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Methods for Assessing Competences in Higher Education: A Comparative Review

Theory and Method in Higher Education Research

ISBN: 978-1-78635-895-0, eISBN: 978-1-78635-894-3

Publication date: 22 October 2016


In this chapter, we compare five approaches for assessing competences of higher education graduates. We begin by outlining the main reasons for assessing higher education graduates’ competences. Next, we present a brief definition of competences. This definition is applied throughout the chapter, and forms the framework for comparing various approaches for measuring higher education graduates’ competences, and for discussing their relative strengths and weaknesses. We conclude that the existing approaches for assessing competences are suitable for measuring only one type of competence, that is, either cognitive or non-cognitive, but limited in their capacities to measure both. In the context of changing labor market needs and requirements, it is essential either to use these approaches in combination or to develop innovative methods which are equally suitable for measuring discipline-related as well as more generic competences. In this chapter, we discuss the assessment approaches by mainly focusing on employment-related competences. By employment-related competences we mean both cognitive and non-cognitive aspects of competences, such as personal and social skills, leadership, and communication skills.


Braun, E. and Mishra, S. (2016), "Methods for Assessing Competences in Higher Education: A Comparative Review", Theory and Method in Higher Education Research (Theory and Method in Higher Education Research, Vol. 2), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 47-68.



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