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Improving Social Competence via e-Learning?

The Example of Human Rights Education

Sandra Reitz

This book analyses whether improving social competence via e-learning is possible at all. Therefore, an e-learning program for human rights education is developed and evaluated with pre- and post-tests. Social competences as well as human rights education are often divided into areas of «cognition», «attitudes» and «behaviour». In order to achieve the pedagogical goals, all three areas have to be considered. In contrast to the cognitive area, the attitudinal and behavioral areas pose a particular challenge: so far, hardly any programs exist that explicitly consider these areas – most e-learning programs focus on the dissemination of knowledge. Thanks to the participation of over one hundred learners, some generalizing conclusions can be drawn from this program.


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2 Social Competence


“If we were to wake up some morning and find that everyone was the same race, creed and col- or, we would find some other cause for preju- dice by noon.” - George D. Aiken (1892-1984) The term 'social competence' is gaining more and more importance in today's discussions relating both to private and business life such as in the handbook “The Way to Social Competence in Seven Days”2. Social competence is often mentioned as a prerequisite in job adverts and even in the personal columns. A 1994 survey showed that 61% of 111 companies required social skills for their open positions,3 a number which is likely to have increased in the meantime due to the fact the social competence seems to have become a buzzword. Another survey conducted by Rost showed that 72% of her interview partners agreed to the statement “Social competence gains importance in the selection of person- nel”, whereas 0% agreed to the statement “The importance of social competence is being overestimated”.4 This consensus about the enormous significance of social competence is as striking as the disagreement about what exactly is to be understood by it. Some critical authors go as far as stating that the interpretation of the term is delibe- rate.5 In the following sub-chapters, a working definition for the term social competence will be phrased (2.1), including sub-components such as empathy or tolerance (2.2). A short overview of the history of social competence and related terms will be given (2.3)...

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