Our life is all about constantly monitoring our level of skill. Your level of skill determines if you get the job you want or the job that suits you, it determines if you do good in school, it even determines if you will be successful in life, so to speak. It’s actually a shame that often we experience the determination of our skill level as an unfulfilling process. We often experience it as a judgement instead it being a milestone in our development. Also, as we see in education it actually is a judgement and the level of your skills has great effect on the possibility to progress through your study. This often makes the experience of measuring your skills a stressful one. In my opinion that’s not necessary and counter effective.
If we look at measuring behaviour of people you will soon get into the education or assessment branch. Both of which are infested by machine age measurement tools and tests. As a bachelor of Applied Psychology I have learned how to properly use psycho diagnostic tests and interpret the results. I was also obliged to partake into some of those tests to get a proper idea of how the process is like and I can tell you, it’s boring and unfulfilling process. A lot of certified assessments and tests solely consist on filling in questionnaires with pen and paper. To make sure you don’t cheat and to guard the validity and the reliability most questions in the questionnaire are asked twice or even trice. They are asked in different ways resulting in some tests being several pages long of statements which you mast rank from 1 to 5 to say if it fits with your personality. Well I can assure you, making such a boring and long test really doesn’t fit my personality and I think there are only a few people who’s personality fits with this way of taking tests.
There are assessment tools that also have other ways of testing. They have puzzles, riddles, memory tests with pictures, and so on. There are also tests that consist of having a role-play or that simulate an event . The supervisors, who have to have a similar degree as me or higher, are the ones assessing behaviour and have clear observation forms to assess behaviour. In my opinion observing behaviour like this is one of the best ways of validly assessing behaviour. The downside to this is that there have to be a lot of people involved in assessing only one person, not to mention the time it takes. Also I must say that for almost every assessment the examiner has to be trained in taking that specific test and in almost all assessment an examiner has to be present to make sure the test is being done properly.
Considering all of this it is easy to see why assessments are so expensive and we only take them once we are in a company that can afford them (or when you are soliciting for a job). I think that’s a missed opportunity. If tests like this could be taken by anyone we could be much more productive as a whole. Also we would be better able to discover the potential of people and helping them getting in the right direction. Furthermore, if youngsters are assessed properly we could adjust the education they need or prefer to their specific needs, preventing a lot of unused potential going down the drain. One of our pilots, the one we did with the ID college had that exact goal
There have already been efforts done into digitizing assessments. Most of the time they simply digitalized the questionnaire making is a boring assessment because you have to click through 10 pages of questions instead of using pen and paper to do it. You also see that this way of assessing is being criticized, not because it is digital, but mostly because it’s easier to cheat. I think the biggest problem, therefore the biggest opportunity, lies in that notion.
Because assessments are boring as hell and we have to do them in order to keep our job, get a new job, get good grades etc. we don’t want to do them. Every time we have to do something we don’t want to and also get measured on should not be a valid measurement. If we are not intrinsically motivated to show our skills then why should we?
This brings me back to Gamification.
One of the core techniques behind Gamification is the measurement of progress. Communicating this progress to the user gives the user the feeling of growth and accomplishment reinforcing his behaviour. This often results in points, badges and leader board, which are the tools often used in Gamification to give the user insight in his progress. Looking at Gamification this way you see that the measurement of someone’s behaviour is very important. With this knowledge, we have started to explore the opportunities of a gamified assessment. Right now we measure 21st century skills with our ACCO model in our game. For me it’s a match made in heaven. Making people wanting to really assess their skills and progressing by learning new stuff is awesome. It gives clear headway to a complete new view on how we should assess, learn and progress. Once it’s fun to check upon the level of your skills and see what has happened we can really start to collect interesting data with which we can efficiently start our career. It will also, in my opinion, give far more valid data on someone’s skill. If the process of measuring your skill is fun and rewarding you will be far more inclined to show the truth. Making the assessment will be not about finishing the assessment but about measuring your skills and seeing progression. I think it’s time to get the process of assessing skills into the age we are living in now. We currently have our computers, phones, game devices, smartwatches and all the technology we need to start harvesting the relevant data and start measuring our skills. Now is the time for this breakthrough to happen.