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3 Importance of Deeper Learning and 21st Century Skills T his chapter summarizes research on the importance of deeper learn- ing and "21st century skills" to success in education, work, and other areas of adult responsibility. The first section focuses on educa- tional achievement and attainment, the second section on work, the third on health and relationship skills, and the fourth on civic participation. Overall, the research reviewed in these sections finds statistically significant, positive relationships of modest size between various cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal competencies and desirable adult outcomes. However, these relationships are based on correlational research methods. We also reviewed evidence on the role of formal schooling in adult success, which we include in the sections on work and health. We found statistically significant, positive relationships between years of educational attainment and labor market success, not only in research using correla- tional methods, but also in studies using stronger research methods (see discussion below). Measured cognitive, intrapersonal, or interpersonal competencies appeared to account for surprisingly little of these relation- ships between years of educational attainment and labor market success. In the fifth section, we show that the benefits of additional years of formal schooling for individuals include not only higher wages but also somewhat greater adaptability to changes in workplace technology and in jobs. The literature discussed in this chapter comes from a variety of disci- plines, including industrial-organizational psychology, developmental psy- chology, human resource development, and economics. Researchers in these disciplines have investigated the relationship between a range of different skills and abilities and later outcomes, using a variety of methods and data 37
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38 EDUCATION FOR LIFE AND WORK sets. Some of the evidence we present is correlational in nature, and we call these "simple correlations." Other evidence is longitudinal, in which competencies and other capacities measured at one point are related to out- comes measured years later, often after adjusting for individuals' differences in family backgrounds. We call these "adjusted correlations" and view this evidence as more suggestive of causal connections than the evidence from simple correlations, but still prone to biases from a variety of sources. The strongest causal evidence, particularly the evidence of the impacts of years of completed schooling on adult outcomes, comes from statistical methods that are designed to approximate experiments. IMPORTANCE TO EDUCATIONAL SUCCESS Many more studies of school success have focused on the role of general cognitive ability (IQ) than specific interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies (see Table 3-1). Economists tend to lump all competencies other than IQ into the category of "noncognitive skills." Personality and developmental psychologists have developed a much more refined tax- onomy of them. Most personality psychologists have centered their work on the "big five" personality traits--conscientiousness, openness, agreeableness, emo- tional stability, and extroversion--plus general cognitive ability. Although these traits have traditionally been viewed as relatively stable across the life span, a growing body of evidence indicates that that personality traits change in response to general life experiences (e.g., Roberts, Walton, and Viechtbauer, 2006; Almlund et al., 2011) and to structured interventions (see Chapters 4 and 5). Developmental psychologists have a dynamic view of competence and behavioral development, with children's competencies and behaviors deter- mined by the interplay between their innate abilities and dispositions and the quality of their early experiences (National Research Council, 2000). Both groups have investigated associations among cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal competencies and children's success in school. Personality Factors and School Success The comprehensive Almlund et al. (2011) study of personality and at- tainment offers the following summary of "prediction" evidence on corre- lations and, in some cases, adjusted correlations between personality traits and educational attainment (see also Table 3-1): Measures of personality predict a range of educational outcomes. Of the Big Five, Conscientiousness best predicts overall attainment and achieve-
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IMPORTANCE OF DEEPER LEARNING AND 21ST CENTURY SKILLS 39 ment. Other traits, such as Openness to Experience, predict finer mea- sures of educational attainment, such as attendance and course difficulty. Traits related to Neuroticism also affect educational attainment, but the relationship is not always monotonic. Conscientiousness predicts college grades to the same degree that SAT scores do. Personality measures predict performance on achievement tests and, to a lesser degree, performance on intelligence tests. (p. 127) It is important to note that while these associations are large enough to pass conventional thresholds of statistical significance, they almost never account for more than a nominal amount of the variation in the educational attainment outcomes under study. The most noteworthy meta-analysis of these kinds of data is by Poropat (2009), who examined studies of the simple correlations between personal- ity factors and school grades in primary, secondary, and higher education.1 He found a significant positive association between conscientiousness and grades in primary school through college (see top half of Table 3-2). The simple correlations between conscientiousness and grades in high school and college were in the 0.20-0.25 range, about as high as the correlations between measures of general cognitive ability and grades in high school and college.2 In comparison with other correlates of grades identified in previ- ous studies, these two correlations are at approximately the same level as socioeconomic status (Sirin, 2005) and slightly lower than the correlations found for conscientiousness in industry training programs (Arthur et al., 2003). In elementary school, general cognitive ability is the strongest correlate of grades, although all five personality factors are positively correlated with grades. Correlations between personality factors and grades generally fall over the course of high school and college. In higher education, among the five personality factors, only conscientiousness is correlated with grades. Three studies of the correlations between "big five" personality traits and completed schooling have included at least some regression controls (Goldberg et al., 1998; van Eijck and de Graaf, 2004; Almlund et al., 2011). All find positive adjusted associations for concientiousness that range from 0.05 to 0.18, and all find modest negative adjusted associations for extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. 1The Poropat (2009) analysis included many more studies focused on grades in secondary (24-35 studies) and higher education (75-92 studies) than in elementary school (8 studies). 2In social science research, such correlations are generally interpreted following rules of thumb developed by Cohen (1988), in which a correlation of 0.20 is considered small, a correlation of 0.50 is considered medium, and a correlation of 0.80 is considered large.
