Nonacademic Skills and IOAPA Students

I came across this article from Education Week on the importance of nonacademic skills for learning, and it inspired me to think about how these skills might affect IOAPA students. In this context, we’ll use the term ‘nonacademic skills’ to refer to skills and attributes not measured by traditional standardized testing, including things like self-regulation, growth mindset, and problem-solving skills.

Research suggests that many bright students may experience perfectionism and competitiveness, and may have difficulty tolerating frustration and managing stress. In addition, when faced with challenge, students’ self-esteem may suffer. IOAPA coursework is likely more difficult than anything students have previously experienced, and this may be an unpleasant shock and result in unexpected issues.

In order to help our students overcome these challenges, we must first understand what areas are in need of support. One way to accomplish this is to use tools like ACT Engage (free to schools through the Belin-Blank Center!) to find areas in which each student may need additional attention. Other ways to assess nonacademic skills include questionnaires, observations, and interviews.

Once we know the areas in which students need help, what can we do to support them? Above all, it is important to encourage hard work and to decrease the focus on earning high grades. In addition, teachers must recognize that high academic achievement does not necessarily mean that the student is similarly mature across domains; students may have the academic skills to understand the content, but may lack the study or time management skills necessary to succeed in high-level coursework. They might need instruction on these skills to achieve success.

What strategies do you have for supporting students’ nonacademic needs? Let us know in the comments or using #IOAPA.


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