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Key skills underpin our ability to carry out successfully a wide range of tasks in higher education, employment and whenever and wherever we continue to learn. This unit invites you to think about and develop key skills such as communicating effectively, using information technology confidently, and improving your own learning and, ultimately, your performance.
Developing skills is not a one-off task. It takes time, and is an active blend of actually using the skill and then thinking about what you are doing and how you are doing it. Give yourself opportunities to develop and practise your skills in different contexts - at home or at work, in clubs or societies - as well as during your studies.
However, simply applying skills repeatedly does not mean necessarily that you improve either your skills or your performance. Learning and improving involves change: changes of technique, changes in skill, changes in knowledge, and changes in understanding. If we are not open to change, there may be little reason to invest time, energy and resources in learning.
As we analyse and understand the skills we use and need, we become more confident about assessing our own strengths, more effective in identifying where we need to improve, and better able to plan how we might go about it.
Keys skills underpin almost everything we do. Here are a few examples of when we use the key skills as part of our studies or in other areas of our lives. As you read through the list, think about how confident you are in each of the key skills.
Key Skill 1. Improving own learning and performance
Using different learning strategies effectively.
Seeking feedback to monitor and improve our own performance.
Using a learning diary to help us reflect on how we are learning
Key Skill 2 - Communication
Giving a presentation to other students or colleagues at work.
Writing up a project report.
Discussing the concepts and ideas which might explain a particular issue or event.
Evaluating the outcomes of a piece of work and identifying key points for others.
Key Skill 3 - Information Technology
Planning how we are going to make the best use of IT in our studies and information-gathering activities.
Setting up a database for a project.
Integrating text, images and tables in a report, or other piece of work
Key Skill 4 - Application of number
Planning how to collect and record data for a project in a way that will make it easy to analyse.
Selecting and applying appropriate statistical techniques to a set of raw data and checking the results.
Interpreting data and presenting it in an assignment or project using appropriate charts, graphs and diagrams.
Evaluating cost and design estimates for a project based on data collected.
Key Skill 5 - Problem Solving
Identifying and exploring problems.
Negotiating methods to resolve and manage problems.
Working with others to develop different strategies for solving problems.
Key Skill 6 - Working with others
Working in a team to complete an assignment, or work-based problem.
Planning and organising an event
Each key skill unit in this module is designed to be used by you as you actively develop and improve your skills.
Just reading about a key skill won't help you improve - taking part, planning, practising, finding things out, using feedback - offers you the opportunity to make changes and improve your skills and performance.
As you think about the skills you want to develop and improve begin with an analysis of what you want to achieve. Ask yourself questions such as:
What skills am I going to need in my course/ work activities?
What are my strengths and weaknesses? For example, in producing written work, in handling numbers, graphs and diagrams, or in organising the way I approach learning tasks?
What are my priorities for improving my skills?
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