Assessing skills in the 21st century
Because our everyday life and our workplace are increasingly dominated by new technologies and automated processes, acquiring new
and modern-day skill sets is becoming increasingly important. Samuel Greiff’s research project focuses on the study of new, non-routine
skills such as problem-solving. These skills are required in the 21st
century to succeed in school or to have a successful career. A better
understanding of these skills including problem-solving, team-work,
lifelong learning, logical thinking, and the ability to quickly respond
and adapt to a changing environment, will contribute to the general
assessment of intelligence, individual potential and personal development. This new approach has already been applied in the PISA study
2012, and the PISA study in 2015 will focus even more on these skills.
Over the last decades, a dramatic change in the workplace has been ignited by a continuous computerization and automation process. This process has been associated with
reduced labor input of routine tasks and increased labor input of non-routine tasks.
As a result, literally all skills needed for a successful career in the 21st century involve nonroutine cognitive skills such as general problem solving or collaboration when working in a
team. In fact, allocating people according to their individual skill level, fostering their abilities, and systematically training them is one of society’s most crucial and essential tasks.
However, psychological assessment of abilities has not kept pace with the swift emerging
of new and considerably more complex skills. Thus, appropriate theoretical frameworks
and measures of these non-routine skills are currently not available.
To close these gaps towards a valid understanding and assessment of 21st century skills
our approach is therefore aimed towards three axes: theoretical models, assessment
instruments, and empirical application.
In our first axis, we seek to establish theoretical groundwork for a profound understanding of 21st century skills and their assessment. We will provide a state of the art understanding of Complex, Collaborative, and Domain Specific Problem Solving (CPS, ColPS and
DSPS) as transversal 21st century skills.
The second research axis will guarantee that several pre-set versions for assessment of
CPS, ColPS, and DSPS will be available, providing valid instruments of high usability for
all of the 21st century skills identified above.
The third research axis will set these newly developed instruments into action through dedicated empirical research and applications. Validation studies will be done in an initial training
context and in a professional context elaborating on the real-life relevance of the targeted 21st
century skills giving starting points for intervention and educational training approaches.