Soft Skills Development - Education Links

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Soft Skills DevelopmentGuiding Notes for Project and CurriculumDesign and EvaluationContact hours:N/A (handbook)Main author:Catherine A. HoneymanLatest date of revision: December 1, 2017 World Learning1 Soft Skills Development Guiding Notes

AcknowledgmentsThis document was developed in collaboration with a team from across World Learning’s internationaldevelopment and exchange programming. Thanks to the following people for their contributions atdifferent points during several rounds of discussion and editing: Rizwaan Akhtar, Wasima Asadi, AndrewFarrand, Meri Ghorkhmazyan, Cari Graves, Christopher Iverson, Josephine Kennedy, Linda Keuntje, HamzaKoudri, Jessika Macias, Andy Noonan, Simon Norton, Neil O’Flaherty, Amy Pallangyo, Lisa Posner, AmySchwenkmeyer, Lois Scott-Conley, Abdallah Talhi, and Roya Zahed.This document represents a work in progress, building off recent research from the USAID YouthPowerinitiative, as well as other sources. It is likely that revisions will be made in the future as the evidence baseevolves. Comments and suggestions can be sent to [email protected] in Washington, DC by World Learning, Inc.: December 1, 2017. All rights reserved. This work islicensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.2 Soft Skills Development Guiding Notes

Soft Skills DevelopmentGuiding Notes for Project and Curriculum Design and EvaluationTable of ContentsAcknowledgments. 2How to Use this Guide . 4Tools for Soft Skills Development. 5Soft skills checklist . 5Pedagogical inventory . 6Assessment guidance . 7Specific skill development plan . 9Overall skills development framework . 10References for further reading . 11Annexes . 12Annex I: Quick Reference—Seven Key Soft Skills . 13Annex II: Dictionary Definitions of Soft Skills Terms . 14Annex III: Soft Skills Pedagogical Examples. 18Annex IV: Example Pedagogical Observation Form . 23Annex V: Example Soft Skills Student Observation Rubric . 25Annex VI: Using the Chinese Positive Youth Development Scale . 27Annex VII: List of Recent World Learning Programs that Build Soft Skills . 323 Soft Skills Development Guiding Notes

How to Use this GuideThis guide is intended to encourage continuous improvement in the quality of programs that aim to build“soft skills”, or “life skills”. The tools included here can be used both for design and for evaluation. Thetools in pages 5-10 should be printed out for note-taking either individually or in a workshop setting. Theremainder of the document offers details that can be referenced in soft copy.For Project or Curriculum DesignThis guide contains a set of checklists and guiding questions to assist in project and curriculum designrelated to the development of soft skills.Use the soft skills checklist to determine which skills are most important for the project’s goals, thepedagogical inventory to think through the most effective pedagogical approaches to soft skillsdevelopment in your project or curriculum, and the assessment guidance to become familiar with the keycharacteristics of an effective soft skills assessment.Once you have gone through these background steps, use the specific skill development plan to thinkthrough project and curriculum needs for each specific soft skill to be developed. You may need to printmore than one copy of page 8 to accomplish this.Finally, use the overall skills development framework to link all these elements into a coherent approach.For Project Evaluations and Technical AssistanceThe same tools described above can also be used for the purposes of evaluating an existing project orcurriculum, or providing technical assistance for their improvement.Use the soft skills checklist to evaluate whether all the most important soft skills are being addressed bythe curriculum, the pedagogical inventory to evaluate to what extent the current curricular approachreflects effective pedagogical practices for soft skills development, and the assessment guidance, startingwith Step 3, to evaluate the appropriateness, validity, and reliability of the assessment tools being used.Next, use the specific skill development plan to think through changes that might need to be made for eachspecific soft skill that is a focus of the project or curriculum.Finally, use the overall skills development framework to create an overarching plan for improvement.For EveryoneThis guide also provides detailed additional guidance of relevance for both design and evaluation. A list ofreferences for further reading offers further insight into issues of soft skills prioritization, pedagogy, andassessment. On definitions, Annex I provides a Quick Reference guide to definitions of the seven key softskills identified as consistently linked to positive outcomes across several types of youth programming,and Annex II presents a list of dictionary definitions for each of the soft skills terms contained in the guide.On pedagogy, Annex III provides further description and examples of effective pedagogical practices forsoft skills development, while Annex IV offers an example pedagogical observation rubric. On assessment,Annex V provides an example of a soft skills observation rubric for assessing students’ skills, and Annex Vgives guidance for using a written soft skills assessment that has already been validated internationally,the Chinese Positive Youth Development Scale. Finally, Annex VI lists recent World Learning projects thathave a soft skills development component.4 Soft Skills Development Guiding Notes

