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The Promise of Non-Cognitive Factors: Basic Concepts and Evidence

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Presentation on theme: "The Promise of Non-Cognitive Factors: Basic Concepts and Evidence"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Promise of Non-Cognitive Factors: Basic Concepts and Evidence
Diana Gruman, WWU Mike Hubert, OPSI Washington School Counselor Association Conference, Seattle February 2014

2 Objectives for Today Provide an overview of the latest research on noncognitive skills Define key concepts Connect the findings on noncognitive skills to school counseling practice Provide a sample of our favorite resources to learn more about the topic and potential interventions To accomplish these goals, we will be presenting key information AND pausing at certain times to engage you in discussion and sharing.

3 Sources of Inspiration & Knowledge
We would like to acknowledge the following sources as the foundation of this presentation: CCSR Literature Review (2012): “Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners.” DOE-Office of Ed. Tech . Report (2013): “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perservance.” Carol Dweck (2007): “Mindset.” Paul Tough (2012): “How Children Succeed.”

4 Making the Case Posted: May 2013
AFTER SHOWING THE VIDEO: We need to situate this video within our recent history in American education because if you think about the past thirty years of test-score based accountability, these remarks are quite revolutionary. You mean that test scores are NOT the best measure of “success??!!” As Angela Duckworth says here: “In education, the one thing we know how to measure best is I.Q. (and I would add ability to take standardized tests and content knowledge tests), but what if doing well in school and in life depends on much more than your ability to learn quickly and easily? “ Today we are going to attempt to cover “the much more” within this short presentation. Posted: May 2013

5 Cognitive Factors Cognitive: “Relating to, or involving conscious mental activities (such as thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering).” (Merriam-Webster: Some ways we measure cognitive skills: Grasp of Content Knowledge Writing Skills Problem Solving Ability It is important to distinguish between cognitive and noncognitive factors. Cognitive skills refer to the abilities to gain meaning and knowledge from experience and information. Cognition is more then just learning information, it's the ability to think about new information, process and speak about it and apply it to other, previously acquired information.  We have focused for the past thirty years on deeper and deeper layers of school accountability in the form of test scores…. We have to ask: Are test scores the best predictors of college success and life success? The answer is NO. Research shows that course grades are much better predictors. Quote from the OET Report (February, 2013). “The test score accountability movement and conventional educational approaches tend to focus on intellectual aspects of success, such as content knowledge. However, this is not sufficient. If students are to achieve their full potential, they must have opportunities to engage and develop a much richer set of skills. There is a growing movement to explore the potential of the “noncognitive” factors, that high-achieving individuals draw upon to accomplish success.”

6 Noncognitive Factors Noncognitive: Attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability—that high-achieving individuals draw upon to accomplish success. (OET Report, 2013) TURN AND TALK: What are the factors you are hearing and reading about?? The name “noncognitive” is kind of a catch-all for the many factors that support student success. We acknowledge that “noncognitive” is a cumbersome term. Additionally, you can see that the difficulty in using the terms “cognitive” and “noncognitive” because it seems to pit one against another, when, if fact, they are very intertwined. For example, how can we define and measure the ability to recall lots of facts without an attribute like tenacity or a strategy like goal setting?? As flawed as the terms are, we are using what is currently common practice.

7 What’s in a Name? Habits of Mind (Dewey, 1880-1940)
Natural Development (Montessori, ) Internal Locus of Control (Rotter, 1954) Self efficacy (Bandura, 1986) Student Agency Learner Attributes Social-Emotional Learning 21st Century Skills or Soft Skills Character Education Emotional Intelligence Teaching the Whole Child The discussion of “Non Cognitive Skills” in Education stretches as far back as 19th Century Education philosopher John Dewey who wrote about Habits of Mind and Maria Montessori who promoted student responsibility and peer-centered learning. From Recent studies tell us that non-cognitive factors are better predictors of employability – things like wages earned and chronic unemployment – than cognitive factors.  (Lindquist and Vestman)  And, employers tell us that the skills that they most value in hiring new staff – the skills at the core of employability – are professionalism, communications, teamwork, and critical thinking – not academic knowledge.  Are They Really Ready to Work? Nick Yoder at the Center for Great Teaching and Learning recently published, Teaching the Whole Child: Instructional Practices That Support Social-Emotional Learning in Three Teacher Evaluation Frameworks, a resource to promote understanding of social-emotional intelligence and the role it plays in teaching and learning.

