P22 – Guidance Path for First Year Students Engineering Science towards Midterm Tests

Auditorium – Tuesday 09:00-10:00

An Vanfroyenhoven, Prof.dr.ir. Tinne De Laet

Tutorial Services/Faculty of Engineering Science/ KU Leuven

An Vanfroyenhoven received the M.Sc. degree in mathematics from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven(KU Leuven), Belgium in 2001. After being a teacher in a secondary school (Sancta Maria Leuven,2001-2010) and a teaching assistant at the department of Mathematics(KU Leuven, 2010-2012) she started working for the tutorial services of the Faculty of Engineering Science (KU Leuven) in 2012.

Tinne De Laet received the M.Sc. degree in engineering science and the Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven), Belgium in 2005 and 2010 respectively. After being a postdoctoral Fellow of the FWO she became a tenure track professor and the Head of the Tutorial Services of Engineering Science of the KU Leuven in 2013.


Tutors of the Faculty of Engineering Science will report on a guidance path that they have elaborated for first year students towards a midterm test. The following topics will be covered: the results of a survey conducted among these students, two organized information sessions, and the student evaluation of these sessions.


Each year 500 first year students enroll in the studies Bachelor of Engineering Science at the KU Leuven. The first evaluation moment in the two-semester system takes place in the middle of the 1st semester. Each student is assigned a set of exams, Calculus and Mechanics or Algebra and Chemistry. These exams are non-binding written midterm tests consisting of open questions, except for Mechanics where multiple choice questions are used. The level of difficulty of the questions is similar to the expected level of the exam in January.

At the conference we will report on a guidance path that we have elaborated for the first year students towards this midterm test. The following topics will be covered: the results of a survey conducted among these students, the two information sessions, and the student evaluation of these sessions.

The tutors of the Faculty of Engineering Science experience through their personal contacts with the students the need for more guidance towards the midterm tests. A survey amongst the students on the expected difficulties and the desired support, points out that they don’t really know what the professor expects and how to prepare for the exam. They also admit having difficulties in planning their work.

In the first session we focus on: ‘How to prepare for an exam?’, ’What level of learning does the professor expect?’ and ‘How to formulate a correct answer to a question?’ Using midterm questions and students’ answers of the previous year (Hendry et al. 2011) we try to give an insight in the expectations of the professors. Combined with tips and tricks involving making notes and structuring course material we help them with the preparation towards the midterm tests and the final exams. Additionally, a student counselor deals with the subject planning.

The second session takes place after the midterm test. At that moment the students already know their results and had the possibility to have a look at the marking of their exam. Learning from their own mistakes and those of their colleagues is the aim of this session (Robinson en al. 2013). In general the students’ answers lack structure and they do not draw clear and substantive figures that support their reasoning. Based on the students’ answers the tutor highlights the good practices as well as the answers that didn’t match the expectations.

The students, who attended the non-compulsory evening sessions in large numbers, filled in an evaluation form after each session. Most students recommend the session to future students.

In the future we want to reflect on the following questions: Is a plenary session the best way to support the students? Are two sessions with a similar format necessary? Which timing makes the sessions most effective? How can we measure the effect of the sessions on the study behavior and the study results?


Hendry Graham D., Nikki Bromberger and Susan Armstrong(2011) Constructive guidance and feedback for learning: the usefulness of exemplars, marking sheets and different types of feedback in a first year law subject, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education,36:1,1-11,DOI:10.1080/02602930903128904

Robinson Sarita, Debbie Pope and Lynda Holyoak(2013) Can we meet their expectations? Experiences and perceptions of feedback in first year undergraduate students, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education,38:3,260-272, DOI:10.1080/02602938.2011.629291

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