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THE INFLUENCE OF LEARNING ENVIRONMENT ON THE SOFT SKILLS

DEVELOPMENT OF STUDENTS AT BAHRIA UNIVERSITY KARACHI CAMPUS

The problem of employability of students and its connection with the lack of soft skills has
become an important matter. An employer shows their dissatisfaction towards quality of students
or fresh graduates who are entering in job market. The relative review has been done in Malaysia
demonstrated that the advancement of soft skills in colleges needs greater change. The
instruction establishments ought to apply their efforts to enhance the abilities of graduates
regarding soft skills that are required in working environment. It is very necessary to identify the
elements in learning environment that can be related with development of soft skills among
students. As per research it is hypothesized that students soft skills results from their
communication with the environment (Aida Suraya Md Yunus, Rosini Abu, Sharipah Mohd Nor,
Rohani Ahmed Tarmizi, Kamariah Abu Bakar, Wan Zah Wan Ali, Ramlah Hamzah and Habsah
Ismail, 2005; Roselina Shakir, 2009; Noor Dayana Abd Halim, 2010; Ruhizan M. Yasin, Saemah
Rahman, Ramlee Mustapha and Kamarudin Tahir, 2011).

The current writing emphasized the significance of learning environment as a component


affecting the student learning of soft skills. Goh, (2005),Lizzio, Wilson, and Simons, (2002)
states that learning environment assumes a middle part in growing soft skills in students. Kember
and Leung (2005) built up the connection between the learning environment and soft skills. Rao
(2010, p.8) states that soft skills helps to build self confidence in students that will empower
professional as well as personal growth in students. This will enhance the opportunities of jobs
for students. But they are also well trained in their hard skills which are their core competencies
necessary for the job.

2.1 LEARNING ENVIRONEMNT AND ITS ELEMENTS

The term “learning environment” described as space and place, a school, a library, a classroom, a
computer lab, discussions rooms etc. while in today’s technology driven and interconnected
world, a learning environment can be online, virtual, remote. It is as the supportive network that
sorts out the circumstance in which people learn best. The framework that supports the adapting
needs of each learner and construct positive human relationship. Learning environments include
devices, tools, structures, and groups that persuade the students to accomplish the information
and abilities (Bober, 2001).

Learning environment is a system that enable the students to learn in a relevant and real world
context and create learning practices furthermore it enable educators to collaborate, share best
practices, and integrate skills into classroom practice (Bober, 2001).

Today the world requests from learning condition as it would be adaptable in their plans of
space, time, innovation and individuals. These associations will drastically expand the strong
cultures of respect and support among students and teachers serving their deep rooted learning
and recreational needs, and joining learners around the globe in tending to worldwide difficulties
and openings (Bober, 2001).

Ramsden (1991) stated the factors of learning environment that helps in developing soft skills in
students which includes clear goals, independence learning, good teaching style, assessment and
work load. Furthermore Wilson, Lizzio, Ramsden (1997) added more factors of learning
environment which helps in developing soft skills which includes support for students, graduate
qualities, intellectual motivation, learning groups and learning resources. Goh (2005) conducted
exploratory analysis listed three factors related to learning environment and they are assessment,
good teaching and clear objectives.

2.2 FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO A GOOD LEARNING ENVIRONMENT

2.2.1 INSPIRATIONAL CULTURE

Students should be highly motivated to learn. If students are not inspired or motivated then they
will may face difficulty in understanding information during training or class. So we can say this
that any problem can be minimized in learning if students are highly motivated towards it. But
therefore teacher should also be motivated to teach he must be sure that students understand the
presented material or information. Ginsberg & Wlodkowski (2000) states that students learn
because their experience of learning is rewarded and valued that would result in their academic
achievement and success. Culture is changing and dynamic it is not isolated; it can be used to
directly explain the phenomena in a classroom (Ovando, Collier, & Combs, 2003).

Nugent (2009) states that teachers have to make sure they are fulfilling the needs of students both
emotionally and academically. Students are motivated towards the classroom environment and
they focus more on their goals if there is positive culture in classroom by having a good
interaction with the instructor. An efficient university culture can boost the student confidence,
effective discipline, interpersonal skills and academic achievements as well (Westhuizen,
Mosoge, Swanepoel, and Coetsee, 2005).

H.W. Beecher states, “God made man to go by motives, and he will not go without them any
more than a boat without steam, or a balloon without gas. Find out what motivates man, touch
that button to turn the key that makes men achieve.” (Helmlinger, 1997)Palmer (2007) argued
that for quality education the motivation of students is very necessary. When students pay
attention, begins working on tasks, they appear to be happy and eager and ask questions and give
volunteer answers then it means they are highly inspired or motivated. Palmer (2007), Debnath,
(2005), D’Souza & Maheshwari (2010) states that in any learning environment the inspirational
culture includes students, instructors, content, method or process of teaching and classroom
environment. Like for example, the students should be motivated and have access, ability and
interest in a course. The instructor should be well trained, must focus on the educational process,
he/she should be dedicated towards its teaching, maintain good interaction with the students,
provide positive responses to the questions of students and be inspirational. The content of
teaching should be accurate, effective, and timely and must relate to the student’s current and
future needs. The method or process of teaching should be motivated, encouraging, interesting,
focused, safe, positive, personalized and empowering.

