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Introduction to 21st century skills and education


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Please cite as: Erdem, C. (2019). Introduction to 21st century skills and education. In C. Erdem, H. Bagcı and M. Kocyigit (Eds) 21st centrury skills and education (pp.1-20). Cambridge Scholars Publishing. This part of the chapter presented here is taken from the book extract provided by the publisher. Book title: 21st century skills and education Editors: Cahit Erdem, Hakkı Bağcı, Mehmet Koçyiğit Publishers: Cambridge Scholars Publishing You can access the book extract : The book is also available at: For full text, please send a message.
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Characteristics of the 21st Century
The 21st century has brought about changes in every walk of life,
particularly in economic order. With respect to production and economy,
the 21st century is a mark of the transition from the industrial age to the
knowledge age. While the value chain in the industrial age goes through
extracting, manufacturing, assembly, marketing, and distribution, to
products, the chain in the knowledge age is through data, information,
knowledge, expertise, and marketing, to services, respectively (Thrilling &
Fadel 2009). Noss (2012) refers to this transition as the shift from material
labour to immaterial, weightless, production, for which process-oriented
skills, such as teamwork or problem solving, are needed. This change in
the economic order has required many new skills, or has altered existing
skills that individuals need to possess. Modern workplaces need staff who
can solve non-routine problems, perform complex communication, and
have social skills (Koenig 2011).
Though economic order is the major area of change, the changes
brought along with the new century are not limited to it. Beside the
requirements of workplaces, intensive and easy interaction with digital
media tools and platforms such as smartphones and social media requires
informed decision making which is possible by acquiring new knowledge
and skills that are essential, rather than desirable (Hobbs 2010).
Individuals are living a life in which they are bombarded with an
overabundance of information, through technological tools like televisions
or computers. It is a fact that information available via media tools is not
always reliable; anyone can upload contents to the internet, the results of
internet searches may be outdated or irrelevant, and accessing information
may require research skills and critical thinking, which means individuals
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need to be information-literate (Breivik 2005). The ubiquitous use of
technology has brought forth a new lifestyle for people, which is highly
different from the previous century.
Given the characteristics of the new century, students need a new set of
skills to make their way in a complex and constantly evolving future
(Craig 2012). These skills are mostly referred to as 21st century skills. A
rich literature on the categorization, definition, and application of these
skills has been generated. The literature on 21st century skills is based on
the assumption that the new century requires different skills for individuals
to function effectively in every walk of life (Ananiadou & Claro 2009).
For centuries, only a small number of people needed to have skills such as
creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving, yet in the new century,
every citizen needs to have these skills to survive (Akgündüz & Ertepınar
2015). One reason for the difference between the skills of the 20th century
and those of the 21st century is the huge advancement in information and
communication technologies, as these types of work are in a process of
shift, in parallel (Dede 2009).
It is well discussed that technological changes have been rapid,
changing life in an unprecedented way. Yet, Noss (2012) argues that the i-
pad/smartphone paradigm is quite different from previous paradigms, in
that, with this new paradigm, the institutional aspect of technology has
moved to a personalized technology, which is ubiquitous in the home, the
pocket, and elsewhere. However, more importantly, Noss (2012) maintains
that the students themselves are digital natives. They know how to use
these technologies without training. Nevertheless, when it comes to deeply
engaging with technology, they are digital immigrants. Therefore, it
should not be taken for granted that the new generation is a fluent and
conscious user of technology. The new tools and platforms offered by new
technologies present a lot of challenges to them. Yet, animosity towards
technology does not help either, since it is now an indispensable part of
people’s lives. What is important is how, and for what purposes, we are
using technology.
It is now taken for granted in the new century that people need to
possess a set of skills, some of which are peculiar to the new century,
while some are existing skills which are needed more these days. What is
challenging is getting people to acquire these skills, an urgent need for
underdeveloped countries, as they have fallen behind in aligning their
schools with these skills and engaging the needed manpower in return.
Developed countries, such as the United States, Canada, or England, have
dwelt upon new skills and generated frameworks to teach and assess 21st
century skills, whereas other countries continue to teach the curriculum of
Introduction to 21st Century Skills and Education
the previous century. Unless a country equips its citizens with the skills of
the new century, it will only serve for developed countries by producing
the products designed and marketed by those countries, and will continue
to generate minimal wages, as well as polluting its own environment while
providing those services. Currently, while routine works are carried out by
less developed countries, creative works, such as designing smartphones,
are carried out by developed countries. This division is presented in Figure
1-1, below (Thrilling & Fadel 2009, 10).
