Improving High School Students' College and Career Readiness
Soft skills, or the personal qualities and attributes that help students succeed in the classroom and workplace, are crucial in students’ college and career readiness. These skills include communication, teamwork, problem solving and responsibility.
According to research conducted by CareerBuilder, “77% of employers say that soft skills are just as important as hard skills.” However, the impact of soft skills on high school students is based on the fact that college professors identify the same attributes as important to college success.
Yet, high schools often struggle to integrate activities into their curriculum that effectively address and develop these skills in their students. The most effective way to develop soft skills is to use instructional methods that provide a hands-on experience where students not only learn the concepts behind each skill, but also practice those concepts.
Let’s delve deeper into the soft skills that are important for students’ college and career readiness and discuss instructional strategies you can use to embed soft skills activities into your curriculum. These skills and strategies were presented by Jaime Greene, Instructional Coach for Hamblen County Schools, in a recent Association for Middle Level Education article.
Soft Skills for College and Career Readiness
Integrity can be developed through group assignments and self-evaluations. In order to increase accountability, each student should be responsible for a specific task in the group project. At the end, students should complete a self-evaluation to reflect on their contributions and explain why they deserve a grade.
Developmental activities should address both written and verbal communication. Methods to develop communication skills include writing assignments where students address different audiences, organized group discussions and presentations where students speak to the entire class.
It’s important for students to develop relationships based on respect and courtesy. Whether in a group project or an online assignment, students should demonstrate professional behavior toward their classmates and teachers. One simple method for incorporating courtesy into the high school curriculum is to embed it as a measurement in a graded peer evaluation.
Students who fail to complete or are late with an assignment should be required to state and explain the reason behind their failure. In addition, students should also be required to come up with actions/steps to avoid the situation in the future.
“Give students long-term, problem-based projects that must be completed within parameters and interim deadlines as they see fit. These activities will encourage them to be organized and focused, to problem-solve and self-monitor.” – Jaime Greene, Hamblen County Schools
Teamwork can be developed through group assignments that encourage communication and collaboration. These assignments should strive to create groups of diverse students to prepare them for the different characters found in college and professional environments.
Tips to Embed Soft Skills in the High School Curriculum
The Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement (GLISI) presents the following five tips to consider when embedding soft skills activities into a high school curriculum:
- Frame soft skills as complementing rather than competing with academic skills
- Encourage teachers and administrators to model the soft skills that students will be taught
- Cement definitions of soft skills and what to look for in student development
- Allow teachers to share classroom innovations and successful activities that integrate soft skills into the curriculum
- Encourage external stakeholders to model and reinforce soft skills when students are away from school.
Developing Soft Skill with CapsimInbox
CapsimInbox is a simple, experiential, and objective way to provide actionable feedback for student development. This tool measures the key soft skills identified in research as most important to sustained individual success. To learn more about soft skills and how you can help your students develop these skills, access your free eBook – Soft Skill Development: Ensuring success beyond the classroom.