Nature of Human Development

Competencies in the intrapersonal domain contribute significantly to students’ well-being, character development, and success.

Recently, the Boston-based Center for Curriculum Redesign (CCR) published a Character Qualities Framework that identifies six essential character qualities – mindfulness, curiosity, courage, resilience, ethics, and leadership. Facing the challenges of the 21st century requires a deliberate effort to cultivate in students personal growth and the ability to fulfill social and community responsibilities as global citizens. Often, non-academic, intrapersonal competencies such as perseverance, grit, tenacity, and a growth mindset have a strong relationship with an individual’s capacity to overcome challenges and achieve long-term success. These competencies are often linked to well-being and can be found in various competency frameworks under labels such as “Life and Career Skills” (P21), “Character Education” (Fullan), and “Lifelong Learning, Personal Management, and Well-being” (Alberta Education).

According to Paul Tough’s 2012 research on how children succeed, helping children at a young age to learn how to manage failure (in “child-sized adversity”) is important to building the self-confidence, self-regulation skills, sense of efficacy, and resilience that enable children to persist and overcome challenging circumstances. Research in the areas of innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership also notes the importance of cultivating workforce capacities for risk-taking, perseverance, and managing for failure.

Research is under way to improve our understanding of how learning environments can more effectively support the development of competencies in the intrapersonal domain. Motivation and emotion play a central role in the development of intrapersonal competencies, and are also recognized as important determinants of thinking and learning. An understanding of the factors that influence motivation and emotion is therefore essential to providing a learning environment that promotes student success.

An OECD report found that “students’ learning goals and goals in life, their thoughts about their own competence…their attributions of academic success or failure on various potential causes, and their interests and hobbies all contribute to the complex interplay of cognition and motivation”. Research by Professor Carol Dweck (2010) shows that “students’ mindsets have a direct influence on their grades and that teaching students to have a growth mind-set raises their grades and achievement test scores significantly”. Understanding the growth mindset is key to addressing the needs of the whole child. Stepping Stones, Ontario’s resource on positive youth development, highlights the interrelated and interdependent nature of human development through the cognitive, emotional, social, and physical domains. These domains are affected by the environment or context in which the student lives, and all reflect the core sense of self/spirit.

Human Development
Interrelated and Interdependent Nature of Human Development

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