OECD Education Working Papers

1993-9019 (online)
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This series is designed to make available to a wider readership selected studies drawing on the work of the OECD Directorate for Education. Authorship is usually collective, but principal writers are named. The papers are generally available only in their original language (English or French) with a short summary available in the other.

Fostering and Measuring Skills

Improving Cognitive and Non-cognitive Skills to Promote Lifetime Success You or your institution have access to this content

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Tim Kautz1, James J. Heckman1, Ron Diris2, Bas ter Weel3, Lex Borghans3
Author Affiliations
  • 1: University of Chicago, United States

  • 2: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

  • 3: Maastricht University, Netherlands

25 Nov 2014
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IQ tests and achievement tests do not capture non-cognitive skills — personality traits, goals, character and motivations that are valued in the labour market, in school and elsewhere. For many outcomes, their predictive power rivals or exceeds that of cognitive skills. Skills are stable across situations with different incentives. Skills are not immutable over the life cycle. While they have a genetic basis they are also shaped by environments, including families, schools and peers. Skill development is a dynamic process. The early years are important in shaping all skills and in laying the foundations for successful investment and intervention in the later years. During the early years, both cognitive and non-cognitive skills are highly malleable. During the adolescent years, non-cognitive skills are more malleable than cognitive skills. The differential plasticity of different skills by age has important implications for the design of effective policies.
early childhood investment, personality, skills beget skills, mentoring, technology of skill formation, character, non-cognitive skills
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