SBL-professional-skills-marking-guide.pdf - Embracing change Shaping futures Strategic Business Leader \u2013 Professional Skills marking guide An example

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Unformatted text preview: Embracing change. Shaping futures. Strategic Business Leader – Professional Skills marking guide An example of good, marginal and poor professional skills answers Contents Introduction 3 Which professional skills are we assessing? 4 General guidance 6 Example A 8 Sample answer 9 Example B 11 Sample answer 12 Example C 15 Sample answer 16 Example D (i) Sample ‘Good’ answer (ii) Sample ‘Marginal’ answer (iii) Sample ‘Poor’ answer 19 20 23 25 Strategic Professional – Marking Guide | Strategic Business Leader 2 Introduction The following document gives some guidance on how to award professional marks and to recognise answers which attract various grade criteria for professional skills marks. To do this, general guidance will first be given about what Professional Skills are and how they are defined, which then leads to some general principles of marking and an approach to assessing ‘professionalism’ in the new Strategic Business leadership (SBL) examination. The general principles of marking professionalism will help students understand how to maximise their potential for professional marks and at the same time encourage good examination technique and better time management. To support and apply this more general guidance, two part questions from each of the two specimen exams will be used as a basis for the illustration and application of the general guidance, which cover four of the five Professional Skills. One of the questions taken from specimen 2 exam will further show two more answers that would earn marginal professional marks and no professional marks at all. The way this specific guidance works is that the published answer is presented as published to which notes and comments are attached to highlight and justify which aspects attract professional marks under the grade criteria supplied within the professional marks grids. The part requirements which will be used as examples of how to reward professional skills are taken from the two published specimen exams. The pdfs of these are attached below for your further information: Strategic Professional – Marking Guide | Strategic Business Leader 3 Which professional skills are we assessing? Section I of the Strategic Business Leader examination describes the five Professional Skills* as follows: I PROFESSIONAL SKILLS *Note that for each of the five skills there are three sub-skills which help to define them and inform markers of what these skills entail and below that a summary of these is given. 1) Communication* A Inform concisely, objectively, and unambiguously, while being sensitive to cultural differences, using appropriate media and technology.[3] B Persuade using compelling and logical arguments demonstrating the ability to counter argue when appropriate.[3] C Clarify and simplify complex issues to convey relevant information in a way that adopts an appropriate tone and is easily understood by the intended audience.[3] In summary, this means the candidates have to express themselves clearly and convincingly through the appropriate medium while being sensitive to the needs of the intended audience. 2) Commercial acumen* A Demonstrate awareness of organisational and wider external factors affecting the work of an individual or a team in contributing to the wider organisational objectives.[3] B Use judgement to identify key issues in determining how to address or resolve problems and in proposing and recommending the solutions to be implemented.[3] C Show insight and perception in understanding work-related and organisational issues, including the management of conflict, demonstrating acumen in arriving at appropriate solutions or outcomes.[3] In summary, this means the candidates have to show awareness of the wider business and external factors affecting business, using commercially sound judgement and insight to resolve issues and exploit opportunities. Strategic Professional – Marking Guide | Strategic Business Leader 4 3) Analysis* A Investigate relevant information from a wide range of sources, using a variety of analytical techniques to establish the reasons and causes of problems, or to identify opportunities or solutions.[3] B Enquire of individuals or analyse appropriate data sources to obtain suitable evidence to corroborate or dispute existing beliefs or opinion and come to appropriate conclusions.[3] C Consider information, evidence and findings carefully, reflecting on their implications and how they can be used in the interests of the department and wider organisational goals.[3] In summary, this means the candidates have to thoroughly investigate and research information from a variety of sources and logically process it with a view to considering it for recommending appropriate action. 5. Evaluation* A Assess and use professional judgement when considering organisational issues, problems or when making decisions; taking into account the implications of such decisions on the organisation and those affected.[3] B Estimate trends or make reasoned forecasts of the implications of external and internal factors on the organisation or of the outcomes of decisions available to the organisation.[3] C Appraise facts, opinions and findings objectively with a view to balancing the costs, risks, benefits and opportunities, before making or recommending solutions or decisions.[3] In summary, this means the candidates have to carefully assess situations, proposals and arguments in a balanced way, using professional and ethical judgement to predict future outcomes and consequences as a basis for sound decision-making. 4) Scepticism* A Probe deeply into the underlying reasons for issues and problems, beyond what is immediately apparent from the usual sources and opinions available.[3] B Question facts, opinions and assertions, by seeking justifications and obtaining sufficient evidence for their support and acceptance.[3] C Challenge information presented or decisions made, where this is clearly justified, in a professional and courteous manner; in the wider professional, ethical, organisational, or public interest.