The notion of creating spaces that look like where students will work is a wildfire trend in higher education.
However, some institutions, like Fairfield University Graduate School, are taking work world prep for students to another level.
These institutions are applying the 360 Assessment in the classroom setting as a way for students to self-evaluate, and receive feedback from their colleagues.
The 360 Assessment, which was instituted by TRI Corporation, is used by 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies and other corporate environments. Employees and employers utilize the assessment as a self-evaluation tool and to receive feedback from others. The goal of the assessment is to determine the success and development of the company.
Based on the effectiveness of 360 Assessment results in the corporate world, Carlo Peratoner and Tom Conine, who both work for TRI Corporation, brought these assessments over to higher education, to specifically focus on college students’ qualifications prior to full-time employment.
The premise of Peratoner’s and Conine’s 360 Assessments in the higher education setting was to assist students in identifying the strengths and weaknesses in their work skills, such as leadership, and discover how to enhance those skills before entering the work force.
Peratoner’s and Conine’s test results in the higher education setting showed that:
• Students could identify their strengths and weaknesses and receive critical evaluations from teammates comparable to their self-evaluations
• Students compared personal data to corporate data across industries to see the skills and competencies needed to prepare for the industry they seek to work in
• Following the baseline 360, students could work on skill development through a controlled business simulation
• Universities offering experiential oriented courses to students are in a position to accelerate students’ developmental needs
Peratoner and Conine also found that the use of the 360 Assessment was just as useful in assisting students in need of self-evaluation as it is with employees in the corporate world.
“We need to ensure our students are well aware that jobs today are multi-faceted, that they will have numerous jobs in possibly varied locals and that operating in a team environment in-site and virtually is a given,” said Conine and Barry Leskin, president of Talent Management Consulting, in their abstract of the 360 Assessment in higher education. “Students need to be aware they are really the only ones responsible for their careers. Given these constraints proper personal development is essential to remain competitive and a 360 can be a valuable tool in helping you prepare, but one of only many tools.”
Why 360 Assessments Matter
Based on these findings, it seems that other colleges might benefit from implementing this testing. Doing so will not only prepare students for the work world, but also help colleges reevaluate their curricula, and design courses to help students succeed.
Some colleges may even decide they need to renovate or build new spaces to give students a taste of a real world work setting, such as a simulated hospital setting, broadcast studio, or kitchen.
However, while the 360 Assessment seems helpful at the surface, colleges should keep in mind that not every aspect of student success is measured by testing. Otherwise, they may fall into the stigma of “teaching for the test,” similar to MCAS and PARCC testing in K-12 school systems.
Still, it seems that resources like 360 Assessments would ultimately benefit colleges’ ROI, since many students invest in and rely on a college education to land a place in the work world after graduation.