Figure 1-1. The Future of 21
Century Work
Trilling & Fadel (2009) argue that the fundamental changes in the
world in the last decades have also affected the roles of learning and
education in individuals’ lives, to a great extent. This effect has been not
only by adding new skills to be acquired by individuals, but also by
changing the way the skills of previous century, such as critical thinking,
are learned and practiced. Regarding the curricula in schools, and real life
in the 21st century, Thrilling & Fadel (2009) highlight that: working life
requires teamwork to solve problems and create new things; children are
surrounded with technology in their daily lives; the world includes
challenges and problems that are linked to each other, and so should the
education be; and schools can fall behind with the creativity and
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innovation that are needed for the economy. Learning in the 21st century
is learning with digital technology (Noss 2012, 3). This 21st century skills
movement demands reforms in education (Ananiadou & Claro 2009). The
changes in the economy and society force education and the curriculum to
change. Otherwise, it is impossible to train students with the skills they
will need when they step out of the classroom.
Though most people argue that the new century requires new skills,
they are not altogether new skills. What is new, is that the new economic
order in the 21st century depends on these skills more than ever
(Rotherham & Willinghan 2009). The economy and work have changed a
lot recently. Work requiring routine skills is already carried out by
technology. The economy needs workers who can manage information,
coming from a variety of sources, in high quantity, and who can make
decisions and create (Silva 2009). This suggests that what is new, is not
the skills themselves, but the need for them in the new economic order.
Dede (2009) makes a distinction between perennial skills and contextual
skills. Regarding perennial skills, he gives the example of collaboration.
Collaboration has always been an important competency, however, as
knowledge-based economy requires teamwork, the need for collaboration
has increased a lot. Furthermore, the skill of collaboration now means a lot
more. Collaboration, Dede (2009) argues, now includes communication
with people one has never met face-to-face. Therefore, it can be argued
that these skills are now more sophisticated. On the other hand, the new
century has also brought about contextual skills, such as filtering
enormous data and locating the required knowledge for making decisions,
which was not present in previous centuries. Putting aside the origin of
these skills, the urgent need for them, both for the economy and people,
dictates that these skills should be deliberately focused on in the school,
and through curricula to ensure individuals can be successful in the new
century. Therefore, this chapter first presents 21st century skills, and then
moves on to teaching and assessing these skills.
21st Century Skills: Skills and Frameworks
The literature on 21st century skills is quite rich, and includes a
number of skills. In some studies, the skills are listed individually, while in
other studies the skills are situated into frameworks. There are also various
skills frameworks, and each of them highlights different 21st century skills
(Lai and Viering 2012). Of these studies, some are carried out by
individual researchers and some are carried out by organizations. Before
moving on to what these skills are, some issues on the nature of these
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skills need to be discussed. To begin with, though skills related to new
technologies are present in all frameworks, they are not limited to
technology. Craig (2012) tries to correct some of the misunderstandings
about 21st century skills. First, 21st century skills are not all about
technology. Technology is just a part of these skills. Second, 21st century
skills are not all new skills imposed by high-tech companies. Most of these
skills have been in demand for generations.
The second issue is one of the relationships between knowledge and
skills. The 21st century skills movement is sometimes criticised for
ignoring content knowledge, although some frameworks, such as
Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), pay special attention to
knowledge, since the skills in this framework are based on specific content
knowledge and themes. Noss (2012) argues that the change in life caused
by technology leads to a dichotomy. On the one hand, the elite needs to
know real knowledge; on the other hand, people need process-oriented
skills that technology demands from them. This case poses a problem. The
skills should not be denuded of real knowledge. Critics of the 21st century
skills movement argue that these skills cannot be taught independently,
and students cannot apply these skills without appropriate factual
knowledge; that’s why they demand emphasis on content, and a broad
liberal arts curriculum (Ananiadou and Claro 2009). Skills and knowledge
are not separable. Research also reveals that learning is performed best
when skills and knowledge are together (Silva 2009). However, opponents
of the 21st century skills movement argue that these are not new skills, and
that they are serious threats to the teaching of core content, lowering the
standards and weakening the teaching. These opponents add that it is too
hard to measure these skills (Silva 2009). This may prove true, if a
comprehensive perspective is not taken towards 21st century skills and
they merely become fads to please public opinion. What is important is to
overcome the challenge of reaching improved outcomes for students by
delivering content and skills effectively (Rotherham and Willinhghan
2009). Considering this, lists of 21st century skills and categories, or
frameworks of these skills, are presented below, based on an extensive
literature review.
Wagner (2008) refers to these skills as survival skills, and lists them
as: critical thinking and problem solving; agility and adaptability;
collaboration and leadership; initiative and entrepreneurialism; accessing
and analysing information; effective oral and written communication; and
curiosity and imagination. Grouping them makes it easier to see the scope
of these skills. Based on 250 researchers’ feedback, Kennedy, Latham and
Jacinto (2016) put the skills into four main categories: ways of thinking
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(creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making and
learning); ways of working (communication and collaboration); tools for
working (information and communications technology [ICT] and
information literacy); and skills for living in the world (citizenship, life
and career, and personal and social responsibility).
