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Authentic assessment in work integrated learning promotes student work readiness in industrial settings
conference contributionposted on 11.05.2021, 23:03 by Nirmal Mandal, Francis R Edwards
CONTEXT Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) and Diploma of Professional Practice (Co-op) engineering students of CQUniversity (CQU) participate in two 6-month work over the course of their university studies. As part of practice assessment, industry partners provide an evaluation of students’ performance against the Engineers Australia (EA) Stage 1 Competency Standard for Professional Engineers, involving sixteen mandatory elements in the areas of knowledge and skill base, engineering application ability and professional and personal attributes. The evaluations were based on engineering students undertaking work placements at employers in a range of industry sectors across Australia. PURPOSE OR GOAL The purpose of this study is to articulate the importance of including authentic industry assessment within a Work Integrated learning (WIL) program, enabling students to receive feedback on their work performance in problem solving and professional skills, and the level of their work readiness in an industrial setting. APPROACH OR METHODOLOGY/METHODS Industry engagement is a vital part of delivering a successful WIL curriculum. Recent surveys have shown that three of the most important factors that host organisations deem useful are student feedback, industry-focussed assessments and monitoring of student progress during WIL placements. Within the Co-Operative Education Program described, students undertake a total of 48 weeks of industry-based work placements. With a view to ensuring our engineering graduates are work ready and prepared for transition from study to work, we employ an authentic assessment of student performance. Student competency is assessed by host organisations by evaluating work placement performance against Engineers Australia’s Stage 1 Competency Standard. Host organisations’ feedback are collected from a structured survey at the culmination of the student’s work placement experience. The effectiveness of this articulation is monitored by collecting employers’ survey data in a biannual basis. As a learning practice, this feedback is included in a post-requisite unit that enables students to reflect on the employer’s view of their competency strengths and weaknesses, in preparation for transition to professional practice. ACTUAL OR ANTICIPATED OUTCOMES The student assessment data trend from 2012 indicated that the student competency standard data was increasing gradually, keeping overall student performance above the average of a graduate engineer. In all areas such as knowledge base, engineering ability and professional attributes, our students performance are steady close to above average evaluated by students employers. CONCLUSIONS/RECOMMENDATIONS/SUMMARY Work Integrated Learning requires an engagement approach that incorporates industry partners, universities and students. WIL provides students with practical, real-world skills necessary for the engineering profession, while industry partners expect the productive application of skills from engineering students. Application of authentic, industry-based assessment is an effective method for providing students with effective feedback on the journey to a job after graduation whilst demonstrating the value of work placements to industry partners. Effective collaboration between students, universities and industry provides an enhanced engagement experience, enabling students’ work-ready skills to be monitored, evaluated and enhanced.