Teaching and learning soft skills in university physics courses: the HCT’s perspectives (Published)
Teaching soft skills in engineering and technology courses has been part of ABET’s accreditation criteria for several decades. Much research has been done and recommendations have been made on how to modify engineering courses with the appropriate objectives and course delivery strategies towards successful and effective implementation of the ABET’s criteria. Research linked to teaching soft skills to future engineers in physics courses is rare and this paper contributes to this field. The role and place of physics courses in meeting ABET’s criteria are important for several reasons that are discussed in this paper. The main reason lies in the fact that basic knowledge and skills related to students’ professional development are better taught and practiced at an early stage and then developed through upper level engineering courses. In this paper we discuss the opportunities we currently have in our physics courses. We provide a plan on how to strengthen our students’ basic soft skills and what needs to be done to bring our physics courses in line with the HCT 2.0 vision. Several possibilities have been discussed in terms of: course work, projects, labs, assignments, and assessments. The paper argues that there is no need for a big investment, but only school support in training teachers and modifying physics course outcomes. Suggestions on “how to do it” are provided in the conclusion.
Keywords: physics teaching; soft skills; course objectives; course outcomes; curric¬u¬lum development.