If instructors develop the good relationships with students it would help to motivate the students
in a classroom (Eschenmann, 1991). Whitaker (2004) states that instructors should have strong
belief that developing and maintaining relationships with students is necessary for the motivation
process and makes the classroom culture inspirational for students. Instructors should have
strong belief that building positive classroom culture with meaningful interactions with students
can motivate them and channel their energies and desires to reach their goals.

Miller & Rose (1975, p.36) states that the enthusiastic attitude by instructor in a classroom is
important factor in motivation process because it is contagious. It helps to develop a positive
culture in classroom and results in high motivation. Furthermore Marzano (2008) states that the
relationship between teacher students is the important factor for all other aspects of classroom
management.

2.2.2 SAFE SPACE

In this article safe space is defined as the environment in which students are encouraged to
participate and share their ideas honestly without any fear (Boostrom, 1998; Latting, 1990).

Many researchers and scholars demonstrate the safe space or safety as the safe and supportive
environment in which students in a classroom can actively and freely participate in activities and
share their feelings, opinions and ideas. Specifically in the environment of diversity (Blum,
2000; Chan & Treacy, 1996).

Stewart (2007) states that the safe space and climate of learning institution helps to empower
classroom learning and instruction and also can limit it. If the culture of learning institution is
effective then it can help to enhance the development of student’s soft skills and helps to reduce
the failure rates. It can also help to maintain the good record of student’s attendance.When we
talk about the campus safety then it is important to consider the physical and social environment
of campus. Physical environment includes teachers, location, infrastructure etc. whereas the
social environment of the campus influences the student’s behavior. Individually students own
beliefs, involvement, motivation, loyalty and commitments towards the social environment
impacts their behavior and collectively university with the uniform set of social norms in social
environment also has an impact on the collective action among students (Johnson, 2009).

Boostrom (1998) argued that classroom is emerged as a safe space that allows the students to
discover their skills, knowledge, abilities, attitudes and behaviors. The environment should be
free from psychological and emotional harm. In this type of environment students can learn more
and enhance their soft skills like creativity, confidence, motivation and interpersonal skills.
When in a safe classroom space students feel motivated and able to express their views openly it
would affect their personality and development of skills. In order to make students competent
and develop their critical thinking skills for their future jobs, number of researchers suggests that
students should not only obtain the required information but they also have the ability to confront
their values and beliefs. Instructor should motivate students in classroom discussion to express
their opinions or beliefs in order to make them self-sufficient, to discover themselves. So in a
safe and supportive environment there should be the motivation by instructor for students to
discuss their ideas openly and honestly. Students should feel that their honesty will matter and
there would be no suffering for their honest opinions (Diller, 2004; Greene, 1994).

2.2.3 EVENTS AND CO-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

Harvey (2001) states that employability is the combination of two words i.e. employ and ability.
And there should be more focus on the abilities, the ability of the employee to work hard for
their task and to do it efficiently. Students in university acquire technical skills but there should
also the emphasis on other activities as well, learning institution is a place where students
become socially active and gain career development skills. Extracurricular activities such as
participation in events, sports, student societies are very important for the potential job
opportunities. As these activities helps the development of the soft skills. These soft skills play
important role not only in academic performance but also in getting employment. It is the
extracurricular activities that encourage general improvement when set against the competition
(Chia, 2005).

The human resource managers not only concentrate on the academic result but also focus on the
involvement of graduates in extracurricular activities (Chapel, 2001). He further states that
human resource managers give preferences to those candidates who participate in extracurricular
activities as by participating in many social events and leading events will develop in them the
leadership skills and management skills. Furthermore these candidates also have adopted the soft
skills with focus on communication and presentation skills.
Chia (2005) explains that intellectual capability and examination result both are judged in
screening phase of a candidate. The focus of interview is on the candidate’s confidence, attitude,
responses to question and interpersonal skills. If individual is better in academic performance
including the participation in events and extracurricular activities would be able to create more
job interviews. Whereas if individuals are poor in their soft skills then they are not called for
initial job interviews. An extracurricular activity teaches the students many valuable soft skills
like leadership skills, self-management skills, Confidence, team working skills, motivation and
interpersonal skill (Chia, 2005). Chia (2005) explains that in initial interviews the individual’s
strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, level of confidence and motivation are being
assessed whereas in second interview the soft skills are being judged. If the individual has poor
soft skills then they will not be able to move to next phase. And these soft skills are highly
learned by participating in certain events and extracurricular activities that will help students to
give interview confidently.