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TABLE 3-1 Key Studies Cited in Chapter 3: The Importance of Deeper Learning and 21st Century Skills 40 Reference Key Findings/Conclusions Research Methods Measures of Skills Studies of Personality Factors Almlund et al. Conscientiousness has strong Research synthesis "Big five" personality traits measured (2011) correlations with outcomes from a using a variety of direct and indirect number of adult domains. methods Studies of the Relationship Between Skills and Educational Attainment Duncan et al. Reading, math, and attention skills Formal meta-analysis of standardized Cognitive Skills: Measures of school- (2007) at school entry predict subsequent regression coefficients emerging entry reading and math achievement reading and math achievement. from the 236 individual study Neither behavior problems nor regressions analyzing the relationship Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Skills: mental health problems were between school-entry reading and The six longitudinal data sets included associated with later achievement, math achievement and noncognitive measures of attention (intrapersonal), holding constant achievement as well skills and later reading and math antisocial behavior (both intrapersonal as child and family characteristics. achievement. Controls for general and interpersonal), and mental health cognitive ability, behavior and (intrapersonal). temperament and parent education and income were included in the regressions. Duncan and Although school-entry reading and Review of theory and empirical Cognitive Skills: Measures of school- Magnuson (2011) math achievement skills predicted studies of the relationship between entry reading and math achievement later school achievement, single young children's skills and behaviors point-in-time assessments of primary and their later attainments. The Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Skills: school skills were relatively weakly studies included measures of The studies included measures of predictive of later outcomes. individual students' skills at multiple attention (intrapersonal), antisocial Children with persistent math or points in time to identify persistent behavior (both intrapersonal and behavior problems were much less patterns. interpersonal), and mental health likely to graduate from high school (intrapersonal). or attend college and those with
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persistent behavior problems were much more likely to be arrested or jailed. Poropat (2009) At the elementary school level, Meta-analysis of studies of the Cognitive Skills: Some of the studies cognitive ability is the strongest correlation between personality traits included tests of general cognitive predictor of grades. At the high and academic performance. Most ability. school and college levels, cognitive of the studies came from higher ability is a weaker predictor of education, with a smaller sample Interpersonal Skills: Measures of grades and conscientiousness is the from primary education. agreeableness and extroversion only personality factor that predicts grades. Where tested, correlations Intrapersonal Skills: Measures of between conscientiousness and conscientiousness, emotional stability, academic performance were largely and openness independent of measures of cognitive ability. Studies controlling for secondary academic performance found conscientiousness predicted college grades at about the same level as measures of cognitive ability. 41 continued
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TABLE 3-1 Continued 42 Reference Key Findings/Conclusions Research Methods Measures of Skills Studies of the Relationship Between Skills and Income/Earnings/Job Performance Autor, Levy, and From 1970 to 1988, across the U.S. Paired representative data on Cognitive: DOT measures of: Murnane (2003) economy, computerization reduced job task requirements from the nonroutine cognitive tasks: (1) level routine cognitive and manual Dictionary of Occupational Titles of direction, control, and planning of tasks and increased nonroutine (DOT) with samples of employed activities; and (2) quantitative reasoning cognitive and interactive tasks. This workers from the Census and CPS to model explains 60% of the growth create a consistent panel of industry Manual Tasks: DOT measures of in college-educated labor from and occupational task input from routine manual tasks: finger dexterity 1970-1988. Conclusion: Demand 1960 to 1998. and nonroutine tasks: eye-hand-foot is growing for nonroutine problem- coordination solving and complex communication skills. Interpersonal and Intrapersonal: No direct measures Barrick, Mount, and Conscientiousness is a valid Second-order meta-analysis of the Cognitive: No measures Judge (2001) predictor of job performance across results of 11 prior meta-analyses of all performance measures in all the relationship between Five Factor Interpersonal: Measures of extroversion, (job performance) occupations studied, with average Model personality traits and job agreeableness correlations ranging from the mid performance. .20s to low .30s. Intrapersonal: Measures of emotional stability, conscientiousness, and openness to experience Cunha and Increased parental investments in Dynamic factor model used to Cognitive Skills: Tests of mathematics Heckman (2008) their children's skills impact adult address endogeneity of inputs and and reading recognition earnings and high school graduation multiplicity of parental inputs (earnings and high rates through effects on both relative to instruments. Estimated the Interpersonal and Intrapersonal: Several school graduation) cognitive and noncognitive scale of the factors by estimating subscores of the Behavioral Problems
