Mondragon University (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2018 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Pages: 9459-9467
ISBN: 978-84-09-05948-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2018.0756
Conference name: 11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 12-14 November, 2018
Location: Seville, Spain
Today’s business environment is becoming more complex, uncertain and competitive. All types of organizations consider human resources as their key asset: “Staff will be involved in different levels of leadership and decision-making activities” (Majid, Liming, Tong, Raihana, 2012: p.1036). In consequence, in order to achieve organizational goals, apart from the traditionally required technical skills, a need for learning soft skills has become imperative. Soft skills are those related to personality and behaviour of individuals, normally associated to communication, problem solving, self-motivation, critical thinking and decision-making (Majid, Liming, Tong, Raihana, 2012). Thus, educators are considering active learning that would help to get those skills and curricula are being reformulated (Care and Luo, 2016).

Within the educational programs, one of the most challenging is the vocational training. Vocational education usually has a very pragmatic approach and it is more difficult for students to see the value of these skills. Therefore, they need a motivational aspect that help engage them in the learning of soft skills. An interesting approach is empowering students as self-regulated students employing formative assessment tools for the evaluation of them. The main aim is to generate feedback during the learning process in order to improve and accelerate the learning (Sadler, 1998). Within this process, students have in mind goals to be achieved and they can by themselves, compare and evaluate their performance against the pre-specified standards (Nicol & Macfarlane Dick 2006). This active and practical role of the students can ignite curiosity and in turn, intrinsic motivation towards the subject since they can see the value of mastering these skills (Fernandez 2007).

In order to deal with this situation, we developed a small pilot test including formative assessment practices on a mechatronics vocational training group. We selected two soft skills: written communication and project management. Then, we developed two checklists (one for each skill) for empowering students as self-regulated students employing these checklists for evaluating themselves. The main result of this pilot test was the acceptance of the following hypothesis: “Formative assessment and its feedback have a direct and positive impact on students’ latest achievements”; since, more than 75% of the students improved their marks after using the checklist for written communication and 25% of the students improved their marks in project management.
Formative assessment, soft skills, checklist, self-regulated students, vocational training.