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Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills (Coursera)

This MOOC is designed principally for practicing teachers who are wondering exactly how they can incorporate teaching and assessment of 21st century skills into their classrooms, labs or workshops. It will also be useful to trainee teachers, school leaders, teacher educators and curriculum and assessment specialists, providing them with an understanding of the challenges associated with teaching and assessment of 21st century skills.

This course explains the social and cognitive skills that are known as 21st century skills. It reviews how they can be represented in the curriculum, in terms of developmental progressions. It also explores how teachers can recognise these skills in students, how the level of skill of a learner can be assessed, and then how learners can be supported to develop their skill.

In this course we work through two detailed examples of 21st century skills. The first is collaborative problem solving, a 21st century skill which combines the capacities of collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking and communication. The second skill is a meta-cognitive skill of knowing how to learn in a MOOC. In each example, you will explore how to understand the nature of each skill from a teaching perspective, how to teach it, and how to assess it. These two examples show how any 21st century skill can be tackled in the classroom.

The approach to teaching and assessment in this course derives from the application of a developmental, evidence-based, clinical approach to teaching practice. The course provides a mix of theory and practice, of thinking and doing, and opportunities to share ideas, experience and resources with other participants.

Join Emeritus Professor Patrick Griffin and the team from the Assessment Research Centre, University of Melbourne in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills, hosted on Coursera.



Why do we need 21st century skills? What are they?

During our introduction week, we provide two Modules. Module 1 offers an overview of the course and explains how assessment in it is structured. Our approach to assessment in the course introduces some developmental components that complement the summative approach used by Coursera for grading. The Course Progression provides the basis of the self-assessment activities provided throughout the course. These enable you to monitor your progress as you develop your skills in teaching and assessing C21 skills. In Module 2 we turn to the first topics of the course, and discuss the world in terms of technological change and the need for 21st century skills in today’s workforce. We talk about what is meant by ’21st century skills’ and how these skills are increasingly in demand as new technologies change the way we work, learn, live and function in a digital and knowledge-based society. You will have the opportunity to learn about different 21st century skills frameworks that have been created by a variety of institutions. We want to show you what we mean by a developmental approach, and how this approach can be used in assessment and learning and teaching. These lectures will form the foundation for topics to come in later weeks, so please take the time to watch them and to follow up with the suggested readings.

Graded: Module 1 Self-Assessment: Judging what you know about teaching and assessment of C21 skills

Graded: Module 2a: About C21 Skills

Graded: Module 2b: C21 Skills frameworks


How to teach and assess Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) as an example of a C21 skill

In Module 3 we introduce collaborative problem solving (CPS), an example of a complex and relevant 21st century skill. We will explain the nature of CPS, describing in depth the underlying competencies involved in this skill. We will explain how we can take a developmental approach to teaching and learning in CPS and how skills progressions can be developed and used for formative assessment and teaching purposes. We deal with this topic at a relatively deep level, in preparation for taking a more practical approach in Weeks 3 and 4.

Graded: Module 3a: Developmental progressions

Graded: Module 3b: Interpreting the CPS Progression


Assessing and reporting on the development of collaborative problem solving skills

This week, in Module 4, you will be reviewing aspects of assessing students’ collaborative problem solving skills using a developmental approach. You will review a video of ICT tasks that the ATC21S team have created, and you will be prompted to think of ways these approaches may be used, in the classroom or in professional learning, to teach and assess CPS. Work in Week 3 of the course combines with work in Weeks 2 and 4 to support development of the learning outcomes described in Strand 3 of the course progression.

Graded: Module 4: Using progressions to interpret and report on student learning


Developmental teaching of collaborative problem solving

In Week 4, Module 5, we discuss how individual and group differences can be managed in teaching CPS. We conduct interviews with a teacher, school leader and researcher on implementing the assessment and teaching of 21st century skills in schools. We also discuss, in interview format, the complexities of assessing sophisticated CPS skills using seemingly uncomplicated tasks. How can we assist students to develop their skills from their current level of social and cognitive CPS skill levels, to progress towards greater expertise? This week, too, you should begin work on your major course assignment.

Graded: Module 5: A case study of teaching CPS


Knowing how to learn in a MOOC: another example of a C21 skill

This week, in Module 6 we explore a further example of a C21 skill, and one that has particular relevance to participants in this course: the skill of knowing how to learn in a MOOC. We review the nature of MOOCs as a teaching environment, and why a MOOC demands particular learning skill to generate higher learning. We examine an empirical progression for the skill, and review how to assess the level of skill of any participant in a MOOC. Module 7 is focused on your major assignment, which is is due this week.

Graded: Module 6: Knowing how to learn in a MOOC

Graded: Assignment 2 – Designing a teaching activity to develop CPS skills of learners


Reflection and looking forward

In this final week, in Module 8, we ask you to reflect on your learning in the course and particularly on the use of progressions and developmental thinking in the way C21 skills are taught and assessed. If you submitted an Assignment in Week 5, you will assess the work of your peers in the major Assignment.

Graded: Module 8: Self-assessment and reflection and critical evaluation exercise