Evaluation in Education

Students as Knowledge Workers

Students, like knowledge workers produce intangible things. The knowledge worker produces and utilizes knowledge on a daily basis to achieve the requirements of his profession. Whether a doctor, lawyer, architect, financial consultant or student, knowledge is always the key and knowledge workers are prized and paid above all other types of workers in the society.

However, the nature of work that the knowledge worker produces is often the cause of his ineffectiveness. Unlike blue-collared workers in factories who can judge their level of effectiveness and efficiency by the quantity and quality of their work, knowledge workers do not have such a benchmark. Take for example, a doctor. A doctor is judged by his ability to heal his patients. Yet when a patient passes away, the health of the patient and not the doctor is often at fault.

So how then can we judge the value of a doctor? There is no official and tangible benchmark.

Similar to the case of a doctor, a student is unable to judge accurately his degree of success in studying. All of us study to obtain a means of existence (those who do not are merely wasting their time and money). However, we are unable to judge to what extent studying would contribute to our long-term progress.

Seldom is our achievements in line with our intended goals. Yet in order to be effective and efficient, which is what a student should be, goal setting is an imperative. Once our goals is set, we must focus on activities and actions that contribute to their attainment. Thus, knowing how we can perform at our optimum is also an imperative.

Optimum Efficiency

Knowing how we perform best is probably crucial to succeed in anything we do. We know we perform at our best when our performance result in us winning (this is subject to the situation and individual) and we win only when we utilize our strengths. Our strength is our competitive advantage. This can be defined as anything that we can do especially well compared to our peers. In other words, our strengths is our distinct competencies.

Preferably, our strengths must be either rare, hard to imitate or not easily substitutable. Our unique abilities normally define who we are and what other people perceive we are. Take for example, a friend of mine who is quiet but extremely intelligent while another friend of mine is outspoken, friendly, jovial and a courteous person. Both of them have distinct abilities that defines who they are.

We should always concentrate on our strengths. Our strengths like how we perform is an individual characteristic that is different from everyone else. Whether by nature or by nurture, a person cannot change his strengths. He must build on them. Talent is at fault here. If training is all that is needed to create a prodigy in music, there would be an abundance of Beethovens and Mozarts around. In reality, good music composers are extremely rare.

One cannot build his weaknesses. While one can improve areas that he is weak in, this improvement would only be marginal and in most ways counterproductive. Why waste precious time learning how to swim when you already have wings to fly? We should waste as little effort and time as possible on improving areas of low competence and if possible, ignore them completely.

The thing that counts is to know thy strengths and build on them!

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