Tools for Soft Skills DevelopmentSoft skills checklistWhich soft skills are important to your project? Summarize your project goals, then select any soft skillsthat are crucial to these goals, or are of secondary importance. Note that the categories are provided onlyfor organizational purposes, and are not rigid. For definitions, see Annex I and Annex II of this document.Project GoalsList of Soft SkillsPsychosocial and emotional health Awareness of personal needs and self-care Emotional intelligence Positive self-concept, realistic self-esteem, belief in self-efficacy Skills for coping with the effects of traumatic and toxic stress Resilience in the face of setbacksIntra-personal skills Self-control, emotional regulation, and self-discipline Conscientiousness, dutifulness, and reliability Truthfulness, honesty, and trustworthiness Attention to detail and/or Seeing the big picture Goal-orientation and initiative Perseverance, determination, and grit Growth mindset, and recognizing need for improvementInter-personal (social) skills Cross-cultural competence, and valuing diversity of perspectives Respecting and expressing appreciation for others; kindness Demonstrating context-appropriate behavior, reflecting social norms Empathy and ability to notice the effects of one's actions on others Tolerance for disagreement, conflict management and resolution Agreeableness, collaboration, and teamwork LeadershipCommunication Effective listening and seeking to understand others' perspectives Ability to effectively express and understand knowledge and ideas through reading and writing: written communication through speaking and presenting: oral communication in online and digital contexts: digital literacy and etiquette Awareness of non-verbal communication norms and cues Non-violent negotiation and persuasion Communicating across age groups, cultures, or identity groupsHigher-order thinking skills Critical thinking and evaluation Information-seeking, research, and independent learning Synthesis, creativity, problem analysis, and problem-solving Decision-making Self-reflection and learning from experienceCivic engagement and social enterprise skills Global and local awareness (issues, challenges, priorities) Vision, ability to imagine something new or improved Social responsibility and willingness to take constructive action Researching relevant issues (desk research, interviews, observation) Financial literacy, budgeting, and financial management Marketing, creating coalitions, advocacy, and eliciting supportEmployability skills (in addition to other soft skills listed above) Job search skills: self-presentation, networking, CVs, interviewing, etc Workplace-appropriate verbal and written communication styles Navigating workplace roles and relationships Judging appropriate styles of dress, decoration, and personal behavior Punctuality, work planning, and meeting deadlines5 Soft Skills Development Guiding NotesCrucialSecondaryN/A

Pedagogical inventoryBelow is a list of key elements of quality project design and effective pedagogy for soft skills development.Further information on what each principle looks like in practice, and how it helps, can be found in AnnexIII, and Annex IV offers an example rubric that can be used for facilitator observations or self-assessments.For Planning: Use the space next to each principle to write initial ideas for project or curriculum design.For Evaluation: Does your project meet the standards described below? What areas need improvement?Pedagogical PrinciplesSpace for Planning or EvaluationN/ANotat allSome-whatYes,mostlyYes,fully1. Develop a safe, caring, and supportive environment that allowsyouth to express themselves and take on challenges—includingthe risk of mistakes—without fear of ridicule.2. Build underlying skills of social awareness to help participantsidentify, evaluate, and—where appropriate—follow the normsand standards of particular social contexts.3. Explicitly discuss what each soft skill is, why it is important, andwhat it looks like in practice. Define new concepts. Point outspecific soft skills when they are enacted or observed in action.4. Promote skills development through experiential learning incycles of concrete action, reflective analysis, relating theexperience to abstract concepts, and planning for furtheraction—including both prearranged/contrived exercises anddemanding but achievable real-life experiences.5. Provide consistent positive feedback when youth demonstratecore soft skills, closely connected to the positive action itself.Consider employing negative consequences when necessary.6. Connect it all together into an overarching framework ofprinciple and purpose that helps youth understand the largerpicture of why developing these skills is important, and helpsthem apply broad principles to make decisions in new situations.7. Promote integration across the different learning contexts towhich youth are exposed—family, community, educationinstitution, workplace, etc—with clear and consistent standardsacross them.8. Ensure that staff model in their own daily life the soft skillsbeing promoted. Support staff in recognizing and addressing anypersonal areas for improvement.9. Promote strong mentorship relationships between adults andyouth and among youth themselves, which are meaningful andcaring, and in which youth are seen as valued contributors.10. Allow for the development of soft skills over time and in avariety of situations, not just in single lessons. Employ multipleexperiential learning cycles of action and reflection.Key takeaways:6 Soft Skills Development Guiding Notes

Assessment guidanceMeasuring soft skills can be challenging, especially as these skills are naturally expressed in action, incomplex social environments (Wilson-Ahlstrom, Yohalem, DuBois, & Ji, 2011). Determining an appropriateassessment method depends on many factors, including the purpose of the assessment. In many contexts,it can be important to help participants set goals and assess themselves. Some projects also requirecollecting assessment data for purposes of monitoring and evaluation. In general, assessments should be:Feasible Can be accomplished with the available time,resources, and personnel, considering factors such asthe number of respondents and the effort necessary togather and process the dataValid The assessment measure (which is always a "proxy"representing a more complex reality) accuratelyreflects what it means to possess a given skill or set ofknowledge in the real worldReliable The assessment produces consistent measurements orscores for the same skill level, regardless of factorssuch as who is taking it, who is administering it, whereit is administered, and who is grading itDifferent assessment methods present different strengths