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Subject:

Re: Math Placement and Non-cognitive factors

From:

Nic Voge <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 17 Nov 2015 14:44:20 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (314 lines)

Hi Bob,
Alas, that horse has left the barn. The term is widely used, even if it
has baggage (as does “affective”) and is imprecise, and in my view,
misleading about the nature of the phenomena it seeks to describe (which
clearly have cognitive dimensions).

You seem to assume that non-cognitive factor measures would be used only
to put students in a lower level course. Can you explain why you think
that? Seems to me like they can be used to find a better fit for
students—either lower or higher.

In terms of placement, I think that we need to recognize (1) that advising
(a kind of placement) already includes motivational, affective and other
(e.g.beliefs about ability) considerations, and (2) that these “factors”
matter and may be predictive of learning, attainment and progress. But a
question remains whether they are being considered in the most useful way.
At our university and probably others, faculty in the math department work
with students to “adjust” their placement at various points. Informally,
factors besides past courses and scores figure into these decisions.
Leaving these aspects of placement unexamined seems problematic to me. I
think we should improve how non-cognitive factors are used for these types
of decisions by bringing relevant theory and research to bear on the
process. 

The argument among folks who study non-cognitive factors is that they are
more predictive than conventional measures of academic achievement. If
that’s the case, then shouldn’t we consider them when making placement
decisions? 

Best,
Nic


________________________________________


Dominic (Nic) J. Voge  ||  Associate Director
Undergraduate Learning Program
McGraw Center for Teaching & Learning ||  Princeton University
328 Frist Center
(609)258-6921  || http://www.princeton.edu/mcgraw/us/







