DEVELOPING AND IMPROVING STUDENT NONTECHNICAL SKILLS FOR IT AND TECHNICALLY-RELATED HIGHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS: ALIGNMENT OF LEARNING OUTCOMES WITH CURRENT WORKPLACE EXPECTATIONS AND FUTURE NEEDS
Metropolitan State University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain
For anyone who has experienced the frustration of trying to communicate a computing requirement or problem with an Information Technology (IT) professional, struggled to understand an IT explanation presented using incomprehensible terms or wondered why technical professionals just do not seem to “get it,” sometimes during other workplace interactions, the project to be presented here will be a breakthrough experience. In this important new project, a U.S. research team has, based on extensive research:
• Defined the nature of Non-technical skills needed by IT and other technical professionals, including communications, interpersonal skills and cognitive skills.
• Developed an exhaustive literature search to show how these skills have been discussed and valued in multiple academic disciplines.
• Developed a taxonomy of Non-technical skills, classifying and organizing them into a structure that ties to both the literature and the following model.
• Developed a practicum-based integrated model in which the Non-technical skills needed for success are taught to the target audiences (students and technical professionals) using an innovative set of techniques that simulates situations where they encounter the requirements to use the skills, with an opportunity to see the results of using (or not using) the skills where needed in real-world situations.
Project Context and Project Rationale:
For years, business and academic leaders have expressed the need for Information Technology (IT) and technical professionals to go beyond technical competence to also be highly competent in the ”non-technical” aspects of their work in professional and managerial jobs. These competencies include communications, critical thinking, problem solving, interpersonal and group/team skills, and many more. The purpose of this project is to develop an inclusive model for describing, classifying and ultimately teaching these Non-technical skills.
To date, there has been no comprehensive, cross-disciplinary review nor comprehensive model developed to either define the area fully or to provide pedagogical models to enable higher education institutions to provide these vital functions. To support this effort, the Minnesota public higher education system, MnSCU, conducted extensive “listening and learning,” sessions throughout the state of Minnesota which supported these findings.
Reviewers of the initial findings of this project believe the models and related pedagogical tools will enable a huge step forward in preparation of technical professionals to meet this critical need.
Based on the project described above, this presentation will explain and address the following:
• Definitions of areas of study, relevant components and a literature review that sets the academic basis of the needed skillsets and their definition.
• A taxonomy of Non-technical skills, grounded in the literature and other research
• A multi-dimensional model defining the non-technical elements of interactions in a project/work setting leading to areas of opportunity for higher educational development of the non-technical skillsets that will enable the IT professional to be successful in both technical and managerial roles
• Pedagogical approaches leading to learning objects and educational components (including advanced use of media and social networking) to facilitate the learning of the non-technical skillsets and how/when/why to apply them.
Keywords: Pedagogy, IT curriculum, business curriculum, non-technical skills, management skills, interpersonal skills, professional skills, higher education, taxonomy.