Borderlands: Developing character strengths for a knowmadic world

Brad Hokanson, Roger M. Karlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: The paper's aim is to highlight the value of non-cognitive strengths such as creativity and grit. In a knowledge age, those aspects will be the distinguishing characteristics in a global work force and must be a goal of educational pursuits. Design/methodology/approach: The paper examines research supporting the inclusion of character strengths in education for a borderless global future. Findings: Presently, most education and work deals with information and data. Technology has made data/facts/information more accessible but less unique for any given learner, worker, or place. At the same time, education has focused on simple distribution of content, knowledge assessment, and testing instead of the development of rich knowledge and non-cognitive skills. This can be seen in the reliance on testing and achievement, and, by and large, in a generation of students knowing "what" but not "how", a generation less creative and more prone to set answers, a generation often lacking character strengths and less able to persevere in the face of challenge or failure. Research limitations/implications: Research must focus more intensely on the character strengths or non-cognitive skills to better understand their relationship to learning and achievement. Methods of developing character strengths should be researched for efficacy. Correlation between various character strengths (such as creativity and persistence) and academic achievement should be broadly researched. This correlative research could support new methods and foci in education offering a broader, more inclusive direction in learning. Practical implications: Research has shown character strengths can be better developed in explicit class settings than through tacit methods. Previous research into strengths such as grit and perseverance could also lead to different participant selection for employment, enrollment, or to intervention programs. In a world where information travels around the world in the blink of an eye, in a borderless global future, education must metaphorically cross the cognitive border and begin to directly address that broader set of skills that are cherished but often do not seem to be taught. It is on the border between learning information - explicit knowledge - and affective, social, and behavioral skills where change must occur. Originality/value: This paper addresses a need in education to examine and explicitly address non-cognitive skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-113
Number of pages7
JournalOn the Horizon
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Character strengths
  • Cognitive values
  • Creativity
  • Globalization
  • Grit
  • Innovation
  • Persistence


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