Data in Higher Education Series | Episode 11

The Importance of Non-cognitive Data in a Student Success Strategy

Published May 23, 2019

Non-cognitive skills are integral to your retention strategy. Annemieke Rice, Vice President of Campus Strategy and Emily Siegel, Student Success Consultant discuss how a holistic student success strategy doesn’t just consist of demographics and academic scores but also includes insight into the skills and abilities students have that also help them succeed in college.

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Show notes:

What are non-cognitive skills?

Non-cognitive skills are patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of individuals that might develop throughout their life.

What is the relationship between non-cognitive skills and student success?

Studies show there is a link between non-cognitive attributes and positive student outcomes in higher ed. Non-cognitive skills impact a student’s ability to think critically about information, manage their time, get along with their peers and instructors, persist thru difficulties, and navigate the different requirements and challenges that they may face throughout their college experience.

What are non-cognitive skills?

Learning strategies:

  • a student’s ability to study
  • set goals effectively
  • metacognitive abilities

Social skills:

  • interpersonal skills
  • ability to cooperate with others
  • work in a team
  • get along with peers


  • going to class consistently
  • participation in class and outside the classroom
  • manage time efficiently


  • Educational commitment
  • Resiliency or grit
  • Compassion

How are non-cognitive skills being used in education?

Non-cognitive skills need to be assessed, defined, and measured. This is done through surveys. The data should be given to those who can help a student such as an advisor, coach or mentor. It’s about taking direction from the strengths-based advising approach. Identity the strength, affirm the student, help them envision the future, plan specific steps to reach their goals and apply their strengths to different challenges they encounter.

Look for trends over time with continual assessment to understand the data of the student. It will make the use of non-cognitives that much stronger because it can now be leveraged in support of the students in the most meaningful way for their student body.

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