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skills. Improvements in noncognitive their effects on high school Index were combined into a single skills raised both cognitive and graduation and earnings at age 23. measure of noncognitive skills. noncognitive skills. Data: Sample of 1,053 white males Measures of Parental Investments: from the CNLSY/79 data set Number of books, number of musical instruments, newspaper subscriptions, special lessons, trips to the museum, trips to the theater Lindqvist and Conclusion: Noncognitive ability is Multiple regression analysis. Cognitive Skills: Test of general Vestman (2011) considerably more important than Authors used ordinary least squares intelligence cognitive ability for success in the to estimate the effect of cognitive labor market. and noncognitive skills on wages, Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Skills: earnings, and unemployment. They Authors used the overall score and the matched a dataset on socioeconomic sum of the subscores assigned by a outcomes for a representative sample certified psychologist on the basis of a of the Swedish population with data semi-structured, 25-minute interview. from the military enlistment. The interview is designed to measure the ability to function during armed combat. A high score reflects both intrapersonal and interpersonal skills Studies of the Relationship Between Skills and Health Cutler and Lleras- The effect of education on health 1990, 1991, and 2000 waves of the Completed years of schooling Muney (2010a) increases with increasing years of National Health Interview Survey, education and appears to be related National Death Index to critical thinking and decision- making patterns. SOURCE: Created by the committee. 43
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TABLE 3-2 Correlations and Regression-Adjusted Associations Among Skills, Behaviors, and School Performance 44 Longitudinal (simple) Concurrent (simple) Correlations Correlations Regression-Adjusted Correlations Primary school Secondary Tertiary Primary Primary Personality Factors Outcome is school grades. Conscientiousness .28 .21 .23 Openness .24 .12 .07 Agreeableness .30 .05 .06 Emotional stability .20 .01 .01 Extroversion .18 .01 .03 Cognitive ability .58 .24 .23 Skills and Behaviors Outcome is reading achievement. Outcomes are later reading and math achievement. Kindergarten 5th grade Kindergarten Kindergarten Reading achievement -- .44 .13 Math achievement -- .47 .33 Attention .29 .38 .25 .07 Antisocial behavior .07 .25 .14 .01 Mental health .12 .20 .10 .00 NOTE: Concurrent correlations for personality factors and cognitive ability come from Poropat (2009). Concurrent correlations for skills and behaviors in kindergarten and fifth grade come from Duncan and Magnuson (2011). Longitudinal and regression-adjusted correlations are from Duncan et al. (2007). Regression controls in the final column include family background, child temperament, and IQ. SOURCE: Created by the committee.
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IMPORTANCE OF DEEPER LEARNING AND 21ST CENTURY SKILLS 45 Skills, Behaviors, and School Success There are many ways that developmental psychologists classify compe- tencies in the cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal domains, and some of their categories correspond to some of the "big five" personality traits. One recent review classified important competencies into four groups: achievement, attention, behavior problems, and mental health (Duncan and Magnuson, 2011). Achievement, in the cognitive domain, refers to concrete academic competencies such as literacy (e.g., for kindergarteners, decoding skills such as beginning to associate sounds with letters at the beginning and end of words) and basic mathematics (e.g., ability to recognize numbers and shapes and to compare relative sizes). Although scores on tests of cognitive ability and achievement tend to have substantial correlations, there is an important conceptual difference between cognitive ability as a relatively stable trait and the concrete achievement competencies that develop in response to schooling and other environmental inputs. Attention, in the intrapersonal domain, refers to the ability to control impulses and focus on tasks (e.g., Raver, 2004). Developmental psycholo- gists often distinguish between two broad dimensions of behavior problems that reflect the domains of interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies-- externalizing and internalizing. Externalizing behavior refers to a cluster of related behaviors, including antisocial behavior, conduct disorders, and more general aggression (Moffitt, 1993; Campbell, Shaw, and Gilliom, 2000). Internalizing behavior refers to a similarly broad set of mental health constructs, including anxiety and depression as well as somatic complaints and withdrawn behavior (Bongers et al. ,2003).3 Many studies have established simple and, in some cases, adjusted cor- relations between this set of intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies and academic outcomes in the early grades (e.g., Vitaro et al., 2005, and Currie and Stabile, 2007, for attention; Pianta and Stuhlman, 2004, for antisocial behavior; and Fantuzzo et al., 2003, for depressive symptoms). Duncan and Magnuson (2011) use nationally representative data on kin- dergarteners and fifth graders to compute the simple correlations shown in the bottom left panel of Table 3-2. Since letter grades are rarely recorded in the early grades, the table shows correlations between reading achieve- ment and measures of attention, antisocial behavior and mental health. All are substantial by fifth grade, with the expected positive achievement 3Cutting across the attention and externalizing categories is the idea of self-regulation, which current theory and research often subdivides into separate cognitive (cool) and emotional components (hot) (Raver, 2004; Eisenberg et al., 2005; Raver et al., 2005). Cognitive self- regulation fits into our "attention" category while emotional self-regulation fits into our "behavior problems" category.
