People may seek a psychological assessment for many reasons; learning, behaviour, injury, health, emotional problems or development concerns to name just a few. A psycho-educational or educational assessment is simply one kind of psychological assessment. For example, an educational assessment investigates learning potential and academic skill development. A psychological assessment of any kind must be completed by a licensed psychologist or psychological associate who is registered with the College of Psychologists in their province.In simple terms, during an educational assessment a psychologist must determine a person’s abilities and then see if their academic achievement is at a comparable level. It is common sense to predict that a person with an average intelligence will complete math, spelling, reading, writing and other academic tasks within the average range. A psychologist will find out whether a client’s academic performance is equal to their intelligence using testing, clinical observation and statistical analysis.OK, what happens if you have an average intelligence but some academic area is far weaker than predicted? Now, comes the interesting part…. What is keeping the individual from performing at their level of intelligence? It could be problems with visual or verbal memory. It could be that their brain cannot track and scan written text as quickly as most people. Perhaps they have been told they don’t pay attention but actually their brain cannot process verbal information as efficiently as other people. Alternatively, a person may find it extremely difficult to begin a task, plan and organize and, monitor their performance as they work along. The truth is there are many reasons that a person is not meeting the cognitive potential they were born with.Why would a person need an educational assessment?The answers to this question are fairly simple. An educational assessment completed by a qualified psychologist or psychological associate could formally establish a need for an academic program at school that is specifically tailored to the student’s learning style. If you know a person’s potential for learning and their present level of achievement, you know the academic strengths and needs of that student at that moment. The truth of the matter is that a school psychologist is often the key to understanding the foundation of the student’s difficulties as well as holding the position of gate-keeper to special services and academic support within a public school system.When will I know if I, or my child, need an educational assessment?Sometimes delays in some areas of development are obvious very early. For example, if your child is developing language or fine motor skills more slowly than other children, he may need an educational assessment at some point. If he has difficulty following directions or routines at home or daycare you may consider watching his development more carefully. If your child begins school and experiences difficulty learning numbers, the alphabet, days of the week, colours and shapes, maintain close contact with his teacher to monitor his progress. If your child seems extremely restless, easily distracted and/or has trouble interacting with peers it is possible that he has some attentional or behavioural problems that may require assessment at a later stage.Perhaps a parent has noticed their child is struggling at school. Often, it is a teacher who has alerted a parent that their child has been experiencing difficulty working at the same level as other children in their class even though they are trying their best. At times, it is the child who goes to the teacher or parent and lets them know that they are finding school work very difficult. Crying over homework, repeatedly asking a teacher to go over the same work, signs of low self-esteem because they fear they are “not smart” are all signs that a child’s academic performance should be monitored.It is important to note that a person seeking an educational assessment is not always a child. Sometimes, an adult decides to complete academic upgrading or apply as a mature student to college or university while acknowledging that he or she experienced some earlier learning difficulties as a child. Many adults in this situation decide to investigate their learning style because there is more modern scientific knowledge about learning disabilities now and they hope that more sophisticated help will be available. As children, these individuals knew they were smart and capable but just couldn’t read as quickly as other people in their class or had difficulty with math or writing. This adult has made a decision that they could succeed if they could find out more about the way they learn.One step at a time……..Find a psychologist who completes educational assessments in your area. You can find a psychologist on the internet, the College of Psychologists of Ontario or another provincial regulatory organization. Your child’s school or pediatrician may be able to make a suitable referral for an educational assessment. Make an appointment to meet with a psychologist who has experience in School Psychology and consult with them at their office. It is best for parents to meet for a one-hour interview to determine whether their child needs an educational assessment or not. It is inadvisable to take your child with you to this first meeting. Parents will always speak more plainly about their concerns if their child is not present. More importantly, the child will not be distressed by their parent’s concerns or teacher reports. If the appointment is for an individual 18+ years they generally attend an intake interview on their own.What do I tell my child or teen about having an educational assessment?It is important for any client, young or old, to understand that an educational assessment can identify strengths that can help the client improve academic weaknesses. Speak positively about the upcoming experience. For example, say, “you are going to meet a person who likes people find out what they are really good at. When they do, they help you improve on a subject that is really tricky and challenging for you”.What can I expect when I, or my child, begin an educational assessment?Expect that you or your child will attend a number of testing or assessment sessions soon after the intake session. Most often, a psychologist will ask that test sessions be set earlier rather than later in the day. The reason for this is that people are at their best earlier in the day immediately after a good