Luciano, your link didn’t seem to lead to any “examination papers”? Good luck with your website which looks professional and I presume (under the rules of IET forums) non-commercial.
On the subject of examinations, in my opinion too much faith is placed in this method of separating people. In many situations, alternative methods of assessment can be more appropriate, reliable and accurate, assuming that the rationale for separation is sound.
You specifically mention the (UK only) category of Incorporated Engineer, which in some other countries is described as a “Technologist” rather than an “Engineer”. Typically this differentiation relates to the mathematics and science syllabus in different degree programmes, with the latter focussing more deeply on calculus. So presumably someone taught to such a syllabus, should perform more strongly in examination questions designed to test the use of calculus. An essay conducted under examination conditions might explore powers of expression and critical reasoning. A recall of facts, or test of familiarity with a standard might use a multiple-choice format. “Objective tests” such as those developed by occupational psychologists rank people on a statistical distribution curve. Therefore when recruiting, many employers use such tests and often consider them more reliable than examination grades.
Because examinations are intended to divide into “pass or fail”, or provide a rank or grade, their sociological effects are highly significant. In The UK, league tables exist to rank schools and universities, with private rather than public institutions justifying considerable fees on the basis of better examination scores, in addition to the social benefits of an advantageous peer group. So examinations are significantly correlated with social class and potential career outcomes. The US SAT system (of which I have no direct experience) is I understand, designed to “even the playing field” for those seeking access to higher education.
Returning to Engineering & Technology, those who control the main forms of professional recognition, have chosen to divide practitioners on academic grounds into three “types”. However, in practice only one category has proved reasonably popular, so the division has become a simple pass/fail threshold distinguishing between “the best and the rest”, with the threshold defined by the nature of examinations in mathematics and science. In the UK there has been a compromise, to the extent that a growing number of people have been able to gain recognition by another assessment methodology, conducted later in career to evaluate their “professional competence”. Although there are many who argue that this should only be made available "in addition" to having completing a prescribed academic course or examination. Currently around 40% of newly registered Chartered Engineers do not hold a fully accredited academic qualification profile, although most of these will hold good university degrees including some PhDs. The competence assessment process takes account of such achievement, but ultimately evaluates evidence of performance in practice, explored at an interview.
A few years ago, I conducted a study of 35 mid-career Engineers being assessed for Chartered Engineer. This compared academic qualifications with performance in a UK-SPEC competence assessment. Qualifications held ranged from ONC or UK level 3 (Eng Tech benchmark), through HNC (IEng before 1999), Bachelors Degrees (CEng pre 1999) and Masters (CEng post 1999). One HND qualified Engineer was unsuccessful, but others were the highest rated, with ONC holders achieving similar results to degree holders. This modest study proves nothing, but I would suggest that it illustrates how cumulative work-based learning is clearly a significant factor. I should also note that where experienced engineers have the opportunity to undertake a MSc programme, usually assessed by “assignments” and a dissertation, I have observed that most do very well with relatively modest teaching/coaching input.
The “traditional examination” format has merits, or it would not have persisted. Understandably those who have found success , often see exams as an important “rite of passage” to be jealously guarded, in case others sneak past the gate. However, there are also significant limitations, weaknesses and negative social implications.
The first two links below illustrate how Artificial Intelligence and a young child can potentially “pass exams”. The conference proceedings (I wasn’t present) offer some fresh thinking, much of which I find admirable. My long held view, is that Engineering & Technology has to be learned in practice and applied. This is most efficient if conducted concurrently, in a closely interwoven way, such as a well-designed Apprenticeship. Naturally when under academic control assumptions are made which suit the custom and practice of academia.
In the UK, Engineering Policy makers typically either passed engineering exams themselves 40+ years ago and/or are primarily concerned with social status and bureaucratic process. Those “younger” engineers who have been allowed to contribute to policy formation by virtue of becoming chartered, are understandably concerned with the career competitive advantage offered by their degree, now increasingly expensively acquired. Only very recently has the UK government policy of revitalising apprenticeships begun to draw many employers back in to “ownership” of training, rather than adopting the assumption that, “ready trained” engineers emerge from university with just "a little familiarisation” needed. I don’t know if the policy will last, but I hope so.
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