Assessment of students’ knowledge and skills in solving water and electricity problems in real life
posterposted on 25.03.2022, 08:58 by Fadeyi Moshood OlawaleFadeyi Moshood Olawale
The assessment of students’ ability to solve a real-life problem in the classroom is a simulation, not genuine. The best place to assess students’ ability to solve a real-life problem is in real life. Such an assessment can be regarded as genuine, i.e., authentic, assessment (Swaffield, 2011). Authentic assessment assesses the knowledge and skills needed to solve a real-life problem in real life (Gulikers et al., 2004). This philosophy informed the study reported in this paper. There is a high demand for building services engineers to solve water and electricity problems in buildings as part of the sustainability efforts. Thus, it is essential to train them in real life to build their job readiness. The study examines the impact of students’ authentic experience on their perception of acquired knowledge and skills needed to be job-ready upon graduation.
Students were required to identify specific human behaviour related root causes that contributed to a high energy or water consumption problem in a hotel of their choice in Singapore. Students were required to visit and work with their chosen hotel to define the problem and identify the root cause centered around hotel users seeking comfort and convenience and lacking immediate awareness on the extent of their consumption. They were required to develop a human-centric solution that can reduce or eliminate the identified root causes of the defined problem. They were also required to demonstrate the effectiveness or, at least, the potential in their developed solutions. The study was done over 12 weeks. The authentic assessment criteria used can be broadly categrorised into technical and communication capabilities. Criteria for technical capability were (i) originality and creativity, (ii) problem analysis, (iii) quality and comprehension of data analysis, and (iv) prototype development. Criteria for communication capability were students’ ability to share their findings with people with (i) technical background through an oral presentation and (ii) non-technical background through video storytelling. Fifty- six (56) year 2 building services students participated in the study.
The key sentiments from all the 56 students’ reflection reports are given below. “I learnt a valuable lesson from working together in my team. I learnt to keep an open mind when working with my team to solve problems. Humility is needed to accept that one has fallen short and listen to other opinions.” “I learnt to apply design thinking, critical thinking, and reflection to solve a problem in real life meticulously.” I appreciated the importance of communication skills and got the opportunity to improve them.” “I learnt to think of big picture instead of tunnel visioning of solving a problem in one area with little or no consideration for problems that may occur in other areas. I learnt that there are many variables to consider before deciding in real life.” “I learnt to manage anxiety and disappointment that comes with managing uncertainties that lie with solving a problem in real life.” “I learnt to go out of my comfort zone and think out of the box to manage challenges that lie with solving a problem in a real-life setting.” “I learnt to provide a solution to the cause of a problem and not the problem to solve a problem in real life.” “I learnt how to apply knowledge gained from the classroom to solve a problem in real life.” “I learnt the importance of applying creativity and intelligence in solving a problem in real life.”
All students passed the innovation project and were judged to have adequately met the project learning outcomes centered around applying technical knowledge, problem-solving skills, critical thinking, reflection, creativity, and communication and interpersonal skills.