What Research Says About Wayfinder’s 6 Core Skills and How They Affect Employability

5 Jan

Aligned with the five CASEL competencies and Common Core State Standards, all Wayfinder social emotional learning curriculum is structured around our Six Core Skills: self-awareness, adaptability, empathy, collaboration, agency, and purpose. Lessons and modules are vertically aligned to support students to build these skills through developmentally appropriate activities over the course of their K-12 experience.

Teaching of our Core Skills fosters both social emotional learning and the building of proactive habits of mind. Our Core Skills are connected to and grounded in students’ real-world experiences to help them better move through their lives with purpose.

  • Adaptability - Students are willing to try again when they make mistakes and are comfortable navigating uncertain situations with flexibility and openness. Adaptability is key to navigating uncertainty. It helps support students’ mental health and professional readiness. Future professionals who can maintain self-efficacy when faced with new demands and challenges will be those most poised to succeed. The importance of adaptability will only increase as the workforce continues to change and develop.
  • Empathy - Students are in tune with the feelings and needs of others and willing to act for a common good. Empathy supports healthy relationship-building, which in turn helps create supportive working environments conducive to productivity. In an increasingly globalized workforce, empathy is also important for navigating professional interactions across differences in cultural and organizational practices. It is important for the success of multigenerational workforces and has been shown to improve outcomes in fields like engineering. Empathy is also an important component to ensure businesses grow more environmentally conscious.
  • Agency - Students understand the value of their voices and seek opportunities to support and advance their communities. Agency is believed to be the driving force behind self-motivation and satisfaction—important for both student engagement and employee success. Conversely, a lack of agency in the workplace contributes to anxiety, which reduces productivity and performance. When young people acknowledge and harness their individual agency, they develop skills that empower them in their learning and make them effective in their future professional lives.
  • Purpose - Students’ decisions and interactions with the world are guided by a deep connection to their values. Purpose is important both for entering the workforce with intention and growing successfully as a professional. Seventy percent of people report defining their purpose through work, and it is expected that purpose-driven work will continue to become more common in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. People with purpose are able to align their skills and values with their work, making them more engaged and motivated employees. Purposeful organization leaders are better able to navigate market disruption, and employees are more resilient when faced with work-related stressors. Guiding young people to develop purpose can help them find work and career paths that bring them personal satisfaction and continue to grow and succeed in their fields.

Each of these future-ready skills supports students in their learning as well as their path toward becoming well prepared for their lives after graduation. In particular, purpose puts awareness into action—it gives students a way to apply their social-emotional learning to a tangible exploration of ways they can make a difference in their communities and the world at large.

Director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence and Wayfinder advisory board member Dr. Bill Damon emphasizes that purpose learning is imperative in K-12 education: 

The most common problem for young people growing up today isn’t actually stress, it's meaninglessness.
Purpose is the preeminent long-term motivator of learning and achievement. Any school that fails to encourage purpose among its students risks becoming irrelevant for the choices those students will make in their lives. Schools that encourage purpose will see their students become energized, diligent, and resilient in the face of challenges and obstacles.

Download our full white paper Putting SEL to Work here to learn more about how SEL and Wayfinder are helping students thrive personally, achieve academically, and build the skills employers are looking for.