Now (at last) Admissions for the 21st Century by Cathy Sandeen

I recently ran across this item in the Inside Higher Education website about Robert Sternberg’s work on “a rainbow approach,” a new admission measure that attempts to recognize an applicant’s aptitude in various broad 21st century skills and abilities.

Now at Tufts University, Sternberg has contributed to Tuft’s “Kaleidoscope” system that uses essays and projects in an attempt to measure an undergraduate applicant’s:

“WICS — wisdom, intelligence, creativity, synthesized — according to which positive leaders need a synthesis of (a) creative skills and attitudes in order to generate new ideas; (b) analytical skills and attitudes in order to ensure that the ideas are good ones; (c) practical skills and attitudes to implement their ideas and to persuade others of the value of these ideas; and (d) wisdom-based skills and attitudes to ensure that the ideas help to achieve a common good, over the long and short terms, through the infusion of positive ethical values.”

See the optional questions from this list on the Tuft’s undergraduate application.

I, for one, applaud this idea. A student’s skills and abilities are not captured only by their GPA and SAT/ACT scores (or GMAT or LSAT scores for that matter). In previous blog posts, I have written about the need to foster transferable, broad skills in our education system throughout the lifespan.

Not surprisingly, such skills were also mentioned in the recent Fall 2010 convocation address by President Mohammad H. Qayoumi at California State University East Bay. Strategically positioned as a gateway to the Bay Area’s science and technology clusters, this innovative campus emphasizes 21st century skills, as the President explains it, “a skill set that is adaptable to an ever-changing environment. This skill set includes written and oral communications skills, the ability to work in teams, leadership skills, multicultural awareness, and competency in math and science.”

I am fortunate to be able to work with President Qayoumi and his team as part of my participation in the American Council on Education Fellows Program this academic year.

For more information on Sternberg’s ideas for admissions, see his new book: College Admissions for the 21st Century.



3 responses to “Now (at last) Admissions for the 21st Century by Cathy Sandeen

  1. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if you refrained from blowing your own horn about your accomplishments? Nothing is more important or more impressive (especially when one is in the public sphere) than a demonstration of humility. Readers know you’re proud of your education and achievements, but let us do the work that’s required to arrive at the conclusion that you’re a successful woman who deserves to have a prestigious position in academia .

  2. Creativity is far more complex than most sciences. It always is given a backseat to other activities because of society’s methods of measurement. Only creativity can lead to economic recovery. I’m glad someone is opening the door to measuring it, but once again who is building the yardstick? Similar to the builders of the SAT who uses their own bias to measure minds.

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