The Skills That Matter for College and Careers

The Skills That Matter: Teaching Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Competencies in Any Classroom 
By Patricia M. Noonan and Amy S. Gaumer Erickson
(Corwin Press, 2018 – Learn more)

Reviewed by Anne Anderson

Are you tasked with preparing students for college and career? The Skills That Matter: Teaching Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Competencies in Any Classroom by Patricia M. Noonan and Amy S. Gaumer Erickson can help! Their book gives teachers and administrators a place to begin.

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Based on 2012 research from the National Research Council, the skills necessary to be college and career ready are categorized into three domains: intrapersonal, interpersonal, and cognitive.

Chapter 1 is devoted to the research and implementation of these competencies. While the College and Career Competency Wheel (p.1) includes 26 competencies, the authors address only five: self-efficacy, self-regulation, goal setting, assertiveness, and conflict management.

Each chapter focuses on a specific competency.

Before addressing the Instructional Practices associated with a competency, the authors provide background and research, key points of the competency, and the components needed to develop a specific competency.

Throughout each chapter, the authors include scenarios related to the competency. Don’t be surprised to see yourself and/or your students in these scenarios!

Each competency includes a questionnaire designed to help students understand their strengths and weaknesses and to support educators in planning instruction related to the competency. Educators have the option of administrating a paper test or using a free online survey.

Questions to guide instruction

Armed with the information from the questionnaires, teachers are ready to provide instruction within their content area. The authors provide practical instructional strategies. Each chapter concludes with these four questions:

  1. How will you instruct students on ___ and its essential components?
  2. How will you provide guided practice in ___ that includes both of the components?
  3. How will students independently practice or demonstrate ___ while addressing both of the components?
  4. How will you support reflection and provide feedback/reinforcement to students as they practice ___?

The Skills That Matter is filled with practical instructional strategies for use with middle and high school students. The book, however, may be difficult to use since the recommended handouts are not easily available. I was disappointed that Corwin had not created an electronic file for the many questionnaires and handouts. A reader must go to the authors’ website for these materials. While many resources are free, I noted that the Teacher Lesson Sets have a cost.

Educators, employers, parents and community leaders want students to succeed in school and in the real world. The Skills That Matter: Teaching Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Competencies in Any Classroom is a resource that can help students achieve success.

Anne Anderson is a retired middle school teacher living in Shreveport, LA. Now she shares her expertise as an educational consultant providing educators with practical solutions to teaching and learning problems. Contact her at


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