[3] In summary, this means the candidates have to probe, question and challenge information and views presented to them, to fully understand business issues and to establish facts objectively, based on ethical and professional values. Strategic Professional – Marking Guide | Strategic Business Leader 5 General guidance When examiners produce the SBL exam they will set exam requirements which will examine the technical skills of candidates, but will also help discriminate between candidates on the basis of their overall ‘professionalism’ in writing their exam answers. They will also supply professional mark grids within the marking schemes containing detailed criteria relating to how specifically candidates can demonstrate the above Professional Skills against individual examination requirements. Before specific exam requirements from the specimen exams are considered in more detail, some general principles about demonstrating professionalism will be discussed. This article will show how candidates can complement technical skills with ‘professionalism’ and how this should be rewarded. Professionalism can be demonstrated specifically against particular requirements, but also holistically across the whole exam and adopting this approach should help markers discriminate between weaker and stronger candidates. Professionalism in general can be evidenced as follows: 1 Making the most important or crucial points relating to the requirement where a wide number of weaker points could potentially have earned all technical marks available per part-requirement. (In the current exam marking rubric, candidates can earn all their technical marks while at the same time missing the most obvious points. Professional marking allows this skill to be rewarded and the abler candidates to be more fairly rewarded). 2 Showing deep/clear understanding of underlying or causal issues and integrating knowledge from a number of sources to make points rather than making fairly obvious points directly obtained from discrete information stated in the case. (This is slightly different to making the most relevant points. This is about making points which require greater understanding of the issues through linking information from different sources which the less able candidate would not normally have picked up). exam marking structure would not affect performance. (Under the new exam format, a candidate who consistently makes valid points is rewarded additionally for demonstrating their wider credibility). 4 Not repeating points already made. Professionally competent candidates do not needlessly repeat information or points already made. They may reinforce a previous point, but this is usually made as a development of a point rather than repetition. 5 Addressing the requirements as written is an indication of professionalism and this is certainly not evident when candidates either make significantly more points than would be required for the marks available (showing poor time management), or who deliberately choose to discuss more issues than asked for in the hope that the marker will select their best answers. This practice is unprofessional and shows poor judgement. (This is about showing professionalism as expected in the work place and commercial awareness, personal effectiveness and integrity). 6 Showing an ability to prioritise and make points in a logical and progressive way, building arguments rather than using a random or ‘scattergun’ approach to answering the question. (This is about telling a coherent and compelling story, not only to gain communication skills marks, but can also be used as a way of earning other professional skills marks as identified). 3 Only making relevant points and not including superfluous information or erroneous or unsupported points, which under the current Strategic Professional – Marking Guide | Strategic Business Leader 6 7 Structuring and presenting answers in a professional manner through faithfully simulating the task as would be expected of the person being asked to carry it out and having a clear stakeholder focus to the style of answer given. (This means adopting the style of media as specified in the requirement, including headings, tables and figures, if relevant, and presenting figures or quantitative analysis succinctly and logically). 8 Evidencing sound knowledge from previous learning (underpinning exams) or wider reading and applying this knowledge appropriately to strengthen arguments and make points more convincing. (This requires candidates to revisit the main relevant content from the Fundamentals Applied Skills level of the qualification). 9 Demonstrating professionalism in SBL is not about linguistic eloquence or having an extensive vocabulary, or even about grammatical style. English, for many of our students is not their first language, so what we are looking for, more specifically, is the ability to express points clearly, factually and concisely. In addition to being clear, factual and concise, students should express themselves convincingly, persuasively and show credibility in what they say and how they express themselves to gain professional marks. The above general principles should help markers judge, in a holistic way, how to reward candidates for showing professionalism in any given requirement. The marker will first and foremost pay particular attention to the demonstration of specifically identified professional skills within each requirement, and against which a marking grid is associated, containing the specific criteria and describing what in particular the marker should be looking for in order to award these marks fairly and consistently. While this is the case, candidates who write in a style and with a focus which keeps the above general points about professionalism in mind, are more likely to achieve a higher professional mark in any specific requirement, as many specific professional marking grid criteria would often draw on these general principles as can be seen in several of the professional marking grids illustrated below. This will be illustrated by taking four part‑requirements; two from each of Specimens 1 and 2. Strategic Professional – Marking Guide | Strategic Business Leader 7 Example A SPECIMEN 1, Q1c) Under the Strategy and resource allocation heading in the October board report, the possibility of DCS Company supplying and supporting such technologies as cloud computing and big data analytics is referred to. To accompany the consultancy report a presentation is needed about the exploitation of such new technologies. Professional Skills marks are available for demonstrating communication skills in highlighting the key points to include in the slides and for clear supporting notes. (2 marks) REQUIRED Prepare information for two presentation slides to be presented to the DCS Company board, including relevant bullet points and supporting notes, highlighting the key benefits and identifying the main opportunities presented by big data analytics to DCS Company and its customers. (6 marks) Below is the professional marks criteria grid for this part-question: 1 (c) Communication skills in highlighting the key points and for clear supporting notes. The candidate has failed to use a slide format to communicate the benefits of big data for either the business or their customers. The candidate has only loosely used a slide presentation format, but has either far too many or too few points or has failed to identify benefits for both the business and customers. The candidate has produced some notes but they are either too long or fail to adequately explain the main points. The candidate has used a slide format and bullet points, and has covered both benefits to the customers and the business, but there may be too many of them or they have not been expressed succinctly enough. There are slide notes, but they only loosely explain the bullet points selected. The candidate has appropriately selected and prioritised the key points about benefits to the customer and to the business in a logically flowing bullet list and has produced clear supporting notes which relate closely to the points selected. 