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Kristina Edström, Khalid El Gaidi, Stefan Hallström, and Jakob Kuttenkeuler Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Sweden
Integrated assessment of disciplinary knowledge and personal and interpersonal competences is discussed in the context of a final-year project course in a Masters programme in engineering. The course is intended to consolidate disciplinary knowledge through practice in an authentic design-build project, through individual and teamwork efforts. The intended learning outcomes include technical as well as personal and interpersonal knowledge, skills and attitudes. All those aspects must thus be addressed in assessment. Course development was performed within the CDIO initiative.
We regard the personal and interpersonal competencies as interdependent with disciplinary knowledge. First, the competencies, for instance communication, are highly content-related. Second, as the process of practising communication involves expressing and applying technical content, it will also reinforce students’ technical knowledge. We therefore conclude that disciplinary knowledge and personal, interpersonal competencies should be learned and assessed together.
This integrated approach is different from students’ previous experiences in the programme. Some aspects that students find troublesome are:
The design of the assessment system must be informed by the full complexity of the student learning experience, or assessment risks undermining the learning outcomes. Drawing on qualitative data from several cohorts of students, extracted from learning activities, interviews, questionnaires etc, we discuss and interpret students’ responses to the challenges, and how they perceive the learning experience, especially in relation to their attitudes towards knowledge. We describe our iterative development of the assessment system, where peer assessment and feedback are elements. We focus on interventions used to reduce negative effects related to the troublesome aspects of the integrated approach.