Workshop Title:

Soft Skills Development Is Crucial in Higher Education Learning: The Essence of Critical Writing


August 1st, 2023 (GMT+1)


Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences, Birmingham City University


  • Communication
  • Critical Writing
  • Higher Education
  • Soft Skills
  • Students

Workshop Chair:

Dr. Chinny Nzekwe-Excel
Associate Professor in Birmingham City University

Personal Bio:

Dr. Chinny Nzekwe-Excel is an experienced academic with significant subject expertise in the broad areas of Management Development Initiatives & Repositioning Strategies; International Business; Leadership Concepts; Operations Management Research; Teaching & Learning Innovations; Work-based Learning; and Construction Management. She is also a Statistics Expert; a Senior Fellow of the Advance Higher Education, UK; a Certified Management & Business Educator; and a Leadership and Management Professional.

Chinny is an Associate Professor in Enterprise and Corporate Development. She is the Program Director of the Help to Grow Management, and the Program Director of the Senior Leader Apprenticeship at Birmingham City University, UK. She has strategic involvements with wider & global higher education platforms and has published well over 50 research outputs in leading academic journals & conference/ scholarly networks.

Chinny's research outputs have continued to gain wide attention and international recognition including the Highly Commended Emeralds Literati Networks award. She serves as an editor and a reviewer in several peer-reviewed journals including the Built Environment, Project & Asset Management; Innovations in Education and Teaching Journal; International Journal of Learning; Research & Development, Science Publishing Group.

Workshop Description:


Available resources for the infrastructure development in the built environment are vital and research should be carried out systematically to enable improve the technical specifications and durability performances of products that are made from alternative sources, i.e., end-of-life products such as waste bricks, concrete, plastics, tire rubber and glass. Recourse scarcity is going to be a big issue and therefore having secondary raw materials that can technically outperform or perform the same as primary raw materials is of outmost importance. Nzekwe-Excel, C.(2022)Supporting the Learning Experience of International Students: Cross-Team Collaboration and Integrated Practice. The Twenty-ninth International Conference on Learning, University of Valencia, Spain, 13-15 July 2022. Twenty-ninth International Conference on Learning (


Developing critical writing skills in students enables them to get good at thinking and to grow in confidence towards communicating effectively with a wide range of individuals. Indisputably, students' ability to think and express themselves critically (in writing) are required and expected in the workplace setting. As part of the goal on supporting the learning needs of the diversity of students in their higher education study, this research study explored how targeted critical writing sessions created a platform for inclusion, thoughtful interactions, academic integration, and the students' ability to develop valuable employability skills. The research is premised on fostering an inclusive, and progressive learning experience for a multi-cultural student population. Therefore, this research supports inclusive learning environments where students gain their subject knowledge and are concurrently equipped/ prepared to apply fundamental soft/ employability skills.

Scope and Information for Participants

The project, which included both undergraduate and postgraduate students as co researchers, has soft skills development as an underlying principle:

  • Explore how teaching/ academic and support/ professional services staff can be more integrated and closely linked together so as to adequately embrace and promote equality of educational opportunity for our diverse students' population.
  • Assess students' learning in the area of communicating effectively through critical writing.
  • Assess students' ability to effectively navigate module assessment components/ criteria.
  • Examine students' perceptions of key employability skills in relation to the academic/ critical writing provision.
  • Promote the awareness and the development of soft-skills in the curriculum through active involvement of students in publicizing the academic & professional benefits of targeted soft-skills.


The diverse student population in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) brings both enriching benefits and challenges. One of the challenges is the issue of students' ability to confidently communicate and express themselves in writing. Deficiency in academic or critical writing has a direct impact on students' adjustment to higher education study and academic progression. HEIs are recognizing the deficiency of fundamental soft skills in students and so, some are making effort to drive and implement inclusive initiatives aimed at practically developing such skills in the curriculum design and delivery. Precisely, the practice of embedding targeted writing support sessions within subject-disciplines offers an opportunity for students to gradually develop and enhance their writing ability through critical reflections. As part of the goal on supporting the learning needs of the diversity of students in their higher education study, this session is premised on fostering an inclusive, and progressive learning experience for a multi-cultural student population. The session supports inclusive learning environments where students gain their subject knowledge and are concurrently equipped/prepared to apply fundamental soft/ employability skills. The session provides insights on the perceptions of students on the value of the embedded writing sessions, in terms of enhancing their learning engagement and writing ability.

Access to Workshop:

ICEIPI 2023 Workshop -- Birmingham - YouTube


Birmingham City University, 15 Bartholomew Row, Birmingham B5 5JU, UK


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