|Academic Performance of Higher Education Students: A case study of institutional research for quality improvement
|Professor José Sarsfield Cabral (Member of the Board, Agency for Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Education, Portugal)|
Academic success in higher education has received increasing attention from policy makers and institutional administrators. Although some factors affecting success are external to HEIs, others are internal and can be managed in order to improve students’ performance. This paper presents a study carried out in a Portuguese public university showing how collecting, analysing and reporting data on students’ admission and progress can contribute to awareness about success factors and to the improvement of related academic practices and decisions.
The study stresses that students’ transition to HE and their first-year experience are relevant for academic performance. Particularly, it shows that the criteria used in Portugal for admission to public HEIs, based on secondary school grades and national exams, induce some poor teaching and grading practices in secondary schools. These are misleading regarding students’ preparedness for HE and do not allow to discriminate effectively those who are well-prepared from those who aren’t.