.mah@uni-potsdam.de

Professor Dr Dirk Ifenthaler is Chair and Professor for Learning, Design and Technology at University of Mannheim, Germany, Adjunct Professor at Curtin University, Australia, and Affiliate Research Scholar at the University of Oklahoma, USA. Dirk Ifenthaler's research focuses on the intersection of cognitive psychology, educational technology, learning science, data analytics, and computer science.
Email: dirk@ifenthaler.info
Web: http://www.ifenthaler.info

Please cite as: Mah, D.-K. & Ifenthaler, D. (2018). Students' perceptions toward academic competencies: The case of German first-year students. Issues in Educational Research, 28(1), 120-137. http://www.iier.org.au/iier28/mah.pdf

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Created 4 Feb 2018. Last revision: 4 Feb 2018.
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