Skills Builder + Persona Life Skills webinar report
On the 9th February 2022, Skills Builder and Persona Education presented a joint webinar to educators across the globe, to demonstrate how the Persona Life Skills online social-emotional learning platform integrates the Skills Builder framework, enhancing impact for secondary students and opening up new resources for teachers. This blog is a summary of the presentation by Persona Education's Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Dr Leila Khouja Walker.
By Dr Leila Khouja Walker, Chief Product Officer
What problems do our young people face in today’s world?
Even before the pandemic self reported wellbeing was shown to fall by over 20% from age 8 to age 16, and for girls it is a greater decline of 26%. Then more recently, a major global OECD report confirmed previous research, showing 15 year-olds reporting significantly lower social-emotional skills than 10 year-olds.
A fall in wellbeing results in less agency and purpose, poorer academic attainment – all leading to lower employability and job satisfaction. And it is this critical need for better employability skills in today’s job market that brings Persona Education and Skills Builder together.
How can we raise wellbeing and employability among young people?
So change is clearly needed. That’s why Persona Education developed a theory of change to buck this disturbing global trend, through a new approach. Our pedagogy starts by preparing students for social-emotional learning by discovering their own mix of personality styles.
The Persona theory of change
Aristotle said in 300 BC, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Makes sense doesn’t it? If you are to develop and successfully apply life skills, such as respect, effective teamwork and resilience, then the starting point needs to be understanding ‘self’ first. Using our online platform Persona Life Skills, students learn life skills that help them adapt their thinking, communication and behaviour to achieve more positive outcomes in social, learning and work situations.
Let’s now circle back to Skills Builder and their eight essential skills for employability.
The Skills Builder eight essential skills
Image: Skills Builder
These days, our work lives often overlap with our social lives, and our employers expect their workforce to become lifelong learners. An adaptable workforce is a highly prized entity in today’s competitive world. By focusing on the skills required for employment via Skills Builder’s online platform, and the social and emotional skills required for workplace happiness and success with Persona Life Skills – young people are much better equipped to enter the workforce.
Persona's six Skillsets and 22 social-emotional Life Skills
How do teenagers think, communicate and behave?
Let me spend a couple of minutes just explaining in more detail our unique Persona thinking framework, created for teenagers and with teenagers.
We use four Persona styles – derived from observing two fundamental aspects of human behaviour: Assertiveness (do you tend to ask questions or make statements?), and Responsiveness (are you more people focused or more task focused?).
Persona's personality styles framework
The example shown here is a young person who has a main Persona style of 'Animated', however other styles do play a part at times.
Example of Persona Life Skills personality insights output
Students are given details about their unique mix of personality styles, including strengths and growth areas to consider. Importantly, we provide students this information in three different contexts – social, learning and work. Someone's unique mix of personality styles is likely to be different in each of these settings. Here is a flavour of the insights we provide.
Example of Persona Life Skills personalised growth areas
Again, here is how Persona Life Skills complements the goal of Skills Builder. Students get to see their Persona focus mapped alongside their classmates.
Example of Persona Life Skills personality focus community map
This bubble diagram helps young people to understand that we all have a unique mix of personality styles – and that we should consider how best to communicate and behave with others, in order to make better decisions. This community or class map mirrors the workplace. With any employee needing to understand their colleagues' unique mix of personality styles so they are able to adapt in order to get the best results.”
How can students using Persona Life Skills best make use of Skills Builder?
Persona's 22 life skills are mapped against Skills Builder's eight essential skills.
Following on from taking the Persona personality insights quiz, students explore a series of learning modules. Our longer learning modules focus on a particular life challenge, such as preparing for exams, dealing with the unexpected, or even preparing for your first interview or first job – all the while developing three of the our 22 life skills.
These longer modules (called 'Islands') are mapped against any relevant Skills Builder essential skills. This mapping is available in the platform for any teacher to view. So they can clearly see which Persona skills and Skills Builder skills their students are covering in each module.
Persona Life Skills learning modules mapping against Skills Builder
Our shorter learning modules ('My Guided Tours') – each focusing on one single life skill – are also mapped to the Skills Builder essential skills, guiding students via online links to the relevant Skills Builder website pages, so they can continue to build that particular skill if they want to, within the same learning session.
Because the Persona Life Skills platform collects student feedback, both through assessment questions and self-reporting, schools can access data for individual students, and groups, on progress made in each of the life skills studied.
How can schools with non-specialist teachers and limited time still benefit?
Persona Life Skills is designed to help schools address the lack of specialist SEL and specialist teachers, limited curriculum time, and teacher workload. Schools can track impact in their dashboard. And we already have two years worth of learning content, with more in the pipeline, and we will soon be introducing digital skill badges and certificates so students can share their achievements with potential employers. In addition, the ability to create individual student report cards will be available soon.
What are the students saying about Persona Life Skills?
Our feedback has been really encouraging, with 91% of students reporting they learnt how to improve the targeted life skills.
And now in partnership with Skills Builder, your students can further deepen the essential skills that employers are looking for in today’s economy.
Persona Education offers a free version of its Persona Life Skills online learning platform for secondary schools and colleges interested in developing their students’ social-emotional skills to boost wellbeing and employability, including a 90 day free trial of paid subscription content and features.
About the author: Dr Leila Khouja Walker has been working in the education sector for 25 years. An ex-teacher and pastoral deputy head, she is now a respected edtech and pedagogy thought leader, leading development of the personality insights life skills e-learning app Persona Life Skills, at the Bristol based edtech company Persona Education Ltd. www.persona-life.com