Extracurricular activities such as sports, events, seminars, music involvement has a strong
influence on the communication skills, leadership skills, creativity, motivation, self-management
skills and self-promotion skills (Lau, Hsu, Acosta & Hsu, 2013). They also argued that self-
management, self-promotion and communication skills are gained through from all kinds of
extracurricular activities. Whereas participating in music sessions or events will benefit creativity
skills of students and leadership skills are best enhanced by the sports. Jacob and Ganzel (1993)
demonstrate that individuals taking part in extracurricular activities become effective decision
makers.

2.2.4 TEACHING STYLES OF INSTRUCTOR

Dweck & Elliot (1983) states that every learning institution should have impact on students in
order to make them more competent, to enhance their skills and enabling them to appreciate this
experience. This is the objective of every teacher when they organize their lecture or attempting
to plan lessons in order to create the learning environment knowledgeable for learner and
enhance student’s motivation and learning so that students must be satisfied from their learning
environment. In making this plan it is necessary for instructor to be aware of what determines the
student’s motivation to achieve learning objectives.
Nonaka and Konno (1998) argued that self-development is very important in the growth in
knowledge of organization which results from interactive session. Self-development is the
development of an individual’s values and attitude, creation of knowledge; accumulation of
knowledge; and transformation of knowledge. These factors are key in creating a learning
organization. The relationship builds by teachers with their students able to motivate them to
learn Eschenmann (1991). Teachers should agree on this that building relationships with students
is very necessary for their motivation. Teachers should able to create the classroom environment
as a positive culture where students can easily interact with teachers and energetically participate
in class discussions that will help them to reach their goals and avail maximum knowledge
(Whitaker, 2004).

The description of teaching style is found in a book “Teaching with style” by Dr.Grasha, He
describes how to evaluate the teaching style and how the classroom environment is influenced by
the teaching style of the instructor. He says that two teachers of same qualification and working
experience, reads and follow the same instructions as how to present information in a classroom
but the last outcome will be altogether different. And this is because of the different or unique
teaching style of instructor, it depends on instructor how he understands, interpret and execute
such instructions (Grasha, 2002). Rezler (1981) states that instructors should focus on the
learning aspects of their students to make them motivated and attentive in a classroom so they
would be able to learn and acquire the skills and abilities. Apart from hard skills instructor
should taught the soft skills in classroom and should include in their course content the problem
solving skills, team working skills, listening, interpersonal skills, ethics, respect, responsibility,
flexibility and courtesy. As there are huge scandals of corporate regarding the ethics issue, so it
is to be administered that ethics should be taught in universities (Bunker & Wakefield, 2004).
The ideal employees in corporate world are those who are good listeners, flexible, motivated,
effective, critical thinker, and respectful, courteous and efficient problem solver (Dash, 2001;
Gorman, 2000; Isaacs, 1998).

Behm (2003) states that instructors should make the classrooms enjoyable for students and to
make the environment of classroom as environment of courtesy and respect, students will adopt
those skills from teachers that has been identified by the instructor as the most important factor
of future success of students when they leave their education world and move to the corporate
world. Tough circumstances in corporate world demand soft skills, and universities can help with
the obtaining of soft skills by inserting them in course educational modules and addressing to
them all through every semester. Argyris and Schone (1978) argued that individual interactive
relationship can stimulate the organizational learning from problem solving. They suggest that
the changes in individual thinking pattern and in sharing information could change the individual
and organization from protective value system to the system that motivates the error correction.
They argued that learning environment is best to start with interactive relationship and making
the students to communicate and understand each other.

2.2.5 ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY

Presentation play very important and major role in training students. If the instructor is unable to
present the information clearly then it would difficult for students to gain the knowledge. The all
sessions of training should begin from the review of previous session. The instructor presentation
is consisting of lecture, demonstrations, projector slides, videos, or anything else that would
helpful to convey the idea. Technology is a tool that serves collaborative learning. Digital
technology is the way through which individual engages and collaborate with each other, they
discover new things and then share with each other what they have created ( Alan and Andrew,
2015).

The most important role in learning environment is of technology that converts the passive
learning environment to the active learning environment for the students which helps to develop
the soft skills with in them (Lowerison, Sclater, Schmid, and Abrami, 2006). Technology helps
the learner to more actively involved in learning process. Furthermore technology helps students
to engage efficiently and enhance the classroom (Roblyer, 2003). Epper and Bates (2001)
discussed that according to the national study of 2001 the 87% of the university faculty believes
that computer technology increase the student learning.

