The Role of Higher Education in Developing Durable Skills: Reframing General Education

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Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice


While market researchers have found that employers desire durable skills (formerly known as “soft skills”) and that the Humanities and general education curriculum is best suited to meet this demand, there heretofore have been few studies dedicated to identifying where, when, and how these are introduced and how these outcomes differ from counterparts in other disciplines, such as Business or STEM. This study proposes to investigate the way the Humanities contribute to the development of durable skills and how those approaches might be integrated elsewhere into the curriculum to meet employer needs and ensure future success for college graduates. Results from the study demonstrate the differing perspectives and expectations of students and faculty with regard to developing durable skills. Overall, students believed durable skills, such as teamwork and critical thinking, are developed in major coursework and General Education, while faculty primarily pointed to experiences outside of the classroom to develop and reinforce these skills, including through internships, volunteering, student life- athletics, and student clubs.

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