Ananiadou and Claro (2009) firstly group the skills in three main
categories: ICT functional skills; ICT skills for learning; and 21st century
skills. They define 21st century skills as necessary in the knowledge
society, but suggest they do not necessarily require the use of ICT. These
skills have three dimensions: information; communication; and ethics and
social impact. The information dimension deals with information in digital
settings, such as accessing, organizing and evaluating information, sub-
skills of information literacy certainly. The information dimension has two
sub-dimensions: information as a source, and information as product. The
communication dimension is about being an efficient member of society.
It has two sub-dimensions: effective communication, and collaboration
and virtual interaction. The ethics and social impact dimension is about
ethical challenges as well as globalization in the new century. Social
responsibility and social impact are two sub-dimensions of this dimension.
Finegold and Notabartolo (2008) group the skills into five main
categories: analytic skills (critical thinking, problem solving, decision
making, research, and inquiry); interpersonal skills (communication,
collaboration, and leadership and responsibility); the ability to execute
(initiative and self-direction, and productivity); information processing
(information literacy, media literacy, digital citizenship, ICT operations
and concepts); and capacity for change (creativity/innovation, adaptive
learning/ learning to learn, and flexibility).
Thrilling and Fadel (2009, 26) suggest three categories of 21st century
skills, outlined as follows: learning and innovation skills (critical thinking
and problem solving, communications and collaboration, creativity and
innovation); digital literacy skills (information literacy, media literacy,
information and communication technologies [ICT] literacy); and career
and life skills (flexibility and adaptability, initiative and self-direction,
social and cross-cultural interaction, productivity and accountability,
leadership and responsibility).
No matter how these skills are termed or grouped, they all have to do
with dealing with complex world we are living in. They mainly focus on
complex thinking, learning, and communication skills, and they are hard to
teach (Saavedra and Opfer 2012). Due to their complexity, and the
challenge of teaching and assessing them, some organizations have
invested a lot of effort in this regard. Though there are many
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organizations, such as Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), NCREL,
the Metiri Group, OECD, and ISTE, which dwell on 21st century skills
and suggest frameworks in general, or in specific areas, P21’s framework
is the most detailed, as well as being the most widely adopted (Dede
2009). P21 provides a comprehensive framework for learning in the 21st
century. It includes content knowledge, expertise, and literacies, as well as
specific skills. The framework is given in Figure 1-2 below.
Figure 1-2. P21 Framework for 21st Century Learning (P21 2015, 1)
As the rainbow figure above shows, students are to master some key
subjects (English, reading or language, world languages, arts,
mathematics, economics, science, geography, history, government and
civics), and interdisciplinary themes (global awareness, financial,
economic, business and entrepreneurial literacy, civic literacy, health
literacy, environmental literacy). These are needed because 21st century
skills are based on key academic subject knowledge. On these bases come
the life and career skills, learning and innovation skills, and information,
media and technology skills. Learning and innovation skills include
creativity, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration. These
skills are needed for adapting to complex life. In the new century,
according to P21, students are expected to think creatively, work
cooperatively, implement innovations, reason effectively, use systems
thinking, make judgements, solve problems, communicate clearly, and
collaborate with others. Information, media and technology skills are
required, due to the abundant use of technology, which requires some
functional and critical thinking skills. These skills are information literacy,
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media literacy, and ICT literacy. Students are expected to access and
evaluate information, use and manage information, analyse media, create
media products, and apply technology effectively. The last category of
skills is life and career skills, which are composed of flexibility and
adaptability, initiative and self-direction, social and cross-cultural skills,
productivity and accountability, and leadership and responsibility.
Students having these life skills are supposed to adapt to change, be
flexible, manage goals and time, work independently, be self-directed
learners, interact effectively with others, work efficiently in diverse teams,
manage projects, produce results, guide and lead others, and be
responsible to others. To make it possible to equip students with these
skills, P21 offers a support system. To enable the support system,
standards and assessments, curriculum and instruction, professional
development, and learning environments should be aligned (P21 2015, 1-
9). The emphasis on the support system makes the P21 framework the
most comprehensive, and it provides a clear guidance for policy makers
and practitioners.
