HOW CAN LIFELONG LEARNING SKILLS BE ASSESSED AT UNIVERSITY?

M.J. Villamide, J. González, D. Carro, J. García

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (SPAIN)
At the University, specific competences and skills have been traditionally evaluated, whereas generic skills (such as writing and speaking competences) were used to refine the rating. Promote or encourage and subsequently assess generic skills is a challenge driven by the Bologna plan. The aim of this study was to analyse the efficiency of a methodology designed to encourage self-learning and lifelong learning skills. A compulsory course of Livestock Production and Environment belong to the Agricultural and Environmental Engineering Degree with 36 students enrolled was taken. After the presentation and discussion about the lifelong learning competence in the classroom, some documents specially elaborated for this course about "How to understand and explain tables and figures of scientific data", "Virtual farm management", "Making field works" were available on Moodle platform. Different learning activities both in the classroom or online were carried out based on this material. Afterwards, the generic competences and skills were assessed through three questions in the midterms, where the efficiency and success rate (% pass students over registered or presented, respectively) and average marks were analysed. Also the effect of motivation (estimated as % of learning activities performed in the course, 94, 81 or 60%) on the assessment of the activities and questions related to lifelong learning competence was addressed. The average rates of efficiency and success in the understanding and explanation of scientific data were 52 and 56%, respectively. Lower values than those obtained for specific skills of the course (80.5 and 93.5%, respectively). However, when evaluate the self-learning (virtual farm) and the ability to think about their own learning process, the efficiency and success rates (82 and 87%) were comparable to that of the specific competences. Motivation has a significant effect on the marks of 3 of the 4 activities related to the understanding and explanation of scientific data, dropping 50 and 67% as average the marks from the most motivated group to the following. Finally they were surveyed about their perceptions on how well this course improved their lifelong learning skills. Students seem to be aware of the importance of lifelong learning (84%). Most of them (87%) considered themselves capable of preparing a complex topic on livestock production and 71% knew where to find the information they need. Their opinion about generic competencies linked to livestock production is very high, as they believe that the course has increased their ability to observe critically livestock facilities (97%), to visualize the effects of animal production on the environment (94%), to quantify agro-livestock resources and emissions (90%). But when the competences were not linked to the course topics the evaluation is lower (61 to 80%).