Gauge the pre-knowledge gaps from high school to BSc level in STEM

Posted by Vincenzo Russo, Natasa Brouwer, Oreste Tarallo, on Feb. 3, 2022, 11:22 a.m.

Martino Di Serio, Alessio Petrone, Vincenzo Russo, Oreste Tarallo, Italo Testa

University of Naples Federico II, Italy


Challenge and goal

 Heterogeneous background in BSc freshmen can be an issue for effective teaching for first-year courses.
 BSc instructors normally experience a widespread of pre-knowledge gaps and they must be properly taken into consideration for successful teaching.
 The consequence is that BSc freshmen are not able to effectively engage with the courses, quickly losing their motivation, leading to a consequent increase of the graduation time and dropout. Moreover, the situation is much more complicated as students are unaware of their pre-knowledge gaps.

Topic of the user case

 Lack of knowledge: making students aware

Local context (specific)

 At the University of Naples Federico II students who enroll at the BSc courses in Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry normally come from different schools. First year lecturers usually experience lack of knowledge in specific topics.
The aim of this user case is to make the freshmen aware of their pre-knowledge gaps.
Local educational scope
 BSc in Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry.
Pre-knowledge / Background of the participating local teaching staff
 No specific pedagogical courses are required for the university teachers in Naples. Recently a new project aimed at improving young researchers' knowledge of pedagogical strategies was launched, the FEDERICO Project, focused on general pedagogy, thus non STEM oriented.

Local CPD goals

 Increase the awareness of freshmen of their pre-knowledge gaps.
 As a final output of this activity, a questionnaire will be formulated with the aim of:
1. Students’ self-evaluation
2. Feedback to lecturer
3. Feedback to student


Needs defined in STEM-CPD Roadmap

22 use research based teaching methods
11 stimulate discussion
27 organize peer-assessment / peer-feedback in their courses
4 make students feel special, included, safe and secure.
6 use students evaluations and the feedback of students to improve courses.
18 giving workshops to other lecturers.

CPD activities at the local university

1. Questionnaires
2. Feedback to the students

Teaching and learning materials


Online forms to be submitted to 1st year BSc students.
Student-tailored suggestions to fill the specific pre-knowledge pointed out in the evaluation questionnaire.

Sustainable implementation

 The activity should be repeated every year to ensure a strict connection between the class and the first year lectures content.


Expected impact of the CPD User Case

Make the students aware of their pre-knowledge gaps.
A revision of the tutoring activities of the first-year courses.
Introduction of short tutoring sessions on specific topics of STEM disciplines.

Plans for eventual continuation of the CPD within the same topic


Problem solving (design and teaching), Deep learning, Organize peer-feedback, collaborative learning (type P1-3a, P1-3c, P1-3d)

This CPD scenario describes a User case in which lecturers develop their competence in facilitating problem solving and how to facilitate student’s deep learning and development of higher cognitive skills and organizing peer-feedback and collaborative learning and develop attitudes in supporting student development and enabling students’ well-being in a learning process and inclusivity and practicing teaching and learning in an evidence informed way.

Learning environment

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