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46 EDUCATION FOR LIFE AND WORK associations for attention and negative associations for antisocial behavior and mental health problems. All of these associations are smaller in kinder- garten, which, in contrast with the research on personality factors (Poropat, 2009), suggests increasing correlations as children grow older. Averaging across six longitudinal data sets, Duncan et al. (2007) cal- culate the bivariate correlations shown in the "longitudinal correlations" column of Table 3-2. Shown here are simple correlations among kindergar- ten entry achievement, attention and behavioral competencies, and math and reading test scores measured 2-8 years later. Correlations between later achievement and the three measures of attention, antisocial behavior, and mental health problems are similar to what was found for corresponding correlations with kindergarten achievement shown in the first column. As might be expected, correlations between math and reading competencies at school entry and later in the elementary school years are quite high. To more accurately assess the importance of any one of these competen- cies and behaviors for school and career success, some studies have gone beyond these simple correlations to account for the fact that children with different levels of a given competency or behavior are likely to differ in many other ways as well. Children with, say, higher math scores may also have higher IQs, be better readers, exhibit less antisocial behavior, or come from more advantaged families. When adjustments for differences in these other conditions are made, the size of the relationship between early com- petencies and behaviors and later outcomes tends to shrink. This is shown in the fifth and sixth columns of numbers in Table 3-2. A clear conclusion from these columns of numbers is that only three of the five school-entry competencies have noteworthy adjusted correlations with subsequent read- ing and math achievement: reading, math, and attention. Neither behavior problems nor mental health problems demonstrated a statistically signifi- cant positive correlation with later achievement, once achievement and child and family characteristics are held constant.4 Studies estimating bivariate correlations between high school comple- tion and measures of early competencies and behaviors--including achieve- ment, attention, behavior problems, and mental health--find them to be quite modest (.05 to .10; Entwisle, Alexander, and Olson, 2005; Duncan and Magnuson, 2011, Appendix Table 3.A9). Even when these competen- cies and behaviors are measured at age 14, none of the correlations with high school completion is stronger than .20. Much larger correlations are observed for early indications that chil- dren have persistent deficits in some of these competencies and behaviors. In particular, children with persistently low mathematics achievement and 4A replication and extension analysis by Grissmer et al. (2010) also found predictive power for measures of fine motor skills.
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IMPORTANCE OF DEEPER LEARNING AND 21ST CENTURY SKILLS 47 persistently high levels of antisocial behavior across elementary school were 10-13 percentage points less likely to graduate high school and about 25 percentage points less likely to attend college than children who never have these problems (Duncan and Magnuson, 2011). In contrast, persistent read- ing and attention problems had very low adjusted correlations with these attainment outcomes.5 IMPORTANCE TO WORKPLACE SUCCESS Technological advances, globalization, and other changes have fueled demand for more highly educated workers over the past four decades. Across much of the 1980s, the inflation-adjusted earnings of high school graduates plunged by 16 percent, while the earnings of college-educated workers rose by nearly 10 percent. In the following two decades, low-skill worker earnings continued to fall, while the earnings of college-educated workers continued their modest rise.6 How these occupation and education-related changes in the labor mar- ket affect the demand for cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal com- petencies is the subject of this section. We begin with a brief review of the large literature on the economic payoff to years of formal education, and of the remarkably modest extent to which prior cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal skills account for that payoff. We then turn to a more detailed discussion of trends in demand for 21st century competencies. Educational Attainment and Employment Outcomes From the pioneering work in the 1960s and 1970s of Schultz (1961), Becker (1964), and Mincer (1974) to the present, studies have shown that investments in education produce rates of monetary return that are comparable or higher than market rates on investment in physical capital. Remarkable in this literature is that the estimates have changed little as increasingly sophisticated studies have eliminated likely sources of bias in the estimation of the economic payoff to education, the most prominent of which is the self-selection of more able or motivated into higher levels of completed schooling.7 5These results come from an analysis in which the predictive power of any given skill or behavior was assessed after adjusting for the others and for family background characteristics. 6Autor, Katz, and Kearney (2008, Table 1). Data are based on weekly earnings for full-time workers with 5 years of experience. Earnings of high school dropouts fell even more than the earnings of high school graduates (see also Levy and Murnane, 2004). 7An overview of the efforts to address these bias issues is provided in Card (1999). One strategy for reducing bias from genetic factors is to use siblings or even identical twins to re- late earnings and employment differences to schooling differences pairs of otherwise ¨similar¨
