Activity: The importance of Interpersonal & Socio-emotional Skills at work

Transversal Skills:
Creative and critical thinking
Learning to learn
Interpersonal and socio-emotional skills

Teaching- Learning Approach:

Cooperative learning and creative methods

   Miller Pyramid

Learning outcomes

By the end of the activity, students should be able to:

  • Understand the importance of socio-emotional skills at work and reflect on situations where they may be used.
  • Identify the differences between various socio-emotional skills in the workplace context, for recognition within the framework of specific examples.
  • Reflect on one’s own challenges in using different socio-emotional skills in the workplace context, in order to develop effective strategies for their acquisition. 


As regards transversal skills, students should be able to:

Interpersonal and socio-emotional skills:

  • Discuss and select relevant information in relation to a specific topic, with the aim of conveying it in an organized and effective manner to a non-specialized audience
  • Use empathetic and assertive communication skills, taking into account non-verbal communication and active listening, to foster cooperative learning environments
  • Develop positive and emotionally safe interaction, and to develop and co-create teamwork. 
  • Share an analysis of the main message to interpret, synthesise and/or evaluate the meaning of the content in order to draw a logical conclusion about the topic

Critical and creative thinking:

  • Relate one’s own information on a specific topic to other ideas and knowledge contributed within the context of a discussion, in order to generate complex conclusions and new future inquiries, attaining a higher level of abstraction
  • Acquire, process, produce, and evaluate information critically and from the perspectives of different fields and decisions, taking into account both individual and community perspectives

Learning to learn:

  • Conduct a structured search based on a pre-given topic for the extraction and selection of key points that enable an understanding of the phenomenon and its implications.
  • Self-reflect, evaluate one’s own actions and emotions, and take responsibility for own actions. Has improved professional and social-emotional responsibilities.


Brief description of the activity

The aim of the session is to support students to become aware of their own interpersonal and socio-emotional strengths and abilities in multidisciplinary and interprofessional teams in working life. Another aim of the activity is to develop students’ communication skills and social skills (Gardner 2002, Johnson & Johnson 2002). The activity consists of a mix of multilevel group work with a speedy rhythm (theoretical studies) and creative working methods to create and implement the working groups’ conclusions. These dynamics and the mix of theoretical studies and creative methods, as well as individual and group work, make in short time visible the students’ attitudes, opinions and emotions on “the importance of emotions at work”. This is an optional way to deeply discuss emotions at work. The activity can challenge students to meet their own emotions such as flexibility, uncertainty and creativity, as well as attitudes towards other professions.


Activity plan: step by step


Before the activity

The teacher gets to know the Jigsaw method and learning outcomes (see Barkley et al. 2014, Davidson et al. 2014, Gardner 2002, Jigsaw Classroom 2021, Johnson & Johnson 2002). Additionally, the teacher can benefit from the Emotional Wheel. In addition to pedagogical and theoretical tools, the teacher needs to find suitable and inspirational blog texts. We prefer blog texts instead of academic articles, to facilitate students’ reading. The teacher also needs a detailed ‘pedagogical script’ for the session (timing, material, classroom etc.)

Things to take into account prior to the activity:


  1. Context. How many groups will I build? How many students will be in each group? And how will I divide students into groups? Do I need to facilitate students with some resources to help them work during the steps of the Jigsaw? Do I need to give them “an idea” of it before the session?
  2. Materials necessary for its implementation. Do I have a proper room? Do I have all the tangible and intangible materials that will be used during the activity?
  3. Human resources necessary for its implementation. Is one teacher enough? What knowledge should the teacher/s have? If more than one teacher is needed, do they work in a coordinated/aligned way?


During the activity

Step 1. Getting to know each other. The getting to know each other, session may start by giving a set of cards or pictures to students, facilitated by the teacher. The cards or pictures can be already-made, or the teacher can create them (e.g. by downloading and printing pictures from open access databanks, such as Pixabay) or use magazine pictures. The aim of step 1. is to delve into the participants’ own emotions. In other words, to awaken their emotions and raise awareness of them. There are many questions to facilitate the participants to become more aware of their emotions at work (in past, present or future), also in the context of working with colleagues or clients/patients. An important aim of this step is to become aware of the meaning of emotions at work. Recommended methods are, for example, creative drama methods.

