AP University of Applied Sciences and Arts Antwerp (BELGIUM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2023 Proceedings
Publication year: 2023
Pages: 5201-5209
ISBN: 978-84-09-49026-4
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2023.1347
Conference name: 17th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2023
Location: Valencia, Spain
Students should be as well prepared as possible for future work. Therefore, next to job-specific skills, soft skill development is crucial and getting more attention in higher education. Soft skills are intra- and interpersonal (social) skills, essential for personal development, social participation and success in the workplace. Existing research has demonstrated that a 360° approach in feedback provides a valid and reliable way of assessing skills and skill development. However, institutions for higher education are unsure how to diagnose, monitor, assess and support soft skill development. Previous research showed that teachers, and supervisors or mentors struggle with both measuring soft skills objectively and supporting students in their soft skill development. The latter is often due to the availability of educational support materials. Therefore, supporting the development of soft skills in students remains a challenge.

This project aims at designing an online 360° learning environment on supporting soft skills development and uses Educational Design Research as a methodological framework. In order to make this learning environment as relevant and user-friendly as possible, teachers, students and workplace partners were included in the co-design of the initial prototype. Our focus on soft skills is twofold: measurement and diagnostic and investment in the development of soft skills through the use of support and coaching material.

The current contribution describes the development phase, design phase and the initial steps of the implementation phase. This online learning environment provides support materials for both students and teachers or coaches. It includes key information and activities to encourage thinking about the further development of their soft skills, which skills they need to work on and how they can improve them. Students can use the learning environment by self-regulated learning or with help of a coach. This paper presents the design process of the online learning environment and includes customer journeys, prototype testing, and the status of the pilot study in our higher education institution.
Soft skills development, online learning environment, higher education, prototyping.