To be able to gauge how the students are going to cope with their academic tasks at the university for the duration of their studies, the Teaching and Learning Development Centre (TLDC) conducted the National Benchmark Tests (NBTs) on first-year students. Dr Muntuwenkosi Chili, Deputy Director at TLDC, said the NBTs were among other tools that the TLDC uses to provide valuable data to highlight the academic challenges experienced by the University students.
Dr Chili said the NBTs assess academic literacy, quantitative literacy, and mathematical ability of first-year students. “The tests aim to address the proficiencies of the school-leavers who wish to continue with higher education before their entry into higher education where they are expected to cope with the demands of higher education study,” said Dr Chili.
Dr Chili added that these tests provide insights into the ways curricula should be adjusted to meet students’ needs. “Analysis of the NBT results provide a clearer picture of the needs of the newly registered students, and a clearer idea of how their academic needs could be addressed both by academic departments and academic support units,” he said. In addition, other higher education institutions require this additional information or data to assist in selection and placement of prospective students in appropriate curricular routes.
Dr Chili said that at MUT, NBT data is intended mainly to identify pre-university knowledge gaps; inform lecturers and support services so they can take appropriate decisions; inform students of their strengths and weaknesses; be an early warning system; inform curriculum change; and improve the teaching style and support interventions.