Soft skills mapping for competency-based learning


Communication skills and the OJT model

According to the Institute of Education Sciences, competency-based education refers to a personalized learning approach, in which students learn in a flexible and engaging learning environment, and progress toward proficiency levels higher based on proof of their skills at the previous level. Communication skills are “soft” skills and are often considered difficult to map in terms of skills, as opposed to technical skills. I would like to share how communication skills could be mapped using the cognitive and affective dimensions of Bloom’s Taxonomy, and how the mapping could be used for grading and training purposes.

Mapping Soft Skills Using Bloom’s Taxonomy

The cognitive process dimension in Bloom’s taxonomy (Anderson and Krathwohl, 2001) has often been used to write learning or training objectives. The taxonomy reflects skills in increasing levels of complexity and specificity, with the prior level being a prerequisite for successful mastery of higher levels of the taxonomy. The levels are memorize (level 1), understand (level 2), apply (level 3), analyze (level 4), evaluate (level 5), and create (level 6).

Similarly, the affective process dimension in Bloom’s Taxonomy reflects increasing levels of awareness and growth. Levels receive/pay attention (level 1), respond/participate in learning (level 2), value/place value on what is learned (level 3), organize/compare and make connections with prior knowledge (level 4). and characterize/give meaning to their lives (level 5).

Competency mapping for communication skills could be written in the same way as field plans (OJTs) in the workplace. Mapping these soft skills could make the level of cognitive and affective acquisition of these skills more visible and transparent to students and employers, and enable more personalized training in the context of upskilling and reskilling workers.

An example is shown in Table 1 on the main task of “connecting ideas logically” in the context of writing engineering design reports. The two main elements of the task when writing engineering design reports are connecting ideas between paragraphs and within a paragraph.

Table 1: Task Mapping Logically Connect Ideas Using an OJT Plan Template

If we map skills according to Bloom’s Taxonomy, we will start with a statement of the necessary knowledge, skills and attitude. Attitude is placed in the same column as knowledge and abilities because they are underlying traits that determine a student’s learning posture for all six levels of the cognitive dimension.

In the affective dimension, students must pay attention (level 1) to what is taught in the knowledge section and participate (level 2) in carrying out activities in the writing process (such as researching on the Internet) . These behaviors were not listed in Table 1 because they are basic requirements of a student. Students should also persist (Level 3) in their efforts to submit the assignment for a grade. Furthermore, by persisting in completing the task, students would intuitively compare what they learn to their prior knowledge. In organizing (level 4) their “new” knowledge by accommodating or assimilating it to their previous knowledge, they must be critical and objective. This will help them develop metacognitive skills that will enable them to make sense (Level 5) of what they learn in writing similar reports as well as in their work and life whenever evidence-based arguments are needed .

In the cognitive dimension, students must memorize and understand (levels 1 and 2) the structure of technical reports, PEEL (point, proof, elaboration, link), unity, coherence, cohesion and synthesis. Additionally, the ability to search the Internet using CRAAP (Currency, Relevance, Accuracy, Authority, and Purpose) and appropriate citation skills are necessary to avoid plagiarism when writing research reports. technical design.

Moving to Level 3 of Bloom’s Taxonomy, students should know how to apply the structure of engineering design reports in terms of content and format. This means that students need to know what the main sections of an engineering design report are and adopt appropriate formatting in terms of headings and subheadings.

At Level 4, students should be able to analyze or filter potential solutions during the selection phase using predefined criteria. At Level 5, students will be expected to critically evaluate these potential solutions based on their strengths and limitations. At Level 6, students will then be expected to convince readers using objective evidence of the robustness of the decision made for the proposed solution and the effectiveness of the proposed solution in a pilot study, if applicable.

Soft skills and scoring mapping

If we start from the principle that mastery of an earlier skill is a prerequisite for its effective application in later skills, then we could translate this into grading. For example, an engineering design report reflecting an average grade, such as a B grade, might mean that a student was able to apply (Level 3) the content and format of a report but barely mastered the skill to analyze (level 4) the potential. solutions during the selection phase. Signs in a student report might look like this: very few potential solutions analyzed or lack of evidence to support the choice of a particular solution relative to the design goal. As the student has not mastered level 4, it is difficult for him to highlight the skills of levels 5 and 6 when writing the report.

Likewise, in training, skills mapping could help students know where they stand in a more global way. In the example in Table 1, a student who gets a B grade knows that in terms of “connecting ideas,” he or she has only mastered level 3 and needs to work harder to reach levels 4 to 6 in order to to get a better grade. For instructors, it would also be easier to provide targeted teaching at the level appropriate to the skills gaps observed, particularly in the context of reinforcing learning in a personalized manner. Students would also feel relieved to be able to skip Levels 1-3 skills in similar modules and, with the time and effort saved, they would be more motivated to strengthen their mastery of Levels 4-6 skills.

The references:

  • Anderson, L. W. and DR. Krathwohl. 2001. A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessment: A Review of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. New York: Longman.
  • Institute of Educational Sciences. (nd). Measuring success with competency-based learning.

Image credits:

  • The table in the body of the article was created/provided by the author.


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