Fostering soft and hard skills for innovation among informatics engineering students An emancipatory approach

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Manuel Firmino Torres
Nuno Flores
Raquel Torres

Abstract

Informatics engineers are currently in the spotlight of innovation. It is, therefore, relevant to analyse and reflect on how higher education can, and should, prepare future engineers to innovate as expected in this ever-changing world. This paper aims to further research and foster scholarly debate regarding the requirements and implications of teaching innovation. For that purpose, we examine an exploratory case study on interdisciplinary cooperation between two higher education courses, designed to promote students’ active learning of innovation through the progressive development of their soft and hard skills. Both courses engaged in an emancipatory pedagogical approach, mostly grounded in project-based work, active learning, and formative assessment.


To obtain feedback on this interdisciplinary cooperation, questionnaires were devised to ascertain the students’ perceptions about this pedagogical approach. Individual responses were collected from both courses and data was analysed through simple statistical procedures. Articulating a priori soft skills development with a posteriori hard skills learning process is perceived by students as beneficial in gradually, yet successfully, understanding the subject of innovation. Also, there were even some external success indicators which showed the recognition of successful innovation skills development in informatics engineering students. Thus, according to students’ perceptions of their experience with an emancipatory pedagogy that connected soft with hard skills development, we conclude that such approach encouraged students to create new knowledge and allowed them to develop the necessary skills to innovate.

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