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58 EDUCATION FOR LIFE AND WORK A few studies have attempted to estimate links between health and cog- nitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal competencies. The Almlund et al. (2011) review reaches the following conclusions regarding personality traits: All Big Five traits predict some health outcomes. Conscientiousness, how- ever, is the most predictive and can better predict longevity than does intel- ligence or background. Personality measures predict health both through the channel of education and by improving health-related behavior, such as smoking. (pp. 127-128) Many of these conclusions are based on the meta-analysis of Roberts et al. (2007), who review evidence from 34 different studies on links between longevity and the "big five" personality traits. They find that conscientious- ness was the strongest predictor among the "big five" traits and a stronger predictor than either IQ or socioeconomic status. openness to experience and agreeableness were also associated with longevity, while neuroticism was associated with shorter life spans. Among individual studies, Conti, Heckman, and Urzua (2010a, 2010b) estimate a multifactor model of schooling, earnings, and health outcomes using data from the British Cohort Study. They find that cognitive ability is not a very important determinant of smoking decisions or obesity but that noncognitive competencies are generally more important for smoking, obesity, and self-reported health. More recently, Hauser and Palloni (2011) studied the relationship between high school class ranking, cognitive ability, and mortality in a large sample of American high school graduates. They found that the relationship between cognitive ability (IQ) and survival was entirely explained by a measure of cumulative academic performance (rank in high school class) that was only moderately associated with IQ. More- over, the effect of class ranking on survival was three times greater than that of IQ. The authors' interpretation of these findings is that higher cognitive ability improves the chances of survival by encouraging responsible, well- organized, timely behaviors appropriate to the situation--both in terms of high school academics and in later-life health behaviors. COMPETENCIES AND HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS IN ADULTHOOD Insights into the importance of transferable competencies for healthy marriages and other relationships in adulthood can be gleaned from the literature in a number of areas. Our review concentrates on three: (1) stud- ies of couple satisfaction and marriage duration, (2) programs designed to promote healthy marriages, and (3) programs targeting teen relationship building.
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IMPORTANCE OF DEEPER LEARNING AND 21ST CENTURY SKILLS 59 A literature review by Halford et al. (2003; see also Gonzaga, Campos, and Bradbury, 2007) suggests four broad classes of variables that impact the trajectory of relationship satisfaction over time: couple interaction, life events impinging upon the couple, enduring individual characteristics of the partners, and contextual variables. Most relevant to the committee charge are the enduring individual characteristics and interactions. Behavioral genetic studies show substantial heritabilities for divorce in adulthood (McGue and Lykken, 1992; Jockin, McGue, and Lykken, 1996). A handful of studies have examined early childhood correlates of adult relationship stability. Two of the most relevant drew data from the Dunedon birth cohort study. Newman et al. (1997) found that undercon- trolled temperament observed at age 3 predicted greater levels of conflict in romantic relationships at age 21. Relatedly, Moffitt et al. (2011) found that childhood self-control predicts the likelihood of being a single parent. Most personality traits are not very predictive of relationship satisfac- tion (e.g., Gottman, 1994; Karney and Bradbury, 1995). However, low neuroticism (i.e., high ability to regulate negative affect) as an adult has been found to predict high relationship satisfaction (Karney and Bradbury, 1997). In addition, Davila and Bradbury (2001) find that low anxiety over abandonment and comfort with emotional closeness are also predictive. Among the elements of couple interaction, effective communication competencies has predicted relationship satisfaction in numerous studies although, interestingly enough, prospectively and not concurrently (Karney and Bradbury, 1995). Insights into needed skills can also be gleaned from the curricula of ef- fective adult couple relationship education programs. Many such programs attempt to boost couples' positive communication, conflict management, and positive expressions of affection (Halford et al., 2003). In contrast, curricula for teen relationship programs promote positive attitudes and be- liefs rather than skills, although, as with adult programs, some also target relationship behavior (Karney et al., 2007). IMPORTANCE TO CIVIC PARTICIPATION Civic engagement is variously understood to include involvement in activities focused on improving one's community, involvement in electoral activities (voting, working on campaigns, etc.), and efforts to exercise voice and opinion (e.g., protests, writing to elected officials, etc.) (Zukin et al., 2006). Academics, foundations, and policy makers have expressed con- cern about decreasing levels of political engagement in the United States, particularly among youth. For example, political scientist Robert Putnam (2000) drew attention to Americans' lack of connection through clubs, civic associations, and other groups in his influential book Bowling Alone.
