With reference to the Erasmus+ PEPPY - Promote Education Participation and Projects for Youth project, the "PEPPY Laboratory: skills to undertake in the social sector" was activated within the first cycle degree in Expert in social and cultural education of the University of Bologna (academic year 2022 -2023). The project focused on the development and personal improvement of soft skills (social, organizational, cooperation and innovation and creativity skills,…) which were tested through a specific project proposal in response to a social and cultural.
Specifically, the laboratory, with 24 hours of face-to-face activities divided into 6 lessons, focused attention on strengthening skills with particular reference to one of the eight key skills for lifelong learning needed to resume or complete a career university, i.e. personal and social competence and learning to learn.
Indeed, the laboratory pursued the following objectives:
- in-situ training on entrepreneurship and the ability to activate resources in social and work contexts;
- the realization of a participatory project defined and built step by step by the working group;
- the enhancement of young people's creativity through a planning approach to encourage and support their entrepreneurial skills and bring out their potential for acquiring skills and autonomy.
Within the first cycle degree in Expert in social and cultural education, working on these skills has allowed the achievement of a twofold objective:
- 1st Objective - hook students in difficulty, at risk of dropout by reflecting on their own skills, understood not only as learning skills, but also as empowerment, as the ability to recover from critical situations and difficulties in tackling the study path.
- 2nd Objective - respond to the needs of the stakeholders of the degree course and in particular to the reports coming from the social cooperatives.
The identification of the descriptors necessary to identify students at risk of dropout (number of credits acquired, number of exams taken)
Three successive steps were required for identification:
- the identification of the descriptors necessary to identify students at risk of dropout (number of credits acquired, number of exams taken)
- the extraction of data concerning students included in the 18–25-year target from computer databases of the secretariat
- the selection of students at dropout risk based on the identified descriptors
The engagement involved:
- sharing and designing adequate communication methods that act on the motivational dimension with a specific reference to the sense of self-efficacy/sense of self-assessment and recognition of one's own skills
- the development of an erga omnes communication (via the course website)
- the development of an ad personam communication (via institutional e-mail)
At the end of the experimentation, in relation to the feedback from the actors involved, the laboratory represented:
- a training opportunity for students to support their studies; in particular to reintegrate those who find themselves in critical situations within the university path or reorient them by working on the sense of self-efficacy and self-assessment of their skills
- an opportunity for professors and the coordinator of the first cycle degree to reflect on identifying the critical elements that cause a slowdown/abandonment of the university course and possible improvement actions.
- Dogara, G., Saud, M. S. B. Kamin, Y. B., Nordin, M. S. B. (2020). "Project-based learning conceptual framework for integrating soft skills among students of technical colleges," IEEE Access, 8, 83718-83727.
- Guerra-Báez, S.P. (2019). A panoramic overview of soft skills training in university students. Psicologia Escolar e Educacional. 2019, v.23
- Reed, S. K. (2020). Cognitive Skills You Need for the 21st Century, London, UK: Oxford Univ. Press.
- Succi, C., Canovi, M. (2020), Soft skills to enhance graduate employability: comparing students and employers' perceptions, Studies in Higher Education, 45:9, 1834-1847, DOI: 10.1080 /03075079.2019.1585420
- Szilárd, S., Benedek, A. (2018). "Needs and methods of soft skills development in ICT microenterprises," Procedia-Social Behav. Sci. vol. 238, 94-103.
- Vasilieva, E. (2022). Research on the level of soft skills of the digital generation. In: Zaramenskikh, E., Fedorova, A. (eds), Digitalization of Society, Economics and Management. Lecture notes on information systems and organization. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-94252-6_27