Nurturing holistic development of university students: The role of non-cognitive skills

Daniel TL Shek, Chingchit Chau, Kaiji Zhou, Kar Man Carman Chu, Kar Yan Chu, Aitong Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


With the transformation of the global economy from the industrial economy to the service economy, expectations about the desired graduate student attributes have also changed. Besides simply expecting young people to get good grades from their studies (i.e., development of intellectual, cognitive, or "hard" skills), there is also a call to focus on the holistic development of university students, particularly nurturance of their non intellectual skills, non-cognitive, or "soft" skills. In this paper, we outline several conceptual models of non-cognitive or soft skills in young people, including models of non-cognitive skills, transversal skills, transferable skills, and multiple intelligence skills. We highlight several observations about these models, particularly concerning our vision of youth development, youth empowerment, and teaching and learning soft skills. Finally, we discuss the role of soft skills in nurturing holistic university student development in the higher education sector in Hong Kong.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-122
JournalInternational Journal of Child and Adolescent Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • University students
  • holistic development
  • non-cognitive factors
  • soft skills
  • higher education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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