Background vs. Behaviors: Understanding Underserved Populations through Noncognitive Assessment

Mar 30th, 2016

Sponsored by
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Many students from various demographic groups experience challenges in completing a higher education degree. First-generation college students, students from low-income backgrounds, and men of color are a few examples of “traditionally underserved” populations. Yet, the higher education community doesn’t have a clear picture of how support for these students should be qualitatively different, occasionally favoring the unsustainable approach of simply increasing the quantity of support. One way in which we can better understand such groups — or, perhaps more importantly, the student within them — is through direct attention to the skills, behaviors and challenges they experience. Noncognitive assessment is one prism through which these factors can be viewed.

In this webinar, we will discuss noncognitive assessment as a tool for understanding the strengths and challenges that students from traditionally underserved backgrounds experience, as well as strategies for providing pathways for these students to succeed. More importantly, we will address interventions that can be implemented to address noncognitive areas of need. The institutional perspective — i.e., how such an approach can be adopted by faculty and staff at a minority-serving institution — also will be presented. Overall, our goal is to help you understand how to better serve students from traditionally underserved backgrounds by improving the quality of your work, rather than the quantity.


Willis Walter

Willis Walter, Ph.D.
Vice President of Community Affairs/K-16 Initiatives and
Dean/Associate Professor of the College of Education
Bethune-Cookman University

Willis Walter, Ph.D. serves as Vice President of Community Affairs/K–16 Initiatives and Dean/Associate Professor of the College of Education at Bethune-Cookman University. He helps establish and maintain partners with school districts to promote successful learning outcomes and enhance the educational experience for students in grades K–12. The Department of Community Affairs/K–16 Initiatives coordinates activities designed to improve college access, retention and graduation for underrepresented student populations.

Ross Markle
Ross Markle, Ph.D.
Senior Research and Assessment Advisor
Ross Markle, Ph.D. is a Senior Research and Assessment Advisor at ETS. He works in the Higher Education division at ETS and, over the past several years, Markle has researched the role of noncognitive skills in student success and student learning with a particular emphasis on traditionally underserved populations. He now works with colleges and universities to understand and implement assessment solutions in practice.


In this informative webinar, participants will:  

  • Learn about the research that points to the importance of noncognitive factors in student success.
  • Discover how holistic assessment can drive success rates.
  • Explore an example of how another MSI has successfully implemented holistic assessment on its campus.
  • Acquire the tools to improve their own institutions’ retention and success rates.

Price: Complimentary