The problem

University students learn skills, like programming, writing, and problem solving. Skilled graduates can find good jobs.

After a skills course, students should be able to do tasks without help. Ask them to write an article, and they should be able to research the topic, draft an article, and write it. Independently.

Frustrated At many schools, courses like programming and math don’t work very well. Too many students fail. Even students who pass don’t learn what they should. Give them a task slightly different from the one in the textbook, and they’re stuck.

It’s not just tech courses. Students should learn how to work with people, communicate, and think critically. These “soft” skills aren’t easy to learn. As the saying goes, “the hard things are easy, and the soft things are hard.”

Researchers have figured out how to help students learn skills effectively and efficiently. Few universities use their findings.

That should change.