INTLP: The Non-Cognitive Skills Project

ISA recognizes and research confirms that preparing high school students, particularly underserved students, to be college and career ready means not only building their content knowledge and academic skills, but also fostering a host of non-cognitive factors – sets of behaviors, skills, attitudes, and strategies – that underpin academic performance and persistence in secondary and in post-secondary education.

The Integrating Non-Cognitive Teaching and Learning into the Academic Core Project (INTLP) is ISA’s research-based solution for developing underserved high school students’ non-cognitive skills. INTLP aims to support changes in high school instructional practices and in redesigning learning environments to allow schools to implement whole school approaches that embed non-cognitive teaching and learning into the school culture and core academic program. The INTLP approach is grounded in emerging and compelling research which suggests that the most effective way for schools to help students develop key non-cognitive skills, behaviors, attitudes and beliefs associated with academic success is through whole-school, integrated approaches to non-cognitive teaching and learning, rather that isolated programmatic approaches.

Project Overview

There is growing recognition that preparing high school students, particularly low-income and underserved students, to be college and career ready means not only building their content knowledge and academic skills, but also fostering a host of non-cognitive factors – sets of behaviors, skills, attitudes, and strategies – that underpin academic performance and persistence in post-secondary education. Furthermore, a substantial body of evidence shows that non-cognitive skills strongly predict a wide range of adult life outcomes in addition to educational achievement and employment, including earnings, financial stability, avoidance of criminality, and physical and mental health.

Emerging and compelling research suggests that the most effective way for schools to help students develop key non-cognitive skills and behaviors associated with academic success is to support changes in educators’ instructional practices and in redesigning learning environments (Farrington, et al., 2012). Most school-based approaches to teaching and learning non-cognitive factors are short-term, isolated interventions that focus on one non-cognitive factor, e.g. academic mindsets. However, the research points out that non-cognitive learning is most effective when integrated comprehensively across key components of the school but has limited effects when implemented through isolated programmatic interventions (Hamedani, et al., 2015). Whole-school, integrated approaches in which non-cognitive skills are developed and embedded in the context of, and not in isolation from, content knowledge and core academic skill development provide the most promise for long term endurance (Farrington, et al., 2012). In its critical literature review of non-cognitive factors and student learning, the University of Chicago’s Consortium of Chicago School Research concluded that, “The essential question for developing students as learners is not how to change students to improve their behavior but rather how to create contexts that better support students in developing critical attitudes and learning strategies necessary for their academic success” (Farrington, et al., 2012, p. 74).

In response to this need to change high school educators’ instructional practices and redesign learning environments in ways that support students’ development of key non-cognitive skills, ISA proposes to design, develop and implement the Integrating Non-Cognitive Teaching and Learning into the Academic Core Project (INTLP). INTLP will support schools to implement a whole school approach to developing student non-cognitive skills by embedding non-cognitive teaching and learning in their culture and core academic program.

Key Project activities include the following: (1) identify/develop non-cognitive curricula, instructional resources and strategies; (2) provide job embedded coaching to school leaders and core subject areas lead teachers to integrate key non-cognitive factors into curriculum and instruction; (3) provide and train school faculty to use High School SuccessNavigator an online, non-cognitive skill assessment; and (4) develop a Community of Practice website to support schools to implement INTLP as well to foster cross-site collaboration and knowledge and idea sharing.