Techniques for reaching all students.

Noncognitive Factors

There is growing awareness among educators, employers, researchers and policy makers, that noncognitive factors have a substantial impact on all individuals’ success and persistence in secondary, postsecondary and workplace environments. Noncognitive skills are attributes like persistence, dependability, self-discipline and resiliency that promote long-term success for individuals. GEAR UP Iowa knows it is important to help underserved students develop the noncognitive skills necessary for success in secondary and post-secondary settings. Therefore, we built upon existing research and created a systematic and sustainable noncognitive guidance curriculum to equip all GEAR UP Iowa students with the noncognitive skills they need to pursue a successful path to high school graduation and college success.

About the Noncognitive Skills Curriculum

This curriculum has been created based on exciting research that shows noncognitive factors (i.e. student behaviors, attitudes and skills) play a large part in academic success. Of particular interest is Carol Dweck’s research in the area of mindsets. A mindset is a person’s attitude, beliefs or thoughts about something. Students learn about learning from failure, neuroplasticity and the power of the word yet. When students learn about the ability of their brains to grow, their academic success is likely to be positively impacted. The curriculum also includes lessons on optimism, personal responsibility, goal setting and study skills. Schools interested in using the ACT Engage will also find activities to integrate this noncognitive assessment into their work with students. 

Using the Noncognitive Skills Curriculum in Your Classroom Setting

The Noncognitive Skills Curriculum is broken down into easy to use lessons. A variety of engaging activities, discussion questions and video clips have been included in every lesson. Lessons are geared toward high school students, can be adapted based on your classroom needs and include formative assessments so that instructors can gauge student understanding of key concepts. At the beginning of each lesson, materials needed are listed and all applicable handouts are identified by lesson number and available in the appendix. At a minimum, instructors will want access to a computer, projector and at least one of the following: whiteboard, elmo, newsprint or butcher paper.

Preparing to Teach the Noncognitive Skills Curriculum

It is important for instructors to familiarize themselves with the lessons by reading through each lesson prior to delivery. It would be helpful to preview the brief video clips, articles and handouts in advance of the lesson. Additionally, if this material is new to instructors, they can benefit from familiarizing themselves with the concepts of mindsets, neuroplasticity and general noncognitive factors. Some resources listed below are a great start.

Resources to Learn More about Noncognitive Skills