Before P21, the Metiri Group and NCREL had suggested a framework
in 2003, as follows:
Digital-Age Literacy
Basic, scientific, economic, and technological literacies
Visual and information literacies
Multicultural literacy and global awareness
Inventive Thinking
Adaptability, managing complexity, and self-direction
Curiosity, creativity, and risk taking
Higher-order thinking and sound reasoning
Effective Communication
Teaming, collaboration, and interpersonal skills
Personal, social, and civic responsibility
Interactive communication
High Productivity
Prioritizing, planning, and managing for results
Effective use of real-world tools
Ability to produce relevant, high-quality products
(Dede 2009, 5-6):
The Committee on the Assessment of 21st Century Skills suggests three
categories of skills: “cognitive skills (non-routine problem solving, critical
Introduction to 21st Century Skills and Education
thinking, systems thinking); interpersonal skills (complex communication,
social skills, teamwork, cultural sensitivity, dealing with diversity); and
intrapersonal skills (self-management, time management, self-development,
self-regulation, adaptability, executive functioning)” (Koenig 2011, 2).
Various frameworks of 21st century skills and individual skills are
mentioned above. Given the abundance of these skills, some of them
should be focused on, based on their priority. The criteria for prioritising
may be a particular skill’s significance, the policies of the state or its
administrators, students’ needs, or teachers’ competencies. For instance,
Lai and Viering (2012) suggest that there are overlaps in various
frameworks, and of these overlaps, these are the skills with an established
research basis: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, motivation, and
metacognition. Based on these criteria, some skills should take priority.
Otherwise, the experience of teaching 21st century skills may fail.
One other significant aspect of this process is human capital, in other
words, teachers. There are many factors that have an effect on students’
learning, and among them, teachers’ abilities are particularly crucial
(Darling-Hammond 2006). The qualities of teachers play an important role
in the success of equipping the students with these skills. Teachers should
be equipped with these skills themselves to be able to teach them, which
requires professional development as well as aligning the skills with in-
service teacher training. However, pre-service or in-service teacher
training programmes with respect to 21st century skills are scarce, other
than initiatives regarding ICT pedagogical skills (Ananiadou & Claro
2009). Professional development should be an important part of the 21st
century movement. To integrate these skills, the mindsets of the
stakeholders need to change. Through professional development, values,
assumptions, beliefs, and cultures, of teachers, policy makers, and
communities, should be unlearned to get rid of industrial-era practices in
schools (Dede 2009).
İzci and Koç (2012, 102) argue that meanings and tasks attributed to
teachers have always varied, depending on the age. For instance, teachers
used to be defined as idealist, loyal, and hardworking officers, aiming to
educate good citizens in the industrial age; however, in the 21st century,
teachers are not absolute authorities transferring knowledge to students.
On the contrary, they aim to connect the education system and the
individual, contribute to the individual’s development, take initiative,
make sound decisions, interpret contemporary values, communicate
effectively, have empathy, manage information, serve as a guide for
students, and continue life-long learning themselves. 21st century learning
should be designed to effectively integrate these skills into curricula and
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student outcomes, and this requires alignment of teacher training in the
pre-service and in-service periods. In addition, administrators and policy
makers are part of the human capital that needs to align.
Teaching 21st Century Skills
Integrating 21st century skills into schools requires a thorough process.
The demand for schools to equip students with 21st century skills creates
challenges in pedagogy and assessment (Soland, Hamilton & Stecher
2013). Therefore, this process requires careful planning. Curriculum,
professional development, and assessment, are central factors that need to
be taken care of for successful implementation, and they are intertwined
with each other. This means that aligning the curriculum alone does not
help. These three factors are discussed in this part.
Rotherham & Willinghan (2009) point out the components that should
be taken into account in the teaching of 21st century skills. First, the
curriculum should be in harmony with respect to content and skills.
Content should not be disclaimed in favour of 21st century skills, which
may be a passing fad if not implemented elaborately. Second, teaching of
these skills cannot be considered independent of human capital. In
particular, teachers should be trained with respect to these skills. Third,
including the skills in the curricula requires new and more comprehensive
or elaborate assessments. They argue that unless curriculum, teacher
expertise, and assessment, are in harmony, the reform of introducing 21st
century skills into education would be superficial, and would have
negative effects rather than expected outcomes, as was the case in many
previous reform attempts.
Though it is expected that schools will foster students’ skills, school
curricula mostly focus on content knowledge, as opposed to skills. Though
the curricula include skills, teachers mostly depend on content. One reason
may be that the content is tested in large-scale assessments. Another may
be the teachers are not ready for teaching 21st century skills. Craig (2012)
lists six steps to implementing 21st century skills, based on the Onondaga-
Cortland-Madison BOCES Instructional Support Services division, which
include increasing awareness, assessing your current state, narrowing
down skills to a manageable number, planning, implementation,
evaluation, and continuous improvement.
