“A given college may be a heterogeneous archipelago. But most of its students spend the bulk of their time on one of many homogeneous islands” – Frank Bruni
Source: The New York Times (December 12, 2015)
Check out this interesting piece by Frank Bruni from 2015. Bruni suggests that many colleges and universities don’t do enough to ensure students have meaningful interactions with people from different backgrounds. Without nudges to stimulate these interactions, “students will default to sameness” says Ronald Shaiko, a senior fellow at Dartmouth College’s Nelson A. Rockefeller Center.
The research is clear: students learn the most when they interact with each other and their instructors. At least, students who are interacting with each other have the potential to learn more. But this potential is only realized if students have the so-called “soft skills” needed to interact constructively with each other. “Soft skills” is a pejorative term that suggests these skills are not important and are easy to acquire, neither of which is true. It’s best to refer to them as interpersonal competencies, since these two words tell us that we’re talking about the knowledge, abilities and skills required for two or more people to communicate and work together effectively. Regardless of what we call them, it is critical that students come to understand that interpersonal competencies can be developed through deliberate practice, and are critical to their success as engineers.