In every industry, effective teams depend upon a collection of non-technical competencies often described as soft skills: leadership, verbal and written communication, collaboration, analytical thinking, creativity, decision-making, problem-solving, and flexibility. Though the importance of soft skills is widely acknowledged, soft skills curricula are either non-existent or underdeveloped in most universities. This soft skills training gap leaves students under- prepared and often over-confident as they enter the workforce. In response to this gap in our department at The University of Texas at Austin, we defined and implemented an emergent, project-based pedagogical framework to recruit an interdisciplinary roster of students and deliver relevant soft skills training. Using “agile” methodologies within a student-derived, flat organizational structure, our students rapidly developed essential soft skills while engaged with an ambitious and high-risk project to design and build three performance-ready velociraptor dinosaur suits. We discuss lessons learned, alongside successes, to help others develop similar frameworks to close soft skill gaps within higher education curricula regardless of discipline.
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Johnson, J .E. and Maness, Karen
"Soft skills with teeth: Creating authentic learning environments with charismatic mega-projects,"
Journal of Themed Experience and Attractions Studies: Vol. 1:
1, Article 2.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/jteas/vol1/iss1/2