ADOLESCENTS AND COGNITIVE SKILLS: INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES BY SEX
The changes in different economic environments in recent decades have highlighted the need to rethink the management of companies. The essential differences that give companies sustainable competitive advantages are based on knowledge and skills, that is to say, competences. The professional skills training is one of the essential aims of education, especially within the European Area of Higher Education.
The concept of competences emerged in the second half of the twentieth century in the business environment (Maura and Lying, 2008; Mulder, 2007). According to Boyatzis (1982), Bunk (1994) and Levy-Leboyer (2000) competences are the set of characteristics (knowledge, skills and attitudes) of a person, which are directly related to good performance in a job. These skills are present when a person knows how to act appropriately in a particular context by selecting and mobilizing a double equipment of resources: personal resources (knowledge, expertise, qualities, culture, emotional resources, etc.) and network resources (databases, networks of specialized experience, etc..) (Le Boterf, 2001).
Currently, it seems that we address two types of competences (Porret, 2008, Tuning, 2003). The first ones are generic: a) instrumental competences (capacity for analysis and synthesis, organization and planning, information management), b) personal competences (capacity for teamwork, ability to manage interpersonal relations, ethical commitment, etc.. ) and c) systemic competences (independent learning, adaptation to new situations, creativity, leadership, etc..); and the other ones, specific and related to the particular profession.
The aim of this research is to identify the differences between men and women in cognitive skills used by students of secondary education (ESO and high school) from four schools in Spain. For this purpose, we applied: ACRA (Roman and Gallego, 1994), CEVEAPEAU (Gargallo et al, 2010) and the Inventory of metacognitive strategies (O, Neil and Alberdi, 2007) for a total of 1324 students (46% women, 54 % men) belonging to 1 º ESO (14%), 2 º ESO (18%), 3 º ESO (20%), 4th year (21%), 1º high school (16%) and 2º high school (11%).
For data analysis we used the Student t statistic, considering the sex variable with two levels, as the between-subjects factor, and the dimensions of the respective questionnaires, as the dependent variable. For the effect size, the Cohen's d was used. Results indicate that women are superior in organizational, metacognitive, planning and monitoring-evaluation strategies, although the effect size of this difference fluctuates between low and moderate, .25 and .56, following the Cohen´s conversion. Men are superior to women in critical thinking, but also has a low effect size .18