Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Cognitive and noncognitive skills, two sides of the same coin: Using latent class analysis to compare students on select academic and career outcomes
by DiGuilio, Laila Lejnieks, Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2009, 108; 3390784
Abstract (Summary)

The history of American schooling is replete with the interplay between politics, economics and social behavior. This has never been more evident than in the current environment of high stakes testing on core subjects that largely ignores other important noncognitive outcomes of education. Within this context, the present study built on previous research in the area of noncognitive skills and explored the relationship between noncognitive skills and important background characteristics and distal outcomes by comparing student ability groupings.

Ability groups were identified in a sample of twelfth grade students pulled from the National Education Longitudinal Survey of 1988 (NELS:88) utilizing latent class analysis (LCA), a person-centered latent variable approach. LCA offered a beneficial method for group assignment because it allowed for the analysis of student cognitive and noncognitive skills concurrently and assigned classes based on student responses to a series of seventeen cognitive and noncognitive measures. In the interest of validating the classes yielded from the latent class analysis, an alternative grouping method motivated by mean cut-scores, was also tested and compared to the LCA results.

Once the latent classes were identified, they were compared for potentially significant differences on important background characteristics, specifically gender, race and socioeconomic status in an effort to illuminate any inequity in group representation. Of particular interest were students who demonstrated low cognitive skills, traits measured and rewarded in education, but high noncognitive skills, traits desired and rewarded in the workplace.

Student ability groups were also compared on distal outcomes of import, including educational attainment, income and job satisfaction, to illuminate potential trajectories for students based on their cognitive and noncognitive skills. This allowed for the identification of differential outcomes between groups based on their cognitive and noncognitive skills, and allowed for the testing of outcomes predicted by the literature, specifically that high levels of noncognitive skills provide some added benefit to students.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Yun, John
Commitee: Glasman, Naftaly, Nylund-Gibson, Karen
School: University of California, Santa Barbara
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 71/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational tests & measurements, Secondary education, Cognitive psychology
Keywords: Academic outcome, Career, Cognitive skills, Group assignment, High-stakes testing, Latent class analysis, National data sets, Noncognitive skills
Publication Number: 3390784
ISBN: 978-1-109-60908-0
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