GOOD

Should Colleges Give Grades For Emotional Intelligence?

Asheville-Buncombe TCC plans to give grades on soft skills like getting along with others and being on time.


When we talk about educating our way out of the skills gap, the discussion tends to focus on how we funnel more students into science or technology majors or helping current workers gain in-demand skills. But companies aren't just looking for employees with specific content knowledge and skills. They want folks with "soft skills"—emotional intelligence and social graces—too. So if we need to educate and train the next generation to be ready for the 21st century workforce, should colleges be emphasizing and giving grades on those too?

That's the plan at North Carolina's Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. According to Inside Higher Ed, the school intends to give "workplace readiness certificates" to students who demonstrate mastery of soft skills.


Grading soft skills isn't exactly new in education—most elementary school report cards have long given marks for them. But by the time kids hit middle and high school, formal grades on "cooperates well in a group situation" or "resolves conflicts appropriately" aren't as common. And, in a college setting when "demonstrates appropriate social interaction with peers," is still needed, anything other than a pure academic content-based grade is nonexistent.

Since those kinds of skills can feel pretty fuzzy—making good use of time is a little subjective—Asheville-Buncombe's faculty will use a rubric to evaluate students on eight workplace expectations, "including personal responsibility, interdependence, and emotional intelligence." These skills will "count for 8 to 10 percent of grades in courses that adopt those guidelines."

The need for a continuous emphasis on soft skills is certainly there. According to a 2012 Manpower survey, 20 percent of employers cited a lack of "soft skills"—like knowing how to show up on time or work well with others—as a reason they were unable to find suitable candidates for position.

Teaching soft skills doesn't just make potential employees more pleasant to be around. Business computer technologies instructor Jean B. Finley says teaching soft skills also improves the overall quality of a student's academic work. That's because, says Finley, her "students are able to prioritize better." And, since her supervisor on campus expects her to be a problem solver, Finley says, "that’s what I expect of my students."

Of course, what really matters is not just grading students on these soft skills but doing what Finley's doing: ensuring that emotional intelligence traits and habits are explicitly taught—and that they're taught continuously throughout a student's formal schooling experience. Imagine the difference in our classrooms, public spaces, and workplaces if that happened.

Students learning in lecture hall image via Shutterstock

Articles
via Barry Schapiro / Twitter

The phrase "stay in your lane" is usually lobbed at celebrities who talk about politics on Twitter by people who disagree with them. People in the sports world will often get a "stick to sports" when they try to have an opinion that lies outside of the field of play.

Keep Reading
Culture

The Free the Nipple movement is trying to remove the stigma on women's breasts by making it culturally acceptable and legal for women to go topless in public. But it turns out, Free the Nipple might be fighting on the wrong front and should be focusing on freeing the nipple in a place you'd never expect. Your own home.

A woman in Utah is facing criminal charges for not wearing a shirt in her house, with prosecutors arguing that women's chests are culturally considered lewd.

Keep Reading

In August, the Recording Academy hired their first female CEO, Deborah Dugan. Ten days before the Grammys, Dugan was placed on administrative leave for misconduct allegations after a female employee said Dugan was "abusive" and created a "toxic and intolerable" work environment. However, Dugan says she was actually removed from her position for complaining to human resources about sexual harassment, pay disparities, and conflicts of interest in the award show's nomination process.

Just five days before the Grammys, Dugan filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and her claims are many. Dugan says she was paid less than former CEO Neil Portnow. In 2018, Portnow received criticism for saying women need to "step up" when only two female acts won Grammys. Portnow decided to not renew his contract shortly after. Dugan says she was also asked to hire Portnow as a consultant for $750,000 a year, which she refused to do.

Keep Reading