An example of this first phase of the activity could be the distribution of images related to the workplace. From here, students can be encouraged to reflect on the following questions:

  • Do I have any similar experiences to the one depicted in the image/card?
  • What emotions emerged during that moment, and why?
  • What emotions does recalling this scene evokes in me?
  • Would I have liked to experience different emotions than the ones I felt?
  • What would have needed to happen for me to feel those desired emotions?

The resource “wheel of emotions” can be facilitated in order to expand emotional vocabulary and deepen the reflection. 

Step 2. Jigsaw

Once students have reflected on their on experiences, the Jigsaw method is proposed: 

  1. Students are placed into groups, what we are going to call them: “home groups” 
  2. Regarding a same topic (i.e: transversal skills in working settings), each member of the group receives a specific subtopic (for example, “Trust at work”, “Empathy at work”, “Conflict management at work”, and “Importance of negotiation at work”). 
  3. Once those subtopics are assigned, each member of each group within the same subtopic, will gather in what we are going to call “experts groups”. Once there, they can read the materials provided regarding their theme or even do some research about it. The idea is to discuss the topic, that is, understand contents, implications, pros and cons, etc. This step may last up to 20-30 min.
  4. After this time, students may return to their “home groups” where each member will bring the knowledge acquired in their expert group. Each will be asked to teach the others about their topic. In this way, all the pieces come together to form a complete puzzle or conclusions (for instance, 20 minutes discussion and 10 minutes for preparing the conclusions).
  5. In the end, all “home groups” present their conclusions. Creative methods can be used (for instance, to present TV news of the topic).

In particular, social skills that facilitate students’ interactions during small-group discussions include (Gillies 2016) active listening to each other, sharing ideas and resources, commenting constructively on each other’s ideas, accepting responsibility for one’s behaviour, and making decisions democratically.


After the activity

Step 3. Reflection (creative methods and self-evaluation form & digital tool). After step 2,, there needs to be a common and open discussion of the learning process during the session. Additionally, the outcomes of the session need to be concluded. Reflection can be arranged by using peer evaluation of what has been learnt from each other during the session. The learning outcomes are based on the pedagogical framework and the aims mentioned above. Additionally, the teacher asks the students about their emotions and motivation during the session and in relation to outcomes.


Role of teacher(s)

The teacher has an active role during the session. They need to be sensitive to organize working groups, have an exact timing plan (and help the students to follow the time by reminding them if needed) and be available for the students’ questions. They also have to follow up the activity and decide if to provide specific materials to the groups or to allow the students to research on the topic assigned.

Evaluation tool

Transversal skills are difficult to evaluate, particularly among big groups of students. Therefore, in this section we propose a tool for students to self-assess the development of these skills. The tool is divided into three dimensions: suitability of the learning activity, level of achievement of learning outcomes, and transferability to professional settings. You can adapt the dimensions and/or indicators that you use according to your teaching-learning context and needs. 


Evaluation tool to self-assess the development of skills during the activity

For each of the following statements, select the best answer on a scale from 1 to 4, where 1 means “Not at all” and 4 indicates “Yes, totally”. N/A means “not applicable”.

  1 2 3 4 N/A
DIMENSION 1. Suitability of the learning activity
I found this learning activity adequate in terms of time          
I found this learning activity adequate in terms of resources (material resources, physical space, etc.)          
I found this learning activity adequate in terms of content          
I found this learning activity engaging          
I found this learning activity challenging          
I found this learning activity disruptive in comparison with other learning methodologies          
I found this learning activity useful to learn [add the subject]          
I found this learning activity useful to retain knowledge          
This learning activity motivated me to deepen my knowledge of [add subject or hard skill]          
This learning activity allowed me to feel emotions that would be rather difficult to experience with other learning methodologies          
I would recommend this learning activity to others          
DIMENSION 2. Level of achievement of learning outcomes
This learning activity helped me to improve… 
…my ability to [add a row for each learning outcome of the activity that you performed, both related to hard and transversal skills]          
DIMENSION 3. Transferability to professional settings
After this learning activity…
…I will be better able to apply what I learned to my reality (everyday life, classroom, professional life)          
…I feel more capable to perform in a professional setting          
…I feel I can make better choices regarding professional situations          
…I feel more prepared and self-confident to address professional situations          

OPEN QUESTION – Use this space to explain whatever you think is remarkable from the learning activity, including strengths, weaknesses, improvements, potential uses, feelings or dilemmas you encountered during the activity. 




Download evaluation tool in pdf here.




Some images of the content
Our Score
           Author / Creator

      Eija Raatikainen

      Katriina Rantala-Nenonen

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