Measuring attainment of foundation skills in general education at a public university in the United Arab Emirates

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World Transactions on Engineering and Technology Education


© 2016 WIETE. To increase the employability of graduates, tertiary education must emphasise what are known as foundational skills, such as critical thinking, teamwork and information literacy, to name a few. These skills, however, are recognised as difficult to both teach and assess. In this article, the authors describe a novel performance assessment - the General Education Foundational Skills Assessment (GEFSA) - that can be used to teach and measure attainment of foundational skills for non-native English speaking students in a General Education programme, and the results of a pilot study conducted at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates. The GEFSA is comprised of a scenario of an unresolved contemporary issue, prompts to engage students in an on-line discussion, and a task-specific analytic rubric to assess the extent to which students attain the targeted skills. This article focuses on the GEFSA Rubric development and the supporting instruments. The pilot study results indicated that the method could be used to both teach and measure the foundation skills, as well as to be used for programme assessment reporting purposes.

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