Soft Skills Assessment


Educational assessment is a process of gathering evidence, making judgments and drawing inferences about student achievement and performance. (Curtis, 2010).

Assessments forms

  1. Summative assessment (assessment as and for learning)
  2. Formative assessment (assessment of learning)

1. Summative Assessment

Summarizing and reporting achievement, presents information on achievement in a concise way that is of use to potential employers.


  1. Norm-referenced assessment
  2. Criterion-referenced assessment
  3. Standards-referenced assessment
  4. Construct-referenced assessment

2. Formative Assessment

a) Feedback

Feedback is information about how successfully something has been or is being done.

b) Self-assessment

Self-assessment is the involvement of students in identifying standards and or criteria to apply to their work and making judgments about the extent to which they have met those criteria and standards.

Assessment quality criteria

Main criteria

  1. Reliability
    1. Type of Reliability
      1. Stability or Test – Retest
      2. Alternate Form
      3. Internal Consistency (Alpha , a)
  2. Validity
    1. Type of Validity
      1. Content
      2. Criterion
      3. Construct

Secondary criteria

  1. Objectivity
  2. Feasibility

Assessment development

The development of a good assessment system is rooted in the inferences that the system is intended to support.

Balanced assessment


  1. Coherence
  2. Comprehensiveness
  3. Continuity

Competence based assessment

Monitor and assess:

  1. competence acquisition

Testing vs assessment culture


Testing culture

Assessment culture


Addresses lower level knowledge and skills Stresses the multidimensional nature of competence

Learning process

Isolated from the learning process Interconnected with the learning process

Function of assessment

Focuses on measuring results Focuses on feedback


Decontextualized event Interesting learning experience

Assessment methods

Standardized test Performance assessments and portfolios


Lies solely to the teacher Is shared by the teacher and the learner


Psychometrics vs “edumentrics”




Psychological measurements of fixed traits Measurement of the competence development of the learner


Learners are compared to each other Learners are compared to specific criteria


Achieved by standardization Achieved by multiple measurements and generalizability

Function of assessment

Uses the basic quality criteria Addition of other quality criteria


Soft Skills Assessment

1. Principles

Soft skills standards and assessments should (Binkley et al., 2010):

  • Be aligned with the development of significant, soft skills goals.
  • Incorporate adaptability and unpredictability.
  • Be largely performance-based.
  • Add value for teaching and learning.
  • Make students’ thinking visible.
  • Be fair
  • Be technically sound.
  • Valid for purpose.
  • Generate information that can be acted upon and provides productive and usable feedback for all intended users.
  • Provide productive and usable feedback for all intended users.
  • Build capacity for educators and students.
  • Be part of a comprehensive and well-aligned system of assessments designed to support the improvement of learning at all levels of the educational hierarchy

2. Factors for choosing an assessment

a) Assessment design and soft skills definitions

The definitions are based on:

  • the unit of analysis
  • the age span of these skills
  • whether the definitions are to be universal or susceptible to cultural differences
  • whether the skills are to be defined as domain-general or closely associated with specific contexts or disciplines.

b) Domain dependence vs domain independence

There are claims that the item-specific variability is so high that sound generalizations are not possible. The adoption of a domain general versus a context specific approach will have practical implications in the description of

  • learning targets
  • progress variables
  • levels of achievement
  • learning performances

c) Audience dependence

The range of intended users and stakeholders will delineate:

  • the scope of the project
  • the characteristics of the data that needs be collected
  • the methodological challenges that need to be met

d) Assessment models

Review and comparison of the assessment models given by Curtis (2004, 2010)


Assessment model



Holistic judgments

Authentic, provided relevant situations are chosen for observation.Multiple performance levels appear to be discernible Reliable within context, e.g. in a school, where several raters may be used, but lacks comparability across sites.Summative, rather than formative – limited learning potential

Portfolio assessment

Provides a rich data sourceCompiling portfolio may be a valuable learning experience for the learner Influenced by other factors, e.g. written fluency of author, which may limit content validityLack of comparability among individuals (low reliability)

Time-consuming to extract information from portfolio

Workplace assessment


High validityHigh learning potential if judgments are accompanied by informative feedback Low reliability: influenced by training of assessors and by opportunities presented by the work context

Standardised instrumental


EfficientHigh reliability

Produces a score comparable across individuals and occasions

Known precision, can lead to identification of number of discernible performance levels

Limited authenticitySummative rather than formative— limited learning potential

Qualitative methods (Dewson 2000) for formative evaluation:

  • Individual action planning, personal action planning and goal setting
  • Reviews between trainers/assessors and clients to record soft outcomes
  • Daily diary or personal journal
  • In-depth reflection during or after the course
  • Recorded observations of group or individual activities

3. Soft Skills Assessment Challenges

The challenges soft skills assessment has to face include:

  • Using models of skill development based on cognitive research
  • Transforming psychometrics to deal with new kinds of assessments
  • Making students’ thinking visible
  • Interpreting assisted performance
  • Assessing soft skills in traditional subjects
  • Accounting for new modes of communication
  • Including collaboration and teamwork
  • Including local and global citizenship
  • Ensuring validity and accessibility
  • Considering cost and feasibility


Print Friendly

Leave a Reply