Our post today is written by Peter Hallsworth, CEng FICE. Contributor for The Civil Engineering Exam.
Peter is a Member of the Institution Council and serves on several panels including the Professional Reviews Panel and the Fellowship Panel.
Peter became a Chartered Engineer in 1975 and undertook his first Professional Review in 1982. Since then he has undertaken just shy of 500 reviews of all kinds from Technician through to Fellow. He has been also running a Written Exercise Group based in Manchester and online for ten years, with several participants winning prizes every year.
The objectives of a reviewer
I have been undertaking reviews in London this week and have also been training our new reviewers. It is always a pleasure to be able to see people willing to volunteer their time, and most new reviewers comment how much they enjoy doing it too.
In the past we had presentations that was mostly “Death by Powerpoint”, but that has improved with much more interaction from the new reviewers.
The take-home message for everyone is to create an atmosphere where the candidates can demonstrate their skills to the best of their ability, and not one of interrogation which ends up making the candidate nervous. We really want every candidate to pass. It is a waste of everyone's time if it ends in a fail, and we get no pleasure from it – not least the extra paperwork!
We talk about all the Nine Attributes and how to explore the candidate's engineering knowledge beyond just drawing bending moment diagrams. New reviewers are trained to ask good quality questions (which we included in our Guidance Pack) and to spot uncertainties, and to ensure that the candidate does most of the talking during a Professional Review.
How does the reviewer training work?
There are ways to explore each Attribute which will obviously differ for each candidate's experience. However, the key to the training is to sit and watch a real, live review and witness the closing discussion between the two reviewers after the candidate has left.
We have made this easier by giving the candidate's précis to the new reviewers and a copy of the forms to complete for themselves. The review observation discussion and debrief that takes place after lunch is revealing. As a matter of fact, this is definitely the real icing on the learning process.
I have trained over twenty new reviewers this year. It is noticeable that the Manchester training in a hotel venue was much more interactive than down in London in Great George Street, which I dare put down to northern friendliness versus metropolitan insularity!
There are now videos in the presentation, which keeps people more awake and avoids the “Death by Powerpoint”. However, as the lead trainer, it is quite odd to see yourself on-screen with an audience critiquing your every gesture!
At the end of the day the new reviewers go away with the key objective in mind. They must take the right approach to allow candidates to perform at their best, and reviewers must listen and find evidence of achievement of the Nine Attributes. We really want every candidate to pass, not least because the paperwork behind failure is so painful!
For more information about the Review process, you can visit our Guidance Pack page. Keep following this blog for more insights on the ICE reviewer training, and head over to the forum to share thoughts or questions.