Amelia Herring

The Hidden Side of Predicting Student Performance and Success

The Hidden Side of Predicting Student Performance and Success
Amelia Herring

Cognitive ability tests, such as the Wonderlic Scholastic Level Exam (SLE), are widely used for student selection and placement.

By measuring a potential student’s ability to learn, adapt and solve problems, the SLE has been proven to increase student retention, graduation and job placement rates, along with helping schools meet accreditation requirements. In fact, according to decades of empirical research, cognitive ability is by far the best predictor of student performance and success. However, scores on cognitive ability tests only tell part of the story about a student’s potential for success. We are all familiar with the following examples:

  • The extremely bright student who does not apply himself and never reaches his full potential.
  • The student who barely passed the cut-off for admission, but through dedication and hard work, is near the top of the class.

How can we better identify these types of students?
A growing body of research suggests that non-cognitive factors also play an important role in predicting student performance and success. For example, Angela Duckworth, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, found that students with self-discipline and “grit”—sticking with goals in the face of adversity—earned higher GPAs, despite having lower SAT scores. As she stated, it might be the case that “those who are less bright than their peers compensate by working harder and with more determination.”

Wonderlic is pioneering the development of an innovative and comprehensive student assessment that will help educational programs like yours learn about the non-cognitive factors that affect student performance and success. Such factors include:

  • Achievement Motivation
  • Conscientiousness
  • Integrity
  • Interest and Curiosity
  • Leadership and Teamwork
  • Perseverance
  • Time Management

We would like you to join our growing community of participating research sites! There is no charge to be included. In fact, our expert Ph.D. team will supply you with confidential, detailed, and actionable information about your programs. Not only could you use such information to supplement your admissions process, but you could also provide feedback, resources, and action plans to your students to help improve their non-cognitive skills.

To participate in our research or to find out more information, please contact me:

Brett M. Wells, Ph.D.
Director of New Test Development

Which non-cognitive factor do you think differentiates top students from others?

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