Respondents to, or agents of, change? Teaching ‘soft skills’ in a school-university partnership project

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


This paper is the first interim report on a year-long case study about my
partnership with a group of school teachers, and their experiences of designing
and implementing their College Experience (CEX) program. The CEX program
has been designed for Level 9 students, and both the program and the mandated curriculum which it is guided by were new in 2017. The CEX program centres on ‘soft skills’—Thinking, Ethical, Intercultural, and Personal and Social
Capabilities—in practice. I use the term ‘soft skills’ in place of more static terms
such as 21st Century Skills to draw attention to the fluid and liminal nature of
these skills, as they shift in response to contextual change. The case study is
framed within the concept of liminality—a time and place of transformation,
where the separation from old ideas creates a phase of exploration before the
aggregation of new ideas takes place. I consider whether practitioners position
themselves as respondents to, rather than agents of, change, within this liminal

This particular paper focusses on the initial phase of the case study, which was
my own curriculum work for the project, through a reflective journal. Emergent
themes include the excitement of newness countered by lack of resources,
change fatigue, and developing autonomy within a top-down approach to
curriculum change.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSearch and Research
Subtitle of host publicationTeacher Education for Contemporary Contexts
EditorsJuanjo Mena, Ana Garcia-Valcarcel, Francisco Jose Garcia-Penalvo, Marta Martin Del Pozo
Place of PublicationSalamanca Spain
PublisherEdiciones Universidad de Salamanca
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9788490127698
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


  • Soft skills
  • Capabilities
  • Curriculum reform
  • Liminality
  • Agency

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