Middle School students can use their awareness and confidence derived from a skill strength to “train up” less-developed skills. This was a key finding by Grade 7 science teacher Greg Ryerson.
Ryerson's action research project focused on the 4C components of 21st-century skills: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. His goal was to determine how boys could improve a skill they felt would benefit them most.
The boys each assessed their personal skill sets, identified an area for growth, and created a personalized action plan to develop a skill. After four weeks, the boys assessed whether they were more confident in their skill performance. Ryerson found that the boys saw the 4Cs as aspects of a continuum, not as separate skills. He found it highly effective to begin by having the boys identify their strongest skill, and then apply an understanding of what makes them excel in that skill towards less-developed skills.
Ryerson presented his research findings at the International Boys’ Schools Coalition (IBSC) online conference in July 2020. IBSC ranked Ryerson’s research among the top 10 research projects for 2019-2020, which all explored the theme Developing Agency: Boy Voice and Choice. A solid understanding of the broader research topic, his research design, a thorough literature review, and rigorous data collection and analysis were the reasons for the high ranking. Ryerson’s report has since been published on the IBSC website.