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Teaching and Assessing Soft Skills for Health and Education Professionals: A Scoping Review

Svetlana Daly, Katrina J. Phillips, Clare M. McCann

Abstract:Soft skills are a collection of abilities instrumental to one being a successful professional. Soft skills are knowing why, what, when, and where to perform specific technical, hard skills. Traditionally, universities and other professional training providers have focused on teaching hard skills, relying on graduates to learn necessary soft skills on the job or through personal experiences. With more professional training requiring tertiary education and less work experience, a skills gap has developed between labour markets and professional training providers. A scoping review was conducted to answer two research questions: How are soft skills conceptualised and taught to health and education professionals? How are soft skills assessed for health and education professionals? The PAGER framework was utilised to present and synthesise the scoping review results. Eight themes emerged from the patterning analysis and data synthesis: Lack of definitions of soft skills; What soft skills are taught; Methods of teaching soft skills; Curriculum: Embedded vs. stand-alone courses; Use of digital tools; Assessment of soft skills; Variation of assessment tools; Limited regard for cultural competency, diversity, equality, and inclusion. These themes are discussed in relation to advances, gaps, evidence for practice, and research recommendations.
Keywords: hard / teaching / diversity / Assessment of soft / soft skills assessed / taught / themes

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