Exploring Assessment Techniques that Integrate Soft Skills in Teaching Mathematics in Secondary Schools in Zambia


  • Chileshe Busaka
  • Septimi Reuben Kitta
  • Odette Umugiraneza


assessment techniques; soft skills; integration; mathematics; mixed methods


This study investigated the assessment techniques mathematics teachers use that integrate soft skills in secondary schools in Mazabuka District in Zambia. A total of 91 teachers, who were purposively selected, took part in the study, of which 81 completed a questionnaire and four observers evaluated 124 video-recorded lessons which were taken of 31 teachers. A sequential multi-phase design was used to collect data. The data were analyzed using frequencies, means, standard deviations and chi-square statistics. The findings revealed that the assessment techniques mathematics teachers used did not assess soft skills. In addition, mathematics teachers’ gender was not found to have influenced teachers’ choice of assessment techniques in the teaching and learning process but the type of schools where teachers were teaching, though the effect size was weaker. The consequence of this may be that secondary school leavers may not be good communicators, innovators, creators and critical thinkers. Therefore, it is recommended that mathematics teachers be upskilled on how to assess soft skills in the teaching and learning of Mathematics if the integration of soft skills is to be realized as espoused in the Zambia Education Curriculum Framework of 2013.



Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., Airasian, P. W., Cruikshank, K. A., Mayer, R. E., Pintrich, P. R., Raths, J., & Wittrock, M. C. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives (abridged edition). Pearson Education Group. https://www.bibsonomy.org/bibtex/29311293e9c7da8b40127405e31c7e8b0/yish

Anderson, R. S. (1998). Why talk about different ways to grade? The shift from traditional assessment to alternative assessment. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 1998(74), 5–16. https://doi.org/10.1002/tl.7401

Ash, D., & Levitt, K. (2003). Working within the zone of proximal development: Formative assessment as professional development. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 14(1), 23–48. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/225968533_Working_within_the_Zone_of_Proximal_Development_Formative_Assessment_as_Professional_Development

Aworanti, O. A., Taiwo, M. B., & Iluobe, O. I. (2015). Validation of modified soft skills assessment instrument (MOSSAI) for use in Nigeria. Universal Journal of Educational Research, 3(11), 847–861. https://doi.org/10.13189/ujer.2015.031111

Bargainnier, S. (2003). Fundamentals of rubrics. Supervision, 1–4.

Birgin, O. (2011). Pre-service mathematics teachers’ views on the use of portfolios in their education as an alternative assessment method. Educational Research and Reviews, 6(11), 710–721.

Blom, A., Cao, X., Andriamihamina, H., & Akinlawon, T. (2017). Job-ready graduates of secondary education in Botswana, Lesotho and Zambia: Reforming instruction, curriculum, assessment, and structure to teach vocational and 21st Century skills. World Bank.

Bostic, J., Lesseig, K., Sherman, M., & Boston, M. (2021). Classroom observation and mathematics education research. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 24(1), 5–31. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10857-019-09445-0

Care, E., Kim, H., Vista, A., & Anderson, K. (2018). Education system alignment for 21st century skills: Focus on assessment. Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution. https://www.brookings.edu/research/education-system-alignment-for-21st-century-skills/

Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1982). Control theory: A useful conceptual framework for personality-social, clinical, and health psychology. Psychological Bulletin, 92(1), 111–135. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.92.1.111

CDC [Curriculum Development Centre]. (2013a). 2013 Zambia education curriculum framework. MESVTEE. http://www.ibe.unesco.org/fileadmin/user_upload/archive/curricula/zambia/za_alfw_2013_eng.pdf

CDC [Curriculum Development Centre]. (2013b). Additional mathematics syllabus grade 10-12. Zambia Educational Publishing House.

CDC [Curriculum Development Centre]. (2013c). Mathematics syllabus (Grades 8 and 9). MESVTEE. Zambia Educational Publishing House.

CDC [Curriculum Development Centre]. (2013d). O-level mathematics syllabus grade 10-12. MESVTEE. Zambia Educational Publishing House.

CDC [Curriculum Development Centre]. (2013e). Teachers’ curriculum implementation guide: guidance to enable teachers to make best use of the Zambia education curriculum framework 2013 (No. 1). Ministry of General Education. Zambia Educational Publishing House.

