Peer Assessment of Soft Skills and Hard Skills
Aimao Zhang, Georgia Southern University, United States
JITE-Research Volume 11, Number 1, ISSN 1539-3585 Publisher: Informing Science Institute
Both the information technology (IT) industry and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) demand soft-skill training in higher education and require IT graduates to demonstrate competence in interpersonal communication, teamwork, and conflict management. Group projects provide teamwork environment for soft-skill training, but their practical success is difficult to assess. Group activities often take place outside classroom, and instructors are kept out of communication and interaction loops. Free-rider problems arise when some students are doing less work and awarded the same grades as others who contribute more. Many studies have suggested that, for group projects, peer evaluation is more effective than instructor evaluation. However, most peer assessment scales are ad hoc, neither standardized nor well-structured. This study designed a peer assessment scale for soft-skill and hard-skill evaluations. The assessment scale was administrated in an IT course and data was collected. Two dimensions, soft-skill and hard-skill, emerged from factor analysis and captured 67 percent of variance. Items on the assessment scale passed a reliability test with Cronbach's a values greater than 0.70. IT education should prepare future IT professionals with hard and soft skills to communicate with end users, to resolve conflicts, and to bring different functions together toward a common goal. This study should prove valuable for educators to promote soft-skill training in an active learning environment and to use peer evaluations to achieve success in IT education.
Zhang, A. (2012). Peer Assessment of Soft Skills and Hard Skills. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 11(1), 155-168. Informing Science Institute.
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