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60 EDUCATION FOR LIFE AND WORK In response to these concerns, there has been a resurgence of interest in the development of the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that facilitate civic engagement--this cluster of knowledge, skills, and dispositions is sometimes referred to as "civic literacy." Studies are looking at the roles played by peers, schools, the media, and other factors in civic literacy and engagement (Delli Carpini and Keeter, 1997; Niemi and Junn, 1998). A recent review of this literature (Garcia Bedolla, 2010) finds that schools have a greater impact on civic literacy than was previously thought, and it has also pointed to the importance of parents and neighborhoods. How- ever, these studies have focused on young people's attitudes, dispositions, or intentions about future political behavior, and have not linked school- based civics programs with later voting behavior and other civic activities in adulthood. Prevalence of Civic Participation Recent survey data suggest that some forms of engagement are fairly widespread (e.g., voting in general elections, volunteerism, consumer boy- cotts). A majority of young people report that they regularly follow public affairs (Lopez et al., 2006). But upward of 60 percent of young people are unable to describe activities that they can attribute to civic or political en- gagement, and a significant percentage is "highly disengaged." These young people do not generally believe their civic or political actions are likely to make much difference. Another type of civic participation is direct political action--protest, work on political campaigns, and the like. Overall, just 13 percent of young people are reported as being intensely involved in politics at this level--survey data indicate they are motivated by a desire to address a social or political problem. Factors Associated with Civic Participation Studies have shed light on the factors that correlate with political en- gagement, focusing on the role of family, schools, and peers in the develop- ment of children's political attitudes and behaviors. Early studies found that families tend to be more important than schools, as political orientations and other attitudes and perspectives appeared to be socially inherited from parents to children (Abramowitz, 1983; Achen, 2002). Indeed, research over four decades has demonstrated that socioeconomic status (SES) is a strong predictor of engagement and participation (Garcia Bedolla, 2010). More recent studies underscore the importance of parents and neighbor- hoods in the socialization process; they also indicate that schools can play a more important role than was previously believed (Niemi and Junn, 1998; Kahne and Sporte, 2008).
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IMPORTANCE OF DEEPER LEARNING AND 21ST CENTURY SKILLS 61 The literature linking years of schooling with civic outcomes is exten- sive. However, as with labor market and health outcomes, studies providing convincing causal estimates are relatively rare. Lochner (2011) provides a review of these rigorous studies and concludes that this literature suggests important effects of completed schooling on a wide range of political be- haviors in the United States, but not in the United Kingdom or Germany. The U.S. impacts are found for voting registration and behavior, political interest, and the acquisition of political information. Smith (1999) examined the effects of early investments in young peo- ple's social capital on political involvement and "civic virtue" in young adulthood. Using longitudinal data, she examined parental involvement, youth religious involvement, and participation in voluntary associations. She found that early extensive connections to others, close family relation- ships, and participation in religious activities and extracurricular activities during adolescence were significant predictors of greater political and civic involvement in young adulthood. EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT AND TRANSFER IN THE LABOR MARKET A general theme of the evidence presented in this chapter is that mea- surable cognitive competencies, personality traits, and other intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies developed in childhood and adolescence are, at best, modestly predictive of adult successes, particularly labor mar- ket productivity. Cognitive ability does appear to matter and, among per- sonality traits, so, apparently, does conscientiousness. But, in the research to date, their predictive power is modest. In terms of "transfer," we are unable to point to a particular set of competencies or behaviors that have been shown to transfer well to the labor market. (Boosting these skills may increase educational attainment, however, as discussed in the following chapters.) Education attainment, in contrast, is strongly predictive of labor mar- ket success, even in research approaches designed to approximate random assignment experiments. Measurable cognitive, intrapersonal, and interper- sonal competencies account for surprisingly little of the impact of education on future productivity. But even if we do not know exactly what it is about spending an additional year in school that makes people more productive, a policy approach designed to promote attainment might be promising, particularly if it can be shown that attainment promotes competencies that are transferable across jobs or across an individual's entire career. Prior to the human capital revolution of the 1960s, the manpower plan- ning approach assumed that each job and occupation required a specific level and type of education. Education policy planners produced projections
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62 EDUCATION FOR LIFE AND WORK of economic output by sector multiplied by a fixed formula of occupational requirements per unit of output that was further translated into a rigid formula of educational needs of a future labor force. Needless to say, the manpower forecasts failed, largely because of the rigid assumptions relat- ing educational requirements to occupation and occupational requirements to economic output. Changes in technology, organization, and the market prices of labor and capital, and error-prone projections of sectoral output all undermined the accuracy of the projections of educational need.9 Becker's (1964) early work on human capital took a more general approach by distinguishing between general and specific human capital. He proposed that education developed "general" human capital that was valuable across different firms, while training and experience within a firm work developed "specific" human capital, valuable only in a particular firm. Becker's (1964) human capital model depended upon market dynam- ics in which adjustments would take place through responses to the costs and productivity of different kinds of labor. Labor supply and demand were expected to adapt, as any changes in demand for human capital resulting from changes in the firm's organization, technology, and mix of outputs would be met by individual and company investments in education, job training, and on-the-job learning. There is considerable evidence that labor supply, allocation, and pro- ductivity are widely adaptable to changes in the economy, especially over the long run. This is because education increases the capacity of workers to learn on the job, benefit from further training, and respond to productive needs as they arise. Workers with more education are generally able to learn their jobs more quickly and do them more proficiently. They can work more intelligently and with greater precision and can accomplish more within the same time period. Greater levels of education increase their ability to benefit from training for more complex job situations, and this is evidenced in the literature on training.10 The research demonstrating the overall impact of education on productivity and economic outcomes did not address precisely what competencies were developed by educational investments. However, an important insight was established by Nelson and Phelps (1966), who suggested that a major contribution of education was to enable workers to adapt to technological change. Welch (1970) and Schultz (1975) generalized this insight to suggest that investments in more educated workers had an even greater impact on a firm's ability to adapt to technological change. They argued that hiring more educated workers can improve a firm's productivity not only because, relative to less educated workers, these workers are more productive in 9See Blaug (1975) for a trenchant critique of this type of approach. 10See Lynch (1992); Leuven and Oosterbeek (1997); Blundell et al. (1999).