According to Craig (2012), the first step includes activities, strategies
and tools at team, school, or district levels, to encourage all stakeholders in
an educational setting, such as teachers, students, parents, or business
leaders, to adopt a vision of 21st century learning. Stakeholders should be
Introduction to 21st Century Skills and Education
convinced that there is a gap between school curricula (planned and
implemented) and the skills needed in the new century. Following
awareness raising, the present conditions regarding the implementation of
skills need to be identified, using methods such as online tools. A
thorough investigation would demonstrate the need for the third step,
which is narrowing skills to a manageable number. As well as the
identification process, the literature highlights a great number of skills for
the new century that are hard to cover. Therefore, some emergent skills
should be prioritized based on the assessment data in the previous step, as
well as state-wide policy. Once the key skills to concentrate on are
identified, a set of common definitions needs to be developed, so that
teachers can utilize them in the planning of lessons and units. Skills should
be laid out in four levels, written as novice, emerging, proficient, and
advanced. Teachers should plan their lessons according to these levels,
based on a needs-analysis. In the implementation step, district or state-
wide action steps should be followed, based on the data from previous
steps. These steps may include school leadership development,
professional development, curricula development, curriculum mapping,
unit writing, instructional practice adjustment, revising learning
environments, alignment of the evaluation, and supervision processes. In
the last step, the implementation of the skills should be assessed for
continuous improvement. If evaluation and revision become part of a
school culture, it will surely increase student achievement and college
readiness (Craig 2012).
Saavedra & Opfer (2012, 9-12) argue that the dominant teaching model
in schools is still the transmission model, and it is not possible to teach
21st century skills through this model. It is more appropriate for learning
information than for problem solving, practicing, or developing creativity.
They propose nine strategies to teach 21st century skills. The first strategy
is that curriculum should be developed which is relevant to students’ lives,
using generative topics in order to enable students to see the big picture.
Second, students should learn the knowledge of the disciplines as well as
associated skills. Third, lower-order skills and higher-order thinking skills
should be developed simultaneously. The latter is not focused on in the
existing curricula, since it requires in-depth teaching. The fourth strategy
is that transferring learning from one discipline to another, or from school
to other areas of life should be encouraged. As we are living in the
information age, the fifth strategy is teaching students how to learn, which
requires meta-cognitive skills. When students know how to learn, they can
be life-long learners, and learn what they need in the required time. The
seventh strategy is that misunderstandings are common among students
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and text books do not address them; therefore, misunderstandings should
be addressed directly by constructing new understandings. Eighth,
technology should be used to support learning, as it provides new ways to
develop 21st century skills and transfer them to different contexts. The last
strategy includes fostering creativity, which is a vital skill in the new era.
Characteristics of the creative process can be directly taught to students.
Alternative instruction models and techniques need to be resorted to
for the effective teaching and integration of 21st century skills. Bell (2010)
suggests project-based learning to this end. This encompasses learning
through inquiry, collaboration, creation, communication, and problem
solving. Technology, Bell argues, needs to be used in project-based
learning. Regarding technology integration, Michael Horn argues that
students will have different learning needs at different times of their lives,
and technology can help them customize and personalize learning
(Patterson 2012).
Rottherham & Willinghan (2009) refer to some challenges of 21st
century skills movement. Focusing on skills, particularly advanced
cognitive skills, too early, may prove ineffective. The predictable path that
learning follows should be considered. However, The National
Mathematics Advisory Panel report (2008) suggests the opposite, arguing
that there is not a set of developmental stages for gaining complex
thinking skills. This is not in line with widely-held notions about stages of
learning (Silva 2009). Another challenge is that the way to teach these
skills is not understood by practitioners as teaching, in the way they
understand the teaching of content. They try to give students more
experience; however, experience does not guarantee practice, which
requires feedback from more skilled people. They argue that teaching
skills in the context of content knowledge should be planned.
In their study within OECD countries, Ananiadou & Claro (2009)
found that most countries prefer a cross-curricular way to teach these
skills, other than ICT-related skills, which are taught as separate subjects.
These skills are added to curricula during curriculum reforms (Ananiadou
& Claro 2009). This holds true for Turkey. In recent years, there have been
some revisions in the curricula at K-12 level in Turkey. With the latest
revisions in 2018, the new curricula aim to equip students with skills and
values through a cross-curricular approach. The curricula involve
‘qualifications’ that are in line with European Qualifications Framework
for lifelong learning. These include communication in native language,
communication in foreign languages, mathematical competency, and basic
competency in science/technology, digital competency, learning to learn,
Introduction to 21st Century Skills and Education
social and civic qualifications, initiative and entrepreneurship, and cultural
awareness and expression. There are also separate subjects, mostly
optional, that are related to 21st century skills. At elementary level, there
are information technologies and software, communication and
presentation skills, media literacy, technology and design subjects, and at
secondary level, there is the subject of computer science. Similarly, the
curricula for pre-service teacher training was revised in 2018. Some new
courses related to 21st century skills have been added to curricula. These
include open and distance learning, critical and analytical thinking, adult
education and lifelong learning, economy and entrepreneurship, human
rights and democracy education, human relations and communication,
career planning and development, and media literacy.