Cicmanec, K. M., & Viechnicki, K. J. (1994). Assessing mathematics skills through portfolios: Validating the claims from existing literature. Educational assessment, 2(2), 167–178. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15326977ea0202_4

Cooper, B. S., & Gargan, A. (2011). Rubrics in education: Old term, new meanings. Educational Horizons, 89(4), 6–8. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013175x1108900402

Danielson, C., & Marquez, E. (2016). Performance tasks and rubrics for high school Mathematics: Meeting rigorous standards and assessments (2nd ed.). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315695297

Dochy, F. (2001). A new assessment era: Different needs, new challenges. Learning and Instruction, 10(1), 11–20. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0959-4752(00)00022-0

Durowoju, E. O., & Onuka, A. O. U. (2014). Best practices and experiences in soft skills assessment in Oyo town, Oyo state schools. Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies (JETERAPS), 5(5), 607–613. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/90f8/20bc3bf6ca6afbcdc067db147eda4465810e.pdf

Fukawa-Connelly, T & Buck, S. (2010). Using portfolio assignments to assess students’ mathematical thinking. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 103(9), 649–654.

Gallardo, K. (2020). Competency-based assessment and the use of performance-based evaluation rubrics in higher education: Challenges towards the next decade. Problems of Education in the 21st Century, 78(1), 61–79. https://doi.org/10.33225/pec/20.78.61

Gallego, M. J., & Dandis, M. (2014). Rubrics in a secondary Mathematics class. International Electronic Journal of Mathematics Education, 9(1), 73–82.

Gibb, S. (2014). Soft skills assessment: Theory development and the research agenda. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 33(4), 455–471. https://doi.org/10.1080/02601370.2013.867546

Goodrich, H. (1997). Understanding Rubrics. Educational Leadership, 54(4), 14–17.

GPE [Global Partnership for Education]. (2020). 21st century skills: What potential role for the Global Partnership for Education? (Issue January). https://www.globalpartnership.org/sites/default/files/document/file/2020-01-GPE-21-century-skills-report.pdf

Guevara-Bazán, I. A., Mata Martínez, K. L., & Martínez-Cortés, Jorge. (2020). Perceptions of objective formative assessment in language learning. Revista Lengua y Cultura, 2(3), 22–30. https://doi.org/10.29057/lc.v2i3.6144

Guskey, T. R. (1994). Making the grade: What benefits students? Educational Leadership, 52(2), 14–20. http://www.burlesonisd.net/Forms/cur/Making the Grade.pdf

Hamilton, D., McKechnie, J., Edgerton, E., & Wilson, C. (2021). Immersive virtual reality as a pedagogical tool in education: A systematic literature review of quantitative learning outcomes and experimental design. Journal of Computers in Education, 8(1), 1–32. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40692-020-00169-2

Holmes, V. L., & Hwang, Y. (2016). Exploring the effects of project-based learning in secondary mathematics education. Journal of Educational Research, 0(0), 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220671.2014.979911

Hope, J. T., & Allen, W. J. (2012). Student competitive events: A strategy for integrating a STEM block in public schools. Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, 3852–3856. http://www.learntechlib.org/noaccess/40204

IBM Corp. (2015). IBM SPSS statistics for windows, Version 23.0. IBM Corp.

Jacques, L. A. (2017). What does project-based learning (PBL) look like in the mathematics classroom? American Journal of Educational Research, 5(4), 428–433. https://doi.org/10.12691/education-5-4-11

Khuzzan, S. M. S., & Mahdzir, M. (2020). Assessment for the 21st Century in higher education institution: Way forward. International Journal of Advanced Research in Education and Society, 2(2), 35–46.

Krajcik, J. S., & Blumenfeld, P. C. (2006). Project-based learning. In R. K. Sawyer (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (pp. 317–333). Cambridge University Press.

Krathwohl, D., Bloom, B., & Masia, B. (1964). Taxonomy of educational objectives, the classification of educational goals. Handbook II: Affective domain. David McKay Co.

Mahasneh, J. K., & Thabet, W. (2015). Rethinking construction curriculum: A descriptive cause analysis for soft skills gap among construction graduates. 51st ASC Annual International Conference Proceedings, August.

Minarni, A., & Elvis, N. E. (2019). Learning approach and soft-skills contribution toward mathematical higher-order thinking skills of junior high school students. American Journal of Educational Research, 7(12), 925–929. https://doi.org/10.12691/education-7-12-5

MINEDUC [Ministry of Education] & [REB] Rwanda Education Board. (2015). Mathematics syllabus for advanced level S4–S6. MINEDUC.

