Learning in the 21st Century
Assessing Projects is a resource designed for those committed to a learner-centred classroom and who want to enhance instruction in 21st Century skills. It provides descriptions of how these skills look in a variety of contexts and how different assessments can be adapted for use by teachers and learners to assess their own thinking and the thinking of peers.
Learners entering adulthood in the 21st Century face tasks and challenges unimagined by their ancestors. Confronting a never-ending supply of digital devices and overwhelming amounts of information, individuals in today’s society must be proficient in a variety of skills and strategies that were not critical for their grandparents’ success. These 21st Century skills include:
- Accountability and Adaptability — Exercising personal responsibility and flexibility in personal, workplace, and community contexts; setting and meeting high standards and goals for one's self and others, tolerating ambiguity
- Communication Skills — Understanding, managing, and creating effective oral, written, and multimedia communication in a variety of forms and contexts
- Creativity and Intellectual Curiosity — Developing, implementing, and communicating new ideas to others, staying open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives
- Critical Thinking and Systems Thinking — Exercising sound reasoning in understanding and making complex choices, understanding the interconnections among systems
- Information and Media Literacy Skills — Analyzing, accessing, managing, integrating, evaluating, and creating information in a variety of forms and media
- Interpersonal and Collaborative Skills — Demonstrating teamwork and leadership; adapting to varied roles and responsibilities; working productively with others; exercising empathy; respecting diverse perspectives
- Problem Identification, Formulation, and Solution — Ability to frame, analyze, and solve problems
- Self-Direction — Monitoring one's own understanding and learning needs, locating appropriate resources, transferring learning from one domain to another
- Social Responsibility — Acting responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind; demonstrating ethical behaviour in personal, workplace, and community contexts
Unfortunately, schools are not as effective as they could be at helping learners develop these skills. Many of today’s teachers have had minimal preparation in explicit strategies for teaching thinking and other 21st Century skills, and even though they may be highly proficient in their own use of these skills, they often lack awareness of their own thinking processes and those of others. Assessing Projects can help teachers target the teaching, learning and assessment of their learners’ thinking in ways that help them grow as thinkers and learners.
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