It can also be argued that there has been a change lately in the mindset
of policy makers in Turkey in favour of 21st century skills. In 2017, a
Teacher Strategy Paper (2017), which includes strategic planning of
teacher education for the period of 2017-2023, was released. This paper
highlights some of the skills such as learning to learn, problem solving,
collaboration, critical thinking or ICT competency, and teachers are held
responsible for teaching these skills. Therefore, the paper maintains,
teachers need to develop themselves continuously, follow changes,
empathize, communicate effectively, solve problems, or be leaders. In line
with this, pre-service teacher training curricula have been revised, and the
General Competencies for the Teaching Profession have been developed.
More recently, in late 2018, the Minister of Education announced the
‘2023 Education Vision’. This document includes a comprehensive reform
in all areas of education, from curricula to professional development, or
guidance and psychological counselling. With respect to 21st century
skills, the document states that it aims to equip students with the skills of
the future. It maintains that although education will aim to teach 21st
century skills, which is a strategic conceptual framework exported to every
corner of the world, teaching these skills without focus on values and
morals is like flying with one wing. Education should focus on both skills
and values. PISA is criticized for flying with one wing, by assessing only
cognitive content such as critical thinking or reasoning. The document
suggests some practice for 21st century skills. To this end, it is proposed
that; contents will be arranged as relevant, connected, permeable, analytic
and complementary for internalization of skills; design-skills workshops
will be set; these workshops will be physical places for attainment of skills
such as problem solving, critical thinking, productivity, team work, and
multiliteracies; minor programs at graduate level will be opened for
equipping teachers with 21st century skills; new digital measurement tools
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supporting higher order cognitive skills will be developed in order for
students to get satisfactory results at international exams such as PISA; an
ecosystem will be set up for developing digital content and skills; teacher
training will be carried out to develop digital skills; assessment will be
based on skills-based activities as opposed to grades at elementary level;
curricula will be revised with regard to skills; and training of awareness
and skills will be carried out with regard to new literacies (MoNE 2018).
The document provides a step-by-step path, to the year 2023. All members
of society including students, teachers, administrators, and parents, are
curious about the effectiveness of the new strategic plan.
Assessing 21st Century Skills
Assessment of 21st century skills poses the most challenging aspect of
the issue. Developing curricula, or training teachers with the aim of
equipping students with 21st century skills, will prove ineffective without
investment in assessment of these skills, and currently it is not possible to
argue that we are successful in this regard (Rottherham & Willinghan,
2009). One of the reasons why 21st century skills are not integrated in
schools is that large scale assessments are not testing these skills (Dede
2009). It is well known that students, parents, or even teachers, attach
significance to what is tested for a number of reasons such as
accountability or success. Ananiadou & Claro (2009) implemented a
questionnaire for all OECD countries regarding the implementation and
assessment of 21st century skills. Virtually all countries reported
implementing these skills in school. Yet when it comes to assessment, it is
vice versa. They state that there are no assessment policies for 21st century
skills. Lack of proper assessment policies and measures leads to some
problems. For instance, due to lack of common measures to assess these
skills, there is not much research about the effects of these skills on
outcomes (Finegold & Notabartolo 2008).
Though limited, there are some measures that are implemented for
testing 21st century skills. The problem with these measures is two-sided.
On the one hand, there are limited measures to test these skills and they
have not been proved to be very efficient. On the other hand, these limited
measures are being used by even fewer schools or states. Lai & Viering
(2012) have reviewed the literature on the skills of critical thinking,
creativity, collaboration, motivation, and metacognition, and have listed
these assessment methods in the measurement of these skills: self-reports,
global rating scales, standardized assessments, and observational
measures. As single measures are limited, and there is not a concrete
21st Century Skills
and Education
Edited by
Cahit Erdem, Hakkı Bağcı
and Mehmet Koçyiğit
21st Century Skills and Education
Edited by Cahit Erdem, Hakkı Bağcı and Mehmet Koçyiğit
This book first published 2019
Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Lady Stephenson Library, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 2PA, UK
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Copyright © 2019 by Cahit Erdem, Hakkı Bağcı, Mehmet Koçyiğit
and contributors
All rights for this book reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means,
electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without
the prior permission of the copyright owner.
ISBN (10): 1-5275-3966-0
ISBN (13): 978-1-5275-3966-2
... It is a feature of the shift from the industrial to the information era that technical developments have been fast, affecting life unimaginably. According to Erdem (2019), given the characteristics of the twenty-first century, students will require a set of competencies that will enhance their needed skills to deal with a complex and ever-changing society. The institutional aspect of technology, devices, has evolved to tailored, omnipresent technology. ...
