An exploratory study of the achievement of the twenty-first century skills in higher education

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Abstract:

Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to present the results of a survey study of the achievement of twenty-first century skills in higher education. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The study employs a quantitative survey design. Findings ‐ The findings indicate that the basic scientific and technological skills of reading critically and writing persuasively as well as accessing and using information efficiently have been achieved to a great extent in the context of the study; whereas, mathematical and scientific skills and global awareness and cross-cultural issues still need more attention. Variations in the level of mastery as well as gender differences in the achievement of certain skills clusters were also identified and discussed in light of the robustness of the theory of the "universal digital native". Research limitations/implications ‐ The results cannot be generalized into other contexts and the data were basically self-reported and not corroborated by evidence from triangulated sources. Practical implications ‐ Effective dealing with the basic and technological skills should be continued; however, more attention should be given to the development of the skills in mathematics and the sciences. Likewise, the visual-literacy skills and the levels of global awareness and cross-cultural understanding and appreciation should be improved. Originality/value ‐ This exploratory study fills a knowledge gap and may set the stage for further research into the extent to which the twenty-first century skills are being realized by institutions of higher learning given the scarcity or non-existence of this research.

Keywords: Globalization; Higher education; Information literacy; Skills

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00400911011068441

Publication date: August 17, 2010

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