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Johns Hopkins University
Transferable skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and collaboration, are some of the most in-demand skills in today’s workforce. Despite modern pedagogical approaches rooted in problem-based learning (PBL), a framework that lends itself to the acquisition of transferable skills, students in high school classrooms still demonstrate differing levels of transferable skills while completing the same course curriculum. Using Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecological systems framework, I conducted a needs assessment study to explore factors contributing to student acquisition of transferable skills, operating on the assumption that one of the most significant factors to such acquisition was the students’ teachers. The needs assessment found that Project Lead The Way (PLTW) master teachers (trainers) face multiple challenges when teaching transferable skills during training, including training time, training platform (virtual or in-person), and participant engagement. Bandura’s (1994) self-efficacy theory informed this study’s intervention, which assumed the form of a series of professional development workshops for PLTW master teachers. These professional development sessions engaged teachers in collaboration activities to promote their self-efficacy and provide them with resources they could use in their practice to assist in students’ development of transferable skills. More specifically, this mixed-methods intervention-based study aimed to help PLTW master teachers develop knowledge of the transferable skill resources available to them within the PLTW curriculum, increase their self-efficacy in teaching transferable skills, and increase their self-efficacy in their ability to engage others in collaboration during training. The study found that less than half of the participating master teachers were integrating transferable skills into their practice. The intervention resulted in a notable increase in the teachers’ self-efficacy regarding their ability to teach transferable skills. Focus groups and survey responses highlighted the need to increase master teachers’ awareness of PLTW’s transferable skill resources. Implications for future research are explored, including following up with this study’s participants to determine the long-term effectiveness of the professional development provided.
transferable skills, Project Lead The Way (PLTW), teacher self-efficacy, professional development, science technology engineering and mathematics (STEM), and activity project problem (APB)-based pedagogy