of cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal competence. Using this approach we found that some of the documents that dealt with 21st century skills focused primarily on one category. For example, Conley’s 2007 list of college readiness skills deals mainly with cognitive competencies, while Hoyle and Davisson’s 2011 analysis of self-regulation focuses on intrapersonal competencies.

Next, the committee conducted a content analysis, comparing the various competencies included in the eight documents with the reflective latent variables at the top of the cognitive abilities and personality taxonomies. Based on the comparative content analysis, we aligned the various 21st century skills with each other and with the two taxonomies. In addition, we also aligned O*NET skills and additional noncognitive competencies with the two taxonomies. Through these steps we created clusters of closely related competencies within each of the three broad domains (see Table 2-2). Each competency cluster contains the main factor (personality or ability) and the associated 21st century skills and O*NET skills. The result is a preliminary taxonomy of 21st century competencies, which we offer as a starting point for further research.

Based on the committee’s content analysis, some of the competencies that appeared in the eight documents and reports were not included in any of the clusters. These included life and career skills (Binkley et al., 2010), social and cultural competencies (Voogt and Pareja Roblin, 2010), study skills and contextual skills (Conley, 2007), and nonverbal communication and intercultural sensitivity (Bedwell, Fiore, and Salas, 2011). These particular competencies were excluded because they did not align well with any of the clusters, rather than because of any judgment that they were less valuable for later life outcomes. In the following chapter, we discuss the question of whether various competencies predict success in education, the workplace, or other areas of adult life.

We offer the proposed taxonomy of competency clusters as an initial step toward addressing the “jangle fallacy.” It provides a starting point for further research that may more clearly define each construct and establish its relationship with the other constructs. However, research to date on the importance of 21st century competencies uses a variety of terms for these skills, coined by investigators in the different disciplines. Our review of this research in the following chapter reflects this variety of terms.


Although many lists of 21st century skills have been proposed, there is considerable overlap among them. Many of the constructs included in such lists trace back to the original SCANS report (Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, 1991), and some now appear in the O*NET

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