because it seems to downplay their importance. Others quibbled with the term “21st century skills” because it implies the skills were not needed in the 20th century and appears not to recognize that more than a decade of the 21st century has already passed. Thus, there is an issue with terminology at the broadest level.
There were also concerns expressed about placing these skills into three clusters (cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal), as the committee had done. Some workshop participants pointed out it is misleading to imply the clusters of skills are independent and mutually exclusive. For instance, all of the skills included within the interpersonal and intrapersonal skills require cognition. That is, it is impossible to perform skills such as collaboration, complex communication, or self-regulation without using cognition. Likewise, intrapersonal skills and interpersonal skills are interdependent. For instance, self-management skills certainly come into play when participating in a collaborative task. The committee’s classifications were useful for the purposes of structuring the workshop, but there are issues with implying that the clusters are discrete and unrelated.
At a finer level, there are also issues with defining the constructs subsumed under the three broad categories identified by the committee. Stephen Fiore addressed this in his remarks in relation to interpersonal skills, noting “there is a proliferation of concepts associated with interpersonal skills, and it is problematic because we have different labels that may be describing the same construct, and we have the same label that may be describing a different construct.” For example, with regard to interpersonal skills, terms like social competence, soft skills, social self-efficacy, and social intelligence may all be used to refer to the same skills, or they may each refer to a different set of capabilities. Likewise, in discussing intrapersonal skills, Rick Hoyle pointed out the lack of consensus in the field with regard to defining skills like self-regulation. There is little agreement among researchers, he said, and sometimes the same researcher defines it differently within a single paper.
Settling on terminology for this set of skills and definitions for the constructs needs to be done before assessments can be developed. As Hoyle described this need in relation to self-regulation, “the current state of the conceptualization of self-regulation is the primary obstacle to producing assessments of it.” Defining the skills in a clear and precise way is fundamental to development of assessment tasks and essential for ensuring that the resulting scores support the intended inferences.
Validity, Reliability, and Authenticity
Another issue highlighted by workshop participants was the extent to which assessments of these skills are trustworthy and have fidelity. This