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Designing learning experiences for developing soft skills in online education: a basic qualitative study

Hugus, Erin Michelle (2022) Designing learning experiences for developing soft skills in online education: a basic qualitative study. Doctoral thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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The world of work is changing, and soft skills like critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, and collaboration are essential for professional and personal success. With the increase in online enrollment, institutions can improve online learning to promote the development of soft skills. There has been a lack of articulated methods or documented guidance for instructional designers in selecting instructional strategies to promote development of soft skills in online courses. This study aims to identify common themes of practices followed by instructional designers in designing learning experiences to promote soft skills development in online learning.Experienced instructional designers were interviewed to learn about their experiences in designing for employability. Participants were recruited through the distribution of postings in LinkedIn and Educause professional networking forums. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven participants to explore practices experienced instructional designers follow in designing online learning for soft skills development. The results were analyzed through a process of coding, memoing, categorizing, theming, and interpretation. Results showed that instructional designers follow a three-step process when designing for employability: (a) define outcomes, (b) collaborate with subject-matter experts, and (c) design authentic and engaging learning activities. Results indicate the effective collaboration between instructional designers and faculty is critical to the design of authentic practice activities that promote soft skills development. Factors that affect collaboration are: (a) institution’s implementation of the instructional designer role, (b) trust and credibility within the relationship, and (c) adoption of active learning teaching techniques. These results suggest the intentional design of authentic learning experiences requires effective collaboration between instructional designers and faculty subject-matter experts. They also suggest soft skills should be developed across the curriculum. Institutions, faculty, and instructional designers should work together to create online learning that promotes soft skills development to support graduate employment outcomes.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: employability; instructional design; online education; soft skills
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2361 Curriculum
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Education > Educational Leadership
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2022 21:41
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2022 21:41
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5884

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