A Theoretical Framework for Implementing Soft Skills in Construction Education Utilizing Design for Six Sigma
Mahasneh, Jaser Khalaf
MetadataShow full item record
Recently, in the United States and worldwide, the excellence of soft skills competencies among entry-level employees has become a priority task of education. Construction employers are encountering a significant gap between the soft skills possessed by the entry level construction graduates and those needed by construction employers, thereby becoming a major challenge for both industry and academia. This research proposed a soft skills instructional curriculum that aims to increase cultivation of soft skills among construction students by exploring the soft skills needed in the construction industry and improving the soft skills educational tools in construction schools. Moreover, the research will answer broad questions such as: Which soft skills matter the most? What is the magnitude of the soft skills gap? And, how do students get help to cultivate soft skills? A stakeholders-driven exploratory embedded mixed-design research approach was adopted utilizing Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) framework. The DFSS framework is comprised of five phases: Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Verify. Therefore, the research defined and organized the construction related soft skills into 12 clusters. The 12 clusters were used to benchmark the soft skills clusters performance among construction graduates using a survey instrument. Simultaneously, the research identified 40 instructional strategies and then defined the relationships between each soft skills cluster and the 40 instructional strategies using structured interviews with experts from academia. The survey data was used to measure the gap in each skill cluster using Gap Score Method and prioritize them into four sets: Critical Clusters, Ideal Clusters, Lowest Priority Clusters, and Least Clusters. Then, the research implemented four Quality Function Deployment matrices using the data acquired from the survey, structured interviews, and the analysis. The four matrices were used to develop a soft skills instructional curriculum comprised of four instructional models in which each soft skills clusters set was matched with the effective instructional strategies. Finally, the research added the values of Gap Score and the value of Sigma Level for each cluster to the proposed curriculum to be used as indicators to measure the future changes in the industry's soft skills need. The proposed curriculum was shared with four experts from academia and they verified the results. It is expected that the research results will pave the road for launching any future soft skills initiatives in construction education. They revealed significant evidence of the existence of soft skills gaps among construction graduates and proposed an effective soft skills instructional curriculum. It is expected that through utilizing this curriculum, the teaching activities of construction will improve and broaden the soft skills taught in the classrooms to correlate with those needed in the marketplace. Consequently, this will help bridge the gaps between construction graduates and their employers and ultimately facilitate the recruitment of construction graduates.
- Doctoral Dissertations