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IMPORTANCE OF DEEPER LEARNING AND 21ST CENTURY SKILLS 63 their current jobs and can be more quickly and easily trained for complex jobs, but also because they can allocate their time and other resources more efficiently in their own jobs and in related jobs in ways that increase the overall productivity of the firm. In this way, the contributions of more edu- cated workers go beyond their own job performance to impact the overall performance of the organization. For both Welch and Schultz, these benefits represent the greatest opportunity for investments in more educated work- ers to pay off for the firm. More education, and higher education in particular, appears to develop workers' abilities to master an understanding of the production process and to tacitly make adjustments to changes in prices, technology, the pro- ductivity of inputs, or mix of outputs. These continuous adjustments allow the firm to "return to equilibrium" (in economic terms), maximizing pro- ductivities and profits. Neither Welch nor Schultz addressed which specific aspects of schooling contributed to the ability of workers to make the tacit adjustments to production that will increase productivity and profitability. It is possible that schooling develops not only cognitive competencies but also intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies that enable workers to make decisions that benefit the firm. Welch (1970) and Schultz (1975) provide many examples of how in- vestments in more educated workers may help firms adjust to optimize their productivity and profits, but there are also many examples of adjustments to disequilibria in the overall labor market. During the Second World War, women replaced males in the labor force in what had been male occupa- tions, continuing the high rates of productivity needed to support both the war effort and the economy (Goldin, 1991). Chung (1990) studied voca- tionally trained workers for particular occupations who had been employed in those occupations or in occupations that were not matched specifically to their training. He found that workers who had received vocational training for a declining manufacturing industry, textiles, were substantially switch- ing to a growing and thriving manufacturing industry, electronics, and were receiving considerably higher earnings in the latter than in the former. That is, the supply of workers was adapting in the short run to the changes in demand, and in the longer run the occupational training choice of workers was adapting too. The historical evidence suggests that education is transferable across occupations because many occupations require common skills. For exam- ple, Gathmann and Schonberg (2010) found that competencies developed at work (which Becker viewed as "specific" and not valuable outside the firm) were more portable than previously thought. Analyzing data on the complete job histories and wages of over 100,000 German workers, along with detailed information on the tasks used in different occupations, they found that workers developed task-specific knowledge and skills and were
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64 EDUCATION FOR LIFE AND WORK rewarded accordingly, with higher wages as they gained experience in an occupation. On average, workers who changed occupations--whether voluntarily or because they were laid off--were more likely to move to an occupation requiring similar tasks (and attendant competencies) to their previous occupation than to a "distant" occupation requiring very different competencies. Laid-off workers who were unable to find work in similar occupations and were forced to move to a distant occupation experienced higher wage losses than those who were able to find work in similar occupations. The authors found that university graduates appeared to gain more task-specific knowledge and skills than less educated workers and to be rewarded accordingly with higher wages. However, when more highly edu- cated workers were required to move to distant occupations, their wages declined more than did the wages of less highly educated workers who had to move to a distant occupation. This suggests that the deep task-specific competencies developed by the highly educated workers were less trans- ferable than the shallower competencies developed by the less educated workers. Overall, the study suggests that workers are more easily able to transfer competencies developed on the job to a similar occupation, in- volving similar tasks, than to a dissimilar occupation. This is analogous to research findings from the learning sciences, which have found that transfer of learning to a new task or problem is facilitated when the new task or problem has similar elements to the learned task (see Chapter 4). Other evidence suggests that even workers with relatively lower levels of education may be able to adapt to the demands of complex jobs. One measure of adaptability is the substitutability among workers with differ- ent levels of education. Economists measure employers' ability to substitute workers at one level of education for jobs that normally are associated with a higher level of education by examining how the mix of more and less educated workers changes as relative wages for different educational levels change. Historical studies in the United States suggest that each 10 percent increase in the labor costs of a higher level of education is associated with a 15 percent decrease in employment at that educational level and increase in workers with less education to replace them (Ciccone and Peri, 2005). This implies that employers view workers as highly adaptable to perform jobs that traditionally require more education, when relative wages encour- age such substitution. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The research evidence related to the relationship between various cog- nitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal competencies is limited and uneven in quality. Some of the evidence reviewed in this chapter is correlational
