Ability in diagnosing equipment faults: Contribution of students practical intelligence.
Zol Bahri, Razali, Dr.
Trevelyan, James P.
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Industry reports on engineering graduate abilities often point out their lack of practical skills. The concept of practical intelligence has been developed by psychologists seeking to find better ways to evaluate the most suitable applicants for particular jobs in occupations. This research led to psychometric test instruments to measure practical intelligence in a context of laboratory tasks. The authors hypothesised that these developments in psychology could be applied to measure the practical, hands-on component of student learning in engineering laboratory classes. Until now, laboratory classes have only been evaluated by measuring explicit cognitive knowledge reproduced by students in reports and tests and asking students for their rating of the laboratory experience. Practical skills, on the other hand, are rarely mentioned as learning outcomes and the only way of measuring practical skills has been through direct observation. The authors developed a testing instrument appropriate for a first-year electrical engineering laboratory class to measure practical intelligence in the context of simple electronic circuits. Testing on large samples of students has demonstrated that it is possible to measure practical intelligence acquired through laboratory classes. Further testing has demonstrated that these learning outcomes predict the ability to diagnose simple faults in laboratory circuits.