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Intended Learning Outcome:

To develop personal strengths through identifying soft skills


This activity asks students to consider the soft skills that professionals need to be strong in their careers in the face of challenges. This also allows students to reflect on the soft skills they need to develop to achieve student success and improve employability. The soft skills could be personal attributes such as tenacity and communication skills or more practical ones such as using spreadsheets.

We can explore these skills, which make us strong, and the positive and negative external factors that affect us through the analogy of a tree – ‘You can’t have the fruits without the roots’ Stephen Covey (author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). The stronger our roots, or soft skills, the more easily we can respond to external events.


Set a scenario based on the vocation related to the module. For example, a challenging musician a producer needs to work within the studio to create a song recording.

Ask students to consider all the skills they would need to deal with the scenario – these will include those related to record production as well as interpersonal skills. You could also add in some positive and negative factors.

Now ask students to reflect on those skills and assess which they possess, which they feel the need to develop now to be successful in their studies and which they do not feel apply to them.

Discuss employability and look at routes into careers related to the module.



Large Group Teaching:

With large groups, you can either run this as a solo activity and then put students into groups to discuss/adjust their decisions or you could have small group discussions which contribute to a whole-class activity of generating one list.

Online Teaching:


Students are aware of the skills they are developing and areas they still need to look at in relation to their studies and their employability.

Next Steps:

You could link this to some work on employability that the college may be preparing.

Links to other activities:

Further reading:

COVEY, S. R. (2004). The 7 habits of highly effective people: restoring the character ethic. New York, Free Press.



Image for use on slides etc.: 

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