The ISA Integrated Non-cognitive Teaching and Learning Project (INTLP) was a 5-month pilot to support 3 ISA schools to systematically and intensively embed the teaching and learning of selected non-cognitive factors into the school culture and core academic program. Research indicates that when students increase their learning and application of non-cognitive factors, their academic performance will improve. The INTLP project was funded through a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
What are non-cognitive factors?
Non-cognitive factors are attitudes, behaviors, skills, and strategies that powerfully affect students’ academic performance in school, but are not components of the core content area knowledge and skills taught to students. Non-cognitive factors include:
- Academic mindset: e.g., students’ belief that with effort they can succeed
- Academic behaviors: e.g., attending class, doing homework
- Academic perseverance: e.g., sticking with challenging work
- Effective learning strategies: e.g., those processes and tactics that can effectively help students learn, for example metacognitive strategies
- Social skills: e.g., interpersonal qualities that improve social interactions with peers and teachers such as cooperation, responsibility, and empathy
Up to 6 teachers in each school participated in INTLP. ISA coaches worked with INTLP teachers to co-plan and implement the integration of student goal setting, academic mindsets, and metacognitive strategies (“thinking with your pen,” double entry journals, and exit slips that connect learning to students’ lives) into teaching and learning in their regular content area classes. ISA also provided professional development sessions for participating teachers on the use of High School Success Navigator (HSSN), an online, non-cognitive skills assessment for students, to assess student growth in non-cognitive factors. In addition, an online Community of Practice (CoP) website provided INTLP teachers and school leaders with access to instructional and curricular resources and opportunities for cross-school learning.
A Look at INTLP in Action
Alison Cohen, an ISA coach and leading expert on growth mindset, mindfulness in schools, goal setting and metacognition, worked with the math department at the Academy for Young Writers (AfYW), one of the three INTLP pilot schools. Alison met regularly with Corinne Cornibe, a veteran math teacher and department leader, who teaches two sections of an Algebra class designed for students who have already failed the New York State Algebra Regents exam, often multiple times.
Reflecting on the coaching, Alison recalled: “We discussed the value of a more structured class period that includes transparency about daily objectives, frequent checks for understanding and consistent accountability measures. One of the main action steps we agreed upon was that Corinne would carve out an allotted period of time at the end of each period for students to complete an exit slip; the goal would be to provide students with an independent opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of the relevant objective(s). Now Corinne ensures that several minutes before the end of the class period, after ample scaffolded practice time, a timer goes off; at that point students switch to the exit slip, and they are expected to show their work.” Corinne added, “I implemented several new practices based on coaching from Alison. In my Algebra Prep classes, I started having students write the learning target on their notes and three students read the learning target each day. These changes created a much more focused learning environment for students.”
As a result of these changes, in conjunction with several other high-leverage strategies Corinne implemented, students understood which content they are being held responsible for, and in many cases, their metacognition has increased — they are asking more questions, voluntarily using the room’s “Help Desk” (staffed by the teacher’s co-teacher), and completing the exit slip. “Initially, students were resistant to some of the changes,” Corinne observed, “but once they saw their quiz and test scores improve, they were on board!” Corinne and Alison have also worked closely together on incorporating mindfulness strategies into the classroom to help students skillfully manage distractions, self-limiting beliefs, and performance anxiety.
The last time Alison and Corinne met for a coaching session, they analyzed that day’s exit slip data; the majority of students had gotten the correct answer, and the incorrect answers revealed specific patterns in students’ misconceptions that Corinne planned to address later in the week. Seeing this data was heartening for her and she predicted that a significant number of the students would pass the upcoming Regents exam.
And, she was right! In AfYW’s Algebra Prep classes, 36 students sat for the recent Regents exam and 27 passed (including 9 students with IEPs). “That’s a 75% pass rate,” said Corinne, “which is really exceptional for our school. Thank you so much for the support that ISA provided us during the pilot. I wish you could have seen how happy the students were when they found out they passed!”
There is more to come for Corinne and her students. “I’m continuing to implement the strategies that Alison and I discussed for the classroom environment,” she said, “and I’m sharing those strategies with the math department at my school.” The math department at AfYW is currently working on how to teach students to be more comfortable with productive struggle in their math classes. “I’m teaching a growth mindset lesson in my classes next month, so I’ll likely have more questions for Alison once I get started.”
1 University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR). 2012. Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: The Role of Non-Cognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance: A Critical Literature Review.<?SPAN>