Ministry of General Education. (2019). Republic of Zambia ministry of education educational statistical bulleting 2018. https://www.parliament.gov.zm/sites/default/files/documents/committee_reports/EDUCATION%20-%20REPORT%20ON%20EDUCATION%202018%20FINAL.pdf

Mkimbili, S & Kitta, S. R. (2019). The Rationale of continuous assessment for development of competencies in Tanzania secondary schools. Advanced Journal of Social Science, 6(1), 64–70. https://doi.org/10.21467/ajss.6.1

Mkimbili, S. T. (2018). Learner-centred science teaching in community secondary schools in Tanzania. [Doctoral dissertation, University of Oslo]. https://www.duo.uio.no/bitstream/handle/10852/60279/PhD-Selina-Mkimbili-2018.pdf?sequence=1

Morgan, G. A., Leech, N. L., Gloeckner, G. W., & Barrett, K. C. (2011). IBM SPSS for introductory statistics: Use and interpretation (4th ed.). Routledge. http://books.google.com/books?id=yhgGfAEACAAJ&pgis=1

Moser, E. H., Kinney, L., & Purdy, C. (1948). Aims and purposes in the teaching of Mathematics. Review of educational research. Review of Education Research, 18(4), 315–322.

Mustofa, G. G., Ana, A., Widiaty, I., & Muktiarni, V. D. (2020). Improving learning performance by applying multi-platform e-rubric as a soft skills assessment instrument in the creative-art area of Indonesian vocational education. Journal of Engineering Science and Technology, 6(2020), 61–69.

NCTM [National Council of Teachers of Mathematics]. (2000). Principles and standards for school mathematics. NCTM.

NCTM [National Council of Teachers of Mathematics]. (2014). Principles to actions: Ensuring mathematical success for all. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Perlman, C. C. (2003). Performance assessment: Designing appropriate performance tasks and scoring rubrics. In Measuring up: Assessment issues for teachers, counsellors, and administrators (pp. 497–506). Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC).

Piburn, M., Sawada, D., Turley, J., Falconer, K., Benford, R., & Bloom, I. (2000). Reformed teaching observation protocol (RTOP) reference manual. ACEPT Technical Report No. IN00-3. http://www.public.asu.edu/~anton1/AssessArticles/Assessments/Chemistry Assessments/RTOP Reference Manual.pdf

Putra, A. S., Novitasari, D., Asbari, M., Purwanto, A., Iskandar, J., Hutagalung, D., & Cahyono, Y. (2020). Examine relationship of soft skills, hard skills, innovation and performance: The mediation effect of organizational learning. International Journal of Science and Management Studies (IJSMS), 3(3), 27–43. www.ijsmsjournal.org

Ravitz, J., Hixson, N., English, M., & Mergendoller, J. (2012). Using project-based learning to teach 21st century skills: Findings from a statewide initiative. Annual Meetings of the American Educational Research Association., April, 1–9.

REB [Rwanda Education Board]. (2015). Curriculum framework: Pre-primary to upper secondary 2015. In Competence Based Curriculum. REB/MINEDUC.

Reddy, Y. M., & Andrade, H. (2010). Assessment and evaluation in higher education: A review of rubric use in higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(4), 435–448. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602930902862859

Remijan, K. W. (2016). Project-based learning and design-focused projects to motivate secondary mathematics students. The Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, 11(1), 1–15. https://doi.org/10.7771/1541-5015.1520

Ridenour, C. S., & Newman, I. (2008). Mixed methods research: Exploring the interactive continuum. South Illinois University Press.

Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2016). Research methods for business students (Seventh). Pearson.

Schwab, K. (2017). The fourth industrial revolution (1st ed.). Crown Publishing Group.

Soh, T. M. T., Osman, K., & Arsad, N. M. (2012). M-21CSI: A validated 21st century skills instrument for secondary science students. Asian Social Science, 8(16), 38–44. https://doi.org/10.5539/ass.v8n16p38

Solomon, G. (2008). Project-based learning: A primer. Technology & Learning. http://www.techlearning.com/db_area/archives/TL/2003/01/project.php

Stecher, B. (2010). Performance assessment in an era of standards-based educational accountability. Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education.

Stenmark, J. K., & National Council of Teachers of Mathematics [NCTM]. (2007). Mathematics assessment: Myths, models, good questions, and practical suggestions (17th ed.). National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Stewart, C., Marciniec, S., Lawrence, D., & Joyner-McGraw, L. (2020). Thinkubator approach to solving the soft skills gap. American Journal of Management, 20(2), 78–89.

Teddlie, C., & Tashakkori, A. (2009). Foundations of mixed methods research: Integrating quantitative and qualitative approaches in the social and behavioural sciences. Sage.

Tejeda, S., & Gallardo, K. (2017). Performance assessment on high school advanced algebra. International Electronic Journal of Mathematics Education, 12(3), 777–798.

Thomas, J. W. (2000). A review of research on project-based learning (pp. 1–46). The Autodesk Foundation. http://www.autodesk.com/foundation

Wilson, L. (2014). Using students’ portfolios to assess mathematical understanding. The Mathematics Teacher, 87(9), 698–701.