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Identifying, developing and grading soft skills, i.e., transversal cross-curricular competencies, in higher education requires the recognition of key qualities, the capacity to discriminate between these qualities and a mechanism to validly and reliability grade soft skill acquisition. This research proposes a technological infrastructure that acknowledges the importance of self-assessment, peer observation and teacher evaluation when adjudicating on subjective and often personal data. The proposal has the capacity to balance, weight and triangulate the objective and subjective evidence of soft skill acquisition ensuring the validity and reliability of the resultant accreditation. Accreditation of soft skills was in the form of digital badges. Using the proposed technological approach, the identification, development and grading of soft skills can be reviewed, tracked and managed over time to demonstrate competencies with respect to both the context and situation. The technological approach empowers stakeholders as critical partners within the assessment process and supports the ecological validity of their judgements based on the evidence submitted for accreditation. Reliability is strengthened by the triangulation of these judgements. Though more significantly, the technological approach facilitates the capacity to weight stakeholders’ decisions relative to the context and situation.
O’Connor, A., Buckley, J., Seery, N., & Cleveland-Innes, M. (2016, November 2-6). Identifying, Developing and Grading ‘Soft Skills’ in Higher Education: A Technological Approach. Paper presented at the Higher Education in Transition Symposium, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.