Five Categories of Noncognitive Factors: Academic Behaviors Academic Perseverance Academic Mindsets Learning Strategies Social Skills Academic Performance (Course Grades) For our presentation today we are using one recent review of the literature as a foundation: CCSR’s report. They reviewed five categories of noncognitive skills—with a particular focus on determining which ones impact Academic Performance (defined by grades) and which ones might be taught in the public schools in order to increase student success. Quickly define each one:

9 School & Classroom Context
Socio-Cultural Context School & Classroom Context Academic Mindsets Academic Perseverance Learning Strategies Social Skills Academic Behaviors This slide speaks to the relationships between the components as suggested by the CCSR Report. As you can see…. Academic behaviors (attendance, homework completion, readiness to work in class) are most proximal to academic performance (grades) A student’s social skills, perseverance and learning strategies (e.g. memory aides, time mngt, goal setting) impact their academic behaviors And a student’s Mindset (belief system re: their academic work) shapes his/her motivation and inclination toward effort to participate in activities and achieve goals Further, you can see that there is a self-perpetuating cycle here—in which academic performance (positive or negative) feeds back into a student’s mindset which then cycles through the other factors. As an example, an insecure kid who gets a solid grade on an AP paper will begin seeing their hard work paying off and that they actually might belong in the AP class…. which leads to more self-control/effort on the next difficult paper… which leads to greater application of learning strategies… resulting in regular attendance and work completion… leading to more solid grades… Finally in the diagram you can see that there are two overarching influences: the larger Socio-Cultural context that includes opportunity gaps, neighborhood and district resources, societal discrimination) and School and Classroom Context (e.g. grading policies, tracking, school safety and climate. We are going to go through these five sets of factors fairly quickly and give you a chance to talk in a small group about the school counselor’s role in promoting each set. Academic Performance

10 Can these skills be taught? Learned?
Research shows that some noncognitive factors can be shaped in all children: Academic Mindset- I can grow my ability and competence with effort Effortful Control—I can push through the “boring” stuff Strategies and Tactics—I can define my tasks, monitor progress and change course if needed Before we go any further, we have to ask… Can noncognitive factors be taught and learned?

11 #1 Academic Behaviors Behaviors associated with being a “good student”
Regular attendance Ready to engage the work Participating in class discussions Completing assignments We begin with the set of factors that is most closely related to academic performance. READ SLIDE Virtually all other non-cog factors work through academic behaviors to affect performance. Evidence SUGGESTS: Attendance improves success in classes Study habits improve success in classes Homework completion improves success in classes These behaviors show little evidence that they can account for variance in gender or ethnicity and student performance

12 Connection to SC Practice
Talk, Turn and Share What ways do school counselors play a role in improving the academic behaviors in students? Which ones of these methods are evidence-based?

13 #2 Learning Strategies The processes and tactics employed to aid in learning such as: Study skills Metacognitive strategies ( monitoring one’s own comprehension) Self-regulated learning ( ability to self correct) Goal setting & time management The second set of factors with a strong relationship to performance is learning strategies Evidence suggests: Effective learning strategies leverage academic behaviors to engage in learning Strong relationship between learning strategies and perseverant behavior

14 Connection to SC Practice
Talk, Turn and Share What ways do school counselors play a role in improving the learning strategies in students? Which ones of these methods are evidence-based?


16 #3 Academic Mindsets Beliefs, attitudes, or ways of perceiving oneself in relation to learning I belong in this academic community My ability and competency grow with my effort I can succeed at this This work has value for me

17 Growth Mindset When faced with failure or challenge, people with a GROWTH mindset: Pay attention to learning information, and so do better on future tests. Focus on what they are learning, rather than focusing on how they feel. Try out new ways of doing things. Use self-motivating statements such as ‘The harder it gets, the harder I try’. When faced with tests which are impossible to pass, they consider other factors rather than blaming their intellect (e.g. “This test was beyond my ability for now.

18 Growth-mindset thinking results in:
•a love for learning and self-improvement •a desire to be challenged •a willingness to work for positive results •a belief that you can control the outcomes in your life with effort and practice •the ability to learn from mistakes and failures •emotional resilience

19 Fixed Mindset When faced with failure or challenge, people with a FIXED mindset: Do not pay attention to learning information Get depressed, lose self-esteem Say to themselves ‘I am not smart.’ Under-represent past successes and over-represent failures (I NEVER do things right) Explain the cause of events as something stable about them. (I am ALWAYS this way!)

20 Fixed-mindset thinking results in:
a false sense of superiority, undermined by a deep sense of self-doubt a fear of failure; refusal to take risks a feeling that failure permanently defines you as a loser the belief that only untalented, ungifted people have to work for success; effort somehow reduces you a desire to blame others or outside circumstances when things don’t go your way

21 Academic Mindsets Evidence
Sense of belonging Learning is a social activity, constructed through interaction Belief of ability Those that increase effort, display perseverance and succeed Self-efficacy We engage in activities in which we feel confident Value When activity is connected to our preferred future, we are more likely to pursue it

22 Connection to SC Practice
Talk, Turn and Share What ways do school counselors play a role in improving the growth mindsets in students? Which ones of these methods are evidence-based?

