GIVING EVERY STUDENT OPPORTUNITIES TO SUCCEED: An Analysis of Students Integrated (written and oral) Assessment at TISHK International University-Erbil

Neville D’Cunha

International Relations & Diplomacy Department,

TISHK International University-Erbil, Iraq

Email: [email protected]


Aim: This article reports on findings from work at TISHK International University-Erbil (TIU) as part of research undertaken to assess the conceptual understanding and critical thinking abilities of undergraduate students through integrated (written and oral) assessment. The research had two purposes: (1) to measure the various elements of students written and oral works; and (2) to use these common elements to address the soft-skills development issues of students and create opportunities for every student to succeed both in assessment and skill development.

Methodology: 4-Year Degree program students take core courses and their assessment is divided into 40% Formative and 60% Summative. In the 2019 Spring Semester 100 students (59% male and 41% female) were included using a comprehensive sampling method comprising 4 classes of TIU for the research purpose. The 4 cohorts’ formative (continuous) assessments data of written and oral coursework was collated and compared for measures of academic performance elements and how course activities and assignments promoted students’ soft skills development.

Outcomes: Data sets were analyzed using frequency distribution tables to identify predictive patterns of students’ conceptual understanding and critical thinking skills. The findings indicate a significant difference among students’ skill sets. Students’ scores were: Novice 0-65% ≤ (written) w 57% | (oral) o 47%; Beginner 66-75% ≤ w 22% | o 27%; Competent 76-85% ≤ w 14% | o 11%; Proficient 86-100% ≤ w 7% | o 15%. Results indicate that assessing students without knowing the level of student’s personal development had a negative effect on students’ performance. There was also a relationship between written and oral assignments scores and students’ levels of personal development with regards to the acquisition of soft skills that clearly reflected in their overall formative score.

Significance: Formative assessments are a valuable indicator to identify competencies of students and recognize who is doing well and who is most vulnerable and at risk of failing the course. Results from this study is significant to Course Coordinators in Kurdistan higher education in enabling them to create learning and skilling opportunities for students so that they succeed both in their education and in the real world.

Keywords: Formative Assessment, Conceptual understanding, Critical thinking, Student’s Personal Development