Planning is an integral part of the teaching process where learning expectations are identified, and resources and activities are selected and organized step-by-step to help students meet learning goals. In this context, this study aimed to determine the relationship between the instructional preparations and the level of learning skills of the 21st century students. The respondents were 140 students enrolled in grade ten level under online and blended distance modality during the school year 2021-2022. Descriptive design was utilized in the study with the aid of mean, standard deviation, and Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient as statistical tools. The findings revealed that teaching strategies was the most effective among the three instructional preparations. Meanwhile, on the 21st century learning skills, students were very good in learning and innovation, critical thinking, and information, media, and technology. However, the students are somewhat lacking on problem solving. The findings also revealed no relationship between the instructional preparations and the level of learning skills. This study suggests educational institutions to provide professional development programs and seminars on instructional preparations that can be invaluable in improving and enhancing different teaching methodologies adhering to the 21st century learning.
... Vietnam's 2018 General Education Program defines core competencies as those necessary for everyone to live, learn and work effectively (MOET, 2018). These are also the competencies needed by citizens in the 21st century, also known as the 21st-century skills (Erdem, 2019;Griffin & Care, 2014 ...
Full-text available
In the context of globalization, ICT is increasingly applied in a wide range of educational activities, especially during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Vietnam, switching from face-to-face to online teaching has been one of the fulfilled objectives of continuing educational activities. This paper is among the first studies to evaluate primary school students' transversal competencies in this context. Through an online survey, 661 fifth-grade students self-assessed their transversal competencies, e.g. problem-solving skills, creative skills, ICT skills, and social and cross-cultural skills. ANOVA analysis revealed that the use of ICT skills and Social and cross-cultural skills among students in private schools is greater than that of students in public schools. In addition, the results of the Pearson correlation analysis pointed out that students' transversal competencies have a strong positive correlation with online learning activities. These findings not only contribute to supporting Vietnamese educational institutions and educational policymakers to adjust online teaching activities to enhance transversal competencies for primary school students but are also a valuable reference for countries with similar backgrounds.
... Teachers are the key stakeholders in this mission. The curricula may focus on skills rather than solely content; however, teachers generally depend on content due to some reasons such as large-scale assessments based on subject-knowledge and their inability in teaching skills (Erdem, 2019). Another reason for this may be lying in their underpinning educational philosophies. ...
Full-text available
Teachers’ educational philosophies regulate their curriculum-design orientations, shaping their teaching decisions and practices. However, theoretical assumptions in this relationship were not tested empirically in different contexts. To this end, this cross-sectional survey design study aimed to examine the relationships between teachers’ educational philosophies and their curriculum-design orientations using data from 295 in-service teachers from Turkey. The correlations among the teachers’ educational philosophies and curriculum design orientations were examined with Pearson coefficients. The stepwise multiple regression technique was used to identify the best set of educational philosophies that significantly estimate curriculum design orientations for each design type. The study revealed that the associations between Turkish teachers’ educational philosophies and their curriculum design orientations align with the theoretical literature with some divergence in problem-centered design. The study may contribute to the literature in testing the theoretical assumptions of curriculum design orientations in a non-Western context.
... Due to the complexity and the difficulty in teaching, identifying, and analysing the twenty-first-century skills, some organizations, such as the Partnership for twenty-firstcentury (P21), the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory's (NCREL), the Metiri Group, OECD, and ISTE, invested a lot of effort in defining and grouping the skills (Erdem, 2019). For instance, the Metiri Group and NCREL suggested the EnGause framework where the skills were grouped into four main categories as follows: digital age literacy, inventive thinking, effective communication, and high productivity (Lemke, 2002). ...
Full-text available
With the Maker movement increasingly adopted across K‐12 schools and non-formal makerspaces, students are being given more opportunities to engage in Making activities using tools such as robots, electronics, arts, and crafts. Making activities are thought to help students develop twenty-first-century skills, especially communication and collaboration, creative thinking and problem solving, all of which come under the umbrella of learning and innovation (L&I) skills. The overall research question driving the study is: how do students develop L&I skills in Making contexts? To understand how students develop these skills we need frameworks and coding schemes which can help with skills’ identification and analysis. Finding such analytical tools with applicability in Making contexts has proven challenging. In Phase A, the present study proposes an analytical framework and coding scheme—the L&I skills in Making analytical framework and coding scheme—for the identification and analysis of L&I skills in Making contexts, informed by existing twenty-first-century skills frameworks as well as data from an empirical investigation with young learners. In Phase B, the applicability of the coding scheme is checked with a portion of the empirical data while evidence is presented for the identification and analysis of L&I skills in dialogic interactions during the Making activities. The study extends previous findings supporting that Making activities might be able to support students in developing twenty-first-century skills, but most importantly, has a unique contribution to the literature supporting researchers who are looking for an analytical framework and coding scheme to identify and analyse students’ L&I skills in Making contexts.
