St Lukes Grammar School


Principal's Blog

  • Content or Soft Skills?

    Posted On 30 July, 2018

    Content or Soft-Skills ... it's not an 'either / or' discussion!

    Written by: Mrs Jann Robinson, Principal


    In recent media reports, there is an ongoing debate about whether students need to learn content or soft skills to be ready for the 21st Century. At St Luke's, we would say that it shouldn't actually be an 'either / or' discussion. The answer is, that it is both content and soft -skills that are needed!


    The reality is that students do need to have mastery of the content in their areas of study. The foundational blocks for learning do need to be laid well. Students still need to have strong literacy and numeracy skills if they are to be able to move into thinking creatively and innovatively. In addition though, there is also evidence that soft skills are needed in order for students to be more fully equipped for life beyond the school gate.


    In a recent research paper by Savia A Coulinho from the University of North Illinois, the relationship between goal setting, meta-cognition and success was examined.  



    Goal setting examined whether the student’s focus was on either mastery of the subject or performance in the subject. Where mastery was the focus, the students were able to take on more challenging material because they were less concerned about not getting it right straight away. Students who focused on meta-cognition i.e. were monitoring how well they were learning, were able to be more strategic about learning new information not just relying on what they already knew.


    The research demonstrated a strong link to success where meta-cognition was utilised. In reflection upon Learning@STLUKE’S I have come to appreciate that the strength of the framework is that it breaks the processes of meta-cognition down so that it gives students the skills to speak about their learning and to know how they learn as well as how to improve as learners. The dispositions all work together to give the students effective meta-cognition strategies which, when coupled with the intention to deeply comprehend their subject matter, will more likely lead to success.


    It is hoped, that as our students grow as powerful learners, incorporating both the mastery of content and the understanding of themselves as learners into their learning process, they will be ready to take their place in a complex and changing world.