Assessment in Kelvin TOP-SET Incident Investigation Courses


Kelvin TOP-SET has run Incident Investigation courses now for over 30 years, and has amassed much expertise in the business of teaching incident investigation.  In essence, investigation is a problem-solving process, and the TOP-SET steps are straightforward and easy to follow.

However, one of the major problems with teaching is ensuring that our students’ learning is effective and thorough.  To this end, we can motivate them by checking that they know the steps of the incident investigation process and that they can carry out difficult and testing exercises such as Root Cause Analysis.   Nine years ago we introduced assessment in our courses, making use of the skills of an educational consultant with wide experience of assessment in education.

As a consequence, assessment is now part of all our courses.  The assessment is carried out throughout the courses, but not at the end.  This may come as a surprise.  To explain, we are not in the business of providing a leaving certificate with some measurement of success or failure on it.  Instead, we use assessment for two prime purposes:

1.         To give our students a sense of achievement and mastery

2.         To check our teaching is up to standard.

It is this second point which is so important.  Surprisingly, one of the most important aspects of assessment is to check what students get wrong, and not what they get right.  Put simply, if everyone gets a question wrong, either the question is badly set, or the teaching is not up to scratch.  Test analysis is a tool used by Kelvin TOP-SET to ensure the teaching is of the very best.  If everyone gets close to full marks in one of our tests, then we can be confident that our students’ learning is effective, and our teaching is good – a win-win situation.

In early days of assessment we found that most of our students could not carry out an effective Root Cause Analysis.  So, for the past few years we have honed and sharpened our tricks, tips and rules for Root Cause Analysis, to make the process straightforward and easy to understand.  That’s not to say that Root Cause Analysis is easy to do.  It isn’t.  Poker and Bridge are two card games which are easy to describe in a few minutes, but in truth, are very difficult to play well.  It is exactly the same with Root Cause Analysis.

So, this year, as a result of our long-term assessment program, which has put a spotlight on the difficulties people have carrying out Root Cause Analysis, we have launched a 1-day course on Root Cause Analysis.  And because our system is unique and easy to use, we have called it ‘Pure’ Root Cause Analysis – or if you like, Root Cause Analysis the TOP-SET way!


Are you up to scratch?  Try this quick test.

1.         How do you know when you have reached a root cause?

2.         When and why do we close off lines of logic in an analysis?

3.         Why can’t a fire in a fridge be a root cause of an incident?  (Grenfell fire)

4.         When do we use ‘and’ and ‘or’ in our analysis, and what’s the difference?

How did you do?  Do you want to know the answers?  Come on a Kelvin TOP-SET Incident Investigation course, where all will be revealed!

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