Showcase Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Learner Centred Professional Competency Assessment (#77)

Chris Cheers 1 , Swee-Eng Chen 1 , Rebecca Glass 1 , Cedomir Gladovic 1
  1. Built Environment Degree Programs, Holmesglen Institute, Chadstone, VIC, Australia


The successful progression of students in the Built Environment Degree Programs (BEDP) at Holmesglen is consistent with completion rates for Higher Education institutions across Australia. However a large proportion of students in the degree programs are mature age and part-time, often chosing to study fully online. Such students can tend to have lower completion rates. Assessment is the most powerful driver of learning behaviour, however conventional assessment practices do not align well with the experiences and expectations of these students.

The initiative/practice:

To address this challenge, improve engagement,  and to strengthen alignment with industry requirements and graduate employability, BEDP has implemented a Learner Centred Professional Competency Assessment (PCA) model across all programs. The model empowers students by giving them a role in their own assessment, a skill which is reflective of industry requirements. It incorporates self assessment, peer assessment, portfolios and ongoing reflective practice throughout the delivery of a subject.

Method(s) of evaluative data collection and analysis:

Comparisons of Grade Distribution data between the previous traditional assessment model and the professional competency assessment model were conducted across 3 delivery cycles for 4 subjects. Showing  a consistency with the average and median marks. This is an indication of the validity and the reliability of the assessment approach.

Evidence of effectiveness:

The results showed significant improvement in grade distributions when assessment was conducted using the PCA model. Mean and median marks improved using this model. Feedback from students suggests that their learning performance improved with the additional feedback from tutors and remedial opportunities to improve on their work. With the PCA model, students were not penalised for making mistakes but were given opportunities to reflect on and learn from their experiences.

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference

The BEDP Showcase addresses the following Conference sub themes:

-          Educating graduates to be responsive and adaptable professionals

-          Assessing, evidencing and evaluating graduate capabilities

-          Navigating uncertainty and complexity

The BEDP professional competency assessment model (PCA) aims to progressively assess and evidence the professional development of students.The process is driven by complex industry problems and  includes  integrated  self-assessment, peer assessment and the use of portfolios to evidence sound  and professional decision making. This reflects a professional practice context. The assessment process closes the loop on student learning and application in terms of a holistic approach to educating students to be responsive and adaptable professionals.

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