While discussions about educational outcomes usually focus on academic (or cognitive) attainment, increasing attention is being paid to non-cognitive skills like independence, self-control and perseverance. “Non-cognitive factors are highly correlated with education, employment and health outcomes and, in some cases, even more relevant predictors of observed individual differences in life-time outcomes than innate intellectual ability”. Mendez, I (2014).
The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a well-known international academic capabilities survey which many NZ schools participate in. PISA data 2003 -2012 cross-referenced with students’ cultural backgrounds from World Values surveys showed students whose ancestries emphasise perseverance, responsibility, independence and imagination performed better in PISA’s language, mathematics and science tests than students whose ancestries emphasise obedience and unselfishness.
We encourage self-determination and drive, viewing personal development as an evolving journey at St Cuthbert’s. Drive is the ability to stick to a task while self-determination and control is the ability to defer gratification to reach long-term goals. Remaining positive is an important marker too. Girls who see themselves in a positive light and who develop healthy self-esteem are likely to demonstrate greater personal agency and have higher expectations for themselves when they graduate. “Children who learn and exhibit self-determination and perseverance attain more years of education and will likely outperform individuals in other areas of life”. Reeves, Venator, & Howard (2014).
Outstanding results achieved in girls’ schools are underpinned by an increasing body of research demonstrating higher self-determination and drive in girls educated in girls’ schools, compared with girls in coeducational settings. This is not surprising, as all opportunities for developing perseverance, advocacy and leadership go to girls. Community service, extracurricular participation and a myriad of other wrap around programmes are all designed to prepare College graduates to enter the wider world with confidence and optimism. Girls’ schools provide the ideal environment, free from gender stereotyping, for girls to engage with enthusiastic teachers who support them to achieve their goals and to develop the self-belief, resilience, perseverance and self-control that will stand them in good stead as they exit our doors.
De Bortoli, L., & Macaskill, G. (2014) Thinking it through: Australian students’ skills in creative problem solving. Biddle, N., & Ball, S. (2014) Focusing on the right measures — Non-cognitive ability and the other education gap. Mendez, I. (2014). The intergenerational transmission of non-cognitive skills and its effect on student performance [working paper]. Reeves, R., Venator, J, & Howard, K (2014) The character factor: Measures and impact of drive and prudence.