Soft Skills Training Program Based on Serious Games
2. SSTP: The Soft Skills Training Program Based on Serious Games
2.1. Soft Skills
- Politics”: “personal (self-awareness, leadership), social (conflict management, customer/user orientation), and methodological (adaptability to change).
- Strategy”: “personal (entrepreneurship, tolerance to stress), social (contact network, culture adaptability), and methodological (results orientation, continuous improvement).
- Organization”: “social (communication, negotiation, teamwork) and methodological (planning, analysis skills, management skills, research and information management skills).
- Ethics”: “personal (commitment, learning skills, life balance), social (people development), and methodological (decision making, creativity and innovation).
- “Interacting in socially heterogeneous groups: “the ability to relate well with others, to cooperate, and to manage and resolve conflicts, especially in pluralistic and multicultural societies”.
- “Acting autonomously: “the key competencies that enable individuals to manage their lives in a meaningful and responsible way, exercising control over their living and working conditions”.
- “Interactive use of tools: in response to the various social changes in modern society, mastery of sociocultural tools “such as language, information, and knowledge, as well as physical tools such as computers” is required.
- “Instrumental: “cognitive, methodological, technological, and linguistic skills”.
- “Interpersonal: “individual skills such as social skills (social interaction and cooperation)”.
- “Systemic: “capabilities and skills related to whole systems”.
- Information: “information as a source and information as a product”.
- Communication: “effective communication and collaboration and virtual interaction”.
- Ethics: “responsibility and social impact”.
- Curiosity and problem solving,
- Creativity and open-mindedness,
- Adaptability to change,
- Results orientation.
- Instrumental” includes (1) capacity of analysis and synthesis, (2) capacity of organization and planning, (3) oral and written communication in the native language, (4) knowledge of a foreign language, (5) computer knowledge related to the field of study, (6) capacity of information management, (7) problem solving, and (8) decision making.
- Personal” comprises (9) teamwork, (10) interdisciplinary teamwork, (11) work in an international context, (12) intrapersonal skills, (13) interpersonal skills, (14) acknowledgement of multicultural diversity (15) critical thinking, and (16) ethical commitment.
- Systemic” covers (17) autonomous learning, (18) adaptation to new situations, (19) creativity, (20) leadership, (21) knowledge of other cultures and customs, (22) entrepreneurial effort and spirit, (23) motivation for quality, and (24) environmental sensitivity.
- “1.1.1. Academic self-concept”: individual’s perception of the quality of their role performance, both as a student and as a worker.
- “1.1.2. Emotional self-concept”: A person’s perception of their emotional state and responses to specific situations, with a certain degree of commitment and involvement in their daily life.
- “1.1.3. Social self-concept”: Own perception of their performance in social relationships.
- “1.1.4. Family self-concept”: Own perception of involvement, participation, and involvement in the family environment.
- “1.1.5. Physical self-concept”: Own perception of their physical appearance and physical condition.
- “1.2.1. Volatility”: control of the states of stress associated with the emotional experience.
- “1.2.2. Withdrawal”: maintaining control of one’s own behavior even in situations of discomfort, conflict, and danger.
- “2.1.1 Adopting perspectives”: intellectual and imaginative ability to put oneself in the place of another person.
- “2.1.2 Understanding emotions”: ability to recognize and understand the emotional states, intentions, and impressions of others.
- “2.2.1 Assertiveness”: ability to assert oneself, stand out, and assert one’s influence over others.
- “3.1.1 Openness”: the ability to consider everything from different perspectives and openness to different values, styles, lifestyles, and cultures, i.e., from open-mindedness to novelty.
- “3.2.1 Industriousness”: reliability, meticulousness, and love for order.
- “3.2.2 Orderliness”: the persistence and tenacity with which tasks and activities undertaken are carried out, and not failing to deliver on promises.
- “4.1.1 Kindness”: attitude of caring for those who are suffering, and a desire to support those in need.
- “4.1.2 Common humanity”: ability to recognize that all people suffer and a sense of connection with those who suffer.
