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ERIC Number: EJ991681
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jan-14
Pages: 0
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
"Noncognitive" Measures: The Next Frontier in College Admissions
Hoover, Eric
Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan 2013
The handyman has a tool for everything, but the admissions dean is not so lucky: He must make do with just a few. Every year, presidents and professors expect freshmen who are curious, determined, and hungry for challenges. The traditional metrics of merit, however, can't reveal such qualities. Standardized-test scores may or may not predict a given student's long-term potential. Grade-point averages present only a partial view of an applicant's talents and work habits. And so, some admissions officers say, it's time for a new set of tools. Over the last decade, a handful of colleges have designed "noncognitive" assessments to measure attributes--like leadership and the ability to meet goals--that content-based tests do not. Succeeding in college often requires initiative and persistence, or what some researchers call "grit." Noncognitive measures are an attempt to gauge such qualities. If the SAT asks what a student has learned, these assessments try to get at how she learned it. Long an afterthought in academe, alternative indicators of student potential have captured the interest of instructors, testing companies, and enrollment chiefs. As science unspools the secrets of how one learns, it inspires new approaches to assessment. The way most colleges have long evaluated applicants reflects beliefs about what counts most. If those beliefs evolve, it follows, so, too, should the admissions process. Imagining a new system, however, is easier than building one. What should the 21st-century college consider? How much can noncognitive assessments--typically in the form of self-evaluations and short essays--really tell a college? And are they reliable? Admissions officials plan to weigh those questions this week at a national conference sponsored by the University of Southern California's Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice. The conference, "Attributes That Matter: Beyond the Usual in College Admission and Success," will include experts in noncognitive aspects of learning, which represent the next frontier in holistic admissions. Jerome A. Lucido, the center's executive director, predicts that new measures of student potential will eventually become fixtures in higher education, allowing admissions officers to conduct more-robust reviews of applicants, while giving colleges valuable data on those who enroll.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; Tel: 202-466-1000; Fax: 202-452-1033; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A