On 11/16/15, 12:56 PM, "Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
on behalf of bob" <[log in to unmask] on behalf of
[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>NIC, 
>
>I certainly think the term is confusing; perhaps it is demeaning.  When I
>asked a colleague about it the reply was that it meant "out of mind" and
>after a discussion about that meaning we both decided it just shouldn't be
>used.
>
>I really don't see any reason to change from Affective domain.  That has a
>firm basis in our profession without any of the confusion introduced by
>the
>term non-cognitive.
>
>Also, I see no clear value to using such a term to justify placement
>decisions.  In fact, I believe we already have many students who fail to
>stay in higher education precisely because their interests were not being
>met by the instruction they received. Putting these students in a lower
>level course would only strengthen that possibility.
>
>Bob  
>
>
>
>On 11/15/15, 8:18 PM, "Nic Voge" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> Bob,
>> A number of commentators have made the observation that the term is in
>> it’s literal sense is confusing
>> 
>>(http://www.usnews.com/opinion/knowledge-bank/2015/05/01/non-cognitive-sk
>>il
>> ls-are-important-but-have-a-terrible-name). The brief excerpt below
>> provides a rationale for continuing to use the term. I don’t like it
>>much
>> either, but as a term of art, that’s what is being used. Indeed,
>> affective, attentional, and other processes are fundamentally cognitive,
>> but emotions don’t reside entirely in our brains either.
>> 
>> It’s not clear to me, Saundra, that  we would not want to use a range of
>> factors to place students in courses, particularly courses that don’t
>> themselves address mindset, learning strategies, etc.
>> Nic
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> While we are strongly persuaded by the evidence
>> of the importance of these factors for students’ course
>> performance, we find “noncognitive” to be an unfortu-
>> nate word. It reinforces a false dichotomy between what
>> comes to be perceived as weightier, more academic
>> “cognitive” factors and what by comparison becomes
>> perceived as a separate category of fluffier “noncog-
>> nitive” or “soft” skills. As others have pointed out,
>> contrasting cognitive and noncognitive factors can be
>> confusing because “few aspects of human behavior are
>> devoid of cognition” (Borghans, Duckworth, Heckman,
>> & Weel, 2008, p. 974). In reality, these so-called cogni-
>> tive and noncognitive factors continually interact in
>> essential ways to create learning, such that changes in
>> cognition are unlikely to happen in the absence of this
>> interaction (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000). How
>> could one’s study skills, for example, not be part of a cog-
>> nitive process? How could one’s intelligence not come
>> into play in the exercise of one’s social skills? Alas, the
>> word noncognitive is already deeply embedded in educa-
>> tional policy circles, in the economics literature, and in
>> broader discussions of student achievement. Though we
>> agree with others’ objections to this terminology, we feel
>> compelled to use it. To try to substitute in another word
>> now would likely confuse rather than illuminate our col-
>> lective understanding of this important area of research.*
>> 
>> *Teaching Adolescents To Become Learners
>> The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School
>> Performance: A Critical Literature Review
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> ________________________________________
>> 
>> 
>> Dominic (Nic) J. Voge  ||  Associate Director
>> Undergraduate Learning Program
>> McGraw Center for Teaching & Learning ||  Princeton University
>> 328 Frist Center
>> (609)258-6921  || http://www.princeton.edu/mcgraw/us/
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> On 11/12/15, 2:52 PM, "Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
>>on
>> behalf of Saundra Y McGuire" <[log in to unmask] on behalf of
>> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> 
>>> Thanks for the very useful clarification, Robin. I don't know of any
>>> instruments to measure non-cognitive factors, but I DO know that things
>>> like math anxiety and a fixed mindset negatively impact math
>>>performance.
>>> 
>>> But I've also found that it's not difficult to change these by
>>>providing
>>> effective learning strategies, so I would be wary of placing students
>>> based on these malleable factors.
>>> 
>>> Just my two cents,
>>> Saundra 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> Sent from my iPhone
>>> 
>>>> On Nov 12, 2015, at 1:21 PM, Robin Ozz <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>> The affective domain, one of Bloom's three domains (the other two
>>>>being
>>>> cognitive and psychomotor), does not refer to where the action takes
>>>> place
>>>> but with  what our brains are dealing.  Affective responses deal with
>>>> attitudes, appreciation, values, and such.
>>>> 
>>>>> On Thu, Nov 12, 2015 at 12:11 PM, bob <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>> wrote:
>>>>> 
>>>>> The idea that łnon-cognitive˛ factors actually exist seems
>>>>> łnon-cognitive˛
>>>>> to me.   I do not understand the notion that emotional reactions
>>>>>occur
>>>>> in
>>>>> some part of our anatomy other than our brain.  In my opinion, all
>>>>> thinking
>>>>> is cognitive even when that thinking does not seem to be connecting
>>>>>the
>>>>> dots.
>>>>> 
>>>>> To me, psycho-social behaviors are cognitively driven.  Making
>>>>> placement
>>>>> decisions on those behaviors would seem highly questionable when the
>>>>> decisions depend upon a non-cognitive assumption.
>>>>> 
>>>>> Bob
>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>>> On 11/9/15, 8:31 PM, "Nic Voge" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> Hi all,
>>>>>> Does anyone use so-called łnon-cognitive˛ factors instruments in
>>>>>>their
>>>>> math
>>>>>> (or other) course placement?
>>>>>> If so, can you direct me to the instrument‹or share your items if
>>>>>>they
>>>>> are
>>>>>> homegrown‹and say a bit about your experience?
>>>>>> Thanks,
>>>>>> Nic
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> ________________________________
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> Dominic (Nic) J. Voge  ||  Associate Director
>>>>>> Undergraduate Learning Program
>>>>>> McGraw Center for Teaching & Learning ||  Princeton University
>>>>>> 328 Frist Center
>>>>>> (609)258-6921  || http://www.princeton.edu/mcgraw/us/
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> [cid:B0320916-63C2-4384-988C-E45C1908CBFB]
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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>>>>>> subscription options (including subscribe/unsubscribe), point your
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>>>>> browser
>>>>>> to
>>>>>> http://www.lists.ufl.edu/archives/lrnasst-l.html
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> To contact the LRNASST-L owner, email [log in to unmask]
>>>>> 
>>>>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>>>> To access the LRNASST-L archives or User Guide, or to change your
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>>>>> 
>>>>> To contact the LRNASST-L owner, email [log in to unmask]
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> -- 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> *Robin Ozz*: President-Elect National Association of Developmental
>>>> Education
>>>> 
>>>> Director of Developmental Education
>>>> 
>>>> English Faculty
>>>> 
>>>> 1202 W Thomas Road, Phoenix, AZ  85013
>>>> phone | 6022857818
>>>> email | [log in to unmask]
>>>> website | www.phoenixcollege.edu
>>>> 
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>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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