Renaming Noncognitive Skills to Emphasize Success

Four college students talking and laughing together

In January, 2013, I authored a Commentary in Education Week that made a case for renaming “noncognitive” skills. My argument was a sound one, I think, but my suggested replacement, metacognitive learning skills, didn’t exactly catch on. So, I’m taking another run at this, largely because I, like many others, have not been satisfied with the alternatives put forth so far.

For example, the term “soft skills” has been in play since the issuance of the SCANS report in the early 1990s as a descriptor for what it takes to be able to succeed in the 21st century workplace. Why these skills are “soft” when employers consistently value them more than measures of content knowledge is beyond me. I assume it’s because…

Continue reading the rest of this blog post on Education Week in the Learning Deeply Blog.


About the Author
David Conley, Ph.D.

David Conley, Ph.D.

David T. Conley, Ph.D., is a professor in the department of Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership, and a director at the Center for Educational Policy Research in the College of Education at the University of Oregon. Dr. Conley conducts research on issues related to college readiness, college and high school course content analysis, high school-college alignment and transition, and large-scale diagnosis and assessment of college readiness. His findings have been published in numerous technical reports, conference papers, book chapters, and journals, such as Education Week, Educational Administration Quarterly, Educational Policy and Educational Leadership. He earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley, a master’s of arts degree at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Connect with him on Twitter @drdavidtconley.