... Bu konuda yapılan temel hatalardan birisi bu bağlamda uygulanan eğitim politikalarının, eğitim programlarında yapılan değişiklikler ile sınırlı kalmasıdır. Ancak öğretmenlerin hem hizmet öncesindeki eğitim süreçleri hem de hizmet içindeki mesleki gelişimlerinin 21. yüzyıl becerileri ile uyumlu olması gerekmektedir (Erdem, 2019). Öğrencilerin 21. yüzyıl becerilerini kazanabilmeleri, bu becerileri öğretim sürecinde öğrenciler için kılavuzlayacak öğretmenler ile mümkündür (Harris, Mishra ve Koehler, 2009). ...
Full-text available
21. yüzyılda öğretmenlerin kazanması gereken ve öğrencilere kazandırılmak istenen beceriler ve etkili bir öğretim hizmeti sunabilmek için öğretmenlerin mesleki kimlik algılarının önemi bir arada düşünüldüğünde, 21. yüzyıl öğrenen becerileri ile meslek öncesi öğretmen kimliği arasındaki ilişkinin araştırılması bir gereklilik halini almaktadır. Bu araştırmada öğretmen adaylarının 21. yüzyıl öğrenen becerileri ile meslek öncesi öğretmen kimlikleri arasında anlamlı bir ilişki olup olmadığını ve 21. yüzyıl öğrenen becerilerinin meslek öncesi öğretmen kimliğini ne düzeyde yordadığını belirlemek amaçlanmıştır. İlişkisel tarama modelinin benimsendiği bu çalışmada Meslek Öncesi Öğretmen Kimliği Ölçeği ve 21. Yüzyıl Öğrenen Becerileri Kullanım Ölçeği yardımıyla 505 öğretmen adayından veri toplanmıştır. Verilerin analizinde betimsel istatistikler, korelasyon analizi, bağımsız örneklem t testi, Anova ve çoklu doğrusal regresyon analizi yapılmıştır. Çalışmada öğretmen adaylarının 21. yüzyıl öğrenen becerileri ve meslek öncesi öğretmen kimliği düzeylerinin ortanın üzerinde olduğu, iki değişken arasında orta düzeyde pozitif bir ilişki olduğu ve öğretmen adaylarının 21. yüzyıl öğrenen becerilerinin, meslek öncesi öğretmen kimliklerindeki değişimin %40’ını açıkladığı belirlenmiştir. ** When the skills that are needed to be acquired by teachers and that are aimed to teach students in the 21st century, and the importance of teachers’ perceptions of professional identity are considered together, it becomes a necessity to explore the relationship between 21st century learner skills and early teacher identity. This study seeks to reveal whether there is a significant relationship between pre-service teachers’ 21st century learner skills and early teacher identity and to what degree 21st century learners skills predict early teacher identity. In this study, a correlational survey model is adopted and data were collected form 505 pre-service teachers using Early Teacher Identity Measure and Use of 21st Century Learner Skills Scale. In the analysis of data, descriptive statistics, correlation analysis, independent samples t test, Anova and multiple linear regression were performed. It was found out in the study that pre-service teachers’ levels of 21st century learner skills and early teacher identity are above medium-level and there is a positive medium –level correlation between the two variables, and pre-service teachers’ use of 21st century learner skills account for 40% of their early teacher identity. The results are discussed with the related literature.
Game-based pedagogies use games for achieving learning outcomes by guiding the learners through specific tasks, which can be digital and/or non-digital and can promote deep meaningful learning. Therefore, the design of game-based learning helps learners to engage in the meaning-making process and ensure better participation. As the boundaries of classroom learning become blurred through blended or hybrid learning approaches, game-based learning enhances digital literacies for digital natives to prepare them for building a knowledge economy. By exploring existing literature, this chapter highlights how technology can support teachers and learners to go beyond their existing pedagogical boundaries by focusing on ways games may serve as digital sources of learning. It also explores the role game-based pedagogies and digital learning design frameworks play in enhancing learner engagement, collaboration, and cultural understanding.
Emergency remote education during the COVID-19 pandemic has opened the door for everyone not only to see the prospect of blended teaching and learning but also to understand how critical it is to incorporate technological development to enhance learning and access to education. While face-to-face in-classroom teaching and learning methods help children and young people in developing vital social, communicative, developmental, and digital competencies, it is also critical to embrace the digital trans�formation that is happening around everyday life and throughout society. Based on secondary data, this chapter explores the key challenges and opportunities for policy and practice in resource-constrained contexts. This chapter utilizes Bangladesh as a case study to elicit the transition and transformation process of teaching and learning at the primary and secondary education levels in the global south during the emergency.
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