The Graduate Skills Assessment was developed under the Higher Education Innovation Program.
The test has been designed to assess generic skills of students when they begin at university and just before they graduate. The four areas included in the test are:
1. Critical thinking
2. Problem solving
3. Interpersonal understandings
4. Written communication
Many universities have identified these skills as important and they are included in their graduate attributes or capabilities statements.
The test consists of a multiple-choice test and two writing tasks. The multiple-choice test is two hours long and the writing test is sixty minutes long.
The test has been designed to provide information about certain indicator generic skills in students at university entry level and exit level. The development of this generic skills test recognises that generic skills are learned in a context but, as Clanchy(1) and Ballard note:
"The most effective learners are those who in fact most quickly recognise the relevance of previously learned skills to the new contexts and are most readily able to adapt them to those new contexts."
Universities may wish to use the test to compare differences in student profiles between fields of study and are likely to be interested in changes between entry and exit points for students in different courses.
At entry level, universities may also use the test diagnostically to identify, for example, those who write poorly or have trouble dealing with text-based critical thinking items or quantitative problem solving items. Such students may be followed up and offered assistance.
At exit level, results of the test may be used as an additional criterion for entry into post-graduate courses or as an indication of generic skills to an employer.
Other uses of the test are possible and could evolve over time.
(1) Clanchy, J and Ballard, B. (1995) ' Generic Skills in the context of Higher Education' Higher Education Research and Development, Vol. 14, No. 2 P155-166.