Diving into the research behind the key competencies

Ian Axford Fellow Michael Wolking visited 21 secondary schools to research the key competencies of New Zealand schools and recently presented his results.

Mike Wolking’s research of New Zealand’s schools’ key competencies has revealed that, yes, they are being monitored in many classrooms.

However, measurements of the social and emotional skills that underpin the competencies are still being developed, leading teachers to focus on the content knowledge that is easily measurable.

“If I didn’t have to spend so much time catching kids up on content, we could focus more on soft skills,” said one of the teachers Mike spoke with.

Social and emotional skill development is correlated with a number of outcomes, such as university entrance and employment status, leading organisations like the OECD to focus increasingly on how school systems support holistic student learning.

In New Zealand, one way that many schools give students the chance to reflect on their performances in a holistic way is through student-led conferences with parents and whānau.

“It’s good for kids to get used to talking about what and how they’re learning, where they’ve been successful and where they need support,” says Mike.

In some cases, key competencies have been framed as future-focused and important for students’ career goals.

“That means reflection on the key competencies can be absent during day-to-day lesson planning by teachers, even while they’re very much present in the broader picture of a school’s values and principles,” says Mike.

“One of my recommendations is that teachers and researchers dive into the research behind key competencies – on concepts like metacognition, goal orientation, and collaborative learning, for example – to understand how the key competencies lead to more effective teaching and learning on a daily basis.”

Read the full story on the Education Gazette website


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