From Knowledge Accumulation to Attribute Exhibition: Can Assessment Facilitate Learning Transfer?

National University of Singapore, Singapore


This presentation/research examines the use of a pilot competency-based assessment to measure to what extent university programmes provide core graduate attributes for their students, as well as to explore if intervention strategies are required before students exit from the university. The assessment is developed by CDTL, NUS (Communication Skills Certificate) who defines key graduate attributes as four interrelated skill clusters or competency domains: communication, analytical reasoning, collaboration, and problem-solving. Pertaining to teaching and learning, this competency assessment is intended firstly to better integrate assessment into university learning (Barrie, 2007), and secondly to engage students in developing more holistic interwoven abilities and aptitudes via self-directed learning (Byrd, 2009). Case study was conducted on two batches of senior undergraduates; data on student learning were collected continuously throughout the assessed learning period. The assessment results were presented in numerical indicators (from 1 to 10) and in statements of performance attained in each competency domain. In this presentation, discussion will focus on the content validity of the assessment tasks and competency areas associated with content learning (of subject knowledge), with analysis of students' conceptualization of the knowledge-skill-competency triad and their self-evaluation of the assessment-effected learning process. Particular emphasis will be placed on the internal validity of assessment criteria, using feedback from the students as well as the rators, on the relevance, breadth, accuracy of the criteria used, and the consistency between criteria and statements of attainments listed on the certificate.

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