Finding Conceptual Coherence: Trends and Alignment in the Scholarship on Noncognitive Skills and Their Role in College Success and Career Readiness

  • Heather T. Rowan-KenyonEmail author
  • Mandy Savitz-Romer
  • Maya Weilundemo Ott
  • Amy K. Swan
  • Pei Pei Liu
Part of the Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research book series (HATR, volume 32)


Recent questions about the degree to which higher education adequately equips graduates with desired workplace skills has drawn attention to the role of noncognitive skills in college and the workplace. Yet, there is questionable alignment of these skills across higher education and employment sectors. The literature on noncognitive skills, defined here as a diverse set of social emotional and self management competencies, is varied across higher education and employment literatures, thus creating confusion and a lack of clarity. A systematic review of the literature was conducted as a means to clarify and organize a set of terms and concepts that support college and career success. This manuscript presents the findings from that review, as well as the development of a taxonomy created for analytic purposes and alignment of noncognitive skills bridging the higher education and employment literatures. The taxonomy is divided into three domains of noncognitive skills that emerged from our analysis-Approach to Learning/Work, Intrapersonal Skills, and Social Skills.


Higher education Employment Workforce Career Non-cognitive Soft skills 21st century skills College success Retention Persistence Motivation Self-efficacy Social emotional Students Behaviors Success Work Alignment 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather T. Rowan-Kenyon
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mandy Savitz-Romer
    • 2
  • Maya Weilundemo Ott
    • 3
  • Amy K. Swan
    • 4
  • Pei Pei Liu
    • 5
  1. 1.Lynch School of Education, Boston CollegeChestnut HillUSA
  2. 2.Harvard Graduate School of EducationCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Harvard Graduate School of EducationCambridgeUSA
  4. 4.George Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  5. 5.Harvard Graduate School of EducationCambridgeUSA

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