0 0.5 1 2 Strategic Professional – Marking Guide | Strategic Business Leader 8 Example A - Sample answer Presentation slides Slide 1: Benefits of big data analytics Bullet points: § Comments An appropriate number and length of bullet points in the slide § Sentiment analysis § Soft surveillance and consumer behaviour tracking § Open communication channels with clients § Predictive analytics (which can monitor inventory levels and ensure product availability) § Analysis of customers’ purchasing behaviours Notes: As DCS operates in a country with 75% of the population connected to the internet and presumably purchasing a significant proportion of their products and services online, DCS can sell data analytics capability to its clients. It can do this by showing them how to use this capability to capture, store and process data from their customers. By developing sophisticated marketing analytics with big data, DCS’s clients can properly evaluate their own marketing performance, gain insight into their customers’ purchasing patterns, discern key market trends and permit them to make evidence-based marketing decisions. Identifying training needs as a selling point Good persuasive language to sell benefits to customers Slide 2: Further opportunities to DCS customers of big data analytics Further opportunities offered by big data analytics for DCS’s customers, include the following: Bullet points: § Potential to unlock significant value § Ability to collect more accurate and detailed performance information Again the use of 5-6 bullet points to highlight main benefits per slide makes the slide more effective § Big data allows ever-narrower segmentation § Sophisticated analytics can substantially improve decision‑making § Big data can be used to develop the next generation of products and services Strategic Professional – Marking Guide | Strategic Business Leader 9 Notes: Big data analytics makes information about DCS customers’ clients more transparent and allows DCS’s customers to collect more accurate and timely information at a fraction of the costs of hosting expensive architectures such as data warehouses and allows DCS’s clients considerable cost savings using cloud computing capability or open source software such as ‘Hadoop clusters’ for storing and processing large amounts of data. Using this, and through ‘data mining’ using social and business networking data, DCS’s clients can undertake a much more sophisticated analysis of their customers and therefore much more precisely tailor their products or services allowing valuable insights which would otherwise remain hidden and unlock more customer value. The other key opportunity is to allow DCS’s clients to develop bespoke products for their customers based on their precise needs and consumer behaviours. § Comments Good use of language to emphasise benefits of data analytics against alternatives Again a good example of persuasive selling of benefits to clients as would be expected of the presenter in this situation Mark allocation for this requirement: § To gain 2 marks the candidate would have presented two slides with an appropriate number of bullets and these would contain the most significant benefits to both the company and to the client using excellent communication skills as evidenced by the notes. § To gain 1 mark the candidate must have demonstrated some good communications skills by using a clear slide format and included notes explaining some benefits to both the company and clients, but the number of bullets may be too many or too long or some key bullets may have been missed. The notes should link well to the bullets, but may not be as persuasive as the best answers. § To gain only 0.5 mark there must be some attempt at communications skills through having a slide format with accompanying notes, but the slides may not necessarily cover the main benefits to the company or clients and the notes may not adequately explain or support the bullets in the slides. § To gain no marks for communications skills, there would be no attempt at a slide format or notes, but just a written answer (however technically correct). Strategic Professional – Marking Guide | Strategic Business Leader 10 Example B SPECIMEN 1, Q2a) In the October board report, the executive directors refer to a number of factors affecting DCS Company and the need to choose one of two alternative strategic options. You now need to do the following: Professional Skills marks are available for demonstrating commercial acumen in identifying and locating the risks appropriately. (2 marks) REQUIRED Draft a section of the report to identify and briefly discuss THREE main risks which DCS Company currently faces and plot them on a heat map, recommending appropriate strategies to manage those risks using an appropriate risk management framework. (6 marks) Below is the professional marks criteria grid for this part-question: 2 (a) Commercial acumen skills in identifying and locating risks appropriately on a heat map. The candidate made no attempt to construct a heat map so they failed to illustrate the probability and impact of the categories of risk detailed in the scenario. The candidate attempted to construct a heat map as required. However, either the accuracy of plotting the risks was wrong or the presentation of the diagram was below standard so it did not help to support the candidate's answer. The candidate constructed a good heat map, plotting the main risks identified in the scenario correctly. However, the candidate did not reference the heat map to their answer so its usefulness was very limited. The candidate constructed an accurate heat map, plotting all of the main risks identified in t...
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