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Non-cognitive factors influence learning performance

Chapter 2 Strategies to become an effective learner


Despite significant overlap with the concept of self-regulated learning and classification of learning strategies , it is worth considering an additional framework for thinking about the determinants of effective learning. A group led by Camille Farrington Share this expert CF Camille Farrington identified a set of non-cognitive factors that influence learning and are not traditionally measured by cognitive tests. Cognitive factors in the context of this framework are considered to be personal attributes like intelligence, knowledge of specific content, and skills like problem-solving. Non-cognitive factors are qualities other than content knowledge and academic skill that also influence learning.

The term “non-cognitive” is misleading, as the authors themselves recognize. Cognition plays a role in most human behavior. But the term is established in academia and was deemed to be preferable to alternative designations such as soft skills.

The research looked specifically at school students, but the insights are also applicable to other types of learners:

  • Mindset : Attitudes or beliefs about the self in the context of learning such as believing you belong, can succeed, and seeing the value of the topic to be learned.
  • Perseverance: The ability to push through challenges, avoid distractions and make learning a habit, which relates to overlapping concepts of grit, tenacity, self-disciple, self-control.
  • Learning behaviors: Behaviours associated with being a good learner, such as preparation, punctuality, sustained attention, active participation, overcoming obstacles.
  • Learning strategies : Knowledge about how to learn that can be used to improve performance.
  • Social Skills: Behaviors that enhance social interactions such as empathy, cooperation, assertion, and responsibility.

The research demonstrated a strong link between non-cognitive factors and academic performance, which in turn is a good indicator of future life outcomes. The important conclusion of the study was that while learning behaviors and perseverance are the best predictors of academic performance, their improvement depends on fostering a growth mindset and using effective learning strategies. The authors point out that mindset and learning strategies are generally not the focus of formal education.

It is hard to change academic behaviors and academic perseverance directly without addressing academic mindsets and effective learning strategies.
Camille Farrington Share this expert CF Camille Farrington , CCSR Literature Review

Factors influencing academic performance

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