Assessment of Non-scholastic abilities

Whatever we measure, we tend to improve.      D. Leach 


Assessment of non-scholastic skills: From Principles of Medical Education (ed: Tejinder Singh, Daljit Singh, Vinod K Paul)

ACGME Suggested Best Methods for Evaluation

Assessment of Communication and Interpersonal skills

Cultural competence- Training and Assessment

Self assessment questionnaire

Questionnaire for evaluation by faculty

Aptitude testing in medical school entrants

How to select medical students?

Selecting medical staff- I

Selecting medical staff-II

Assessment of teamwork

Assessment of leadership

Assessment of critical analysis skills

Assessing written communication skills

Assessment of oral communication skills





It is paradoxical that as teachers we appreciate and enjoy non-scholastic abilities in our students but do little to identify and nurture them. None of our evaluation systems give due weightage to these abilities.

Why evaluate non-scholastic abilities at all?


Non-scholastic abilities are not just 'nice to have' or 'desirable to have', but 'must have' qualities. And since they are 'must have'- every effort must go into learning them.


Evaluation of these qualities is essential for two reasons. One, anything which is not evaluated is never learnt properly. You might pick up things by observation, but if you know something is going to be assessed, you learn it thoroughly, whether it is theory, practical or attitudinal.


Two, the evaluation system itself is a motivating factor to imbibe these skills into one's personality. Not all evaluation is summative. Formative evaluation also helps us correct the intervention process. Evaluation will also give the student an opportunity to know where he needs to improve. It is aimed at remedying the lacunae which exist.  


Then there is another thing also, called Hawthorne effect. The fact that someone is watching you, in itself changes the performance. Unless we give weightage to these abilities- howsoever small it may be- it may be difficult to induce the students to learn them.

Problems in Assessment of Non-scholastic abilities


The main reason for step-motherly treatment to non-scholastic abilities appears to be lack of indicators to quantify and measure these abilities. We need to find relevant tools which suit us.  The actual evaluation may not be so simple since it has many variables, the parameters are subjective in nature and it largely involves the affective domain which is the most difficult to evaluate. Standardized tools are difficult to get. But you can attempt to develop your own. Subjectivity is inevitable and it should be respected.


You can reduce subjectivity by multiple observations over a period of time, multiple occasions, 360 degree assessment etc. Psychological tests are more valid and useful. Qualitative tools such as document analysis, observation, in-depth interview, response to case scenarios and simulations (computerized) and 360 degree assessment etc. can be utilized, but they are labor intensive, time consuming and impracticable in our situation where numbers really matter. We are caught in the trap of providing transparency and capturing non-scholastic abilities (attitudes, behavior etc. etc.) which are very important for the profession.


Providing learning experience is more important than assessment (this is not to undermine the role of assessment). As teachers we can play a great role in reducing the exam stress, and encourage humanistic aspects. A supporting and caring attitude may help in a big way in preventing mental disorders.


  • It has been challenging for the teachers to capture abilities and outcomes such as critical thinking, communication skills, leadership & team work,  professionalism including ethics, humanistic aspects, which bring about the need to assess (and foster) non-scholastic abilities in a systematic and comprehensive manner; We need to find/develop new tools and techniques;
  • While the pendulum of assessment is swinging from subjectivity to objectivity (e.g., better structuring of the long answer/long case in to elements), there is also a move to go back, have a relook at the advantage of "holistic view" and retain the advantage of these modalities; 
  • On one hand the measurement is becoming more precise by using standardized approaches. On the other hand there is also a dilemma that we need to be more global, observant, student friendly and play "supporting role" rather than "judgment role" in fostering student learning.
  • The assessment scenario which is unfolding in India and elsewhere is likely to face this unique challenge. Faculty development and capacity building play crucial role.



Overview of the learning process

Questions posed

Communication skills

Scientific temper

Interpersonal Skills

Emotional Intelligence

Leadership and Teamwork


Service Orientation

Assessment of Non-scholastic abilities

Dialogue and discussion by the Chatterati!

Summary- Assessment of Non-scholastic abilities



Cartoon Corner

Contact us

Visitors' Book