Dr. Liane Hypolite’s Study Explores the Effectiveness of Third Space Thinking in Teaching Soft Skills

“Soft skills” is a term that gets thrown around quite often these days. It is one that most people have come to understand. Soft skills encompass “ interpersonal, analytical, and communication skills” which are necessary for working effectively in teams and independently (Hypolite, 2020). Soft skills have been increasingly highlighted by employers as the most essential skills that they look for in new hires. However, while most people now grasp the importance of these skills, what they may not understand is how to improve them. Here at the USC Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking, we are committed to helping others learn and develop the five core soft skills which our research has shown are most valuable to employers and employees. (Adaptability, Cultural Competency, Empathy, Intellectual Curiosity, 360 Degree Thinking). 

While we love sharing our knowledge with students of all ages who are eager to grow their soft skills, we also want to teach our model to educators so that our efforts to prepare youth for success in all of their future endeavors may be compounded.  

Dr. Liane Hypolite, a research fellow at the Center, recently published a paper where she discusses how Third Space Thinking offers a useful paradigm for educators who wish to advance the teaching of soft skills. While our ACE-IT framework focuses on five key attributes, these five attributes can be the stepping stones to developing other soft skills. Hypolite’s paper is founded on data collected from a multi-session educational program for high school students. In the study, Hypolite illustrates how Third Space Thinking (TST) in tandem with other fundamental attributes of soft skills development, are being taught. She breaks down TST methods of teaching soft skills in two interknit facets:

(1) alignment with the goals of social and emotional learning (SEL) 

(2) facilitation of active learning practices that support classroom engagement. By using SEL and active learning approaches, the Center’s work aims to empower participants with the ACE-IT, soft skill competencies as described previously. 

(Hypolite, 2020)

While Third Space Thinking has been using this approach to teach soft skills for a number of years, Hypolite’s paper offers the research to back the efficacy of our methods. Her data shows that after learning the ACE-IT model, students gained a better understanding of the value of soft skills and they also reported higher self-confidence in situations requiring soft skills. 

To read the entire paper click the link below:

Advancing the Teaching of Soft Skills Through Third Space Thinking