Collage of a male student with four badges
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New and Inspiring
Knowledge, Skills, and Attributes

Applying Knowledge to Real Life

We’ve seen the difference, and the future is here! Students need strong opportunities to develop both real-world skills and soft skills to remember what they have learned. All new BYU Independent Study courses are now designed with a trifecta of mastery opportunities:

  • Knowledge — subject mastery with integrated learning methods
  • 21st Century Skills1 —skill competency that includes digital badging
  • Character Attributes — to become more emotionally resilient and successful

We call these innovations “Knowledge, Skills, and Attributes” or “KSA” for short.

View KSA Courses

Student Perspective
Parent Perspective
Teacher Perspective

Why KSA?

Along with retaining more course knowledge, learning marketable skills, and developing valuable attributes, students will also increase their problem-solving and metacognition abilities.

Students need to know how they will benefit from what they’re learning. Noncognitive attributes help students retain what they’re learning—and keep learning more in college2 or in career pathways—when they understand how it all applies to their real life.

Learning by Doing

Knowing the “why” behind the knowledge inspires students to push through the learning struggle. In addition to increased gamification, student choice, and hands-on learning, students

  • learn how to use 21st Century Skills like collaboration and communication to prepare them for future study and professional life
  • earn a reward in the form of a digital badge for the skill learned in the course
  • learn about and apply a character attribute that aligns with the Social and Emotional Learning Competencies framework

Here are three examples of combinations of Knowledge, Skills, and Attributes:

Course Knowledge Skill Attribute
Tenth Grade English, Part 1 Creativity: Openness and Courage to Explore Courage
Biology, Part 1 Critical Thinking: Interpretation and Analysis Resilience
Exploring Computer Science 1 Creativity: Creative Production and Innovation Integrity
Attributes provide students with opportunities to reflect about how to develop those characteristics beyond their online class. —Analize, instructional designer
Even in our math curriculum, we provide character-building opportunities through application activities and challenges. —Tammy, instructional designer

How Badging Works

KSA skill acquisition is structured within four categories: Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking.

Sample badges for collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking

Each of these skill categories includes 5–6 practical skills:

Microcredential Category Skill
Collaboration Flexibility
Leadership and Initiative
Collaborate Using Digital Media
Responsiveness and Constructive Feedback
Responsibility and Productivity
Communication Deliver Presentations
Communicate Using Digital Media
Engage in Conversations and Discussions
Communicate in Diverse Environments
Communicate Using Writing
Effective Listening
Creativity Work Creatively with Others
Openness and Courage to Explore
Creative Production and Innovation
Idea Design and Refinement
Idea Generation
Critical Thinking Constructing Arguments
Information and Discovery
Interpretation and Analysis
Problem Solving
Design Thinking

Just as the Knowledge, Skills, and Attributes acquired are useful after the course, these badges benefit students long-term. Each digital badge can be added to a student’s resume, LinkedIn, or other social account to demonstrate real-world application of learned knowledge.

For example, these are the Skills badges a student can earn in the Communication category:

Six different Skills badges

In addition to the student’s experience, these Skills map to Attributes (soft skills), each of which is linked to a Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) competency. KSA courses include deep questions and application opportunities, helping students become more emotionally resilient and successful—personally as well as academically.

Attribute SEL Competency Detail
Courage Self-Management Showing the courage to take initiative
Diligence Self-Management Setting personal and collective goals
Gratitude Social Awareness Understanding and expressing gratitude
Humility Responsible Decision-Making Demonstrating curiosity and open-mindedness
Integrity Self-Awareness Demonstrating honesty and integrity
Kindness Relationship Skills
Social Awareness
Developing positive relationships
Showing concern for the feelings of others
Resilience Self-Awareness
Having a growth mindset
Identifying and using stress management strategies
Respect Relationship Skills
Standing up for the rights of others
Developing interests and a sense of purpose
Responsibility Responsible Decision-Making Anticipating and evaluating the consequences of one’s actions

KSA Courses

CTE - Career and Technical Education


English Language Arts

Fine Arts

Health and Physical Education

History and Social Science




"I chose to take it through BYU because my school counselor recommended it and friends told me that the BYU curriculum is fairly similar to what is taught at our school."

—Biology Part 1 high school student 2021–22

"I chose to take this course because I wanted to double-up on math classes, and BYU is the university I was recommended by my counselor."

—Algebra 1 Part 1 high school student 2021–22

"I wanted to graduate high school a semester early. To do that, I needed to take an online Government class, and this is the one my counselor recommended."

—US Government & Citizenship high school student 2021–22

"I wanted to take geometry over the summer and had heard good recommendations about BYU from friends, as well as my school counselor."

—Geometry Part 1 high school student 2021–22

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