NURTURING AND ASSESSING GENERIC ABILITIES TO AUGMENT DISCIPLINE SPECIFIC KNOWLEDGE AND ABILITIES
Centre for Assessment, Evaluation and Research (INDIA)
The dawn of knowledge-and-intelligence-based-economy with the onset of new millennium demands a different set of abilities from the youth in comparison to what was needed in the last century. In order to fulfill these needs, education systems around the world have placed assessment of generic abilities like problem solving, decision making, reasoning, critical thinking in the core of school curriculum. Buzz words like trans-disciplinary, inter-disciplinary, multidisciplinary, cross-disciplinary knowledge and abilities are dominating educational discourses as well as policy documents. Commonality lies in the level of operation. All of them operate a level of abstraction that is much above the level of subject bound knowledge and provide the basis for developing various thinking abilities and habits of the mind.
Most of these abilities have been visualized at the juncture of higher level cognitive abilities and meta cognitive abilities, and are required for all subject domains. Scientific problem solving is as critical as mathematical problem solving. Even the ability to construct grammatically correct sentences to convey the meaning and purpose leverage higher order cognitive and meta cognitive abilities. Similarly, sociability, collaboration, responsibility, integrity, honesty, and other sociopersonal abilities are the attributes that help students to meet the challenges of everyday life, and are considered as essential abilities. Systems believe that focus on these abilities as core competence in the curriculum would augment both discipline-based knowledge and mental faculties/abilities that are the key components of human capital; and, are critical for success in academic-professional as well as sociopersonal life.
How are these abilities translated and articulated in the context of school education? They enable students to use their knowledge and abilities, to solve a real world problem, in the most effective and logical manner. These real world problems don't have a routine solution and necessitate students to engage with the task at a deeper level of thinking. These are beyond the application level of cognition in the sense, that they demand thoughtful application and necessitate creating a set of fluid strategic thinking, and allow one to engage with unfamiliar and novel situations and come up with the unique and most suitable solution.
This paper discusses a brief sketch of pedagogy under different education systems to nurture these abilities, with special focus on defining and measuring the learning outcomes, drawn on generic abilities. Defining learning outcomes marks the beginning of teaching and assessment. Considering this, the paper also tries to investigate possibilities and challenges of mapping these outcomes on developmental continuum.