15 Benefits of Holistic Assessment | Comprehensive Guide

15 Benefits of Holistic Assessment | Comprehensive Guide

Is employee performance at your company reaching a plateau? Are your newly hired workers not adjusting to company culture? Is training becoming more of a chore than an opportunity to learn for those involved? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, it’s probably the right time to look into holistic assessment and the many benefits it can bring to your organisation.

What is Holistic Assessment?

Holistic assessment is a comprehensive approach to evaluation. It takes into account the cognitive, emotional, and communication skills of learners and trainees. Its primary purpose is to get a complete understanding of the learner’s strengths, weaknesses, and interests.

Characteristics of holistic assessment include:

  • Recognition of individual talents and learning styles
  • Integration of knowledge from various subject areas or domains
  • Identification of unique needs and areas for growth

In summary, holistic assessment is person-centred rather than score-centred. When used alongside holistic education and training, it leads to the formation of well-rounded individuals who are able to accurately leverage their abilities in different contexts to reach specific goals and outcomes.

holistic assessment diagram

15 Holistic Assessment Benefits

1. Diversify learning outcomes and assessment criteria

With the rise of new industries and technologies, the list of future workplace skills that are in demand around the world are either growing or changing. This places an added burden on schools, training institutes, and businesses to ensure the readiness of their students and employees for the future of work.

One way to do this is to adopt a holistic view of assessment instead of staying within the boundaries of traditional disciplines. By widening the range of expectations for students and trainees, educators and trainers are allowing them to cultivate competencies which are in line with the ever-changing world of work.

In a quote for a recent Unilever study on the topic, Josh Bersin states that, “In the future, most workers will be selling their capabilities, not their college degree or their grade point average.”

2. Gain insights into the individual strengths of learners

To foster holistic learning within training programs, trainers need to know which buttons to push when it comes to learners’ strengths. Without information on what trainees enjoy, are good at, and are motivated by, trainers will be placed in a difficult position where they aren’t able to understand why a learner isn’t progressing or is noticeably disengaged during training sessions.

For businesses, it’s important to play into employee strengths instead of honing in on their weaknesses. By understanding where an employee is meant to shine, managers are able to give them more meaningful opportunities to showcase their unique talents and abilities. This ensures that each employee is placed in a role which benefits both them and the company.

3. Enhance problem-solving and critical thinking skills

Though these skills have been embedded into academic curriculums for some time now, the challenge lies in determining whether students can use these skills outside of the classroom or beyond the context of core academics. One way to do this is to give holistic assessments which require learners to solve complex, real-world problems.

In the workplace, correctly assessing if employees can use these skills effectively can be the difference between a highly capable workforce and one that’s bogged down by inefficiency.

4. Evaluate multiple dimensions of learner development

Evaluating multiple dimensions of learner and employee development is vital to ensuring holistic education and training. Unlike traditional evaluation methods, these assessments test the learner in different aspects such as emotional, social, and cognitive functioning. In the workplace, an example of this is observing interactions among team members to see if a particular employee can function well within the team.

5. Identify multiple opportunities for transferable skills

Since holistic assessments explore various domains of learning, it’s easier for trainers to develop connections between disciplines. These connections come in the form of transferable skills (i.e., skills that can be used in different situations). It’s crucial that trainers harness these kinds of skills in trainees because they will be useful for when trainees enter the workforce or want to move up the career ladder.

For example, an article from the 6th Conference on Learning Factories (CLF) included leadership, research, and analytical skills in its holistic competence model for analysing the Industry 4.0 readiness of employees. It also emphasised the importance of using this holistic assessment framework in employee training to further develop workforce capabilities.

employee being trained by supervisor

6. Produce verified evidence of knowledge and skills

The holistic view uses multiple assessment methods to verify that a person is adequately knowledgeable and skilled. With a wide variety of criteria in the mix, assessing a learner’s or employee’s ability no longer relies on a single assumption. Instead, trainers can confidently submit evidence of what their trainees have accomplished to stakeholders in learning.

In the workplace, the holistic approach to assessment can be used to validate employee training. Because evidence is sourced from multiple assessment methods, decision makers are more likely to approve allocating resources for employee development.

7. Support self-directed and individualised learning

Holistic assessments encourage trainees to progress at their own pace and explore the subject areas that interest them. This leads each trainee to a deeper understanding of the knowledge they’ve gained through training or have acquired on their own.

8. Develop emotional maturity of learners

Given that understanding oneself is part of the criteria, holistic learning encourages self-reflection and self-assessment among students. Such activities support the emotional health and well-being of learners so that they can cope with the many trials of life. This not only helps personal development, but also creates a safer working environment where workplace harassment is less frequent. It also helps employees and management seek out the most suitable conflict management styles to solve any issues that may arise.

9. Gain valuable data for curriculum mapping

These assessments help develop future training plans which enrich the overall learning experiences. By aligning the curriculum with specific learner needs, administrators ensure that the education received in their institution is relevant and helpful to all (and not just a select few).

The holistic model also sheds light on how learners process and connect information from different subject areas (e.g., using statistics from data analytics courses in their presentations for workshops on business reporting).

Additionally, it allows administrators to view learners’ progress with the bigger picture in mind (e.g., training material in an intermediate course might require learners in a beginner course to improve their comprehension skills).

10. Build stronger relationships between trainers and learners

Assessing learners holistically benefits both the trainer and the trainee in the long run. For trainers, these assessments reduce the likelihood of implicit bias affecting their judgement and enable them to provide learning opportunities that support each and every learner. Through this, learner engagement and motivation can increase and trainees can feel that their trainers empathise with them. This is part of modern trainer skills that are instrumental in development.

11. Provide feedback that is consistent and formative

Since these assessments look at the ongoing process of learning, educators and trainers are able to give consistent and formative feedback. This kind of feedback requires self-assessment from the learner and may improve their metacognitive abilities.

quote about personal feedback in development

12. Prepare learners for all aspects of life

Holistic assessment ensures that a trainee can function outside of a structured setting or outside of the training environment. For Vocational Education and Training (VET), this is especially important since its goal is to reduce the number of students who are “book smart” but lack the “street smarts” to survive in a confusing and competitive world.

By focusing on holistic development, this assessment approach helps VET learners transition into active community members who can make a positive impact on society.

13. Promote self confidence in learners

In non-holistic education, assessments tend to only recognise progress when there is a noticeable improvement in exam scores. This can be frustrating for those who aren’t only growing through academic achievement alone. Holistic assessments, on the other hand, allow learners to see themselves beyond their academic performance and identify other important areas where they have improved.

14. Create a more equitable learning experience

Everyone should have the chance to realise and be recognised for their full potential. By giving more learning opportunities to those who don’t thrive in traditional learning environments, holistic assessments help create a more equitable learning experience. Instead of tipping the scales in favour of one kind of learner, trainers need to provide high-quality instruction to all.

15. Enable personalised instruction and support

Through the holistic assessment process, trainers get insights on specific learner needs. This information allows them to provide personalised feedback that hastens the individual progress of trainees.

building stronger relationships between educator and student

Conclusion

The holistic approach to assessment has advantages in both education and in the workplace. For one, it can make learning more meaningful and enjoyable for those who struggle to perform in traditional assessments. Additionally, it helps identify and fill gaps in soft (power) skills and learning mindsets, which aren’t usually addressed through conventional methods.

To ensure that incoming and current workforces are truly capable, including this approach to assessment is no longer an option, but a necessity.

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