College will evaluate ‘soft skills’

“Soft skills,” such as punctuality and teamwork, will be factored into grades and “work readiness” certificates at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in North Carolina. Employers have complained that graduates have technical skills but lack knowledge of workplace norms.

That reminds me of yesterday’s post on a McKinsey report that found a mismatch between teachers’ estimation of their students’ skills and employers’ expectations. (No, that doesn’t mean teachers are “stupid,” as one comment writer insists. It means teachers  and employers aren’t communicating.)

Late penalty

Coach Brown, who doesn’t accept late homework, disagrees with Tom Schimmer, who argues that late penalties are a mistake because quality is more important than punctuality.

Once a due date has been given, most teachers can predict which students will be on-time and which students will be late. . . .  The few that struggle with deadlines need support, not penalties. 

The real world has deadlines, Coach Brown argues. 

. . .  most students that don’t hand in work on time don’t do so because they need support, because most teachers offer that support.  Instead, most students don’t hand in work because they chose to do something else. A student that struggles with deadlines needs to learn that they are necessary. Just try asking the credit card companies for support.

Grades should reflect students’ mastery of learning objectives, Schimmer argues.

Would you rather a student hand-in high quality work late or poor quality work on-time? Meeting a deadline is a good thing – even a great thing – but it doesn’t have anything to do with how much Math or Social Studies you understand!

Are assignments turned in late typically of higher quality? I suspect not.

In my newspaper years, I liked deadlines. The deadline says: Do the best you can in 20 column inches by 2 pm. (If you’re running late, talk to the copy editor and find out the real deadline.) Get it done in time so you don’t delay other people. Then move on.