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Graduate Attributes Assessment Program

Samira ElAtia (University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
Donald Ipperciel (York University, York, UK)
Osmar Zaiane (University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
Behdad Bakhshinategh (University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
Patrick Thibaudeau (York University, York, UK)

International Journal of Information and Learning Technology

ISSN: 2056-4880

Article publication date: 1 September 2020

Issue publication date: 30 December 2020




In this paper, the challenging and thorny issue of assessing graduate attributes (GAs) is addressed. An interdisciplinary team at The University of Alberta ----developed a formative model of assessment centered on students and instructor interaction with course content.


The paper starts by laying the theoretical groundwork on which this novel GA assessment tool is based, that is, competency-based education, assessment theory and GA assessment. It follows with a description of the online assessment tool for GAs that was developed in the course of this project.


The online assessment tool for GAs targets three types of stakeholders: (1) students, who self-assess in terms of GAs, (2) instructors, who use the tool to define the extent to which each GA should be inculcated in their course and (3) administrators, who receive aggregate reports based on the data gathered by the system for high-level analysis and decision-making. Collected data by students and professors advance formative assessment of these transversal skills and assist administration in ensuring the GAs are addressed in academic programs. Graduate attributes assessment program (GAAP) is also a space for students to build a personal portfolio that would be beneficial to highlight their skills for potential employers.

Research limitations/implications

This research has strong implications for the universities, since it can help institutions, academics and students achieve better results in their practices. This is done by demonstrating strong links between theory and practice. Although this tool has only been used within the university setting by students, instructors and administrators (for self-, course and teaching and program improvement), it could increase its social and practical impact by involving potential employers and increase our understanding of student employability. Moreover, because the tool collects data on a continuous basis, it lends itself to many possible applications in educational data mining,

Practical implications

The GAAP can be used and adapted to various educational contexts. The plugin can be added to any Learning Management System (LMS), and students can have access to their data and results throughout their education.

Social implications

The GAAP allows institutions to provide a longitudinal formative assessment of students’ graduate attributes acquisition. It provides solid and valid evidence of students’ progress in a way that would advance society and citizenship.


To date, the GAAP is the first online interactive platform that has been developed to longitudinally assess the acquisition of GAs during a complete academic cycle/cohort. It provides a unique space where students and instructors interact with assessment scales and with concrete data for a complete university experience profile.



The research project on the Assessment of the Graduate Attribute was funded by the Office of the Provost, at the University of Alberta, through a Teaching and Learning Enhancement Funds, Project # RES0025918. Dr. ElAtia as the Principal Investigator.


ElAtia, S., Ipperciel, D., Zaiane, O., Bakhshinategh, B. and Thibaudeau, P. (2021), "Graduate Attributes Assessment Program", International Journal of Information and Learning Technology, Vol. 38 No. 1, pp. 117-134.



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