Technology can be used according to the instructor and its effectiveness depends on how it used.
Many teachers use PowerPoint slides or similar technology throughout a semester while most of
teachers don’t use the PowerPoint slides. Many teachers utilize technology because it helps them
to create more focused lectures, and it benefits students as they would be more energetic and
engaged in a classroom and they will listen more attentively. Some teachers also use technology
because while writing on whiteboard they would not able to interact with the students and also as
it is time saving method there is no need to write everything on board. Technology will enhance
the students learning and engage them more in the classroom which helps them to develop their
interpersonal skills, motivation and confidence (Burbules and Callister, 2000).

Apperson et al. (2006) examined the impact of PowerPoint slides on students. There were two
classes arranged, one instructor didn’t utilize the technology while the other instructor use the
PowerPoint slides and they had found that students responded differently in PowerPoint classes
as they were well organized and seems interesting, furthermore their creativity and critical
thinking skills increased. Students provide there feedback that they are more likely to take
another class of that instructor who utilize technology. The utilization of technology in a
classroom enables students to have a positive attitude towards education. The study of Witcher,
Onquegbuzie, Collins, Filer, Wiedmaier, and Moore (2003) suggests that the students believe there are
certain characteristics that have influence on the instructor effectiveness and those traits are:

Instructor should be knowledgeable about the course


Instructor should be student centered
Instructor should be professional
Instructor should be enthusiastic or energetic about teaching
Instructor should have effective communication style
Instructor should be accessible
Instructor should be competent at instruction
Instructor should be respectful and fair
Instructor should provide the students’ performance feedback

The utilization of technology by instructor can impact several of these identified characteristics
and in a result effects instructor’s effectiveness. Christen (2009) states that in every sphere of
business the utilization of technology has become very common in a world today, that’s why the
use of technology in education and learning also become the integral part in order to develop or
enhanced more skills in students so they become successful in corporate world. The use of
technology is emphasized highly in university and colleges level, it’s become priority. Christen
(2009) argued that if students learning environment reflects the ways in which they engage with
the corporate world they will definitely excel in their education. The utilization of technology
helps to transform the classroom in to interactive learning environment. Technology is an
excellent contributor in enhancing the student’s soft skills.

Kurt (2010) states that many studies shows the pros of using technology in classroom
environment, it is a powerful tool for enhancing the students interaction and engagement,
developing the projects or assignments to engage students in critical thinking and problem
solving. The utilization of technology can be used to rebuild and update the classroom that helps
in development of critical thinking and problem solving skills among students. Technology also
promotes the students collaboration and interaction. As collaboration is very efficient tool for
students learning. Students interact with each other, works together in a group cooperatively
(Keser, Huseyin, & Ozdamli, 2012). Baytak, Tarman, & Ayas (2011) states that most of the
students believe that their learning is enhanced by integrating technology into classroom
environment. They believe that technology makes classroom environment and learning
interesting, enjoyable and interactive. Utilization of technology increased student’s motivation,
social interactions, learning, confidence, interpersonal skills and student engagement.

2.3 STUDENT PERCEPTIONS OF THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT

The perception of students for learning environment can give ample of and accurate information
about the real teaching at universities and learning situation. The researchers believed that it is
the student perception of the learning environment that enable them to believe that particular
approach of learning is suitable for them or not (Ramsden 1988; Entwistle 1990; Meyer and
Muller 1990). Wierstra and Beerends (1996) states that in an orientation of students it would
determine the kind of learning environment they preferred.
2.4 SOFT SKILLS

Soft skills are those skills that are extremely demanded in job market but they are intangible.
Over the past few decades it has been researched that non-academic attributes has been given
much importance such as problem solving, communication, cooperation or coordination that are
often referred to as soft skills (Bennet, Dunne, & Carré, 1999;Stephenson & Yorke, 1998).
Fraser (2001) defined soft skills as those skills, abilities, and personal attributes that can be used
within the wide range of working environments that graduates operate in throughout their lives.
Soft skills may help students to achieve not only academic but also occupational goals after
graduating in job market (Bennet et al., 1999; Kember, Leung, & Rosa, 2006). But it has been
surveyed that there is a discontent with the extent to which these are applied in universities
(Harvey, Moon, & Gheall, 1997). Like for instance Boud (1990) argued that there is a gap
between what students are required in their assessment tasks and what occurs during job or in
practical field of work. Leveson (2000) pointed out an example that oral communication skills
are highly given importance in job market but rarely assessed at university or higher education.
However academics refuse to recognize its importance and don’t consider it as a distraction from
other academic priorities and students characterize their learning environment as formal subjects
rather than the basis for development of soft skills. The assessment methods affect the students
learning. There should be relationship between what students need to learn and what job market
requires from them (Gibbs, 1992). There is a relationship between learning methods and soft
skills.

