Smart is Not Enough

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Posted on March 7, 2019

What is the number one “Success Asset?”


A recent Search Institute survey of 1,800 parents, educators, youth workers, and community leaders responded to questions about Mistakes Kids Make young people’s noncognitive skills, most of these respondents commenting on their own how these attributes are more important than hard skills, rote learning or cognitive abilities. They were not asked to choose one skill over another but rather asked respondents to indicate how important they saw each of the abilities on a scale of 1 to 5.

The research engaged participants in thinking, talking, and ultimately acting on the following five big ideas, each of which is rooted in research and demonstrated through data.

  1. Developing young people’s noncognitive skills is an essential aspect of preparing them for success in some type of college, a career, and citizenship.
  2. There are at least five critical noncognitive skills that studies show matter most to educational success.
  3. Young people’s noncognitive skills can be strengthened by adopting one of the growing numbers of programs that focus on those skills, and by more intentionally integrating the development of those skills into the ways that adults interact with young people in existing programs and organizational structures.
  4. One of the most powerful ways to strengthen noncognitive skills is to build developmental relationships with young people that grow deeper over time.
  5. There is a perseverance process that is a practical way to build developmental relationships and to strengthen the foundational noncognitive skills of motivation and persistence.

Building Noncognitive Skills through Developmental Relationships also exposes participants to Search Institute’s long-standing research on Developmental Assets and Sparks, though which the Institute’s scientists and practitioners have studied and worked to strengthen the acquisition of noncognitive skills for more than two decades.

A breakdown of the respondents