Teaching and measuring the professional skills of information technology students using a learning oriented assessment task

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International Journal of Engineering Education


© 2019 TEMPUS Publications. The Computing Professional Skills Assessment (CPSA) is a method developed by the authors for assessment of the nontechnical skills prescribed by ABET, the accreditation body for engineering and technology for computing students. These non-technical skills, referred to here as professional skills, include teamwork, communication and problem solving. With the CPSA, teams of five students analyse a complex, ill-defined problem over a 12-day period using an online, asynchronous discussion board. The discussion transcripts are subsequently examined using a rubric. This rigorous assessment evaluates all of the professional skills simultaneously and has been proven to be valid and reliable. As it is a demanding assessment running over a period of almost two weeks, the authors believe it to also be a very valuable learning activity representative of a learning oriented assessment. To ascertain the learning that occurs through use of the CPSA, it was implemented three times in three sections of a 3rd year computing course with a total of 56 students. The results which are presented here show that there was considerable learning and improvement in the students' targeted skills over the semester. The students were surveyed on their perceptions of the CPSA as a learning tool at the end of semester. They strongly believed that it is an effective teaching and learning method and that they benefitted significantly.

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