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The Soft Skills That Matter, and How to Incorporate Them into K-12 Curriculum

According to a recent 3 year, longitudinal study by American Educational Research Association, effectively incorporating socialization techniques for elementary school students to develop leads to higher academic achievement.

These findings can be particularly encouraging for districts, as they align with Common Core standards that assume students possess a range of social skills, and are starting to understand the value of teaching these techniques in K-12 programming beyond academic achievement; such skills will be increasingly important for success in both postsecondary education and employment.

In the following report, Hanover Research evaluates the soft skills that are critical for post secondary education and employment, and also highlights trends and limitations. More importantly, Hanover Research provide best practices on how to incorporate soft skills instruction into the K-12 curriculum.

Key Findings:

  • Communication skills, especially active listening, are of paramount importance for postsecondary success. Educators can structure instructional time to ensure that students spend significant time working on active and effective communication. This can involve essays, reading comprehension exercises, group discussion, and presentations in various subject areas. Multiple skills may also be incorporated simultaneously, such as evaluating the class on active listening during presentations by other students.
  • Critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making are also important for postsecondary success. Most curricula for teaching these skills in a school setting rely on two components. The first component is instruction based on worked examples and practice. Guidance and supervision should gradually lessen as students learn, either individually or in groups, to tackle problems by simplifying and solving complex situations. The second component consists of assessments designed to evaluate the level of thinking and analysis that students are applying. Rubrics and testing styles vary extensively, but they all focus on testing students, individually or in a group, through an example problem or case situation.
  • Postsecondary success also requires skills for working in teams, as well as being able to produce high‐quality work individually. In order to develop these skills, literature recommends modeling social intelligence behavior and self‐regulation, as well as creating role‐playing and cooperative environments. Putting students together to work in groups is insufficient, for students must also have personal and group accountability for results, as well as the social skills for working together. Modeling and practicing social perceptiveness is also important for developing an understanding of how others think and view the world.
  • Time management is an essential skill for both postsecondary education and the workplace. Literature recommends modeling time management and guiding students through structuring their time. Setting intermediate deadlines can help students build the mindset of breaking long processes into individual components, which helps prevent time mismanagement.
  • There are clear ways to incorporate these skills into the curriculum across disciplines. The main methods involve modeling behavior, working examples, and reinforcing skills through practice.

To access the full report for free, complete the form below. 



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