Towards a 21st Century Personalised Learning Skills Taxonomy

Ward, Rupert; Philips, Oliver; Bowers, David; Crick, Tom; Davenport, James; Hanna, Paul; Hayes, Alan; Irons, Alastair and Prickett, Tom (2021). Towards a 21st Century Personalised Learning Skills Taxonomy. In: IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (Educon 2021), 21-23 Apr 2021, [Online] Vienna.

Abstract

There exists a significant gap between the requirements specified within higher education qualifications and the requirements sought by employers. The former, commonly expressed in terms of learning outcomes, provide a measure of capability, of what skills have been learnt (an input measure); the latter, commonly expressed in terms of role descriptions, provide a measure of competency, of what a learner has become skilful in (an output measure). Accreditation traditionally provides a way of translating and embedding industry-relevant content into education programmes but current approaches make fully addressing this requirements gap, referred to here as the Capability-Competency Chasm, very difficult. This paper explores current efforts to address this global challenge, primarily through STEM examples that apply within the United Kingdom and European Union, before proposing a way of bridging this chasm through the use of a 21st Century (C21) skills taxonomy. The concept of C21 Skills Hours as a new input measurement for learning within qualifications is introduced, and an illustrative example is presented to show the C21 skills taxonomy in action. The paper concludes with a discussion of how such a taxonomy can also be used to support a microcredentialing framework that aligns to existing competency frameworks, enabling formal, non-formal and informal learning to all be recognized. A C21 Skills taxonomy can therefore be used to bridge the gap between capability (input) and competency (output), providing a common language both for learning and demonstrating a skill. This approach has profound implications for addressing current and future skills gaps as well as for supporting a transition to more personalised learning within schools, colleges and universities and more lifelong learning both during and outside of employment.

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