This text is an abstract of the book Skill Sheets – an Integrated Approach to Research, Study and Management.
1. Entering a Calculating Learning Environment
At the start of any type of advanced study after high school, you face the challenge of a significant change in attitude. The information load you are facing is often overwhelming; you are expected to study large amounts of material in a disciplined manner, gather information yourself, work together with other students that come from different places (and cultures sometimes) and create new information. With relatively little external control or incentives from the educational institution, the responsibility for personal development and academic achievement rests largely on the individual student.
2. The University as a Positive Learning Environment
So far for the ‘realistic’ scenario. In particular a university environment should be able to make the best out of the bargaining society, provided you are able and willing to effectively apply the four Skill challenges presented in the first section of this chapter. The university can provide excellent preconditions for a continuous and virtuous learning environment. There are five dimensions to this issue: the staff; the library; the free haven function of the university; the peers, and the application of quality standards.
3. The Need for Integrated Skill Development
These are challenging times. Globalisation – induced by technological change and political, cultural and economic integration - is bringing world communities together, but has also severely complicated their management. An “international bargaining society” is materialising (cf. Van Tulder with Van der Zwart, 2006) - a society in which more and more assertive stakeholders are willing and capable of bargaining over the rules of the game and its outcome. As a short introduction of these concepts will illustrate, the present era presents opportunities, but also major threats and challenges. In any case, it necessitates a higher level of skills proficiency than ever before. Luckily this is obtainable for anybody willing to understand and invest in an integrated approach to skill development. This is the approach proposed by the Skill Sheets.