While the questions below are about soft skills teaching and soft skills assessment for high school students, I think many of the methods I share can be used also in soft skills training and assessment for professionals.
Lei, Thank you for the work you do and the clarity you provide when it comes to differences and importance between soft and hard skills. I am in the process of creating a committee made up of community business leaders and teachers for the purpose of aligning soft skills with class curriculum. Any advice you can give on the following will be most helpful and appreciated;
- Creating classroom activities that provide appropriate practice in developing soft skills
- How to appropriately measure and assess performance of students in relation to soft skills development.
Thank you again,
John Hamilton – Social Studies HS Teacher
1. Creating classroom activities that provide appropriate practice in developing soft skills.
I think the best combination to help anyone develop soft skills is 20% theory and 80% practice. Theory would be around what are soft skills, why are they importance and tips to follow etc. Practice in the classroom is best done with real life scenarios that the student can role play. I think the student would like it if the scenarios very much pertains to their high school life. For example,
- team project dynamics
- friendship conflicts
- communication issues with parents
- peer pressure
I think teaching soft skills is much more of an art than a science.
2. How to appropriately measure and assess performance of students in relation to soft skills development.
This is a tough one. Many people are attempting to figure this out.
- Mindtool, for example offers a simplistic questionnaire that ask you to self assess your career/soft skills.
- European Union has funded a Mass Project that wrote a 190 page report on the teaching and assessment of soft skills to disadvantaged young people. I am still trying to absorb it all.
One thing is clear. There isn’t one right answer. There isn’t even one standard soft skills definition. Given my soft skills definition, I came up with three methods for you to help assess soft skills at a high school level.
Method 1: You can test scenarios in a multiple choice fashion. Give students 20-40 scenarios and multiple choices + room to comment. You may have one preferred answer for each scenario, but the teacher needs to read the comments to see if there is room for partial credit. So it kind of combines the work of a Math teacher with that of English, so some parts are automated and some parts are subjective.
Method 2: Ask students to do a self assessment of some key soft skills – define their strengths and weaknesses. For high school students, you would need to choose from the 28 soft skills I listed and see which one are most pertinent for their age. This self assessment encourages self-reflection and self awareness. Self awareness is fundamental to developing anyone’s soft skills.
Perhaps the best way to assess performance on method 2 is either ask the teacher to judge subjectively assuming the teacher has a good understanding of each student in their class or ask the student to ask 3 people (a parent, a friend, an acquaintance) to give them an assessment on the same set of skills. Then see how well the self assessment matches that of those given by the 3 people.
Method 3: Similar to method 1 but focuses on one complex scenario. The students need to read it and write out their reaction and choice of action. In this case, there is no multiple choice. Teacher would have to read each one and give partial credit as the students write an essay about what they would do in this situation. The focus is less on their writing skills and more on their ability to assess and address the situation well.
I hope these thoughts help you. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any more questions. Thanks again for using my material. I am always happy to hear that they are useful. Best wishes,