A better understanding of 21st century skills in mathematics education and a view of these skills in current practice
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The intention of this explorative study, which combines qualitative and quantitative methods, was to investigate how to implement several 21st century skills in mathematics education. Within this study the following hypothesis is tested: there is more potential to further develop 21st century skills in mathematics with a problem based learning setting compared to a traditional educational setting. The study was carried out with three different classes at two different schools, with in total eighteen groups of four students. Each class was observed during a regular mathematics lesson and during a lesson where the students made a problem based task which is designed by researchers of the Mascil project. Based on literature, an observation framework was developed that was used for both observing the ways the teacher and the task elicits several specific skills and observing the ways students use these skills. The focus of the observations was on the skills creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. The audio and video documents were transcribed, coded and analysed on the number of observed skills. In all three classes, the number of skill observation were respectively higher within the problem based lesson. From the analysis, it can be concluded that 21st century skills are positively promoted with problem based tasks in mathematics education. We recommend enrichment of the mathematics education with problem based tasks to address the 21st century skills in daily practice.