Developing soft skills in STEM education

Posted by Matti Niemelä, on March 1, 2023, 10:28 a.m.

Matti Niemelä

University of Oulu, Faculty of Technology, Chemistry degree programme


Challenge and goal

Nowadays interpersonal skills and personal characteristics have more and more effect on the employability of our graduates. Due to this, more attention should be devoted to the development and assessment of these so-called soft skills. To tackle this challenge, we propose CPD activities aimed to help teachers to recognize and develop soft skills in their courses.

Topic of the user case

Teaching and developing soft skills

Local context (specific)

To adapt to the demands of labor market, to support the students employability and to prepare future challenges, it is important to teach soft skills to our students. At the same time, lecturers teaching in our degree program have difficulties to recognize soft skills taught in their courses, develop teaching of those soft skills and define how to assess them. To tackle this problem, we propose activities aimed to help lecturers in acquiring better knowledge and understanding of the about the soft skills and how to take soft skills in to account during the course assessment.

Local CPD goals

Increase the awareness of lecturers in Chemistry degree programme about:

  • Our curriculum and soft skills
  • Ways for teaching of soft skills to students

Needs defined in STEM-CPD Roadmap

1 frame the course in the context of the study programme
8 develop critical thinking by students
11 organize / attend meetings of their own teaching team to discuss / reflect on the teaching methods and on the effect of those on students' learning.
8 discuss teaching with their colleagues.
2 attending presentations about teaching approaches.
11 collaborating with a peer-lecturer on a redesign of a course.

CPD activities at the local university

All CPD activities organized in UOulu are closely related for the preparation of local curriculum and courses (workplace learning).

CPD activities organized are:

  • Pre-meeting material (article and web pages) about the soft skills is shared for the teachers. 

  • Local meeting where information about the soft skills and their connection to our curriculum are discussed with the teachers (1 hour).

  • Create and share online examples and experiences how to take soft skills into account when preparing course descriptions and planning/implementation of a course (self-study 1 hour).

Teaching and learning materials

  • Materials collected, selected, and developed during the CPD activities.
  • Media platform (Teams and Moodle)


Sustainable implementation

All results will be internally shared to all the degree program teachers to support local development work related to topic.

Expected impact of the CPD User Case

Incorporate soft skills teaching into our curriculum, courses and increase awareness about the variety of soft skill teaching and assesment strategies.

Plans for eventual continuation of the CPD within the same topic

Updated after the implementation of User Case.

Constructive alignment, Deep learning (type P1-1, P1-3c)

This CPD scenario describes a User case in which lecturers develop their competence in sound course design and how to facilitate student’s deep learning and development of higher cognitive skills and develop attitudes in reflecting on own teaching practice and knowledge sharing.
The approximate duration of a User case that follows this scenario is several hours.
In this CPD scenario the participants professionalize in a close connection to their own teaching practice (at their workplace).

Learning environment
Several hours

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