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Assessing 21st Century Skills: Summary of a Workshop

Abstract

"The routine jobs of yesterday are being replaced by technology and/or shipped off-shore. In their place, job categories that require knowledge management, abstract reasoning, and personal services seem to be growing. The modern workplace requires workers to have broad cognitive and affective skills. Often referred to as "21st century skills," these skills include being able to solve complex problems, to think critically about tasks, to effectively communicate with people from a variety of different cultures and using a variety of different techniques, to work in collaboration with others, to adapt to rapidly changing environments and conditions for performing tasks, to effectively manage one's work, and to acquire new skills and information on one's own.

The National Research Council (NRC) has convened two prior workshops on the topic of 21st century skills, in 2007 and in 2009. This third workshop was intended to delve more deeply into the topic of assessment. The goal for this workshop was to capitalize on the prior efforts and explore strategies for assessing the five skills identified earlier. The Committee on the Assessment of 21st Century Skills was asked to organize a workshop that reviewed the assessments and related research for each of the five skills identified at the previous workshops, with special attention to recent developments in technology-enabled assessment of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. In designing the workshop, the committee collapsed the five skills into three broad clusters as shown below:
  • Cognitive skills: nonroutine problem solving, critical thinking, systems thinking
  • Interpersonal skills: complex communication, social skills, team-work, cultural sensitivity, dealing with diversity
  • Intrapersonal skills: self-management, time management, self-development, self-regulation, adaptability, executive functioning
Assessing 21st Century Skills provides an integrated summary of the presentations and discussions from both parts of the third workshop."

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