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Reaction to “Non-Cognitive ability, College Learning, and Student Retention”

Reaction to “Non-Cognitive ability, College Learning, and Student Retention”

Marilyn D. Lovett

Florida A&M University

I found the idea of measuring non-cognitive ability intriguing. However, I did not get said measurement in this article. The literature review does not seem to support what the researchers say occurred with the SE2 program. While the policy emphasized rewarding effort with grades, such research was not mentioned in the literature review. As a result, I was not sure how effort was measured. The authors mentioned information in the “sociology literature” but I believe examining psychological literature might have made for a more sound argument. I also wondered if students of African descent were in any of the studies mentioned in the literature review.

In the methodology section, the authors stated that the SE2 policy was developed “to improve student performance by increasing study skills and the preparedness of the students” (Gray & Swinton, 2017, p. 67). However, I do not understand how that would have increased preparedness. I also was not clear on the equations used to answer the research questions, but that is probably because I am not familiar with the Cox proportional hazard model.

There were a couple of times throughout the article that mentioned some information being “available upon request.” I appreciated that because it is a nod toward transparency in research. It reminded me about the replication program touted by the Association for Psychological Science in which researchers are invited to upload their data for other researchers to replicate. I noticed that Table 4 had no non-cognitive skills recorded. I wondered why cognitive and non-cognitive skills could not be increased simultaneously when the authors stated that the SE2 policy “helps those students with unmeasured non-cognitive skills, while potentially harming some of the students with higher measured cognitive skills” (Gray & Swinton, 2017, p. 74). This brought me back to wondering why non-cognitive skills were not operationalized in the first place.

 
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