The evaluation of "graduating attributes" as seen by Samira El Atia

The latest Conversation on Research and Creation took place on January 29 with twenty people present at Pavillon Lacerte.

Étienne Alary - 26 February 2016

Associate Professor Samira El Atia gave a presentation on January 29.

Samira El Atia, Associate Professor at Campus Saint-Jean, starts by saying, "Why am I interested in this subject (graduating attributes)? We are all witnesses to a great change in the world of education, especially at the postsecondary level, and this greatly concerns me."

Indeed, changes have already been observed from kindergarten to grade 12. "Concrete and measurable elements have been put in place. For example, literacy and numeracy; we can measure and quantify progress each year," she argues. The university setting whose a model is decentralized and more archaic is slow to adapt but for some time now we have begun to ask questions like: "Who are the students? How are they trained? Who are the stakeholders?" said Samira El Atia.

In 2011, the sub-committee of the University of Alberta released its report containing the seven core competencies identified for all undergraduate students at the university: ethical responsibility, knowledge, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity and confidence.

Since 2012, Mrs. El Atia has been working on the development of a theoretical and applied model to evaluate the skills called "graduating attributes" with the goal of assessing the skill acquisition process. "The academic world is a more complex issue because knowledge is the basis of everything. The development of knowledge and abilities all have to be inter-connected," says the Associate Professor.

The evaluation of these skills will be possible thanks to an online software program that was recently developed for longitudinal evaluations. "The quality of the results will greatly depend on what can be quantified. To guide us, skill indicators have been developed," says Samira El Atia who is working on this project with three graduate students, who work as assistant researchers thanks to a $ 134,000 grant obtained from the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund of the Centre for Teaching and Learning of the University of Alberta.

"Right now we are collecting data. Everything will also depend on how teachers and students react to this assessment, "said Samira El Atia who has great hopes for this model, one which she believes will "greatly benefit the next generation".