After completing higher education, some students pursue further academic careers but the vast majority enters the labour market. To ensure a smooth transition from studies to professional careers, skills and attitudes are often considered of greater value than students’ ability to reproduce facts or theories.
Whereas typical academic skills such as scientific writing or research methods are commonly monitored and trained, professional skills such as teamwork and communication receive scant -if any- attention. This also bereaves students from guidance to redirect their learning efforts. At Maastricht University, we developed a portfolio to help Bachelor European Studies students to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and adjust their learning trajectory accordingly.
Students assessed their skills at the start of the bachelor programme through a survey instrument which was administered again at two later stages. Comparing data of almost two hundred students provides a unique insight into skills progression in an active learning environment. The instrument particularly focuses on skills trained by Problem-Based Learning, the teaching philosophy applied at the university. Repeated measures can thus give a first impression about the impact of an active learning environment on professional skills acquisition.
The instrument was primarily developed to support students. Although existing research was partly considered during the development, the instrument itself was not set up as a research tool. As such, it may not necessarily live up to academic standards used in the educational sciences. The second part of our paper presents a revised version of the instrument that may suit both needs.