sleep. This is particularly true if attentional problems are suspected.Remember, a psychologist wants to find out about your abilities or intelligence. This is an important step. So, an intelligence test that compares your functioning to other people exactly your age is an obvious beginning. Once this has been completed, the psychologist will want to learn more about the way your brain processes information. For example, if you hear a story could you repeat it? How about the same story after 30-minutes? What about a picture or pattern? Could you remember that as well as the story, or better? Could the client’s brain process what he or she heard easily or not? Eventually, the psychologist will want to find out how and what you have learned at school. Math, spelling, writing, listening and, reading tests will surely follow.An educational assessment is a labour intensive piece of work; that’s definite. Once the psychologist has completed the testing, it is likely they will want to consult with the child’s teacher by telephone or ask that teacher to complete some questionnaires that could provide rich information to the assessment. The psychologist will ask parents to bring in copies of the child’s past report cards or complete hearing ~ vision tests.Once all the evidence has been gathered, the psychologist will begin to score the tests, read the documents provided by parents and teachers and interpret the findings. As the evidence becomes clear to the psychologist and the difficulties (should there be any discovered) determined, they will begin to write up the report to present to parents and school.Coming in for the feedback session……….Sometimes, parents have anticipated the results of the assessment and experience a sense of relief that their child can finally begin to get the academic support they need and improve their school experience. At other times, parents dread that the findings will confirm their worst fears, a diagnosis of Learning Disability or another diagnosis. Parents sometimes need some time to grieve the loss of the dream of easy, carefree school days for their child.It is possible that the parents may wish to meet with the psychologist more than once, particularly if the clinic can offer services that exceed a school’s budget or time.Recommendations in the Educational AssessmentAn essential component of the educational assessment is the recommendations that can help school personnel determine whether the student will be identified as an exceptional learner or not. The recommendations will address the learning deficits and how to accommodate the student’s specific learning style. The whole purpose of the educational assessment is to provide parents, teacher and ultimately, the student, with recommendations that are educationally relevant.Consider some of the recommendations specifically designed for a child with reading problems ~ A young child who has difficulty understanding the sounds that letters or groups of letters make could experience significant difficulty learning to read. This is especially true if that child also finds it difficult to ‘code’ or file this information in long term memory and then retrieve the information when it is needed. The recommendations for this child may include considerable instruction on phonological skill-building, shared reading experiences, phonemic awareness training and, organized, explicit phonics decoding instruction and practice. The child could benefit from individualized reading lessons with attention to the construction of meaning and comprehension.Another client with slow processing speed might benefit from timed drills in math facts to increase speed of math fact recall/retrieval. Other types of recommendations may include accommodations, such as extended time, taped presentations of reading material, shortening or modifying the format of assignments, and breaking large tasks into smaller ones.Ultimately, the recommendations provided by the psychologist should be specifically designed to address the scholastic needs of the client and clearly established during the educational assessment.What will you learn after an Educational Assessment?In short……..It’s not that a person can’t learn……it’s that a person may simply learn differently and that’s OK.
Introduction and Literature ReviewSouth African education policies place priority on addressing historical education imbalances, but should also be sensitive to the demands of an ever-increasing global knowledge-driven environment. The educational system cannot be dominated by the needs of the domestic educational system of South Africa ignoring the trends exerted by the global world (OEDC Annual Report, 2004:44). Higher education in South Africa should realize that they operate and function in a knowledge-driven global environment in which both domestic and foreign students demand access to the best quality education at the best reputable institutions of higher education in the world.In this regard, most definitions of internationalization of higher education include the following: “Internationalisation is a process that prepares the community for successful participation in an increasingly interdependent world … The process infuse all facets of the post-secondary education system, fostering global understanding and developing skills for effective living and working in a diverse world” (Francis, 1993 cited by Patrick, 1997).The position of higher education in South Africa should be evaluated considering the re-integration of South Africa into the global community. South Africa was rapidly re-integrated into the world community by obtaining almost immediate membership of influential international organisations after 1994. Kishun (1998:59) indicated that South Africa became a member of among others the following international institutions: United Nations; Organisation of African Unity; Commonwealth; International Olympic Committee; Federation of International Football Associations; and Lome Convention. Integration of influential international institutions is a necessary but not sufficient pre-condition for internationalization of higher education. Sustainable internationalization should be closely aligned to the emerging global trends and events in the education sector.An analysis of the basis on which internationalization of higher education occurs is needed as well as the benefits of the internationalization process. This research is conducted against this background.Problem StatementWhilst South Africa is in a process of transition regarding higher education to address the imbalances of the past, the question arises whether the South African educational sector is able to compete in the global economy which regard knowledge as a commercialised commodity.MethodologyA sample size of 781 respondents from six institutions of higher education in South Africa was selected. Senior students were randomly selected using the convenience sampling technique. A semi-structured questionnaire was developed to measure the perceived competitive profile of institutions of higher education in South Africa. The questionnaire constitutes five measuring foci, namely:· Section A: Institutional information regarding the location where the respondent is enrolled.