Developing competencies in the domains of health, creativity, citizenship, and social-emotional learning provides students with the skills they need to live happy, healthy, economically secure, civically engaged lives.
Beyond the 3R's:
Competencies that matter
An ability to meet complex demands by drawing on combined skills, knowledge, processes, behaviours, and habits of mind.
We have identified five key domains that are essential for student success:
Each of these domains includes specific competencies and conditions
The movement toward global competencies
Around the world, educators, policy-makers, and experts agree that student success in both school and life consists of much more than literacy and numeracy skills and academic content knowledge (e.g. UNESCO, 2015; UNICEF, 2015; Winthrop & McGivney, 2016). Students need to develop skills, competencies, and knowledge in social-emotional development, creativity, citizenship, and health (e.g. Christensen & Lane, 2016; OECD, 2016). Research also indicates that the school environment itself – the opportunities and conditions that support these areas of learning – plays an essential role in ensuring students’ overall success (Bascia, 2014).
A number of education systems are moving to embed competencies into curricula, outcome expectations, and assessment strategies. Québec (Québec, 2007), British Columbia (BC, 2016), Alberta (Alberta, 2011), and Finland (Finland, 2016) have all moved in this direction.
Expanding goals to meet an expanding need
The shift to expand the goals of education systems is fuelled by changes worldwide:
- The automation of jobs, the growth of information technology, and the reality of a global economy have heightened international focus on preparing students for success in a knowledge economy, for job flexibility, and for frequent career re-orientation (e.g. Christensen & Lane, 2015; Winthrop & McGivney, 2016).
- The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to “end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all” (which Canada committed to in 2015), have increased global focus on broad competencies, including global citizenship education (e.g. UNESCO, 2015; UN, 2016).
- International recognition that education systems can and should have the capacity to support child well-being and health (e.g. UNICEF, 2015; WHO, n.d.).
The private and public good
Shifting the goals of education serves a two-fold purpose, embracing both the private and the public good inherent in strong public education systems:
|to ensure that every young person has the competencies required to navigate a complex world, and to live a happy, healthy, economically secure, and civically engaged life.||to ensure that Canada has the engaged citizens, the imaginative thinkers, the strong workforce, and the equitable society it needs for a sustainable future.|
Identifying what matters
After conducting reviews of international policy and research to identify key domains for young people’s long-term success, People for Education recruited experts in each domain. The experts outlined why each domain matters for student success, where they are found in policy and curriculum, what critical competencies they include, how they can be cultivated, assessed and measured, and what conditions are necessary to support them (Bascia, 2014; Ferguson & Power, 2014; Sears, 2014; Shanker, 2014; Upitis, 2014).
While each domain has its own set of specifically defined, teachable and learnable competencies and/or conditions, the domains are interconnected, and the competencies identified in one are often linked to competencies named in another.
Social-emotional learning matters
Social-emotional learning competencies:
Learning environments matter
The opportunities, conditions, and resources that support learning play an essential role in ensuring students’ overall success (Bascia, 2014).
The domains of health, social-emotional learning, citizenship, creativity, and quality learning environments are foundational to all learning. To reflect the centrality of these learning domains, we need a coherent and systemic approach to changes in curriculum, policy, accountability, resources, and assessment.
The OECD calls for change
Global Competence includes the acquisition of in-depth knowledge and understanding of global and intercultural issues; the ability to learn from and live with people from diverse backgrounds; and the attitudes and values necessary to interact respectfully with others.” (OECD, 2016, p. 1)
According to the OECD, one of the greatest needs in educational curriculum reform is finding “a new concept of growth” that measures beyond achievement in math, science, and literacy, and that addresses the competencies that students need to succeed in the current and future global economy.
The OECD calls for rapid curriculum evolution; for the creation of knowledge and understanding for the 21st century; for the rethinking of the skills, attitudes, and values that shape human behaviour; and for systems that enable students to achieve a set of competencies that will allow them to engage with and act in the world.
UN Sustainable Development Goal #4
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals came into force in 2016. These 17 goals work towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and span many topics including poverty, climate change, health, water, and economic growth.
Sustainable Development Goal #4 is to ensure inclusive and quality education for all, and promote lifelong learning:
“By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.” (UN, 2016)
Alberta Education (2011). Framework for Student Learning: Competencies for engaged thinkers and ethical citizens with an entrepreneurial spirit. Edmonton, AB: Government of Alberta.
Bascia, N. (2014). The school context model: How school environments shape students’ opportunities to learn. In Measuring What Matters, People for Education. Toronto: November 8, 2014.
Caprara, G., Fida, R., Vecchione, M., Del Bove, G., Vecchio, G., Barbaranelli, C., & Bandura, A. (2008). Longitudinal analysis of the role of perceived self-efficacy for self-regulated learning in academic continuance and achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100(3), 525-534.
Christensen, N. & Lane, J. (2016). Know, Do, Understand: Development of competencies in Canada’s schoolchildren. Calgary, AB: Canada West Foundation.
Cicchetti, D., Ackerman, B., & Izard, C. (1995). Emotions and emotion regulation in developmental psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 7(1), 1-10
Denham, S., Mason, T., Caverly, S., Schmidt, M., Hackney, R., Caswell, C., & DeMulder, E. (2001). Preschoolers at play: Co-socialisers of emotional and social competence. International Journal of Behav- ioral Development, 25(4), 290-301.
Feist, G. J. (1998). A meta-analysis of the impact of personality on scientific and artistic creativity. Personality and Social Psychological Review, 2, 290–309.
Ferguson, B. & Power, K. (2014). Broader measures of success: Physical and mental health in schools. In Measuring What Matters, People for Education. Toronto: November 8, 2014.
Finland (2016) General Aspects of Basic Education Curriculum Reform 2016 Fin- land; Irmeli Halinen Head of Curriculum Development Finnish National Board of Education. Finnish National Agency For Education.
Gajda, A., Karwowski, M. & Beghetto, R. (2017). Creativity and academic achievement: A meta-analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 109(2), 269-299.
Government of British Columbia (2016) . BC’s New Curriculum. Accessed on December 7, 2017 at https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/
Gouvernement du Québec. (2007). Québec education program (secondary cycle two). Chapter 3: Cross-curricular competencies. Québec City, QC: Gouvernement du Québec.
Kare, E. Kim, H., Anderson, K., & Gustaffasson-Wright, E. (2017) Skills for a Changing World; National Perspectives and the Global Movement, The Brookings Institution, Washington D.C. April 2017.
OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). (2016). Global Competency for an Inclusive World. Paris, FR: OECD.
Rowling, L. & Weist, M. D. (2004). Promoting the Growth, Improvement and Sustain- ability of School Mental Health Programs Worldwide. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 6(2), 3-11.
Sears, A. (2014). Measuring What Matters: Citizenship domain. In Measuring What Matters, People for Education. Toronto: November 8, 2014.
Shanker, S. (2014). Broader measures of success: Social-emotional learning. In Measuring What Matters, People for Education. Toronto: November 8, 2014.
UNICEF. (2015). Annual Report. New York, NY: UNICEF Division of Communication.
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) (2015). Global Citizenship Education: Topics and Learning Objectives. Paris, FR: UNESCO.
Upitis, R. (2014). Creativity: The state of the domain. In Measuring What Matters, People for Education. Toronto: November 8, 2014.
Winthrop, R. & McGivney, E. (2016). Skills for a Changing World: Advancing quality learning for vibrant societies. Washington, D.C.: The Brooking Institution.
WHO (World Health Organization). (n.d.). Global school health initiative. Accessed December 7, 2017 at http://www.who.int/ school_youth_health/gshi/en/