23 #4 Social Skills Interpersonal qualities such as: Cooperation
Assertion Responsibility Empathy What is the evidence to support the impact of teaching social skills on improvement in student grades?? Poor social skills are associated with negative outcomes Social skills are a critical factor for teens in regard to career readiness – (i.e. 21st century workplace skills)

24 Noncognitive Learning Skills
Background: Durlak and Weissberg at the Collaboration for Academic and Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) were interested in whether focusing on this area actually STRENGTHENED academic outcomes. They reviewed over 200 well designed studies to examine the impact of SEL instruction on academic outcomes. What you see here is not real surprise. SEL instruction had a moderate effect size on SEL skills , attitudes, positive behavior , reduced conduct problems and emotional distress. These are all areas you would be expecting to change. What is somewhat surprising is the relationship between SEL and ACADEMIC success, in fact is the second largest effect size. This suggests that one important strategy to reduce barriers to learning and increase academic outcome is through providing SEL programing. Not only did the evidence support the delivery of SEL programs in the classroom, but note that the programs were most effective when delivered by Classroom teachers. What does this mean? It means that direct instruction of Social and Emotional Skills are an important component to academic success, especially when delivered by classroom teachers.

25 And are They Important? Teacher Beliefs about SEL
The Missing Piece: A National Teacher Survey on How Social and Emotional Learning Can Empower Children and Transform Schools -


27 Connection to SC Practice
Talk, Turn and Share What ways do school counselors play a role in improving the social skills of students? Which ones of these methods are evidence-based?

28 #5 Academic Perseverance
A student’s ability to remain focused and engaged in school work despite distractions, setbacks, or obstacles Grit Self-control Tenacity Delayed Gratification Academic perseverance is the difference between doing the minimal amount of work to pass and putting long hours into mastery

29 Grit and Perseverance Factors essential to an individual’s capacity to strive for and succeed at long-term and higher-order goals, and to persist in the face of the array of challenges and obstacles encountered throughout schooling and life (OET Report, 2013) Can we go overboard?? Grit can be detrimental when it is driven by a fear-based focus on testing and college entry. This can undermine conceptual learning, creativity, long-term retention, mental health, and ability to deal with “real-world” challenges. External factors increase motivation rather than an internal drive toward self-development

30 Academic Perseverance Evidence
Perseverance is a trait that is not directly malleable. The evidence can be found in academic mindsets that encourage perseverance and the adoption of learning strategies Academic perseverance is the difference between doing the minimal amount of work to pass and putting long hours into mastery

31 What type of learning environment promotes grit and perseverance?
1) Opportunities to take on appropriate challenges (in the child’s Zone of Prox. Devpt) 2) Rigorous and Supportive Environment: Fair and respectful climate, conveys high expectations, Emphasizes effort over ability, and provides necessary tangible resources—materials, human, and time.

32 Connection to SC Practice
Talk, Turn and Share What ways do school counselors play a role in improving the perseverance of students? Which ones of these methods are evidence-based?

33 Teaching the Whole Child
Student-Centered Discipline Teacher Language Responsibility & Choice Warmth & Support Cooperative Learning Classroom Discussions Self-Reflection & Self- Assessment Balanced Instruction Academic Press and Expectations Competency Building – Modeling, Practicing, Feedback, & Coaching Center on Great Teaching and Learning at AIR January 2014 “Teaching the Whole Child: Instructional Practices That Support Social-Emotional Learning in Three Teacher Evaluation Frameworks.”

34 Barriers and Potential Solutions
Adverse Childhood Experiences Trauma Informed Schools Restorative Justice and School Discipline We mentioned at the beginning that social-cultural factors are important to consider in the model of noncognitive skills. But we did not have the chance to discuss INDIVIDUAL factors such as background characteristics that directly influence student success. One set of factors, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) or a child’s experience with multiple traumatic experiences (such as abuse, DV, Malnutrition, parental incarceration etc.) is a clear block to learning and applying the wonderful noncognitive factors we have discussed so far. Potential School Approaches to respond to ACES-High children: Trauma Informed Schools Restorative Justice

35 RESOURCES BOOKS How Children Succeed, Paul Tough (2012) Mindset, Carol Dweck (2007) WEBSITES -CASEL: -Chicago/CCSR: -Center for Great Teaching at AIR

36 Growth Mindset Resources
Mary Cay Ricci (2013), “Mindsets in the Classroom.”

37 "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically... Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education." - Martin Luther King, Jr. Thank you for coming to our presentation!!

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