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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Office of Testing and Assessment
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
Assessing Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Competencies
Project Scope

Policymakers and the public are increasingly concerned about the rising costs of higher education, the challenge of retaining students to complete undergraduate degrees, and the employability of college graduates. In response, colleges and universities seek to engage and motivate students, preparing them with knowledge and skills for successful careers, lifelong learning, civic participation, and a meaningful family life. The study will inform these efforts by examining how to assess interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies (e.g., teamwork, communication skills, academic mindset, grit) for different purposes, such as to guide teaching and learning and for student, instructor, and institutional accountability.

An ad hoc committee will examine how to assess interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies (e.g., teamwork, communication skills, academic mindset, and grit) of undergraduate students for different purposes. This examination will include identifying a range of competencies that may be related to postsecondary persistence and success, and that evidence indicates can be enhanced through intervention. The committee will author a report that establishes priorities for the development and use of assessments related to the identified intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies that influence higher education success, especially in STEM.
The committee will undertake three principal analytical tasks:


  1.  Review the relevant research to more clearly define interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies, to examine whether and to what extent a range of these competencies may be related to each other and to persistence and success in undergraduate education (especially in STEM) and to examine the extent to which these competencies can be enhanced through intervention.
  2. Examine available assessments of the interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies or competency clusters that are most strongly related to undergraduate persistence.
  3.  Establish priorities for development and use of these assessments for different purposes.

This project will build on the previous report Education for Life and Work (2012) and other NRC reports that have focused on the broad set of skills students need to acquire to be successful in the 21st Century and on undergraduate learning.

Committee Members

Member Biographies

Joan Herman
(Chair), Senior Research Scientist, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, University of California, Los Angeles
David Bills, Professor and Associate Dean, University of Iowa
Corbin Campbell, Assistant Professor of Higher Education, Teachers College, Columbia University
Tabbye Chavous, Professor of Education and Psychology and Associate Dean, Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan
Greg Duncan, Distinguished Professor, School of Education, University of California, Irvine
Sylvia Hurtado, Professor, University of California, Los Angeles
Patrick Kyllonen, Senior Research Director, Research/CAWRS, Educational Testing Service
Dan McAdams, Henry Wade Rogers Professor of Psychology, Northwestern University
Frederick Oswald, Professor, Department of Psychology, Rice University
Jonathan Plucker, Raymond Neag Endowed Professor of Education, Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut
K. Ann Renninger, Eugene M. Lang Research Professor of Educational Studies, Swarthmore College
Brian Stecher, Senior Social Scientist , RAND Corporation


Margaret Hilton, Study Director
Patricia Morison, Acting Board Director, Board on Testing and Assessment
Heidi Schweingruber, Director, Board on Science Education
Judy Koenig, Senior Program Officer
Kelly Arrington, Senior Program Assistant


July 30-31, 2015 - Open session- July 30, 10:45am-12:45pm  Agenda with presentations  |  Speaker Bios

December 14-15, 2015 - Workshop (including archived webcast)
NAS Building
Washington, DC

February 10-11, 2016- Nicholas Bowman's Presentation
Beckman Center
Irvine, CA

May 24-25, 2016
Beckman Center
Irvine, CA

Related Reports
 Education_for_Life Education for Life and Work: Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century (2012)

Business and political leaders are increasingly asking schools to integrate development of skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration into the teaching and learning of academic subjects. Collectively these skills are often referred to as "21st century skills" or "deeper learning."

 DBER cover Discipline-Based Education Research: Understanding and Improving Learning in Undergraduate Science and Engineering(2012)

This report examines the emerging field and future direction of discipline-based education research (DBER) in physics, biological sciences, geosciences, and chemistry and how it could improve the teaching of these disciplines. DBER combines knowledge of teaching and learning with deep knowledge of discipline-specific science content. It describes the discipline-specific difficulties learners face and the specialized intellectual and instructional resources that can facilitate student understanding.

Assessing 21st Century Skills: Summary of a Workshop (2011)


The routine jobs of yesterday are being replaced by technology and/or shipped off-shore.  In their place, job categories that require knowledge management, abstract reasoning, and personal services seem to be growing.  The modern workplace requires workers to have broad cognitive and affective skills.


Commissioned Papers


Exploring the Intersection of Science Education and 21st Century Skills: A Workshop Summary (2010)


This report addresses key questions about the overlap between 21st century skills— such as adaptability, complex communications skills, and the abilitiy to solve non-routine problems—and scientific content and knowledge; explores promising models or approaches for teaching these abilities; and reviews the evidence about the transferability of these skills to real workplace applications.


Commissioned Papers



Research on Future Skill Demands: A Workshop Summary (2008)


Over the past five years, business and education groups have issued a series of reports indicating that the skill demands of work are rising, due to rapid technological change and increasing global competition. Researchers have begun to study changing workplace skill demands. Some economists have found that technological change is "skill-biased," increasing demand for highly skilled workers and contributing to the growing gap in wages between college-educated workers and those with less education.


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