A critique of the assessment of professional skills

C Alignment with Learning Objectives

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C Alignment with Learning Objectives

An important pedagogical aim of assessment of skills is to assess student competency levels within those skills. In order to fulfil this objective, assessment must be aligned with the learning objective of mastering practical skills. However, Boursicot noted that some forms of performance assessment test only practical technical skills and do not scrutinise deeper layers of understanding.20 This marginalises the more complex and not as easily measured features of competence (such as professional and ethical judgement, and organisation skills) in favour of the more technical skills which can be easily identified and assessed (for example, correctly drafting an interrogatory or notice to admit). It is much easier to design assessments which require students to demonstrate that they can draft an interrogatory, than assessments in which the strategic reasons for requiring the information, the rationale for the drafting style and the timing of the interrogatory are apparent. Assessment must be carefully structured to avoid excessive emphasis on the technical.

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