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CDIO: Erik Mazur changing assessment for 21st cent. learning

r. Grunninger an American psychologist once said: “What you remember 5 years after graduation, can be taught in 5 minutes”.  In other words what do we actually learn in University and how can we realize better learning in University.

Students’  learning is driven by the assessment. Assessment  in modern society is;

  • Outmoded and still focused on memorization .
  • Geared to ranking and classifying. (e.g. CITO).
  • Provides students with inauthentic problems

We teach our students problem solving skills, but if you do not get an appropriate problem to practice these skills, what to do.  But first lets’  look a moment at inauthentic problems:

A problem is an obstacle for which you want a solution and you already know the outcome. e.g.:

  • A shopkeeper doesn’t have enough clientele – to make more money
  • A patient comes into the hospital on a stretcher –  to make the patient healthy again
  • A family needs more living space –  to rebuilt the house/ or buy a new one

The problems which are offered in engineering education are of a different kind. You know the problem, you know what you have to do, but you don’t know the outcome.  e.g.

  • You have to check with FBD if the table presented is stable enough
  • What is the velocitiy of the car, when you hit the fence.

These are not authentic problems, according to Mazur.  Our ways of testing are completely contrary to creativity and failure, and completely incompatible with real problem solving.

To realize relevant assessment we have to create relevant context, real life situations with real problems, in which using different strategies to come to a solution is the key to learning.

It means we have to look how we work on problems in the real world.  What do we do at work. We have a problem, find all the information we can, create a team and discuss in a team what the possible ways to a solution is. Successively we decide which of them is going to be implemented.

How do you do this in a educatonial setting where people have to be assessed on the knowledge achievement.  Mazur nicely showed in a workshop that team-based assessment may be a way to learning.  He uses  mc tests on concepts within a team. What you do  is: you present a question that has to be answered individually by the student (50% of the mark), than you sit in a team. The team does the same set of questions, but know they have time to discuss the right outcome.  One person in the team should give the answer for the whole team. You can answer 3 times, but each time you are wrong your team get substraction points. (this is another 50% of the mark). You don’t want  to let your team down, you don’t want to be stupid either. Social pressure really makes you work on the problem and it is representative of real world problem solving. The results is that self efficacy,  self directed learning, team skills, problem solving skills and ownership of the learning do significantly go up.

Would you like to learn more visit Mazur.harvard.edu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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