Teaching and Assessing Transferable Skills in STEM Classes

Teaching and Assessing Transferable Skills in STEM Classes

Erica Wehrwein and John Zubek

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

11:15 - 1:00 (Lunch at 11:15, program starts at 11:30)

Biomedical and Physical Sciences (BPS), room 1425


An often ignored part of a holistic education program is the development of “soft skills” and “transferable skills” that will help our students with employment and career success. Regardless of career path, characteristics such teamwork, thinking critically, sound ethics and communication are important for success. Since college instructors are often a gateway to a student’s first career job, it is important that we understand our role in their professional development. In this presentation, we will explain why professionalism and transferable skills are important to teach, possible to incorporate, and assessable in a wide variety of college classroom types and sizes. Our focus will be sharing our experiences incorporating professional skills development into Physiology courses but the ideas are broadly applicable to other STEM courses and disciplines.


Erica Wehrwein, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Physiology at Michigan State University. She is active in teaching, service, and mentoring with students at the graduate/professional, undergraduate, and K-12 levels. She has won numerous awards for her teaching, research, and service. Dr. Wehrwein serves as the Course Director for PSL 475 Capstone Laboratory in Physiology where she embeds transferable and professional skills development. She has been active on national disciplinary education committees for the past 13 years including Physiology Trainee Advisory Committee, Career Opportunities in Physiology Committee, Professional Skills Course Task Force, American Physiological Society strategic planning task force, and others. In 2014, she co-founded and now serves as director for a national consortium of Physiology Undergraduate Programs called P-MIG (Physiology Majors Interest Group) where she works on setting national curricular guidelines for pre-health majors in Physiology degree programs, including incorporation of professional skills training in undergraduate programs.

John Zubek PT, MS, DPT is an Assistant Professor of Physiology at Michigan State University. He serves as the Course Director for PSL 311L- Physiology Laboratory for Pre-Health Professionals. He has been teaching college level courses since 1999, is a licensed Physical Therapist, and continues to work with patients in both an inpatient and outpatient clinical setting. His particular interests lie in infusing professional skills as part of a holistic laboratory curriculum.

Video of Workshop