CELL at UIndy

Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning

21st-Century Skills

Moving Beyond Pencil & Paper

Today’s students face complex challenges outside the classroom. Unfortunately, most traditional schools fail to adequately prepare students for these challenges. According to author Will Richardson, most schools better prepare students for the game of Jeopardy! than they do the realities of the 21st-century world. Students graduate able to recite facts and quote answers, but often struggle to construct meaning, think critically, and act creatively to solve real-world problems. Project-based learning changes that. Pairing academic content with 21st-century skills, PBL ensures students gain the knowledge and competencies to succeed in postsecondary education and the workforce.

Though “21st-century skills” can be defined broadly, they most commonly are seen as the fusion of the “three R’s” (reading, writing, and arithmetic) with the “four C’s” (communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking). PBL not only facilitates the development of these vital skills, but also introduces a whole host of other essential skills absent from many traditional education models.

  • Organization
  • Research
  • Communication
  • Civic engagement
  • Collaboration
  • Teamwork
  • Time management
  • Leadership
  • Presentation
  • Inquiry
  • Reflection
  • Self-Assessment
  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking
  • Digital literacy

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