What professors expect from first-year students: logical reasoning, independent learning and personal commitment
What skills should a student possess to study law, medicine or electrical engineering? This was the question the CHE Centre for Higher Education asked professors in Germany. In addition to skills necessary for almost all subjects, there are also explicit subject-specific profiles concerning the expected capabilities.
From the professors’ point of view, three skills are important for those who want to enter university in Germany, regardless of their choice of subject:
Abstract, logical, analytical reasoning
Independent, self-organised and disciplined learning and working
personal commitment and willingness to learn
These were the conclusions drawn from a survey conducted by the CHE Centre for Higher Education, which examined the requirement profiles for 32 subjects from Applied Science to Sport Science. The source of the data is a survey among about 9,500 professors. The three competencies named above are expected by the professors in almost all subjects for successfully studying the respective subject.
However, there are considerable differences between the requirements for the individual subjects. According to the respondents, for example, a social skill such as the “ability to work in a team” only plays a central role for success at university in seven of the subjects investigated. “Resilience, perseverance and staying power” were considered to be of particular importance in 12 subjects.
In addition to the direct comparison between subjects regarding more general skills, the CHE survey also shows subject-specific requirements. For example, fine-motor skills and spatial and three-dimensional imagination are expected from prospective dentists. Nursing scientists or psychologists should be interested in dealing with human beings.
Nina Horstmann, the author of the study, classified the informational value of the findings: “The requirement profiles may give an initial idea of what is expected from the prospective student in the respective subject.” However, the CHE expert noted that the profiles do not display special requirements of specific degree courses and higher education institutions. For this purpose, further sources of information like websites of higher education institutions or student advisory services should be used.
All results and requirement profiles can be found in the publication “Im Blickpunkt: Welche Fähigkeiten und Voraussetzungen sollten Studierende je nach Studienfach mitbringen” (In the spotlight: What skills and requirements should students have depending on the subject?; this publication is only available in German language).
About the publications
9,500 professors were questioned for the CHE University Ranking between autumn 2013 and 2015, using an online questionnaire. Their answers were evaluated and classified in categories. The evaluation process and the results are described in CHE Working Paper No. 194 “Anforderungsprofile für die Fächer im CHE Hochschulranking aus Professor(inn)ensicht” (Requirement profiles for subjects in the CHE University Ranking from the professors’ point of view; this publication is only available in German language) by Nina Horstmann and Cort-Denis Hachmeister. Together with Jan Thiemann, they wrote the publication “Im Blickpunkt: Welche Fähigkeiten und Voraussetzungen sollten Studierende je nach Studienfach mitbringen?”. This publication addresses prospective students and presents key findings as well as the requirement profiles for 32 different subjects.
Further Information can be found in the publications stated below.