Assessing students' foundation skills prior to the STEM majors

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Global Journal of Engineering Education


To increase the employability of STEM graduates and their readiness as scientific and technical knowledge workers for the 21st Century knowledge economies, higher education must emphasise what are known as foundation skills, such as critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, communication and teamwork, to name a few. Quality assurance organisations, such as ABET (the international accrediting body for technical fields) and national higher education accrediting bodies require programmes to show evidence of student attainment of foundation skills. Such skills, however, are recognised as difficult to both teach and assess. In earlier articles, the authors have described and presented preliminary results and findings from an assessment framework - The General Education Foundation Skills Assessment (GEFSA) - used to measure and assess the attainment of foundation skills for non-native English speaking students in a general education programme (i.e. pre-major students) at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates. This article focuses on recent GEFSA testing with students in their first and last semesters of the general education programme.

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