How Are We Different?

Fostering Emotional Intelligence

The SPSC program recognizes the need to develop emotional intelligence as much as technical ability.

The concept of emotional intelligence gained prominence in the 90s. This was the decade when the College, as a whole, really started to look beyond content-based learning as its teaching method. As part of this effort, alternative approaches, such as competency-based learning (read more here), were adopted on a college-wide scale. There was increased focus on self-directed learning and self-concept development; the importance of fostering emotional intelligence in students also gained traction as part of this initiative.

The SPSC department was a leading figure in integrating emotional intelligence into its courses. This is no surprise – the nature of the SPSC discipline (teaching, coaching, etc.) requires its students to be fluent in interpersonal communication and maintaining authentic relationships. Initially, the faculty took inspiration from the close-knit nature of the Coaching Diploma program (established in 1994). This program comprised of a small group of students that essentially went lock-step through the years (as opposed to the larger SPSC program, where students met each other in more scattered classes and instances).

Observing the process of relationship building, cooperation, and conflict resolution skills that developed within this cohort, the faculty recognized the benefits of building such a skill set into the larger SPSC program. As a result, they began introducing emotional intelligence into the curriculum at large, with the hope that its incorporation would develop well-rounded students who were technically and emotionally capable when they go into their respective fields.

An Innovative Approach

Unlike other institutions at the time, the SPSC department took an unique approach in promoting emotional intelligence. Each semester, the faculty took a few hours from various courses and used that time to focus on relationship building and teaching emotional intelligence. They felt that strengthening this particular skill set, rather than continuously drilling lecture-based content, would be much more effective in bolstering student learning.

“[W]e…said: ‘Wait a minute now: what if we were to take a few hours each semester from a number of courses and focused on our relationship-building, our emotional intelligence concepts – wouldn’t we have, then, students who are more efficient…[and] capable at learning?’”

Tim Frick, on how the department promoted emotional intelligence

“It was a bit radical to say: ‘You know what? We’re going to sacrifice an hour or two here and there of this valuable content time…and…[instead] build relationships, and help people…work together so they can learn more efficiently’ – and I think it worked.”

Tim Frick, on the success of the approach

Prominence Today

The concept of emotional intelligence continues to be implemented in SPSC curriculum today. BPEC’s Fieldwork, especially, aims to promote the development of emotional intelligence (alongside learn-by-doing). Knowing it is critical for students, as future coaches and mentors, to develop personal and social responsibility (which stems from emotional intelligence), Fieldwork becomes an opportunity where they can foster these skills: relationship management, self-management, and ultimately, career management.

Read more about Fieldwork here.