Teaching and learning soft skills in university physics courses: Perspectives of the UEA Higher Colleges of Technology
Keywords:Course objectives, course outcomes, curriculum development, physics teaching, soft skills
Teaching soft skills in engineering and technology courses have been part of ABET’s accreditation criteria for several decades. Much research has been done and recommendations have been made on how to modify engineering courses with the appropriate objectives and course delivery strategies towards successful and effective implementation of the ABET’s criteria. Research linked to teaching soft skills to future engineers in physics courses are rare and this paper contributes to this field. The role and place of physics courses in meeting ABET’s criteria are important for several reasons that are discussed in this paper. The main reason lies in the fact that basic knowledge and skills related to students’ professional development are better taught and practiced at an early stage and then developed through upper-level engineering courses. In this paper, we discuss the opportunities we currently have in our physics courses. We provide a plan on how to strengthen our students’ basic soft skills and what needs to be done to bring our physics courses in line with the HCT 2.0 vision. Several possibilities have been discussed in terms of course work, projects, labs, assignments, and assessments. The paper argues that there is no need for a big investment. We will require school support in training teachers and modifying physics course outcomes. A few suggestions written on “how to do it” are provided in the conclusion.
ABET - Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Technology Programs, 2016-2017. (Retrieved from http://www.abet.org/accreditation/accreditation-criteria/criteria-for-accrediting-engineering-technology-programs-2016-2017/ )
Briggs, S. (2015). Thirty Tips to Cultivate Soft Skills in Your Students. (Retrieved from http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/30-ways-to-cultivate-soft-skills-in-your-students/ )
Brown, M. (2016). Five Skills Hiring Managers Look for in Engineering Grads. (Retrieved from http://www.engineering.com/JobArticles/ArticleID/13894/5-Skills-Hiring-Managers-Look-for-in-Engineering-Grads.aspx )
Cimatti B. (2016). Definition, development, assessment of soft skills and their role for the quality of organizations and enterprises. International Journal for Quality Research, 10(1), 97-130.
Cinque, M. (2016). Lost in translation: Soft skills development in European countries. Tunning Journal of Higher Education, 3(2), 389-427.
Driscoll, M. (2017). Six Soft Skills Engineers Need to Succeed in 2017. (Retrieved from http://blog.3dconnexion.com/blog/6-soft-skills-engineers-need-to-succeed-in-2017#_ftn1 )
HCT. (2017). The Learning Model. (Retrieved from http://www.hct.ac.ae/en/about/ )
IOP, (2011). The Physics Degree Graduate Skills Base and the Core of Physics, London. (Retrieved from https://www.iop.org/education/higher_education/accreditation/file_43311.pdf )
Markle, R., Brenneman B., Jackson, T., Burrus J., & Robbins S. (2013). Synthesizing Frameworks of Higher Education Student Learning Outcomes. Research Report ETS RR–13-22, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey
Monash - Engineering students to GROW their soft skills. (2013). (Retrieved from: http://www.monash.edu/news/articles/balancing-the-hard-and-soft-skills-in-engineering )
Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Framework for 21st Century Learning. (Retrieved from http://p21.org)
Passow, H. J. (2012). Which ABET competencies do engineering graduates find most important in their work? Journal of Engineering Education, 101(1), 95–118, 2012
Pizika N. (2014). Embedding Employability Skills in Computer and Information Science Program Curriculum. Int. J. Soc. Behav. Edu. Econ. Bus. Ind. Eng., 8(2), 381-385
Schoepp, K. & Danaher, M. (2016). An innovative approach to assessing professional skills learning outcomes: a UAE pilot study. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Gulf Perspectives, 13(1), 1-20
Scott-Bradley, P. (2011). An Examination of Soft Skills Listed in Texas Electronic Job Postings and Undergraduate Business Information Systems Syllabi. PhD Dissertation, University of North Texas, Denton.
Tate, E. (2017). Teaching Students Soft Skills. (Retrieved from: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/01/30/liberal-arts-college-tries-new-approach-teaching-soft-skills )
Tien T., Pucher P.H., Sodergren M.H. Sriskandarajah K., Yang G.Z., & Darzi A. (2014). Eye tracking for skills assessment and training: a systematic review. Journal of Surgical Research, 191(1), 169-78.
Eye tracking-Tobipro. (Retrieved from http://www.tobiipro.com/fields-of-use/education/)
Wang J., Guo D., & Jou M. (2015). A study on the effects of model-based inquiry pedagogy on student’s inquiry skills in a virtual physics lab. Computers in Human Behaviour, 49, 658 – 669
Williams, B., Figuiredo, J., & Trevelyan, J. (Eds.). (2014). Engineering Practice in the Global Context: Understanding the Technical and Social. CRC Press/Balkema, Leiden
Yaacoub, H.K., Husseini, F., & Choueiki, Z (2011). Engineering Soft Skills: A Comparative Study between the GCC Area Demands and the ABET Requirements. Competition Forum, 9(1), 88-99.
How to Cite
Copyright © Authors