3 Relational Skills Students Can Practice Through Project-Based Learning

Last week I wrote about the importance of relational skills. Excellence in building relationships and community rarely happens by accident. It takes practice. Near the end of that article I mentioned how Ascend Teams were a safe place for students to practice the skills of building community. 

Let’s dig deeper into that here.

Ascend Teams are a built-in way for students to learn and practice the relational skills they are learning through the program content. Ascend students get leadership and life skills training in addition to their academics. And true to the project-based learning model that characterizes Ascend, students have opportunities to actually practice what they learn.

Students in the Ascend program practice three relational skills on a regular basis:


Through the Signature Leadership Courses, taught by Dr. Jeff Myers, students learn how to effectively coach someone through a challenge or decision. 

This does not mean that the coach makes the decision or even gives advice. Coaching is a unique skill that requires active listening and thoughtful questions. The goal is to help the other person work through their own challenge by asking pointed questions that help them consider things with a fresh perspective.

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Ascend students practice peer coaching. They learn how to coach others in the context of their Teams and also benefit from being coached by their fellow students.


Staying on track with goals is harder to do alone. That’s why accountability is an important relational skill. Especially in a project-based learning model, this skill can be practiced naturally as progress is tracked and evaluated.

Ascend students have a project, which requires work. They help each other manage the work by practicing accountability. 

This is more than just “checking in” to see if things are getting done. Excellent accountability recognizes that progress is important but that someone’s values should determine their priorities. Having grace for less-productive days is an important balance.

Whether it’s practiced in a career or faith community, accountability is a nuanced skill that can powerfully empower people to make progress on their goals and priorities.


While it’s tremendously helpful to receive peer coaching and accountability some days we just need to be encouraged. 

Life isn’t perfect. Failure is a part of life. There are hard days.

A student who learns why, how, and when to encourage others in their endeavors is mastering an essential relational skill.

Ascend Teams also incorporate encouragement. And not just on the hard days. Encouragement also includes celebrating the victories as much as comforting the letdowns.

Learn and Practice Essential Skills

These are just a few of the many important relational skills that will serve students as they walk through life. And we’re always learning. But Ascend’s unique project-based learning model enables students to practice what they learn.

Ascend helps students prepare for real life, not just the classroom. On top of academic courses for college credit, Ascend students get training in Christian leadership, life skills, and the chance to apply what they learn in the real world. 

Apply before June 30th and receive $250 towards your remote learning setup.