Behaviors, Strategies, and Attitudes for Student Success

I found a study that examines non-cognitive factors that impact student academic progress. Teaching Adolescents To Become Learners :The Role of Non-cognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance: A Critical Literature Review .  The report parallels well with my work in backwards planning, identifying student and then teacher behaviors and actions. I believe school leaders would find the report valuable for professional development, PLC, and coaching conversations. The report specifically addresses middle and high school students and the transition to grade 9.

In explaining the term non-cognitive the authors point out that the word doesn’t really apply as cognition is present but the literature has historically used the term to describe the “soft” skills of learning. The report examines five factors and their interconnectedness:






Academic behaviors are the visible, outward signs that a student is engaged and putting effort into learning: attending class, arriving ready to work (with necessary supplies and materials), paying attention, participating in instructional activities and class discussions, and devoting out-of-school time to studying and completing homework.

Academic perseverance refers to a student’s tendency to complete school assignments in a timely and thorough manner, to the best of one’s ability, despite distractions, obstacles, or level of challenge.

“To persevere academically requires that students stay focused on a goal despite obstacles (grit or persistence) and forego distractions or temptations to prioritize higher pursuits over lower pleasures (delayed gratification, self-discipline, self-control).

Academic perseverance is the difference between doing the minimal amount of work to pass a class and putting in long hours to truly master course material and excel in one’s studies.”

Academic mindsets which are positive…

I belong in this academic community.

My ability and competence grow with my effort.

I can succeed at this.

This work has value for me.

…motivate a student to persist at academic behaviors that produce academic performance. Positive academic performance tends to reinforce the positive mindset in a reciprocal ongoing growth process. Similarly, poor performances can over time create a self -defeating attitude.

Learning strategies support a student in thinking, learning, and remembering.

Strategies that assist in recalling facts or monitoring understanding and self-correcting help students maximize the investment made in academic behaviors. Strategies like goal setting and time management add to the likelihood of increased academic perseverance.

Social skills are acceptable behaviors that improve social interactions between peers or between student and teacher, including interpersonal qualities such as co-operation, assertion, responsibility, and empathy. These skills are being identified as increasingly important in becoming career ready. Interestingly, the skills tend to be seen as critical to student academic performance in elementary grades but less required in secondary school where approaches to instruction may be less social and cooperative.

The closing words of this report provide a focus for examining teaching and learning environments:

“Teaching adolescents to become learners requires more than improving test scores; it means transforming classrooms into places alive with ideas that engage students’ natural curiosity and desire to learn in preparation for college, career, and meaningful adult lives. This requires schools to build not only students’ skills and knowledge but also their sense of what is possible for themselves, as they develop the strategies, behaviors, and attitudes that allow them to bring their aspirations to fruition.”

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One Response to “ Behaviors, Strategies, and Attitudes for Student Success ”

  1. Eric Wozniak Says:

    Thanks Mr Barkley for finding this! This is a wonderful study that truly emphasizes the “Art of Teaching” that is slowly eroding with today’s educational reform. As a former middle school and high school teacher, I am pleased to see any study focused on the transition to 9th grade.

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