2.5 CATEGORY OF SOFT SKILLS

All of the existing research states that they aren’t find the soft skills exist in the students learning
agenda or examined the skills that students consider important to learn at university. Georges
(1988) states that in academic literature the human skills are defined as the critical elements that
turns the knowledge in to actions or behaviors that are highly given importance in real world or
job market. Human skills are separated in to soft skills and hard skills. As described before hard
skills are mostly technical in nature and are related to the ability of a person to perform a task,
whereas soft skills are termed as employability skills, interpersonal skills, social skills, generic
skills, core skills, key skills and competencies (Blackmore 1999; Taylor 2005). Dewiyani (2015)
classified soft skills into interpersonal skills and intra personal skills. The skills or
communication which occurs in person’s own mind is known as intrapersonal skills while
interpersonal skills are the abilities to maintaining relationships with others or interacting with
others. The most common intrapersonal and interpersonal skills are as categorized as under,

INTERPERSONAL SKILLS

 Ability to motivate
 Ability to negotiate
 To lead
 Reliable
 Verbal communication
 Cooperating
 Flexible
 Working as a team
 Listening
 Logical argumentation

INTRAPERSONAL SKILLS

 Initiative
 Time management
 Ethics/Integrity
 Critical thinking
 Desire to learn
 Commitment
 Motivation
 Enthusiastic
 Creative
 Analytical ability
 Stress management
 Self-management
 Problem solving
 Summarizing
 Stress management
 Independent
 Creative thinking
 Time management

Hind (2005) pointed out that institutions no more now managed the career management, it has
become a process that through which students make a contract with them to establish sense of
experiences, managing their own career choices and seek personal fulfillment. Mallon (1998)
support this study that students has to be responsible to their own career management and job
security which would be helpful in their employability and portable skills. These qualities and
capabilities are widely used and important in contemporary life, the main focus of these is in
work and education (Hager and Holland, 2006).

2.6 IMPORTANCE OF SOFT SKILLS

It has been researched that field of education is very under pressure as never before because the
job market demands has been changed with the pace of time they require learners to prepare in
new ways for healthy and productive participation in the workforce. Media has been given much
attention on frequent introductions of new standards. As technological change and globalization
both are covert the demands of bosses, which in turn make the new entering workforce to think
and to establish soft skills i.e. those competencies that make, team members better and adaptable
to any situation they face (Alan and Andrew, 2015). SMART technologies and Wainhouse
Research investigate universities are focusing towards reading, writing and mathematics, while
they are not focusing on the other aspects of education on developing soft skills such as
collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and communication. In higher education reading,
writing, and mathematics are given much importance as compared to other skills which are now
highly demanded in market. It has been investigated that there are some specific areas of focus
that should be implemented in universities and they are collaboration, creativity, reading,
writing, mathematics, critical thinking, teaching and fostering lifelong learning skills, preparing
students for the workforce and making learning fun (Alan and Andrew, 2015).

De Villiers (2010) states that employees are recruited on the basis of their technical and non-
technical skills and when you talk about nontechnical skills they are termed as soft skills that are
not present in most of the students. Azim et al., (2010) relate soft skills as human issues like
communication, conflict management, teamwork, leadership, negotiation, professionalism and
ethics. While technical skills are learned in universities and are specific to each work setting

Adams (2007); Westray (2008) explained that soft skills training is not visible in curriculum.
There should be addition in curriculum that should focus on students to help them in developing
their soft skills that are required by job market. Higher education is being responsible for helping
students to develop the soft skills in it that are required by employers. The soft skills include the
capability to handle customer inquiries, ability to solve problems, being flexible, maintaining
ethical and professional standards, and being responsible. Graduates who hold the soft skills
there attitude would be positive at work setting and they will work well with others (Jungsun,
Erdem, Byun, & Jeong, 2011). Another employer mentioned some points that he noted in a
graduate after gone through their application document and they are poor career management,
signs of lateness, and absence of interest. So it has been seen that problems of not having soft
skills or poor soft skills are clearly visible in not only job interviews but also in professional
work setting. If graduates have poor soft skills and during professional work setting they failed to
apply soft skills it will result in not having permanent employment through the program. It has
been seen that graduates are not meeting the desires of managers; businesses are exceedingly
debilitated with the absence of delicate aptitudes in graduates. Separated of specialized aptitudes
managers additionally exceedingly offer significance to the relational abilities and work
involvement to be compelling in an occupation advertise. While the goal of the training
framework is to build up a learning domain that ought to be sheltered from imbalance, violence,
and absence of regard for others Gordon-Brydson (2013).

The employers expect from new graduates that they should possess soft skills before their
employment phase because then they would be more successful in their jobs, they also
emphasize on a point that institutions should be responsible for facilitating students development
of soft skill (Mitchell, 2008). Students don’t know the importance of soft skills at workplace. As
todays job market is becoming very competitive so individual should bring competitive edge
along them in order to distinguish themselves from other candidates in terms of skills and other
traits. Furthermore if the candidate is trained for the presentation skills, how to interact with
colleagues in a pleasant manner and basic knowledge of the business management will increase
their chances to select for a job (Beard, 2008).

