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Noncognitive factors, as defined by the US Department of Education (ED), are independent of an individual’s intellectual capacity. They include attitudes, attributes, dispositions, social skills, and other intrapersonal resources. Giving more emphasis on these aspects means that formal education would incorporate character building into the almost entirely academic model followed today.
In a study entitled Expanding Evidence Approaches for Learning in a Digital World, the ED’s Office of Educational Technology analyzed the relevance of a set of noncognitive factors: grit, perseverance, and tenacity. The paper explained that these traits will play a significant role in helping a student enhance his or her capacity to withstand the challenges of higher education while keeping focused on the proper goals. These characteristics will also work with technical knowledge in the development of an individual who is equipped with both the know-how and the attitude of a potential success.
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The main impediments to incorporating noncognitive factors to formal education programs include the means to measure them quantitatively and objectively and the methods to impart them to students. But with the continued research on the matter, there is little doubt that concrete methodologies will soon be created to solve these concerns.
In spite of the degree by which formal education has developed, academic knowledge is often hardly enough in today’s world. The inclusion of noncognitive factors in formal curriculums is a good step to initiating holistic learning that will ultimately help foster individuals who are well-equipped with the capacity to adapt and succeed.
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Frank Biden is an advocate of alternative methods of learning that focus on an individual’s capabilities. More information about him is available on this Twitter page.