Measurement Matters: Assessing Personal Qualities Other Than Cognitive Ability for Educational Purposes.

TitleMeasurement Matters: Assessing Personal Qualities Other Than Cognitive Ability for Educational Purposes.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsDuckworth, AL, Yeager, DScott
JournalEduc Res
Date Published2015 May

There has been perennial interest in personal qualities other than cognitive ability that determine success, including self-control, grit, growth mindset, and many others. Attempts to measure such qualities for the purposes of educational policy and practice, however, are more recent. In this article, we identify serious challenges to doing so. We first address confusion over terminology, including the descriptor "non-cognitive." We conclude that debate over the optimal name for this broad category of personal qualities obscures substantial agreement about the specific attributes worth measuring. Next, we discuss advantages and limitations of different measures. In particular, we compare self-report questionnaires, teacher-report questionnaires, and performance tasks, using self-control as an illustrative case study to make the general point that each approach is imperfect in its own way. Finally, we discuss how each measure's imperfections can affect its suitability for program evaluation, accountability, individual diagnosis, and practice improvement. For example, we do not believe any available measure is suitable for between-school accountability judgments. In addition to urging caution among policymakers and practitioners, we highlight medium-term innovations that may make measures of these personal qualities more suitable for educational purposes.

Alternate JournalEduc Res
PubMed ID27134288
PubMed Central IDPMC4849415
Grant ListK01 AG033182 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
R24 AG048081 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
R24 HD042849 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States

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