2.7 SKILLS AND THEIR DEFINITION

Some soft skills are described below in order to know that how much these skills are important at
workplace and most of the graduates lack these skills.

2.7.1 COMMUNICATION SKILLS

Klein (2009) defined communication skills as the capability to listen actively, to communicate
orally and nonverbal forms. Written, verbal and listening skills that supports person for the
effective interaction with every individual and number of groups that will encourage the
integration of information.

Fogle (2011) and Griffin (2013) stated that graduates often lacked communication skills.
Ju et al. (2011) reported that there should be schools for providing the training regarding literacy
skills, communication skills, and mathematics for students. Communication skill is an obligatory
ability for successful execution at a working environment (Stovall and Stovall, 2009, Yaacoub et
al., 2011). There are likewise others specialists who expressed that in a today's worldwide market
with its progression in innovation and diversity in culture, workers ought to have problem
solving skills, critical thinking, basic intuition abilities and communication skills (Orner, 2009;
Shafie and Nayan, 2010). Beard (2008) states that while during an interview the communication
skills are also very necessary there as to cover up the weakness side.

Archer & Davison (2008) states that when recruiting new graduates the employers considered
good communication skills as most important skill, but employers says that most of the fresh
graduates lacks this skill and they can’t express themselves efficiently. It is not about learning a
language but it is the way people execute them in practical. Good communication helps to avoid
conflict, right information can be gained and relationship bond with people also gets stronger. To
make the communication effective one should be clear and optimistic in his opinion, views and
body language.

2.7.2 CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS

Heimler (2010) defined critical thinking skills as the capability to creatively think, to recognize
problems or key concept, give solutions to the problem and to effectively make decisions.
Although these skills also can be judged during recruitment process as the students are
challenged by different questions and situations and they have to answers those questions or
tackle any given situation. Many of the employers stated that graduates are not certain about
these skills, while HR mangers and faculty argues that they should require the training of critical
thinking skills.

2.7.3 DECISION MAKING SKILLS

It refers to the capability to solve problems, having correct information, generating alternative
possibilities, and making proper decisions (Kar, 2011). Among other skills the decision making
skills are the most important part of employability skills (Shafie and Nayan, 2010). According to
the critical thinking skills the decision making skills plays a major role in it and it is highly rated
in it (Kazilan et al. 2009).
Rivera and Schaefer (2008) stated in the programs of career development that students should be
guided in their universities regarding the skills of leadership and decision making skills.
Williams (2013) states that in order to make effective and correct decision at workplace is not an
easy task because decision is highly depend on the importance, consequences, and extent of the
decision.

Crawford et al. (2011) states that decision making and problem solving require skills that include
identifying and analyzing problems, taking efficient and accurate actions and analyzing the
impact of decisions. Decision making skills include producing creative and innovative outcomes,
transferred knowledge from one situation to another, engaging in learning, and thinking
differently about problems. Past studies has found that as decisions are very important at
workplace, that’s why decision making and problem solving are the most important soft skills by
students, employers and faculty making the skill compulsory to acquire.

2.7.4 EMPLOYABILITY SKILLS

There are wide ranges of employability skills which include both technical and nontechnical
skills (Ju, Zhang, & Pacha, 2012). Employability skills are also known as basic skills, generic
skills, professional skills, and nontechnical skills that will increase the efficiency of students
(Jackson, 2013). Researchers found that employability skills are important for students to
acquire, as graduates highly need leadership and work ethics skills important for job
performance. Many employers consider leadership skills as most important skill for job
performance, while many other employers consider interpersonal skills as most important skills
for graduates for job performance, whereas other findings also suggest that self-management
skills for students are also necessary for the job performance and employee success (Rosenberg
et al., 2012).

2.7.5 INTERPERSONAL SKILLS

Kar (2011) pointed out that interpersonal skills are those skills that impact that how one can
interact with other person by using human skills that involve listening, communication and
comprehension efficiently. Heimler (2010) defined an interpersonal skill that includes those
skills that enable person to work efficiently with others such as negotiation, transactions,
customer service and dealing with diverse people of groups whom are having different views and
cultures. Interpersonal skills are not only important in recruiting the top management employees
but also considered in lower level employees. Klein (2009) argued that at the top management
level interpersonal skills are need in solving the complexities whereas lower level employees
which are often considered as organization representations must possess the interpersonal skills
in order to meet the customer need or interacting with customers or their complains. Heimler
(2010) argued that students, employers, HR managers concur the importance of interpersonal
skills in job recruiting.
2.7.6 GENERIC SKILLS

Generic skills are those skills that make an individual to think differently in changing conditions
(Brown, 2010). Badcock, Pattison and Harris (2010) states that generic skills include
communication skills, written skills, problem solving skills, critical thinking skills and
interaction skills. A generic skill helps to build self-esteem and self-confidence that create
personal and professional advancement and also create opportunities for the professional work.
Students should acquire generic skills that enable them to increase employment opportunities.
Hard skills are the core competencies they should also developed. (Rao, 2011).

