Monday, October 21, 2013

Oxford Interviews Vital ‘to stop students reciting facts’

Oxford (Photo credit: Verity Cridland)
by Schools Improvement Net:

The university is increasingly relying on interviews as part of its rigorous selection system to encourage students to think rather than “recite specific facts or answers”, according to the Telegraph:

As the deadline to apply to Oxford passed on Tuesday, academics insisted that the traditional interview was necessary to enable candidates to shine outside the exams hall.

The university, which regularly receives more than 17,000 applications for around 3,500 undergraduate places, released a series of sample questions to debunk well-worn “myths” surrounding the process.

Students applying to study philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) at Brasenose College have been asked: “I’m having trouble with the meaning of three words: lie, deceive, mislead. They seem to mean something a bit similar, but not exactly the same. Help me to sort them out from each other.”

Dave Leal, one of the college’s admissions officers, said it was intended to “help us to test a candidate’s capacity to draw nuanced distinctions between concepts”.

In the past, students applying to study biological sciences at St Anne’s College, Oxford, were shown a cactus by one academic and told: “Tell me about it.”

Some students attempting to get onto a biological sciences course at Brasenose were asked: “Ladybirds are red. So are strawberries. Why?”

Prospective undergraduate at the same college - which lists David Cameron among its alumni - were asked “why do human beings have two eyes?” as part of an experimental psychology interview … Oxford - along with Cambridge - increasingly relies on interviews and aptitude tests as part of the admissions process to differentiate between students.

It follows a surge in the number of applications from students living outside the UK who do not take A-levels at school - making it harder to benchmark candidates against each other.

Oxford alone has seen a 62 per cent rise in the number of applications from mainland Europe and the rest of the world since 2008 - from 3,378 to 5,409 …

More (including more interview questions) at:  Oxford interviews vital ‘to stop students reciting facts

Are these kinds of questions which do not require factual knowledge a reasonable way for admissions tutors to work out which prospective students have the greatest potential for their courses? Any likely issues? Please share in the comments or on twitter… 
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