- “4.1.3 Engagement”: ability to maintain a balance between perceiving, but not being drawn into, the suffering of others, as well as listening and paying attention to others when they suffer.
- “4.1.4 Indifference”: attitude of ignoring those who are suffering, and the absence of desire to support those who need it.
- “4.1.5 Separation”: tendency to ignore the difficulties felt by other people, exalting one’s own in comparison.
- “4.1.6 Disengagement”: inability to perceive the suffering of others.
- “4.2.1 Idealism”: tendency to consider that the ethics of an action depends directly on the harm that this action may cause to any living being.
- “4.2.2 Relativism”: tendency to consider that ethical factors have a variable importance depending on the situation or culture in which they occur.
2.2. Appraisal Tests and Indicators
- Big Five Questionnaire (BFQ) : this questionnaire includes a personality test that measures five major factors: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness/intellect. Each of the five factors also has two subfactors that allow us to measure the MicroSoftSkills with greater precision.
- The Test of Cognitive and Emotional Empathy (TCAE) [70,71]: this test measures the degree of empathy of a subject, in its cognitive and emotional components. In addition, it gives an overall score of the individual’s empathy and allows us to make predictions about their behavior in an emotional situation.
2.3. Serious Games
- Gamestorming: this technique  is based on a set of games that enhance innovation in the company. Each game is composed of three main stages: opening, exploration, and closing. Opening is characterized by divergent thinking, exploration is characterized by an emergent approach with multiple paths, and closing is characterized by a convergent perspective.
- Board game: this approach has a board game format, in which different participants move around the board performing various activities.
- Game 1: Paradoxical Thinking . The first game focuses on the MacroSoftSkill “SS1. Intrapersonal” and the MesoSoftSkills “1.1. Self- Knowledge”.
- Open: “Hero and Villain”, in which participants discover through a creative process their different positive and negative personal characteristics in a humorous and simple way.
- Explore: “Through Their Eyes”, in which participants are able to go deeper into their own characteristics found in “paradoxical lists”, in which the participants searched for the paradox that most defined them.
- Close: “Relative Paradox”, in which participants broaden their perception of their own paradox and deepen their knowledge of their positive and negative personal characteristics, so that they can use them as tools for conscious work performance.
- Game 2: Emotions. The second game trains MacroSoftSkill “SS1. Intrapersonal” and the MesoSoftSkills of “1.2. Self-Management”.
- Open: “Eye Dance” , in which the participants learn to reach a state of relaxation through the mastery of the tension–distension of the optic nerve.
- Explore: “Conscious Breathing” , in which the participants learn to concentrate their attention only on the physical sensations caused by their own breathing, leaving all thoughts out of their attentional focus, with subsequent relaxation.
- Close: “Body Scanner” , in which participants identify the different sensations throughout their body, with subsequent relaxation.
- Game 3: Growing in Mindfulness. The third game jointly trains MacroSoftSkill “SS1. Intrapersonal” and the MesoSoftSkills of “1.2. Self-Management”, as well as MacroSoftSkill “SS2. Interpersonal” and the MesoSoftSkills of “2.1. Empathy”.
- “Growing in Mindfulness” is a boardgame created by group of psychologists led by M. Delgado-Rios in 2018, with the objective of favoring the practice of mindfulness in an attractive way, facilitating experiences that increase emotional regulation, self-knowledge, and compassion.
- Game 4: Trust. The fourth game trains MacroSoftSkill “SS2. Interpersonal” and the MesoSoftSkills of “2.2. Influence”.
- Open: “Body Leadership” , with the aim of making participants aware of their body and how their different body positions can generate one impression or another on others, perceiving us as more or less dominant and facilitating or hindering their collaboration.
- Explore: “Body Rapport” (adapted from ), in which participants learn how to use the technique of mirroring their interlocutor to achieve an optimal connection with themselves and facilitate collaboration and trust between both parties.
- Close: “Game of Trust” (adapted from ), in which participants experience firsthand the effect of trusting and being trusted by others.
- Game 5: Ikigai . The fifth game trains MacroSoftSkill “SS3. Personal Social Responsibility” and the MesoSoftSkills of “3.1. Strategic Mindset”.
