Soft Skills Development to Advance Student-Centered Higher Education
The goal of this paper is to examine how soft skills development for higher education has been discussed in academic literature, USAID evidence, and programmatic examples, with particular attention to student well-being. Recognizing that overall student well-being is important to retention, sense of belonging, and development of soft skills, it is an important area of further exploration and requires continued investment and evidence. In addition to an examination of existing evidence and programmatic examples, the paper provides recommendations for faculty and pedagogy development, institutional shifts needed to advance student-centered higher education, and further research. This paper supports USAID’s Higher Education Learning Agenda, which identifies key learning questions to advance the higher education evidence base.
This paper notes what current higher education institution programs promote student well-being, outside of employability. It is important to note that many of the existing employability programs lead to increased mindfulness and increased self-esteem. However, higher education programs that focus on student well-being that are not employability programs are worthy of further exploration. This paper also provides recommendations for future areas where work is needed at the intersection of soft skills and higher education programming.