The Grading Soft Skills (GRASS) Project

TERG researchers: Dr Niall Seery, Dr Donal Canty, Dr Adrian O’Connor, Jeffrey Buckley and Andrew Doyle



Grading Soft Skills (GRASS) was a 3-year research project financially supported by EU (project reference number: 543029-LLP-1-2013-1-RS-KA3-KA3MP), focusing on representing soft skills of learners of various ages and at different levels of education in a quantitative, measurable way, so that these skills can become the subject of formal validation and recognition. To do this, GRASS used Open Badges. The project was developed with the support of the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) of the EU. Eight partners formed the GRASS consortium including a university and post-primary educational institution from Serbia, Ireland, Sweden and Croatia.

Project at a glance

The GRASS project develops innovative pedagogical approaches and ICT tools and services to support:

  • continuous development, measurement, assessment, grading and recognition of learners’ soft skills, spanning different ages and educational levels, based on the idea of digital badges (digital credentials; more specifically, Open Badges)
  • monitoring on the long run the accumulation of one’s soft skills, in their own ecosystem
  • embedding measurement and recognition of soft skills, competencies, and achievements in educational practices at all educational levels (not only to support employers)
  • peer assessment of soft skills that is social, transparent and participatory, and “works more like the Web”, rather than in teacher-in-control-only way

Project objectives

The overall objective of this project is to create mechanisms that enable to continuously support, monitor, assess, and acknowledge development of learners’ soft skills with the help of state-of-the-art ICT tools.

This wider objective encompasses the following specific objectives:

  • to develop novel pedagogical approaches to support continuous development of learners’ soft skills
  • to incorporate these approaches in daily practices, at multiple levels of education
  • to develop a rich, structured set of soft skills metrics to collect from learners’ activities as dynamic indicators of the learners’ ability to apply, develop and improve their soft skills
  • to develop the corresponding new model and ICT framework for measuring, assessing, benchmarking, and evaluating learners’ soft skills used in their activities, and generating appropriate feedback’
  • to develop, as part of the new model and framework, specific mechanisms for acknowledging, grading, awarding and recognizing learners’ achievements in developing their soft skills, clearly reflecting their different education levels
  • to develop incentive policies for teachers for initiating and maintaining the practice of monitoring development of learners’ soft skills at all levels of educational institutions and across these different levels

Aims and vision

The project’s aims start from one key element, presently entirely missing in the EU practices, visions and policies on soft skills development: grading of soft skills. Introducing a novel approach to assessing soft skills in mutually different educational contexts of the involved partners’ institutions will help both the teachers and the learners of different ages to better perceive all types of learning outcomes, advantages, and future learning needs. Thus the project will develop pedagogical, technological, and administrative solutions for grading of soft skills in formal, non-formal and informal learning settings. These will, in turn, lead to the creation of digital credentials earned for soft skills development and their gradual recognition by educational institutions and employers alike. Such digital credentials are not intended to be a replacement for the certificates, diplomas and degrees earned at educational institutions that follow traditional curricula and assessment approaches; the aim is to issue them to complement traditional recognition mechanisms, by representing evidence of additional, traversal competences and learning outcomes. Another aim of piloting these innovations in the partners’ institutions is to raise awareness of the novel assessment methods with support of new technologies.

Full information regarding the project can be found on the official project website located here.