Students' performance, skills and perspectives on the combination of national and international curricula for university education in Turkey

Sands, Margaret K.
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Bilkent University
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This study explores the university preparedness of students who were educated through an international high school education program in Turkey. Within a theoretical framework, which discusses the complexity of the combination of different curricula, the effect of the implementation of an international program in a national program on student outcomes is also investigated. The study compares the academic performance and skills of students who followed the national program (NP) with students who followed both the national program and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (DP). A mixed method research with convergent parallel design was selected to examine the perceptions of students and faculty members, as well as the quantitative data on students‟ numerical scores. The quantitative data including university cGPAs, individual university course grades, university entrance exam scores, four-year graduation rates and international high school program diploma scores were analysed statistically to explore the difference between NP and DP students. The quantitative data on skills were collected by an online questionnaire and critical thinking skills tests. The qualitative data, collected through focus group discussions and individual interviews with students and faculty members, revealed the differences between the two groups of students. In total, the numerical scores of 761 students from four universities in Turkey were used. 72 students participated in the study for qualitative data collection. Five faculty members from various departments were interviewed individually. The results showed that the DP students had higher university cGPAs and higher individual course grades at university. They also had a higher graduation rate after four years at university, it was nearly three times that of the NP group. Focus group discussions and individual interviews further clarified the differences between the academic performance and skills of each group. Overall, the study found that the international high school education program seemed to develop a better student profile for university life.

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