Students’ Perceptions of Low Stakes Positioning Tests at the Start of Higher STEM Education: A Mixed Methods Approach

Jolan Hanssens, Greet Langie, Carolien Van Soom
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In Flanders, open admission into higher education has led to heterogeneity in academic preparedness of incoming STEM students. Higher education institutions offer low stakes positioning tests to these students in order to help them assess their level of starting competences. Due to the unique nature of these tests, little can be inferred about students’ perception of these tests. In this study, we used mixed methods to investigate these perceptions. Semi-structured interviews (n=20) and thematic analysis revealed that students do not always understand the stakes, objective and structure of positioning tests as intended by the organizers. A questionnaire (n=189) revealed that students considered chemistry problems  better reflecting certain study programs than mathematics problems and that they wrongly think chemistry questions are more predictive than mathematics questions. Our findings provide insight in STEM students’ multifaceted perceptions of and interaction with low stakes assessment.


Students' perception, Perception of assessment, Higher STEM education, Low stakes assessment

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Hanssens, J., Langie, G., & Van Soom, C. (2023). Students’ perceptions of low stakes positioning tests at the start of higher STEM education: A mixed methods approach. International Journal of Education in Mathematics, Science, and Technology (IJEMST), 11(5), 1094-1112.



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International Journal of Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology (IJEMST) 
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Editors: Ismail Sahin & Mack Shelley

Place of Publication: Turkey & Name of Publisher: Ismail Sahin

ISSN: 2147-611X (Online)

International Society for Technology, Education and Science (ISTES)