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Abstract

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.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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