Tuesday, 12 June 2012

"A" Student or Problem Solver

What’s in a grade? Is it overrated? Well… sometimes.

Given the right kind of examination and conditions that ensure the integrity of how responses are produced and given, examination results could be very useful in gauging the ability of an individual to be an effective team member.

The challenge however is that many times examinations are based on textbooks theories and not real world application realities.  Hence, an individual may be able to regurgitate some listings and definitions, but have no clue how they affect life – especially within the context of the job they may end up in.

Having an expansive vocabulary is always an advantage for the possessor if it is known how it is to be used.  So there is a place to learn definitions and listings, but these cannot stand alone.  These are to be found at the very basic levels of questioning according to Bloom’s Taxonomy: Knowledge and Comprehension.

The good student possesses not only knowledge and comprehension, but also has the ability to apply the material.  It means that at this level the student has the ability to solve problems.  Effective problem solving, which is where the rubber means the road in the real world, also employs the skills to analyse (tear into parts) a situation and synthesise (generate and assemble the parts) alternate solutions.

The key words so far which are critical in producing and verifying an effective worker are knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis and synthesis.  These are areas that examination questions must cover, and are therefore skills that should be taught in the classroom.  There is a final word in Bloom’s Taxonomy’s list: Evaluation.

Evaluation is a composite of knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, and synthesis, and can only be effective when these skills are mastered.  A well trained student is able to perform this operation that is to be tested as well.  An effective competency evaluation, performed by the teacher on the class, will test all the above areas.  Sometimes however examinations are not comprehensive and could be misleading.

If you are an employer therefore, you should either have your own examinations that you administer, or you should be satisfied that the certification that the prospective employee has indicates that a comprehensive and objective evaluation has been done.

If you are a student, don’t be too quick to jump for joy when the examination is too easy.  You’re probably being set up to fail on the job.  You’re paying a lot for your degree; demand value for your money.