Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Elizabeth A. Bruch


The focus of this study was a problem identified by human resources directors and managers in a medium sized community in the southeast of the United States. The problem was that some college graduates are not equipped with the necessary soft skills to be successful in the workforce. Executive directors and human resources managers brought this problem to the attention of the career center directors in the community. Goleman's theory of emotional intelligence was the theoretical framework to ground this study. This study involved purposeful sampling to select 9 human resources directors from local companies. To investigate soft skills in college graduates, these 9 human resources directors and managers responded to a semi structured interview with questions focusing on the problem of the study. Once the interviews were transcribed, the information was analyzed by using manual coding and computer-assisted coding. Among the 6 themes that emerged from the data analysis, participants most often pointed out communications as the most important soft skill and the foundation for other skills. From the perspective of human resources directors and managers, soft skills were found to be lacking in some college graduates. There was a consensus among the participants of the study that higher education leaders need to incorporate different approaches to teach skills; therefore, a 24-hour professional development program for faculty was developed as a solution for improving the learning of soft skills of college students. The social change expected from having well-equipped college graduates with soft skills will be more successful professionals with better opportunities to have upward mobility, and more meaningful careers that will benefit their families and their organizations.