How can schools test student collaboration skills?
- Project Lead the Way, a project-based STEM curriculum, is planning to introduce new tech-based questions on its summative assessments to individually measure non-cognitive skills such as collaboration and problem-solving, EdSurge reports.
- The new online soft-skills component of the tests will be used by students in more than 10,000 schools at the end of the coming year and will feature several approaches, including tech-laden items using drag and drop, text highlighting or fill-in-the-blank features, as well as situational-judgement items. The biomedical science end-of-course exam will even feature a “simulated interaction” using an AI as a virtual patient.
- However, some educators, including Linda Darling-Hammond, an educational researcher and head of the Learning Policy Institute, question whether individual assessments can truly measure collaboration skills, preferring group-based performance assessments instead.
Collaboration, one of the 4 C’s often discussed in modern education, is now recognized as one of the critical 21st century skills that schools need to teach. That need is being driven by the marketplace as more employers are seeing the benefit of employees with strong collaboration skills.
But employers are also no strangers to the difficulty of measuring those skills. Companies are trying a number of strategies from group-based activities to individual assessments to measure these soft skills during the hiring process. Group-based assessment offers a better picture in some ways, but it's expensive, time-consuming and subjective. It can also make sorting out individual contributions to solutions difficult.
Some schools are now creating soft skills report cards with the help of organizations like The Brookings Institution, while others are incorporating the teaching of collaboration and other skills primarily through project-based learning, but finding the best way to measure these skills remains an ongoing challenge.