Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Sample KS Candidate Q & A

It is important for AEC firms to explain to users precisely why they are being asked to take a skills assessment.  The key message is that the KS tools are an aid to identifying skills gaps and highlighting training needs.

Here are some sample notes that KS admins can copy - and adapt for their own use - to help give their teams a bit more background to the KS assessment process.

What is KnowledgeSmart?

KnowledgeSmart is a leading developer of skills assessment tools for CAD, BIM and engineering software applications – designed to help AEC firms measure and improve productivity.  Since 2003, KnowledgeSmart has facilitated in excess of 20,000 individual assessments – across a range of architectural and engineering practices globally – helping to create a benchmark for basic CAD & BIM proficiency.

The KnowledgeSmart tools perform a comprehensive assessment of a user’s ability focusing on fundamental skills groups associated with design and engineering software applications, including AutoCAD, Revit, 3ds Max, Civil 3D, Rhino, SketchUp, InDesign, Photoshop, MicroStation and Bentley Architecture. The process aims to assess current performance in order to identify areas where individuals can benefit from additional training.

What is the point of KnowledgeSmart - and why should I do it?

This process is not about a big-brother style test to check up on unsuspecting staff!  Nor is it a matter of pointing out who is the more knowledgeable software user.  Rather, the point of the exercise is to highlight how much each individual currently knows – in order to identify those areas where focused training can improve basic knowledge.

Everyone uses CAD, BIM and engineering software in a different way.  Some people use it full time in their role; others may only use the tools from time to time.  The objective is not to teach a veteran CAD user how to use a polyline or write text.  But the fact remains, a more detailed knowledge of basic commands and operations can alleviate apprehension in using technical software applications and assist in speeding up routine tasks.

Is it the same for full-time and casual users?

There are a number of different test modules to choose from, covering a range of skill levels and created by a team of specialist authors.  Firms can also write their own test material in-house.  For basic CAD skills, as an example, practices can choose from a 2D fundamentals module or an ‘occasional users' module.

The fact is, there are many differing levels of ability and many different requirements placed upon the way CAD & BIM software is used within each practice.

Summary reports take into consideration whether an individual is a core user, or someone who only uses the software occasionally as part of a wider role.  Follow-up comparisons and training recommendations should be reflected accordingly.

What topics does the assessment cover?

KnowledgeSmart assessments typically break down technical software applications into a series of modular topics.

For example, the 2D fundamentals assessments (for AutoCAD & MicroStation) cover a range of basic CAD commands, including; basic object/element creation, layers/levels, blocks/cells, annotation, referencing & printing, UCS/ACS and preferences.

Assessments typically comprise 20-25 questions and present scores as a percentage, based on the accuracy of the answers presented.  There are 2 question types and 5 question styles.  Question types are either task-based (i.e. you need to perform a task using the software in order to work out the answer) or knowledge-based (i.e. you are being tested on your understanding of certain software functions, without having to actually use the tools).  Question styles include; free text, multiple choice, pick list, order list and true/false.

What if I do not score very well?

This exercise is not about who is the best.  You will identify areas where you can improve your own performance with the help of more targeted training workshops.

Following the assessment everyone receives an overall result and summary report with feedback on dropped marks, training keywords and coaching material.

When and where will the assessments take place?

Your technology administrator will have details of your assessment schedule.  If you are unavailable to attend on the date or time scheduled please contact your administrator to rearrange.  You will need a PC or laptop, with a web connection and a copy of the software you are being tested on.

How long will the assessment take?

There is no limit to how long the exercise will take.  The average time is approximately an hour, but this is not a strict rule.

Try to work at your usual speed.  Don’t rush, as many simple mistakes are made by people not reading the instructions carefully.  Conversely, don’t take too long to complete each task, as your score plus time taken will be looked at in the overall results analysis.  Your score will not be affected by the time you take.

How long before I know my results?

Depending on the level of feedback assigned by your administrator, you will typically receive your score straight away when you finish the assessment.  You will also be emailed with a link to your results report and feedback on any marks which have been dropped.

Additional Info

The amount of time you take will not affect the accuracy of your score.

Before you start, you may be presented with a zip folder containing files which you’ll need to refer to during your test.  Save the zip folder locally on your machine – and remember where you put it – as you will need to navigate back to this folder during your assessment.

Please read the written instructions carefully.  This is also an assessment of your ability to follow instructions. Often, marks are dropped through candidates simply not doing what they have been asked to do.

You can answer the questions in any order, using the KnowledgeSmart 'question navigator', or simply read through the test instructions before attempting to answer each question.  You can also edit your answers at any time during your assessment.

The time taken to complete an assessment varies depending on the individual, but an average is about an hour.  You don’t have to complete all the questions in one sitting; you can exit and return later if you prefer.  When you resume, your previous answers will have been saved.

Here’s a link to a KS blog article which tells you more about what to expect during a KS assessment:


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