The Interdisciplinary skills to combine knowledge, analyse and think critically is the one of the intellectual skills identified and listed in the “Guideline for integrating Soft skills in HEIs curricula”. This is the first result of the Enhancing the presence of Soft Skills in Higher Education Curricula (Skills4Employability) Erasmus+ project, which seeks to support universities in their efforts to improve the quality of education by adapting curricula to the soft-skills demands of the labour market and, as a result, ensure a greater impact on the employment situation of future graduates. The project aims at strengthening HEIs capacity to assess whether and to what extent their programs match the soft skills that are particularly valued in the labour market.
Problem solving skills is a cognitive skill that involves several levels of the Bloom’s taxonomy: remember facts, analyse them (which implies understanding) and think critically or evaluate them.
Figure 1. Bloom’s taxonomy
Problem solving is an individual’s ability to use cognitive processes to confront and resolve real, cross-disciplinary situations where the solution path is not immediately obvious and where the literacy domains or curricular areas that might be applicable are not within a single domain. It consists of solve problems analyzing situations and apply critical thinking in order to resolve problems and decide on courses of action and implement the solutions developed in order to overcome problems and constraints. Must be able to define issues, problems and opportunities, generate different courses of action, evaluate the constraints and risks associated with each course of action identified and selects the viable option in order to address the problems and/or opportunities identified.
Some key problem-solving skills include:
- Active listening
- Decision making
Why is this Soft Skill important?
Problems are new situations that require individuals to respond with new behaviours. Solving a problem implies carrying out tasks that demand complex reasoning processes and, in many cases, do not simply an associative and routine action.
The aim of this competence is that the student can apply structured problem-solving procedures, promoting thus their ability to learn, understand and apply knowledge of autonomous way.
All employer surveys indicate that it is the competence that is most needed. It is linked to autonomy, to the ability to succeed in your job (AQU, 2019a,b).
How can this Soft Skill be assessed? Give an example
The construct of competencies is an integrative construct of knowledge, skills and attitudes. Therefore, evaluative assessment should offer an opportunity to show this integration. Competences are demonstrated, evaluated by means of performances or demonstrations.
Miller’s pyramid (1990) can be a helpful tool to identify the best coherent assessment strategies according with the learning outcomes.
Figure 2. Miller’s pyramid
Some assessment strategies could be the following according with the discipline:
- problem-solving tests
- laboratory exercises
- case studies
- final projects
- Problem based learning (PBL)
AQU Catalunya. (2019a) The opinion of employers regarding the information received by graduates of Economics and Business. Barcelona: Agència per a la Qualitat del Sistema Universitari Català, 2019.
AQU Catalunya. (2019b) The opinion of employers regarding the information received by graduates of Biosciences. Barcelona: Agència per a la Qualitat del Sistema Universitari Català, 2019.
UPV. (2015) Competencias transversales. Work document. Politechnical Univeristy of Valencia (Spain).
Prepared by AQU Catalunya