To test this hypothesis, the committee recommends further research:

  • Recommendation 6: Foundations and federal agencies should support research programs designed to fill gaps in the evidence base on teaching and assessment for deeper learning and transfer. One important target for future research is how to design instruction and assessment for transfer in the intrapersonal and interpersonal domains. Investigators should examine whether, and to what extent, instructional design principles and methods shown to increase transfer in the cognitive domain, are applicable to instruction targeted to the development of intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies. Such programs of research would benefit from efforts to specify more uniform, clearly defined constructs and produce associated measures of cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal competencies.


Current educational policies and associated accountability systems rely on assessments that focus primarily on recall of facts and procedures, posing a challenge to wider teaching and learning of transferable 21st century competencies. However, recent policy developments offer opportunities to address this challenge (see Chapter 7). In particular, as noted above, the Common Core State Standards and the NRC science framework provide a deeper conceptualization of the knowledge and skills to be mastered in each discipline, including various facets of 21st century competencies.

While new national goals that encompass 21st century competencies have been articulated in the standards and the NRC science framework, the extent to which these goals are realized in educational settings will be strongly influenced by the nature of their inclusion in district, state, and national assessments. Because educational policy emphasizes the results of summative assessments within accountability systems, teachers and administrators will focus instruction on what is included in state assessments. Thus, as new assessment systems are developed to reflect the new standards in English language arts, mathematics, and science, significant attention will need to be given to the design of tasks and situations that call on students to apply a range of 21st century competencies that are relevant to each discipline.

Although improved assessments would facilitate wider uptake of interventions that support the process of deeper learning, developing such assessments faces several challenges. First, research to date has focused

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