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How Can We Support Student Success in College? Joan Herman Chairs New Report for National Academies

April 20, 2017

Educational attainment—the number of years a person spends in school—strongly predicts adult earnings, as well as health and civic engagement. Yet relative to other developed nations, educational attainment in the United States is lagging, with young Americans who previously led the world in completing postsecondary degrees now falling behind their global peers. Researchers and policy makers seeking to increase college graduation rates are exploring whether abilities that go beyond cognitive skills can support students’ persistence and success. These abilities include intrapersonal competencies used in managing one’s behavior to achieve goals—for example, self-regulation and a growth mindset—and interpersonal competencies used in expressing one’s ideas and responding to messages from others, such as teamwork and communication skills. A committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine was asked to identify interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies that are related to undergraduate persistence and success (especially in fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—STEM) and to examine how to assess these competencies. The committee’s report, Supporting Students’ College Success: The Role of Assessment of Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Competencies (2017), identifies promising competencies, offers guidance on assessing them, and cautions against high-stakes use of currently available assessments. The report also recommends that higher education institutions and researchers partner to facilitate further research on the identified competencies.

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