What are the characteristics of “Non-Cognitive Ability”? Why is it receiving attention around the world?

2021.07.27

“Non-cognitive ability” is currently attracting attention around the world. Human abilities can be broadly divided into cognitive and non-cognitive abilities.
Cognitive ability is defined as the ability and academic ability which can be judged numerically through tests and includes IQ (intelligence quotient). “Non-cognitive ability” is defined as the other abilities. Please check out the contents, types, and characteristics below.

世界で注目されている「非認知能力」とは? その特徴や種類をご紹介!

”Non-cognitive ability” cannot be measured numerically

Humans have many abilities that cannot be measured numerically, such as, diligence, patience, curiosity, imagination, sociability, brightness, kindness, and mental stability. These abilities are called non-cognitive abilities. Since there are no clear numbers or indicators for determining non-cognitive abilities, they are often not emphasized in education.
However, many parents still want their children to acquire these abilities. Research shows that children acquire non-cognitive abilities from an early age at home and at educational institutions.

What has caused people around the world to pay attention to “non-cognitive ability”?

It is said that “The Perry Preschool Project” which took place in the US in the 1960’s triggered global attention to “non-cognitive abilities”.
During the project, children between the age of 3 and 4 years old were divided into two groups and only one group was exposed to a child-centered learning program and home visits. The goal of the project was to support the development of “non-cognitive abilities” which could not be measured by tests.
According to a follow-up survey (held 40 years later) with the students who participated in the project, the children who were exposed to the child-centered learning program, had higher school grades, a more stable social life, and lower crime rates and welfare benefits. As a result, attending an early-childhood learning programs that develop “non-cognitive abilities” is considered an important step for leading a prosperous life in the future.

There a variety of “non-cognitive” abilities

Some examples of “non-cognitive” abilities are motivation and concentration, resilience, and the patience to work hard without giving up until you achieve your goal. In addition, self-affirmation, independence, self-control (such as reason) and metacognition (such as judgement and action) are also classified as “non-cognitive” abilities. Other “non-cognitive” abilities that children want to acquire are leadership, cooperation, applied ability, responsiveness, imagination, kindness and calmness.

When a person improves his/her “non-cognitive” abilities, they improve their quality of life. Therefore, “non-cognitive” ability to required to live a better life.
Although cognitive ability (which can be measured numerically like academic ability) is also important, parents/teachers should not neglect the development of “non-cognitive” abilities in early childhood.
Experiencing a variety of learning styles is required for children to develop “non-cognitive” ability. Attending Mommy & Me classes and preschool programs is a great way to expose your child to new learning and challenges and bring out their “non-cognitive” ability.

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