2.7.7 PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS

The problem solving skills are defined by Kar (2011) as the capability of demonstrating the
origin of a problem, understanding the problem and its cause, and at the last generating the
solution of that problem. Arensdorf (2009) stated that it is the process of identifying problems,
understanding it, establishing the solution of it, implementation on that solution and then
assessing the results. Bujham-Maragh (2010) described that problem solving skills are very
important for the graduates in their jobs as employability skills. Furthermore Harris and Rogers
(2008) stated that generic skills and problem solving skills must be taught in early age of student
and then should be given importance at higher education. He further suggested that soft skills are
highly ranked in job market and specially are the important part for those students whose careers
are linked with technology and engineering.

2.7.8 SELF MANAGEMENT SKILLS

Bates & Phelan (2002) defined self-management skills as to assessing self accurately, setting
goals for own career, review the progress and expose self-control. In other words the abilities to
control one’s emotions, feelings, anger, to plan the work tasks according to the timeframe. It is
the third most important employability skills (Shafie and Nayan, 2010). Mitchell (2008) reported
that these skills also include time management and organization skills that are highly rated in
workplace. Linman (2011) defines self-management as taking responsibility for person’s attitude
and behaviors related to the job performance. These skills allow an individual to feel productive
when performing daily activities at workplace. Well enhanced self-management skills allow the
graduates to effectively communicate with customers and co-workers, good planning, and keep
physically and mentally healthy. Kantrowitz (2005) states that having a self-management skill
helps to articulate goals, organize goals and resources, evaluate its progress, and to resolve
issues.

2.7.9 TEAMWORK SKILLS

Teamwork abilities are characterized as the capacity to work successfully with others
representatives who are from different cultures and backgrounds (Griffin and Annulis, 2013;
Raftopoulous, Coetzee, and Visser, 2009). Employers give most importance to those candidates
who maintain good relations with peers and superiors. A teamwork skill incorporates to being
adaptable, being flexible, being respectfulness and being cooperative with others. Ju et al. (2011)
stated that the most important part of teamwork skills is to show respect for others and these
skills are identifies as highly relevant for employment. Dupin-Bryant (2008) concluded that
teamwork skills are same as working cooperatively and collaboratively in groups. Furthermore
he discussed that in business it is very common to work in groups so it should be given more
emphasis in higher education to make students to work in groups this will not only enhanced
their team working skills but also helps to generate the other soft skills as interpersonal
relationships. Robles (2012) explained that managers should hire workers who will advance your
business with the collaboration of soft skills and motivate team work.

The teamwork skills help to develop interpersonal skills, leadership skills and communication
skills. During education process students can use teamwork to learn, to delegate responsibility, to
create work schedules and to assess each other’s work and each other’s strengths and weaknesses
and be responsible (Chapman and Van Auken, 2011).

Research findings argue that teambuilding is believe to be critical factor for the success on
workplace and in problem based learning situation (Goltz et al., 2008; Peterson, 2004). In
university classrooms the use of teamwork and problem solving has been important to be
successful in corporate world (Goltz et al., 2007; Sherwood, 2004).
2.7.10 LEADERSHIP SKILLS

The leadership training for students in university could impact positively on students and
develops leadership qualities (Hu, 2011). The researchers found that through internship
opportunities, coursework, training and experiential learning impacts student leadership abilities
(Crawford et al., 2014). Hilliard (2010) states that if students are given the opportunity to engage
in leadership activities then it would help to build self-discipline, positive attitude, visionary,
focused and make amendments when necessary. Hence, adding leadership activities or training
into a curriculum of university is important to enhance student’s soft skills competencies.

The qualities of leadership are very important for the soft skills. When you are working in teams
then leader is a person who impacts the positive attitude and behavior to other in team’s
activities. The leader should be aware of its responsibilities. The leader should be punctual,
supervisor, organizer, motivator, confidence builder, and maintain good relationships with
others. There are two types of leaders, formal leaders and informal leaders. Formal leadership is
related to institutions, appointed as to manage an organization whereas informal leadership is
personal, not appointed but stay active in informal groups and provide satisfaction to the team
members (Cribbin, 1972).

