and the larger competency clusters, the committee developed the following initial classification scheme (see Chapter 2):

  • The Cognitive Domain includes three clusters of competencies: cognitive processes and strategies, knowledge, and creativity. These clusters include competencies, such as critical thinking, information literacy, reasoning and argumentation, and innovation.
  • The Intrapersonal Domain includes three clusters of competencies: intellectual openness, work ethic and conscientiousness, and positive core self-evaluation. These clusters include competencies, such as flexibility, initiative, appreciation for diversity, and metacognition (the ability to reflect on one’s own learning and make adjustments accordingly).
  • The Interpersonal Domain includes two clusters of competencies: teamwork and collaboration and leadership. These clusters include competencies, such as communication, collaboration, responsibility, and conflict resolution.


The committee examined evidence of the importance of various types of competencies for success in education, work, health, and other life contexts (see Chapter 3) and concluded:

  • Conclusion: The available research evidence is limited and primarily correlational in nature; to date, only a few studies have demonstrated 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.

Despite the limitations of the research evidence, the committee was able to reach three conclusions about the importance of various competencies:

  • Conclusion: Cognitive competencies have been more extensively studied than have intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies, showing consistent, positive correlations (of modest size) with desirable educational, career, and health outcomes. Early academic competencies are also positively correlated with these outcomes.

  • Conclusion: Among intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies, conscientiousness (staying organized, responsible, and hardworking) is most highly correlated with desirable educational, career,

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement