The Role of Modality in Developing Durable Skills: Challenges and Experiences of Diverse Student Populations

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Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice


The efficacy and benefits of various modalities for teaching and learning have been fiercely debated since the pandemic. In general, disciplines that are content-laden and could be taught primarily through passive learning strategies (reading and lecturing) fared better with the transition to distance and online learning. There was great skepticism about the ability to have the same engagement and learning outcomes met in asynchronous design for more applied and interactive disciplines, especially when considering the development of durable skills. Although market researchers have found that employers desire durable skills (formerly “soft skills”), few studies have been dedicated to identifying where, when, and how course modality plays a role in fostering such skill sets. This study proposes to investigate how modality contributes to or inhibits the development of durable skills and identify strategies for addressing challenges that different student populations face given their manner of course participation and attendance while in college. Results from the study indicate that commuters, first-generation, online, and graduate students, given the manner of their engagement with co-curricular and extracurricular activities, are at a disadvantage, requiring new strategies for skills development

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