DS 110: Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2021), VIA Design, VIA University in Herning, Denmark. 9th -10th September 2021

Year: 2021
Editor: Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon
Author: De Freitas, Ana Paula Nazaré (1,2); Almendra, Rita Assoreira (2)
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1: Universidade do Estado do Pará, Brasil; 2: Universidade de Lisboa, Faculdade de Arquitetura, CIAUD, Portugal
Section: Meeting 21st Century Challenges in Further and Higher Education
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2021.11
ISBN: 978-1-912254-14-9


Soft skills are interpersonal, social and emotional skills. They are transversal to various fields of knowledge and life. There are different labels to refer to these skills: 21-century skills (OECD, 2005), life skills (WHO, 1994), generic skills (Virtanen and Tynjälä, 2018) or key skills (Rychen and Salganik, 2003). In design education there are still few studies on soft skills despite the growing need to train critical and empathetic designers who work collaboratively and have a systemic vision. Faced with technological changes that impact the labour market, it is necessary to train designers who are increasingly flexible and prepared for the constant changes in this market, enabling them to be adaptable and respond quickly to the changing needs of the individual and societies in the contemporary global context. This paper brings a conceptual map of soft skills in design education. It refers to a quantitative and qualitative research that was carried out through a survey with open and closed questions that involved 93 teachers of High Education Design courses in 26 countries. The survey results were combined with a literature review analysis aimed at defining constructs and identifying their relationship. Finally, we propose a classification for soft skills as being Collective/Individual and Cognitive-Metacognitive/Interpersonal-Social. Additionally, a conceptual map was created including the 20 mains soft skills in Design Education, their proposed classification and the relations between the skills. In our research, we identify the connections and interdependence among skills allowing us to settle different groups of them and to establish the relations among the different groups of skills. The proposed classification hopefully will make it easier for teachers and students to identify the main soft skills in design education. It will be possible then to develop strategies for teaching-learning approaches in which what we called the gateways skills will be acquired in the initial years, through the development of activities that can involve the students gradually and increasingly requiring more skills in order to make them ‘scale-up’ towards what we designated as high order skills in our conceptual map. REFERENCES OECD. (2005), The Definition and Selection of Key Competencies, OECD, Paris. Rychen, D.S. and Salganik, L.H. (2003), Key Competencies for a Successful Life and a Well-Functioning Society., Key Competencies for a Successful Life and a Well-Functioning Society. Virtanen, A. and Tynjälä, P. (2018), ‘Factors explaining the learning of generic skills: a study of university students’ experiences’, Teaching in Higher Education, Taylor & Francis, Vol. 2517, available at: WHO. (1994), Programme on Mental Health: Life Skills in Schools, WHO World Health Organization, Geneva.

Keywords: soft skills, design education, 21-century skills, conceptual map


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