A recently launched extracurricular program will help Florida Gulf Coast University students improve their abilities in the increasingly important area of emotional intelligence.
Students who participate in the program, developed in partnership with Fort Myers-based global company NeoGenomics Laboratories, will earn a digital badge demonstrating their competency in emotional intelligence and understanding of its impact on personal and organizational interactions.
Emotional intelligence is the latest area of focus in FGCU’s growing array of micro-credential programs in which students can earn digital badges as evidence of their proficiency in a variety of transferrable skills, said Aysegul Timur, FGCU’s vice president and vice provost for strategy and program innovation. The micro-credential courses are offered to all FGCU students, regardless of major.
“In higher education, transferrable skills are in our DNA. We teach critical thinking, oral communication, problem solving, written communication, teamwork and more along with the discipline-specific curriculum and campus wide events and co-curricular activities. That’s what we do every day, but we realized the importance of these skills is not always noticed by students and employers,” Timur said.
“Transferrable skills badges are a great way for students to articulate and give examples of how they have developed throughout their college experiences,” she said. “Students can make these skills very visible, and they are able to explain them with specific examples, which gives them a competitive advantage.”
FGCU’s emotional intelligence digital badge program stemmed from ongoing conversations with representatives of NeoGenomics.
The company has been a university partner for several years on a diagnostic molecular training program with the Marieb College of Health & Human Sciences. The cancer diagnostics company also provides scholarships and internships to students and employment opportunities to graduates, said Amy Scott, director of learning and development at NeoGenomics.
“We find our relationship with FGCU very productive, so it was only natural we explore an opportunity to partner on a soft skills project,” Scott said. “Prior to joining Neo, I worked at FGCU and spent all of my time working with students and with employers. When coaching students, it became clear that many students simply had not been told soft skills are just as important as academic knowledge.
“There was no course or module on how to be self-aware and socially aware. From employers, I would hear, ‘We need student candidates who demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills.’ Clearly, there’s a gap. Sometimes I refer to it as ‘the missing curriculum.’”
The newest digital badge program was developed to address “missing curriculum” regarding emotional intelligence, said Matthew Sheep, associate dean and professor of management in the Lutgert College of Business. He designed the extracurricular course with financial support from NeoGenomics.
Sheep described emotional intelligence as a set of learnable competencies grouped into four components: emotional self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.
“Research has shown higher levels of emotional intelligence positively affect personal and professional outcomes that are important to organizations and personal relationships,” he said. “In this course, students select and implement strategies that can increase their degree of emotional intelligence, and in doing so can have positive benefits to their lives and careers.”
Eight FGCU students satisfactorily completed a pilot program conducted last year. Among the students who have earned the emotional intelligence digital badge is Michael Christopher Caputo, a senior in the Department of Integrated Studies who grew up on the outskirts of Washington, D.C.
“I wanted to expand my knowledge of emotional intelligence and see how I would be able to use it in real-world situations. In a world that’s getting more and more automated and computer-driven, I feel it’s important to be able to connect with people in ways that are meaningful,” said Caputo. “Through this program, I was able to be more understanding and empathetic toward others. It gave me actual tools I could use to help me better connect with people. It also helped me to understand better and be more compassionate toward myself as well, especially when dealing with challenges. It was a very valuable program.”
Josephina Ansell, a sophomore from Pittsburgh majoring in psychology with a concentration in neuroscience and cognition and a minor in forensic studies, also has earned the emotional intelligence micro-credential.
“I decided to participate because these digital badges are a free and accessible way for me to add to my resume to make me stand out in internship and grad school applications,” Ansell said.
“I learned a lot about the different aspects of being ‘emotionally intelligent.’ There are way more tools than just thinking before you speak. This badge taught me how important it is to be emotionally responsible in the workplace and in my personal life,” she said. “FGCU offers several free and easy programs that will provide you with skills to progress in your professional development. I highly recommend taking advantage of these programs to set yourself apart from other applicants in future endeavors.”
- For more information, visit the program website