2.8 PERTINENCE OF SOFT SKILLS AS EMPLOYABILITY SKILLS

The skills of employability is consists of both the technical and nontechnical skills that are
compulsory for the employee to possess that will he/she apply on a workplace. Employability
skills are the primary skills that are movable in nature and enable the abilities, skills, knowledge
and attitudes needed by the today’s job markets (Overtoom, 2000).
Keller et al. (2011) stated that the skills related to employability are categorized in to two parts
and they are attributes and skills, attributes are those behaviors that are not related to the skills
basically, while skills are those capabilities that are used to carry out technical work. As it is
discussed above that employability skills are consist of technical and nontechnical skills so when
we talk about nontechnical competencies hence they are referred as employability skills which
are termed as soft skills. Soft skills are defined already in a literature review furthermore Klaus
(2007) defined that personal, social, communication and self-control behavior are the part of soft
skills. Soft skills are highly important and relevant to the employability skills as it helps to foster
good working relations with team members and also enhanced the ability to satisfy customer
more efficiently (Tribble, 2009). He also described the subsets of soft skills that are
communications, interpersonal relations, team working, leadership, career preparation, self-
control, and ethics, and assertiveness, readiness for career, career exploration and showing
respect to others. Stumpf (2007) also defined the instances of soft skills as honesty, integrity,
team building, problem solving, decision making, critical thinking, and communication skills.
These definitions of soft skills given by Stumpf (2007) and Tribble (2009) are not limited there
are also several other definition of soft skills given by other authors as well.

Klaus (2007) established the relationship between soft skills and employability skills as they are
also termed as the technical skills because when one use technical skills at work they also apply
factual knowledge to the task to perform effectively like for instance there should be self-
awareness of the given task, trustworthiness, self-control, integrity and problem solving. By
linking the soft skills to the employability skills it is quite clear that soft skills like
communication, team working and interpersonal skills encourage the improvement in job
performance that is highly related to the employability skills (Hargis, 2011). Heimler (2010)
suggested that the soft skills helps employees in job retention and career development process
but some students may consider it irrelevant in higher education.

There is a perception that either soft skills would affect the success and would be helpful at
workplace or not, although employers highly recommend towards the development of soft skills
for students. But students don’t appreciate the training of soft skills in universities unless and
until they experience the tough situation or any other circumstances at workplace that make them
realize the importance of training for the development of soft skills (Bennett, 2006 Mitchell
2008).
The exploration is directed in Lithuanian college to evaluate the significance of soft skills, it was
examined from 1,021 members and it is presumed that soft skills are highly applicable and
important for work, supportability and self-actualization (Pukelis and Pileicikiene 2010). They
states that soft skills are empowered the advancement of a just society. Moreover Stoner and
Milner (2010) additionally expressed that both students and teacher ought to grow soft skills in
colleges. Despite the fact that there might be no guarantee that everybody preparing projects will
achieve advancement of student’s soft skills, scientists prompted that businesses value soft skills
as pertinent employability capabilities. The graduates come to be perceptive of and rouse other
undergraduates to accumulate the significant soft skills. Not all employers will rely on the
commitments to prepare work force in tender capacities; subsequently, the organizations and
undergraduates must receive the obligations of such capacity advancement.

2.9 MERGING SOFT SKILLS IN SYLLABUS OF UNIVERSITIES

The soft skills addition in syllabus of institutions has been acquired by many universities. The
school, college, and universities should integrate the soft skills in the syllabus of students and
should focus that soft skills must be integrate to all of the business related programs (Beard et al.,
2008). The universities should integrate the soft skills to the syllabus of university in order to
build strong employability skills in students (Omar et al., 2012). It is recommended that there
should be develop a system to evaluate the skills like communication, time management,
decision making and other soft skills. Merging soft skills education into syllabus is honestly a not
unusual exercise in higher training. But, as referred to earlier, there are different tactics that some
institutions enable the improvement of soft skills in college student’s skills (Pillai, Khan,
Ibrahim, and Raphael, 2012).

2.10 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES

HYPOTHESIS 1

Ho1: There is no impact of inspirational culture on the development of student’s soft skills.

Ha1: There is a direct impact of inspirational culture on the development of student’s soft skills.
HYPOTHESIS 2

Ho1: There is no impact of safe space on the development of student’s soft skills.

Ha1: There is a direct impact of safe space on the development of student’s soft skills.

HYPOTHESIS 3
Ho1: There is no impact of events and co-curricular activities on the development of student’s
soft skills.

Ha1: There is a direct impact of events and co-curricular activities on the development of
student’s soft skills.

HYPOTHESIS 4
Ho1: There is no impact of role of technology on the development of student’s soft skills.

Ha1: There is a direct impact of role of technology on the development of student’s soft skills.

HYPOTHESIS 5

Ho1: There is no impact of teaching style of instructor on the development of student’s soft
skills.

Ha1: There is a direct impact of teaching style of instructor on the development of student’s soft
skills.
2.11 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK

Figure 2.1 Theoretical Framework


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