Within the framework of Wihuri funded OTTO project we have during spring and autumn 2017 conducted research to find student, teacher students and teachers answers on which competences are needed in the future, and how transversal skills and competences could effectively be enhanced, recognized, acknowledged and assessed in universities of applied sciences. The study was aimed at students from three Finnish metropolitan universities of applied sciences; In addition, international students and teachers participated.
The students were bachelor (business) and master degree -students (business, and social studies), in addition to vocational teacher students, Lebanese teachers and Korean students that accidently came to be part of this study. We have analyzed the results both through the transversal skills definition and by Daniel Goleman´s emotional intelligence framework.
Our research questions in the OTTO-process were a) how to enhance transversal competences in higher professional education b) how to assess future transversal skills?
Around 140 people were part of our research. Data was collected separately from each institution, applying multiple qualitative ethnographically mixed methods. The first researcher applied participatory research as method and conducted workshops with the participants. The second researcher met regularly with a group of Master Students in social sciences three times during spring 2017. The researcher also conducted a group interview (which was taped) with the members of the group, and prior to the interview sent out a survey form on transversal skills, as a base and trigger for the group interview. At the third university of applied sciences the collection of data was accomplished through tutoring discussions.
The three most critical skills according to our research related to self-regulation, resilience and assessment.
All respondents were united in their views on the relevance of emotions, collaborative and people skills. Those are hard to cope with, cannot be automatized, and they are difficult to learn.
In theoretical terms it means managing your own studies/work, behavior and competences through self-regulative skills, and to build your emotional intelligence through the sensing and understanding both your own and others´ emotions. These skills will make you more sensitive and understanding of yourself, in relation to others, and in relation to your own and others´ needs and behavior. Resilience, i.e. the ability to bounce back from failure, in addition to assessment practices were found equally important in our study.
We conclude that trust, ethics, values and empathy, the understanding of and tolerance of diversity, resilience, in addition to ongoing mixed assessment methods, and self-regulation and wellbeing-awareness, and professional guidance and counseling should be part of higher professional everyday practices.
Ongoing transversal/emotional skill self- and peer- assessment practices should be developed both for students and teachers as according to Goleman (1998) we will in the future be assessed with new measures and indicators: intelligence or education is no longer enough.
The topic of transversal skills is important, maybe more important now than ever, because of the turbulence we are facing on the labor market. We cannot predict what the next decades will bring or where skills, learning and education will go, but one thing that we know is that transversal competences including human and emotional skills will not be needed less in the future, but more, both in education and in working life. One thing that we have also concluded is that it is important to balance the substance or hard skills with transversal or soft skills. Both are needed, and both are important. The key element of satisfaction at work is that you are satisfied with yourself. By knowing yourself and your emotions makes it easier to meet other people. We have the ambition to continue our studies inspired by emotional intelligence in our next Wihuri funded TuTu project.
- Isacsson, A. 2017. Avaintaidoista transversaaleihin taitoihin -mistä on kyse? Referenced 5.11.2017.
- Isacsson, A. 2017. Korkeakoulusta taidot ja hyveet tulevaisuudessa menestymiseen. Referenced 5.11.2017.
- Isacsson, A., Raatikainen, E. & Ekström, M. Transversal skills and emotional intelligence in higher professional education. Nordic Journal of Vocational Education and Training (in process).
- Raatikainen, E. 2017. Uudistuva sosiaalialan osaaminen. Referenced 5.11.2017.
The writer Annica Isacsson is research manager at Haaga-Helia and OTTO project coordinator. OTTO research project funded by Wihuri is targeted at researching, developing and assessing transversal skills in different disciplines and areas at three universities of applied sciences. Haaga-Helia School of Vocational Teacher Education is the project coordinator and Laurea and Metropolia project partners.