Behind CATALYST’s Skill-Based Assessment Framework

CATALYST pushes students to think beyond traditional limitations. Learn more about CATALYST's unique skill-based assessment criteria to see how we do it.

18-10-2022
by
Justin Pinnells

We feel strongly that assessment should be the foundation for helping students to develop a growth mindset, seeing any challenge as an opportunity to take risks and learn from mistakes. In this spirit, we encourage failure.

We believe that tomorrow’s capabilities will not only be defined by qualifications, but also by capability and character. Resilience, cooperation, and the power to think critically will be ever-more important. Shouldn’t we be assessing students on skills and mindsets that will serve them well beyond university?

The assessment criteria upon which CATALYST programmes are designed go beyond typical project- or exam-based scoring. Yes, we assess student work through CATALYST programmes, but we also assess how students work. ‘How’ implies that there is always room for improvement; ‘if’ implies that something is a 0 or a 1.

CATALYST's key competencies reflect a range of the skills required both in our programmes, at university, and beyond. Whatever the student’s ambitions, we believe the following skills are essential to success:

  • Negotiation and resolution - understand, articulate, and assess different perspectives to build consensus
  • Narrative defence - establish bulletproof arguments
  • Effective communication - tell your story in a simple, easy-to-understand way that anyone can access
  • Quantitative fluency - use numbers as main characters in your stories
  • Empathetic collaboration - work with others to make them part of the solution; create champions
  • Critical analysis and problem solving - grasp the problem from first principles, design a solution that works

Negotiation & resolution

CATALYST students are assessed on their ability to:

  • Achieve win-win outcomes (or at least outcomes that feel like win-win)
  • Clearly articulate their negotiation goals
  • Compel, persuade, and motivate others
  • Demonstrate situational awareness
  • Assess and leverage both explicit and implicit information and context
  • Understand, articulate, and assess different perspectives to build consensus

Narrative defence

CATALYST students are assessed on their ability to:

  • Articulate their narrative in a way that others easily understand
  • Proactively self-identify where their narrative is weaker and/or stronger
  • Clearly consider the audience, their perspectives and beliefs
  • Craft narratives with few - if any - intellectual gaps
  • Establish bulletproof arguments

Effective communication

CATALYST students are assessed on their ability to:

  • Deliver their message across channels - written, verbal and non-verbal, visual, etc
  • Craft messages, regardless of channel, in a precise and concise manner
  • Listen to and understand others' messages across channels
  • Code-switch to match situational or audience context
  • Tell their story in a simple, easy-to-understand way that anyone can access

Quantitative fluency

CATALYST students are assessed on their ability to:

  • Tell compelling stories using numbers
  • Quantify outcomes and goals in a way that is easily understood by others
  • React to new quantitative information in real-time
  • Quickly analyze data to arrive at accurate conclusions
  • Use numbers as main characters in their stories

Empathetic collaboration

CATALYST students are assessed on their ability to:

  • Suspend judgement and bias, drawing on an asset-based mindset
  • Balance confidence and humility
  • Contribute to creating a space that is safe and allows for vulnerability
  • Build authentic rapport and relationships
  • Work with others to make them part of the solution; create champions

Critical analysis & problem solving

CATALYST students are assessed on their ability to:

  • Analyse problems both qualitatively and quantitatively
  • Distil problems to foundational assumptions, reasoning from first principles
  • Design solutions that account for intended and unintended consequences, minimising negative externalities whenever possible
  • Approach problem-solving with a bias to solutions that are actionable
  • Grasp problems from their first principles, designing a solution that works

We currently focus on these six key competency areas as we believe that they establish a strong foundation from which students can further develop at secondary school, university, and the workplace.

If you want to learn more about CATALYST, you can see our schedule of upcoming programmes here.

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