Measuring Communication Skills: The STEM Interpersonal Communication Skills Assessment Battery

Kerrie G. Wilkins, Bianca Bernstein, Jennifer Bekki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Effective interpersonal communication skills in the advisor-advisee relationship context are important to the success of graduate students. Few instruments have previously been developed to assess students' communication skills in this context. Purpose/Hypothesis: This study reports the development and validation of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Interpersonal Communication Skills Assessment Battery (STEM ICSAB) for women doctoral students in engineering, mathematics, computer sciences, and the physical sciences. The STEM ICSAB consists of three instruments: the Interpersonal Communication Knowledge Assessment, Interpersonal Communication Coping Self-Efficacy Assessment, and the Interpersonal Communication Skills Assessment. Design/Method: The STEM ICSAB was developed in three stages. Stage I consisted of item generation and establishment of content validity. In Stage II, an exploratory analysis with a convenience sample of undergraduate and graduate students determined the initial factor structure of each instrument. In Stage III, a confirmatory factor analysis with a sample of women doctoral students further examined the factor structures derived from Stage II. Results: The Knowledge assessment has 20 items, the Coping Self-Efficacy assessment has 12 items, and the Skills assessment has five items. All three measures fit a unidimensional factor structure and demonstrate moderate to high internal consistency. Conclusion: This study provides initial support for the psychometric properties of the STEM ICSAB. Use of the STEM ICSAB will improve opportunities for women doctoral students to learn, practice, and improve critical interpersonal communication skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-453
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Engineering Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2015


  • Female graduate students
  • Instrument development
  • Interpersonal communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)


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