If you, like me, evaluate and study youth programs, you should know about a new resource for measuring soft skills outcomes. Soft skills -- communication, relationships and collaboration, critical thinking and decision making, and initiative and self-direction -- can be hard to measure. Youth programs can help young people to acquire these skills, which are important for working and participating in civic life.
The Forum for Youth Investment has published a reviewed report of eight tools to do this. "From soft skills to hard data" reviews eight tools that are both practical and rigorous - offering something for evaluators and program practitioners alike.
The report cites the 2010 Preparing Students for College and Careers policy report that "according to teachers, parents, students and Fortune 1000 executives, the critical components of being college- and career-ready focus more on higher-order thinking and performance skills than knowledge of challenging content."
In my opinion, the concise review of eight measurement tools does four things very well;
- it names outcomes that frame the niche of programs designed to build youth learning in community,
- it calls on those programs to align their activities with outcomes - an underdeveloped "muscle" of the youth development field,
- it lays out the measures in an easy-to-understand guide with details about reliability, validity, and costs associated with the use of the eight measures,
- it issues a call to action to advance the field by designing practical studies that are also technically sound, and by improving and advancing the measurement of soft skills.
-- Pamela Larson Nippolt, evaluation and research specialistYou are welcome to comment on this blog post. We encourage civil discourse, including spirited disagreement. We will delete comments that contain profanity, pornography or hate speech--any remarks that attack or demean people because of their sex, race, ethnic group, etc.--as well as spam.