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IMPORTANCE OF DEEPER LEARNING AND 21ST CENTURY SKILLS 65 in nature and should be considered, at best, suggestive of possible causal linkages. Other evidence, from longitudinal studies, is more suggestive of causal connections than the correlational evidence, but it is still prone to biases from a variety of sources. The strongest causal evidence, particularly the evidence of the impacts of years of completed schooling on adult out- comes, comes from statistical methods that are designed to approximate experiments. · Conclusion: The available research evidence is limited and primar- ily correlational in nature; to date, only a few studies have dem- onstrated a causal relationship between one or more 21st century competencies and adult outcomes. The research has examined a wide range of different competencies that are not always clearly defined or distinguished from related competencies. Many more studies of the relationships between various competencies and outcomes (in education, the labor market, health, and other domains) have focused on the role of general cognitive ability (IQ) than on specific intrapersonal and interpersonal skills (see Table 3-1). Economists who conduct such studies tend to lump all competencies other than IQ into the category of "noncognitive skills," while personality and developmental psychologists have developed a much more refined taxonomy of them. All three groups have investigated the relationships between cognitive, intra- personal, and interpersonal competencies and outcomes in adolescence and adulthood. · Conclusion: Cognitive competencies have been more extensively studied than intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies, show- ing consistent, positive correlations (of modest size) with desirable educational, career, and health outcomes. Early academic compe- tencies are also positively correlated with these outcomes. · Conclusion: Among intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies, conscientiousness (staying organized, responsible, and hardwork- ing) is most highly correlated with desirable outcomes in education and the workplace. Antisocial behavior, which has both intraper- sonal and interpersonal dimensions, is negatively correlated with these outcomes. Across the available studies, the relative size of the correlations with the three different domains of skills is mixed. There is some evidence that better measurement of noncognitive competencies might result in a higher estimate of their importance in education and in the workplace.
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66 EDUCATION FOR LIFE AND WORK A general theme of the evidence presented in this chapter is that measurable cognitive skills, personality traits, and other intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies developed in childhood and adolescence are, at best, modestly predictive of adult successes, particularly in the labor market. Educational attainment, in contrast, is strongly predictive of labor market success, even in research approaches designed to ap- proximate random assignment experiments. Measurable cognitive, intra personal, and interpersonal competencies account for surprisingly little of the impact of education on future wages (wages, in economic theory, reflect productivity). Studies by economists have found that more highly educated workers are more productive than those with less years of schooling are because more highly educated workers are better able to accomplish a given set of work tasks and are also more able to benefit from training for more complex tasks. In addition, more highly educated workers have the capac- ity to allocate resources more efficiently in their own work activities and in behalf of the enterprise in which they work than do workers with fewer years of schooling. · Conclusion: Educational attainment--the number of years a per- son spends in school--strongly predicts adult earnings, and also predicts health and civic engagement. Moreover, individuals with higher levels of education appear to gain more knowledge and skills on the job than do those with lower levels of education and they are able, to some extent, to transfer what they learn across occupations. Since it is not known what mixture of cognitive, in- trapersonal, and interpersonal competencies accounts for the labor market benefits of additional schooling, promoting educational at- tainment itself may constitute a useful complementary strategy for developing 21st century competencies. The limited and uneven quality of the research reviewed in this chapter limits our understanding of the relationships between various cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal competencies and adult outcomes. · Recommendation 1: Foundations and federal agencies should sup- port further research designed to increase our understanding of the relationships between 21st century competencies and successful adult outcomes. To provide stronger causal evidence about such relationships, the programs of research should move beyond simple correlational studies to include more longitudinal studies with con- trols for differences in individuals' family backgrounds and more studies using statistical methods that are designed to approximate
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IMPORTANCE OF DEEPER LEARNING AND 21ST CENTURY SKILLS 67 experiments. Such research would benefit from efforts to achieve common definitions of 21st century competencies and an associ- ated set of activities designed to produce valid and reliable assess- ments of the various individual competencies.
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