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Developing Soft Skills in Adult Learners

In recent years, companies have been increasing their use of machines and automation to cut costs and increase efficiency and accuracy.  As a result, there has been more demand for soft skills in the workforce. Soft skills refer to the personal attributes that allow one to interact and collaborate effectively with others. These skills include communication, time management, teamwork, adaptability and creativity. So, can adult students who lack soft skills be able to learn them?

Fortunately, a study conducted by Namrata Kala, an assistant professor of economics at MIT Sloan, found that adults can acquire soft skills. Additionally, the study also found that “in-factory soft skills training returned roughly 250 percent on investment within eight months.” Therefore, let’s explore how we can cultivate these skills in our students.

How to Help Adult Students Develop Soft Skills

1. Group Projects and Team Activities

Give learners projects that require them to work in groups. Furthermore, ask each student to present part of the information by themselves. Group work and presentations demand soft skills like communicating clearly, delegating responsibilities, solving problems as a team and working together towards a common goal.

2. Incorporating Soft Skills in Rubrics

Include soft skills like communication and collaboration in your rubrics. For example, a well-structured rubric can assess students’ communication skills through coherent arguments and active listening.

3. Real-World Case Studies and Scenarios

Use real-world scenarios and encourage students to participate and describe their own experiences with the topic you are teaching. These strategies will help learners relate to the content more easily, as well as increase their understanding, empathy and self-expression.

More Ways to Help Adults Develop Soft Skills

4. Role Playing

Ask learners to act in different roles, like leaders and team members. For example, in a leadership role, they will need to communicate ideas and instructions effectively, actively listen to their team, delegate responsibilities, empathize and recognize each member’s potential. As a team member, they will need to listen actively, communicate effectively and work with their team to accomplish a common goal.

5. Peer Engagement

Create a supportive learning environment and encourage students to share experiences and ideas and problem-solve together. Additionally, allow them to provide and receive constructive feedback. This approach helps learners understand different communication styles and points of view.

6. Feedback and Reflection

Provide learners with regular feedback and incorporate opportunities for them to self-assess and reflect. They can reflect on their learning experience, identify areas for growth and set goals for ongoing development.

Wrap Up

“The increasingly high demands for soft expertise are likely to continue to grow as education creates more of a balance between hard and soft skills…” – Jennifer Okafor

As industries continue to evolve, the importance of soft skills becomes even more evident. The strategies discussed help learners build a strong foundation in communication, teamwork, emotional intelligence and more. Therefore, they can be better equipped to excel not only in their careers but also in their personal lives.

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