Skills for Today: What We Know about Teaching and Assessing Collaboration

Education researchers at Pearson teamed up with the Partnership for 21st Century Learning (P21) to conduct a review of the research literature on the importance of collaboration skills for employers, as well as how to teach and assess these skills in K-12 and higher-education classrooms. The ability to work in teams is one of the most sought-after skills among new hires, yet research suggests that students may not be graduating with the level of skill needed to succeed on the job.

Key findings and key recommendations from the report include the following:


» Employers say job applicants must have teamwork skills.

» Those with better collaboration skills earn more and have more success on the job.

» Better collaborators also learn more in cooperative academic settings and are more committed to civic participation.

» Collaboration skills, like interpersonal communication, conflict resolution, and task management, do not develop on their own but must be explicitly taught.

» Many educators are not currently teaching collaboration skills in this way.


» Incorporate collaboration into K-12 standards—so it’s taught.

» K-12 educators need professional development, administrative support, and technology for teaching collaboration.

» Institutions of higher education (IHEs) need to include teamwork skills in institutional learning outcomes, to provide training for faculty, and to fund grants that encourage teaching of collaboration and teamwork skills.

» Employers need to establish relationships with K-12 schools and IHEs to help infuse authentic, real-world collaboration experiences (e.g., internships and apprenticeships) into the curriculum.

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