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April 2012 | Volume 69 | Number 7
College, Careers, Citizenship
Jenny Edwards and Arthur L. Costa
No matter what path they choose, students need more than academic knowledge.
As educators, we are focused on helping students acquire core knowledge that prepares them to become skillful thinkers, pass tests, and complete entry-level college courses. However, it's important for us to ask ourselves whether that's all students need to succeed in college, in careers, and in life.
David T. Conley (2010) suggests that students also need a set of key cognitive strategies—such as goal setting, time management, and persistence—that enable them to apply what they know and what they are learning in complex ways. We see deep connections between these cognitive strategies and the 16 habits of mind that we helped develop and implement in schools internationally (Costa & Kallick, 2000).
Students who develop the following habits will be ready for whatever path they choose:
Some preliminary research by Scott Behrens at Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan, found a significant positive correlation between the habits of mind as measured on his survey and college grade point average (personal communication, April 4, 2005). The habits that were the strongest predictors of academic success in college were managing impulsivity, persistence, and metacognition.
What can educators do to help students practice the behaviors that will lead them to internalize these habits? Working with schools around the world, we have found that the following conditions are key (Costa & Kallick, 2008):
What if education were less about acquiring skills and knowledge and more about cultivating the dispositions and habits of mind that students will need for a lifetime of learning, problem solving and decision making? What if education were less concerned with the end-of-year exam and more concerned with who students become as a result of their schooling? (Ritchhart, 2002, p. xxi)
Ritchhart asks important questions, and the habits of mind provide one way of getting beyond academic skills and knowledge and preparing students for a variety of situations. The habits of mind were derived from studies of effective, skillful problem solvers and decision makers from many walks of life (Costa, 2001).
Although college for all is a laudable goal, the habits of mind will help students get ready not only for college, but also for life. They will prepare them to be effective employees, innovative workers, empathic family members, and successful citizens. These skills are essential for successful adults, and the earlier students can learn them, the better.
Conley, D. T. (2010). Redefining college readiness. Eugene, OR: Education Policy Improvement Center.
Costa, A. (2001). Habits of mind. In A. Costa (Ed.), Developing minds: A resource book for teaching thinking (pp. 80–86). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Costa, A. L., & Kallick, B. (Eds.). (2000). Discovering and exploring habits of mind. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Costa, A. L., & Kallick, B. (Eds.). (2008). Learning and leading with habits of mind: 16 essential characteristics for success. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Ricthhart, R. (2002). Intellectual character: What is it, why it matters, and how to get it. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Jenny Edwards is on the faculty at Fielding Graduate University for the doctoral program in Educational Leadership and Change. She is author of Cognitive Coaching: A Synthesis of the Research (Center for Cognitive Coaching, 2001) and Inviting Students to Learn: 100 Tips for Talking Effectively with Your Students (ASCD, 2010). Arthur L. Costa is professor emeritus at California State University, Sacramento; codirector of the Institute for Habits of Mind; and a past president of ASCD.
Copyright © 2012 by ASCD
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