- Open: “I Know My Purpose in Life”, in which participants have to weave together the four concepts related to a full sense of life: what they like, what they can get paid for, what they are good at doing, and what the world needs.
- Explore: “Share My Purpose”, in which the participants share the answers they were individually given in the open part of the game.
- Close: “Activate My Life Purpose”, in which the participants make a mind map where they project how they are going to execute their life purpose.
- Game 6: Planning by Scenarios. The sixth game trains MacroSoftSkill “SS3. Personal Social Responsibility” and the MesoSoftSkills of “3.1. Strategic Mindset” and “3.2. Conscientiousness”.
- Explore: “Planning by Scenarios” , in which the participants learn to analyze a vital situation strategically, managing the uncertainty of different possible scenarios and establishing indicators to pivot their strategy from one scenario to another in an optimal way.
- Close: “Meticulous Attention” (adapted from the serious game “Objets Entérmélés à Identifier” ), in which participants develop their level of attention and detail through various exercises of visual perception and selective attention.
- Game 7: Compassion. The seventh game trains MacroSoftSkill “SS4. Organizational Sustainability” and its MesoSoftSkills “4.1. Compassion”.
- Open: “Observing Compassion at the Workplace”, in which participants watch one documentary: “Chade-Meng Tan- Everyday compassion at Google” .
- Explore: “What Do You Think”, in which participants are divided into three groups and asked to discuss the following questions: How would you define compassion? How do you experience compassion? How compassionate do you consider yourself? Do you think compassion is a profitable soft skill for the company? Why?
- Close: “Compassion at the Workplace”, in which participants learn the value of compassion and its application to achieving goals at the workplace.
- Game 8: Morality. The eighth game trains MacroSoftSkill “SS4. Organizational Sustainability” and its MesoSoftSkills “4.2. Morality”.
- Open: “Marlene’s Story” , in which the participants are given a text to discuss. The objective is to invite participants to make an in-depth reflection and a series of ethical judgments about Marlene’s fictional story.
- Explore: “Debate”, in which the participants discuss the moral dilemma posed by the text in small groups and then reach a consensus with the whole group and come to a conclusion.
- Close: “Understanding Marlene?”, in which each participant provides an in-depth thought and a series of ethical judgments about Marlene’s fictional story.
2.4. The Sessions of the Program
- Session 0: Appraisal tests before the training begins
- Session 1: “Paradoxical Thinking”
- Session 2: “Emotions”
- Session 3: “Growing in Mindfulness”
- Session 4: “Trust”
- Session 5: “Ikigai”
- Session 6: “Planning by scenarios”
- Session 7: “Compassion” and “Morality”
- Session 8: Appraisal tests after the training ends
3. The Pilot Study
3.1. Recruitment of Participants
- Document on data protection, in which they gave their consent to cede their data for the research and expressly allowed such data to be used for a study that would be published later (the data would in any case be aggregated and never individualized), as well as for the preparation of a personalized soft skills report in which, once the study was completed, each participant would be presented with their individual results of the PRE and POST evaluations, a quantification of their improvement, and a training proposal to continue improving soft skills on their own.
- Commitment document, in which the participants signed that they would perform all the PRE and POST evaluations and be committed to participate in all the training sessions of the program, without missing any.
3.2. Soft Skills Measurement before Training
3.3. Soft Skills Training
3.4. Soft Skills Measurement after Training
4.1. Overall Results
4.2. By Gender
4.3. By Center
4.4. By Gender and Center
5. Discussion and Conclusions
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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Sutil-Martín, D.L.; Otamendi, F.J. Soft Skills Training Program Based on Serious Games. Sustainability 2021, 13, 8582. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158582
Sutil-Martín DL, Otamendi FJ. Soft Skills Training Program Based on Serious Games. Sustainability. 2021; 13(15):8582. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158582Chicago/Turabian Style
Sutil-Martín, Dolores Lucía, and F. Javier Otamendi. 2021. "Soft Skills Training Program Based on Serious Games" Sustainability 13, no. 15: 8582. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158582