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Generic skills of undergraduate students can be strengthened throughout their educational paths

Ministry of Education and Culture
21.1.2021 9.15
Press release

The generic skills, also known as general skills, of nearly 60% of students in higher education were at most at a satisfactory level and about 40% at least at a good level. These are the results of the final report by the Finnish Institute for Educational Research of the University of Jyväskylä and the Kappas! project of the Centre for University Teaching and Learning of Helsinki University.

The goal was to determine the level of the generic skills of students in higher education and to see how their skills develop over the course of their studies. The generic skills that were studied consisted of analytical deduction and assessment; problem solving; argumentative writing; language proficiency; critical literacy and assessment; scientific and quantitative reasoning, and analysis of argumentation.

The results show that there were differences between the undergraduate students, which were explained by factors related to the educational and socio-economic background of the students. The level of generic skills was clearly better among undergraduate students who had completed the matriculation examination than among those who had not. According to the study, general skills would seem to improve over the course of studies, but further research is needed.

To lay the foundation for continuous learning, the development suggestions proposed by the project include the need to focus on generic skills already at lower levels of education and in learning environments outside the school environment. Studies should be made into how general skills are taken into account in student admissions and generic skills should be developed in alignment with the educational objectives of universities and universities of applied sciences. In addition, the learning of generic skills needs to be supported in a purposeful way in higher education teaching.

The Kappas! project, funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture, has shed light on how important generic skills are and provides higher education institutions with tools for developing their teaching. Approximately 2,400 Bachelor’s degree students in universities and universities of applied sciences in the early and final stages of their degree programmes participated in the assessment of skills. Eleven universities and seven universities of applied sciences were involved.

Assessment of undergraduate students’ generic skills – Findings of the Kappas! project

Inquiries

  • Maarit Palonen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 330 243, [email protected]
  • Tomi Halonen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 330 095, [email protected]
  • Jani Ursin, Senior Researcher, University of Jyväskylä, tel. +358 50 3030 811, [email protected]
  • Heidi Hyytinen, University lecturer, University of Helsinki, tel. +358 50 415 6617, [email protected]