The Role of Noncognitive Measures in Higher Education Admissions

By Maria Elena Oliveri and Chelsea Ezzo.

Published by Journal of the World Universities Forum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 4, 2014 $US5.00

In this paper, we discuss the importance of including noncognitive measures in admission practices at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. The use of these measures potentially can be helpful in reducing the achievement gap that is: a) consistently documented in the literature and b) strongly associated with admissions of ethnic minorities in higher education. Reliance solely on cognitive measures has been shown to negatively impact the number of students from various ethnic groups who are admitted into colleges and universities. The inclusion of noncognitive measures may provide a more comprehensive story regarding an applicant and may be helpful in differentiating across international students who have diverse backgrounds and academic profiles. Despite these advantages, there are drawbacks such as rater bias and inflation of ratings confounding the use of noncognitive measures. In addition to discussing the benefits of using noncognitive measures in higher education admissions, we will also discuss the challenges while providing potential suggestions to address them.

Keywords: Measurement of Noncognitive Skills, Measurement Comparability, Fairness, Validity, Higher Education Admissions

The Journal of the World Universities Forum, Volume 6, Issue 4, April 2014, pp.55-65. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 4, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 266.099KB)).

Dr. Maria Elena Oliveri

Associate Research Scientist, Department of Foundational & Validity Research, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey, USA

I am an associate research scientist at the Educational Testing Service in the Foundational and Validity Research Centre. I have a master's degree in art and a PhD in measurement, evaluation and research methodology from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. I have two inter-related research interests: (a) assessment in higher education and (b) validity of inferences made based upon (large-scale) assessment results. In these areas, I have published several technical reports, book chapters and articles in various journals including International Journal of Testing and Applied Measurement in Education. I have also presented in various conferences including National Council on Measurement in Education and International Test Commission conference.

Chelsea Ezzo

Senior Research Assistant, Department of Foundational & Validity Research, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey, USA

Chelsea Ezzo is a Senior Research Assistant in the Foundational and Validity Research group at Educational Testing Service. She received her B.S. in Psychology from Messiah College in 2011. Her research interests include noncognitive assessments, human individual differences, cross-cultural issues, and implicit biases.

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