Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Integrating Soft Skills Assessment through University, College, and Programmatic Efforts at an AACSB Accredited Institution

Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Integrating Soft Skills Assessment through University, College, and Programmatic Efforts at an AACSB Accredited Institution

Article excerpt


The study of information systems in a university environment contains a complex combination of technical, business, organization, and interpersonal skill requirements. A process for demonstrating success in building those skill sets has been pursued as educators respond to calls from professional organizations, accrediting agencies, legislators, and others to demonstrate accountability. In addition, our quest for assurance of learning and continuous improvement requires benchmarks, data collection and analysis, and feedback that can highlight demonstrated competencies, actions that should be taken, and the consequences of actions taken. Explicitly setting goals and objectives relating to soft skills in our strategic planning, curriculum development, and pedagogy is important.

Some of the institutions involved in identifying competencies, establishing standards, providing guidance and developing assessment tests include the Association for Computing Machinery(ACM), Association of Information Technology Professionals(AITP), the Association for Information Systems(AIS), the American Accounting Association(AAA), the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants(AICPA), the International Federation of Accountants(IFAC), and the American Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business(AACSB), to name a few. Assessment plans, strategies, tools, tests and programs are being developed to generate data for assessing learning outcomes. Examinations, case studies, internship observations, projects and work portfolios are some of the many methods available for assessing student knowledge, skills, and capabilities.

In this paper, the authors first review relevant literature relating to soft skills and educational assessment issues, including the assessment concerns and academic requirements of the Assurance of Learning Standards emphasized by the AACSB and guidance provided by various professional organizations and individuals in designing and implementing assessment. Subsequent sections provide a proposed model for assurance of learning and examples of university, college, and programmatic activities relating to assessment.


Reports from various professional organizations and individuals have examined the changing demands of accounting and information technology professionals (AECC, 1990; Albrecht & Sack, 2000; AAA, 1998; AICPA, 1998; Arthur Andersen & Co., 1989; Cheney, Hale, and Kasper, 1990; Gallivan, Truex, Kyasn, 2004; IMA, 1999; Lee, Trauth, Farewell, 1995; Misic 1996; Robert Half Intl, Inc, 2006; Segars & Hendrickson, 2000; Todd, McKeen & Gallupe, 1995; Wade & Parent, 2001/2002; Wynekoop & Walz, 2000). Increased emphasis on "soft skills" or non-technical skills was a consistent conclusion from our review of the literature.

Gallivan et al.,(2004) identified the six most common non-technical skills mentioned in employment advertisements as 1) communication, 2) interpersonal, 3) leadership, 4) organization, 5) self-motivation, and 6) creativity. Of the total skills mentioned in online job advertisements, non-technical skills represented 26 percent.

Future employees will need to be "flexible-to fit where they're needed, rise to new levels of expectation and transition into areas in which they can contribute and continue to learn. They will interact with individuals at all levels of an organization and, therefore, work with and motivate people who have a variety of professional strengths, skills, and areas of interest. Leadership abilities, team-player skills, and project-management expertise will be essential. . . .written and verbal communication ability, professional poise and strengths in motivating, working with and leading others will gain new importance. . . interpersonal skills and the ability to conceptualize solutions and explain them to clients and employers are extremely important"(Robert Half Intl. …

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