- Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Mich., is working to quantify students' soft skills via standardized rubrics and embedding them into the curriculum to identify, for example, how effective students are at oral and written communications. Business and technology students can demonstrate proficiency and earn certificates in skills employers are seeking beyond just traditional course content.
- "The Excellence System" grades students as introductory, reinforcing or mastering competencies which include global and intercultural competence; civic and social responsibility; ethical reasoning and action; critical and creative thinking; analysis and problem solving; leadership and teamwork; information and technology proficiency; written communication, and professional communication. Marks in these areas, however, don't impact students' course grades, "because we see that as two different learning outcomes that take place," said Vice Provost Irene Bembenista. But they do become part of a student's academic record, and administrators are working to have the results included on transcripts.
- The process was driven by faculty members, who believed they should be teaching students more than just the discipline content, and the competencies were refined by conversations with those in businesses related to the types of skills they were seeking of new hires.
The biggest challenge for moving this initiative to scale is finding the technology to track it, said Wayne Sneath, Davenport's director of experiential learning. But the biggest success of the program, he said, has been the collaboration from faculty members who ordinarily wouldn't have been involved with such a process.
Getting faculty buy-in on such a process is key to meeting goals around students success — whether that's measured by retention and graduation rates or recent graduates' day-one preparedness to take on the challenges of the workforce. But as with any new initiative, careful attention to integration is critical. Proper attention to training and making sure everyone is on the same page on the front end is essential to saving time and money on the backend.