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21st Century Skills for All: Adults and Problem Solving in Technology Rich Environments

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The current Information Society requires new skills for personal, labor and social inclusion. Among the so-called 21st Century Skills (Care, Griffin & Wilson 2018) is Problem Solving in Technology Rich Environments (PS-TRE), a skill evaluated in PISA and PIAAC tests (OECD 2016). This skill, although currently receiving considerable attention in compulsory education, has not received the same level of thought in adult education. In this article, the presence of the PS-TRE skill among adults of working age (25-65 years) in Europe is analysed in relation to the factors that potentially affect a higher level of PS-TRE proficiency. This analysis is carried out using structural equations modelling, taking into account socio-personal and educational factors, as well as the use of different skills at work and in daily life. The results indicate that educational attainment and the use of different skills (reading, numerical skills, ICTrelated skills) at home and at work, as well as participation in non-formal education activities, decisively relate to a higher level of PS-TRE. This result is positively mediated through risk factors such as being older or being a woman. This study concludes that it is necessary to reinforce these skills, not only in children, but also in the adult population, in order to avoid social and labour exclusion
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Technology, Knowledge and Learning (2020) 25:929–951
1 3
Twenty‑First Century Skills forAll: Adults andProblem
Solving inTechnology Rich Environments
TatianaIñiguez‑Berrozpe1 · EllenBoeren2
Published online: 27 March 2019
© Springer Nature B.V. 2019
The current Information Society requires new skills for personal, labor and social inclu-
sion. Among the so-called Twenty-First Century Skills (Care etal. (eds) in Assessment and
teaching of 21st century skills, Springer, New York, 2018) is Problem Solving in Technol-
ogy Rich Environments (PS-TRE) competence evaluated in PISA and PIAAC tests (OECD
in Survey of adult skills (PIAAC). Retrieved from https :// Q (2016)). This
skill, although currently receiving considerable attention in compulsory education, has not
received the same level of thought in the case of adult education. In this article, the pres-
ence of the PS-TRE skill among adults of working age (25–65years) in Europe is analysed
in relation to the factors that potentially affect a higher score in this skill. This analysis is
carried out using structural equations modelling, taking into account socio-personal and
educational factors, as well as the use of different skills in work and daily life. The results
indicate that educational level and the use of different skills (reading, numerical, related to
ICT) at home and at work, as well as participation in non-formal education activities, deci-
sively relate to a higher level of PS-TRE. This result is positively mediated through risk
factors such as being older or being a woman. This study concludes that it is necessary to
reinforce these skills, not only in children, but also in the adult population, in order to avoid
social and labour exclusion.
Keywords Problem solving· Adult education· Technology· Twenty-first century skills·
Inclusive education
1 Introduction
In recent years, technological revolution has invaded all domains of public and private life.
This resulted into a new type of society, the Information Society (Castells 2002). Currently,
access to and efficient use of ICT are essential for effective participation in society, both at
* Tatiana Iñiguez-Berrozpe
Ellen Boeren
1 University ofZaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain
2 University ofEdinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
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This book provides a detailed description of research and application outcomes from the Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills project, which explored a framework for understanding the nature of these skills. The major element of this new volume is the presentation of research information from the global assessment of two 21st century skills that are amenable to teaching and learning: collaborative problem solving, and learning in digital networks. The outcomes presented include evidence to support the validity of assessment of 21st century skills and descriptions of consequent pedagogical approaches which can be used both to teach the skills and to use them to enhance key learning goals in secondary education systems. The sections of the volume are connected through a focus on the degree to which innovative assessment tasks measure the constructs of interest. This focus is informed by conceptual and methodological issues associated with affordances of 21st century computer-based assessment. How understanding of the nature of the skills, as derived from these assessments, can guide approaches to the integration of 21st century skills in the classroom, is informed by initiatives adopted by participating countries. The guiding questions in this volume are: "Do the assessment tasks measure the constructs?" and "What are the implications for assessment and teaching in the classroom?" It is the third volume of papers from this project published by Springer.
This chapter provides a general introduction to issues and initiatives in the assessment of twenty-first century skills, the implications of assessment for the teacher and teacher training, the role played by technologies not only for demonstration of skills but for their measurement, and a look to the future. Frameworks that have informed a gradual shift in the aspirations of education systems for their students are described, followed by evidence of implementations globally and regionally. The role of the Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills (ATC21S; Griffin et al. (Eds.) (2012), Assessment and teaching of 21st century skills. Springer, Dordrecht) in reflecting and acting on a call by global consortia is outlined. This provides the context for the book contents, with the chapters briefly described within their thematic parts. The chapters provide a clear picture of the complexities of the introduction of teaching and assessment strategies based on skills rather than content.
Purpose Research has shown that the problem-solving skills of adults with a vocational education and training (VET) background in technology-rich environments (TREs) are often inadequate. However, some adults with a VET background do have sound problem-solving skills. The present study aims to provide insight into the socio-demographic, work-related and everyday life factors that are associated with a strong problem-solving performance. Design/methodology/approach The study builds on large-scale data of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) and gives insight into VET adults ( N = 12,929) with strong problem-solving skills in 11 European countries. Findings This study introduces new knowledge with respect to the socio-demographic, work-related and everyday life background factors that contribute to successful VET adults’ problem-solving skills. The findings of the authors illustrate that a continuous process of development including non-formal and informal activity, as well as learning taking place at work, is associated with strong performance in problem-solving skills in TRE. Research limitations/implications An important implication of this study is that this paper introduces novel knowledge for VET adults’ competences and can be used to support the development of VET adults’ problem-solving skills in TREs. Originality/value The study was conducted to explore new understanding about good problem-solvers in TREs with a VET background. The originality of the study derives from its focus on good problem-solvers in TREs related to a VET background. The findings can be used to create novel ways to enhance the development of VET adults’ problem-solving skills in TREs.
The main aim of this paper is to analyse the evolution of adult skills, as captured by cognitive competencies assessed in the PIAAC, across age cohorts, explicitly taking into account that the quality of schooling might change from one cohort to another. We estimate a model that relates numeracy and literacy competencies to age, schooling, gender and variables related to both family background and labour market performance. The specification allows us to control for changes in the efficiency of the transformation of schooling into competencies when drawing age-skill profiles. Our results show that the effect of ageing on skills, once isolated from cohort effects related to schooling, decreases monotonically across consecutive cohorts. The evolution of the efficiency of the transformation of schooling into both numeracy and literacy skills shows a remarkably similar pattern. Nonetheless, this evolution differs substantially between education levels, with the efficiency of the transformation of schooling into skills showing a steadier profile for intermediate than it does for higher education. Finally, empirical evidence is provided for the decomposition of the differences in the skill levels of the older vs. the prime age generations. The results suggest that the progressive expansion of schooling across younger generations partially offsets the negative effect of the irrepressible ageing of society on skills.