Skills Test: an Assessment Situation Close to Professional Practice

Would you like students to demonstrate their skills? Take advantage of a skills test! 

What is a Skills Test? 

A skills test is an assessment situation during which students demonstrate certain practical skills relevant to professional practice. This can be a general or very specific skill. 

For example: 

  • in the Veterinary Medicine programme, skills labs are organized during which students demonstrate such skills such as giving an injection or conducting a dental examination;
  • in the Clinical Special Needs and Disability Studies programme, students participate in role-play to apply conversation techniques in a skills lab; 

You can use a skill test to determine if the student: 

  • manages the necessary skills; 
  • has the knowledge underlying the skill; 
  • can explain the operations correctly. 

Points to Consider 

Offer sufficient learning opportunities 

The student should be offered sufficient practice opportunities for this test situation. Ideally, you can provide individual feedback with the purpose of improving skills. If it is not feasible to give individual feedback, collective feedback offers a suitable solution. Another possibility is peer feedback. The educational project 'Authentic assessment through video annotation' (in Dutch) can be inspirational. 

Want to know more about collective feedback? Then follow the training 'The power of collective feedback'. 

Be aware of the potential of limited reliability 

An objective and consistent assessment of skills is a challenge. Therefore, where possible, use explicit assessment criteria or rubrics. They ensure that you determine exactly which skills you will assess and increase the reliability of your assessment, especially when there are multiple assessors.   

Choose the most appropriate methodology 

Choose a hands-on assessment, a hands-off assessment or a combination of both. Hands-on assessments focus on the implementation of the skill using realistic equipment, tools or instruments  (e.g., laboratory material, specific software, etc.). Hands-off assessments focus on the cognitive component rather than the actual implementation: how does the student refer to theoretical concepts, what scientific explanation do they give for their choices during the execution, etc.? 

Be explicit about your expectations 

Point out that the underlying theory is part of the assessment and that you want them to explain or justify their choices or approach during the execution. Please indicate this explicitly in the instructions. 

UGent Practices

Last modified June 29, 2022, 3:30 p.m.