Skills research

SKILL SHEETS: A Student’s Guide to the International Bargaining Society

When starting any type of advanced study after high-school, you are faced with the challenge of a sizable attitude breach. The information load you are facing is often overwhelming; you are expected to study large amounts of material in a disciplined manner, gather information yourself, work together with other students that come from different places (and cultures sometimes) and create new information. Students are largely self-responsible for their own progress, their achievements, with relatively little external control or incentives from the educational institute. There are no laws forcing you to study and hardly any parents left (or able) to check whether you are doing your ‘homework’. Tutors can enthuse and encourage students to study, but in the end it all comes down to your own intrinsic motivation and your ability to adapt to this new style of learning.
Moreover, academia is less and less a place where in splendid isolation from daily worries, scientists and students work together on searching ‘the truth’ and accumulating knowledge and skills. Academia has become part and parcel of the international bargaining society. Faculty staff member themselves are often engaged in a ‘publish or perish’ rat race and struggling with an increasing and diverse set of claims and activities. Students increasingly bargain over grades, contents and in particular the work load of courses - confronted as they are with an increasing and diverse set of claims and ambitions in a complex society with large choice possibilities.

The Skill Sheets collection is designed as a tool to guide a student through this process of continuous bargaining over the conditions and contents of your learning environment. It supports the student to link the most relevant skills at ever higher levels of mastery and sophistication. The philosophy is that only a holistic approach to skills learning and a high level of mastery of skills can help you to withstand the negative consequences of the bargaining society – including the pervasive pressure you will face to give in to calculating behaviour yourself.
But even the simplest of skills are relatively complex. None of them are solely “product” or “process” oriented. Sometimes the skills are easy to train and master, but more-often they require intensive training throughout longer time periods. To make the skills development process relevant, interesting and rewarding, skills always have to be linked to real research topics and content, otherwise you will only learn a number of ‘tricks’ without substance. So you will have to be able and willing to grasp and deal with complex problems already in a very early phase of your training. The Skill Sheets are designed to support tutors and students around the world in this training process. They identify the basic skills in each of seven skill areas that everybody should/could master and give you very concrete pointers and minimum standards for each skill: study skills, research, (project) management, listening, writing, reading and presentation.
The Skill Sheet approach consists of a basic book and a website. The Skill Sheets book contains a formula that is developed by Rob van Tulder at the RSM Erasmus University. The formula exists since 1995 and is used by thousands of students throughout the whole curriculum of RSM and a number of other universities. In 2004-2006 the Skill Sheets have been upgraded in collaboration with a large number of students, managers and teachers. The loose-leaf system has given way for a book. In the course of 2006 the book will also be accompanied by a website that provides additional Skill Sheets, gives instruction material for tutors and provides links to other relevant skills. For the website and the broader skills approach a new organisation has been created:

Skill Solutions

This organisation supports the further development of skills and helps also non-university organisations to professionalize their own skill development.

Accompanying material

• Entering a calculating learning environment (complete pdf-file, 234kb)
• Table of contents of original Skill Sheets [pdf file]
• Website: (online end of April)
• Examples of Skill Sheets:
o Research Skills – Research as Barter Trade [pdf file]
o Study Skills Bad time management: [pdf file]
• For more information on the Skill Sheets project and on how to order: and