· Section B: Biographical information in terms of gender, type of student and country of origin.· Section C: Decision criteria used to select an institution of higher education.· Section D: Four competitive dimensions of higher education institutions, including strategic competitiveness, institutional competitiveness, product competitiveness, and tactical competitiveness.· Section E: Open-ended questions, aimed to identify the reasons why respondents choose a specific institution of higher education, their opinion on the institution’s competitive reputation, and the factors that may influence the international competitiveness of the particular institution.The data was transformed into two opposite categories, namely those who agreed with the statements and those who disagreed, enabling the researchers to derive a hypothesized agreement-disagreement distribution. Those who neither agreed nor disagreed were allocated to the disagreement group set giving and expected disagreement response set of 57% (p=0.57) and an agreement response set of 43% (q=0.43). The Binomial test was employed to determine whether the observed distribution correspond with the hypothesized distribution using a significance test level of 0.05. Furthermore, the level of agreement or disagreement with the selected competitive statements and the extend of agreements between the respondents from the different institutions on the various statements were determined by executing four statistical procedures, namely: ANOVA to compare the means of respondents from the different institutions; determining how much of the perception variation could be accounted for by the influence of the different institutions of higher education; determining the averages for each strategic dimension to obtain an indication of the level of agreement with the competitive statements; and determining the standard deviations to obtain an indication of the extend to which consensus exists within the sample.FindingsWith regard to the strategic competitiveness of South African institutions of higher education to engage in a seamless network the respondents were of the opinion that South African institutions of higher education give low priority to attract foreign students, are not well known for attracting foreign students, are not actively involved in exchange programmes of students and lecturers, and do not have active engagements or agreements with other tertiary institutions, businesses and communities.On the issue of institutional competitiveness, the majority of respondents were of the opinion that institutions of higher education in South Africa have the ability to attract quality students, does not have an international student culture, offers qualifications that are internationally accepted, can claim international reputability on post-graduate level, offers competitive tuition fees, deliver research outputs that are internationally recognized, and are not easily accessible.In terms of product competitiveness the majority of respondents indicated that institutions of higher education in South Africa have active orientation programmes to familiarise foreign and domestic students with the institutions, provide safe and secure learning environments, provide leading information technology for academic growth and excellence, do not easily adapt to the needs and wants of students, and provide convenient service packages to students.With regard to tactical competitiveness institutions of higher education in South Africa have the ability to compile a diploma or degree offering that meets or exceeds international standards in terms of offering subject content of international standard, having internationally acclaimed staff, aggressively marketing its qualifications internationally, claiming international acceptable through-put, and having acceptable grant and loan schemes accessible to students.Conclusion and RecommendationsThe majority of respondents are in agreement that institutions of higher education in South Africa are able to compete internationally on the four competitive dimensions (strategic, institutional, tactical and product). Internationalisation requires that institutions of higher education in South Africa should emphasise a somewhat loosening of the relationship with Government, despite the paradoxical need to create new transformational bodies to address the imbalances of the past. Internationalisation of higher education implies that internationalised institutions operate on new super ordinate levels which has its own legal, administrative and revenue-raising powers.In terms of strategic direction institutions of higher education might consider at least one of the following internationalization approaches:· “Would-be internationalization”: Applies to academics and institutions wanting to be involved in internationalization but facing problems in being considered on equal terms.· “Life or death internationalization”: Countries, their academics and institutions, which view internationalization cooperation as indispensable for their status and role in the global world.· “Two areas”: Academics and institutions have the option of striving for either more national or more international status and orientation. The academic field in which one is operating often determines this.· “Internationalisation by import”: Countries and institutions that treat internationalization only as coming from outside, by hosting foreign students and publishing research. It should not represent a separate strategy towards internationalisation.ReferencesKishun, R. 1998. Internationalization in South Africa. In The globalization of Higher Education. Scott, P. ed. Buckingham: Open University Press.OECD Annual Report. 2004. Education. p.41-45.Patrick, K. 1997. CSDF project full report: Internationalising the University. Melbourne: RMIT.