Formal assessment of holistic competencies in higher education: Students` perspectives of B.Ed.(HONS.): A case in Karachi

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


Despite the significance of developing and assessing holistic competencies in students of higher education, the inclusion of these skills as part of student assessment in higher education institute’s curricula has not yet been successful. Often, HCs are claimed to be embedded in curriculum which is being assessed as part of the academic knowledge instead of explicit assessment. Literature from western context has highlighted students’ perspectives on assessing HCs; however, it remains an under-researched area in Pakistani context. The current study aims to address this gap by examining the difference in B.Ed. (Hons.) students’ perceptions about actual and preferred assessment practices of HCs formally. Furthermore, the study aimed to compare their views about actual and preferred assessment practices across government and private sector higher education institutes in Karachi, Pakistan.
A cross-sectional survey was employed to undertake the study. Assessment of Holistic Competencies Questionnaire (AHCQ), developed originally for Asian context, was used to explore B.Ed. (Hons.) Students’ perceptions about formal assessment of and grading preferences for HCs – both Actual and Preferred practices. Data were collected from 231 BEd (Hons.) students enrolled in Year 3 and 4 in government and private institutions in Karachi, through direct administration.
The results showed that, the BEd (Hons.) students perceived existing practices of formal assessment of HCs (Actual) as less prevalent than what they aspire for (Preferred). The patterns remained consistent across government and private higher education institutes. Regardless of institute type, students preferred to have more frequent practices of holistic competency evaluation than it does currently for having a formal record to share with their future employers as evidence. They also preferred to have more rigorous assessment of HCs as it would be a motivational factor for them to further enhance these skills. Furthermore, results highlight that in both systems, students demonstrated a higher inclination towards rigorous system of formal grading than what they have in practice currently. A majority of students appeared to favor constructive feedback by the course expert as compared to other grading systems including 5-tier (A-E) grading system, separate GPA, combined GPA and (1-100) scoring system.
The study provides insight into an under-researched area of higher education students’ perceptions about formal assessment of HCs in an urban context of the province of Sindh. The results might prove useful to further the understanding of the assessment of HCs in the context of the professional development of higher education faculty in assessment literacy. The study also provides a foundation for further research by adding a contextualised scale for gauging perceptions about HCs in higher education from students of different fields.

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