Today’s employers are increasingly seeking employees with 21st-century skills. With the rising number of graduates, stakes are higher—so universities need to instil these skills in their students early on to give them the best chance at success.
Learning agility is one of these critical skills. In this article, we’ll discuss what learning agility is, why employees value it so highly, and how you can develop the skill in your students.
What is learning agility?
Learning agility describes a person’s ability to quickly learn new skills and adapt to changing situations. To measure learning agility, we need to break it down into smaller metrics.
While there’s no set group of metrics to measure, nine ‘dimensions’ of learning agility are commonly accepted. These dimensions are:
- Performance risk-taking (i.e., seeking new tasks and roles)
- Interpersonal risk-taking (i.e., discussing differences and sharing unique perspectives)
- Information gathering
- Feedback seeking
- Analysing and reflecting
A person with high learning agility is willing to engage in learning, seek out new opportunities, and acquire knowledge that will help them excel in their environment.
Why employers value learning agility
Employers value learning agility because it’s a key predictor of an employee’s leadership potential. Successful leaders must confidently adapt to changes and learn new skills quickly to deliver strong outcomes for their organisation—and motivate others to do the same.
In fact, according to Korn Ferry, managers with high learning agility scores experience promotions twice as often over a ten-year period (compared with less agile employees).
From new software releases to staffing rearrangements, change is unavoidable in the workplace. An exceptional leader will accept these changes with enthusiasm and progress with resilience.
How to develop learning agility in students
Universities and educators now have a responsibility to develop skills like learning agility in students to achieve optimal employment outcomes. There are diverse ways you can approach this goal in the classroom.
The first step is to perform a learning agility assessment. This approach can help you determine students’ current skill levels and identify areas for improvement. Some popular assessments include:
- Harver’s Learning Agility Assessment
- Columbia University’s Learning Agility Assessment Inventory
- IBM’s Learning Agility Assessment Test
One way to build learning agility in students is to encourage them to seek out new learning opportunities independently. You can do this by motivating them to:
- Gather information and brainstorm to discover innovative ideas and solutions
- Take risks and share opinions, even if they differ from the status quo
- Ask questions and make suggestions
- Broaden their perspective through new challenges
- Reflect, alone and in groups, on their learning
- Seek and accept feedback with confidence
Work-integrated learning projects, such as internships, are a fantastic way for students to test their abilities and follow the above points. However, you can incorporate these ideas into all class assignments, tests, tasks, and projects to create an ongoing focus on agile learning.
To sum up
The working world is always changing. Graduates need to be agile, flexible, and determined to keep up. Educators can help students put their best foot forward and impress potential employers by collaborating with students to develop learning agility early on.