Measuring the unmeasured impacts of schools.


Identifying the factors that may influence success inside and beyond the classroom 

Dr Simon Walker, Lead Researcher, Human Ecology Education


Previous studies have shown that the Affective (a word for emotional) and Social factors (AS factors) measured in this study develop over childhood. Young children (in year 3-6) show AS scores indicating they seek novelty and change and exhibit a high trust in themselves, coupled with a low trust of others and a low willingness to disclose. As children develop through to adolescence and then adulthood, these AS biases diminish, indicating a growing ability to self-regulate appropriately for the situation rather than just be driven by internal drives.


CAS development over childhood

CAS development over childhood


This is true across different populations of same-age children. For example, here are AS profiles of four different year 10 cohorts from four different UK schools. Each school was in a different part of the country and were of different school type (independent, day, boarding, academy).

In fact, what is true of Affective Social scores also appear to be true of Cognitive scores. In the above chart, we have added perspective, processing and planning- Cognitive factors- to form a CAS profile. The students CAS profile is just as remarkably consistent as their AS profile.

However, this does not mean that school is having no impact on children’s CAS development. In 2013 we tested what impact schools have on student CAS scores.

Our Footprints CAS technology can measure the CAS profile of children when they are OUT of school and also measure it when they are IN school. This can give us an indication of the impact the school is having on the Cognitive, Affective and Social development of its students.

For example, this chart shows the dark blue CAS profile of one of the above schools when its yr 10 students are OUT of school. The light blue profile which is overlaid, then shows the profile of those SAME students when they are IN school.

Clearly this school is having a big impact on the student’s trust of others, trust of them self, their desire to embrace change and their planning!

And different schools appear to have different impacts. Here’s a second school in which the OUT of school highs and lows of the seven factors are more or less levelled out when IN school.

Contrast this with a third school, in which the OUT of school and the IN school profile are almost identical.

So, our research suggests that different schools have a different impact on CAS (Cognitive, Affective Social) development of their students.

The question is, what’s the significance of those impacts? Does it matter that different schools have different impacts? Do those different impacts contribute to different student outcomes? Might those different impacts have a bearing, for example, on students’ academic outcomes, or their ability to manage social situations, or their aspirations?

Previous studies suggest they might. For example, we have already shown that a student’s ability to adjust their CAS state to an optimal state as they move from curriculum lesson to curriculum lesson (i.e. from maths, to english to science) correlates with higher academic outcomes. See Results suggest that this ability may in fact, account for up to 10-15% of secondary student academic outcomes.

If CAS scores have an impact on academic outcomes, it seems likely that they may also have an impact on non-academic outcomes. For example, employability, or attractiveness to universities, or leadership qualities.

The CAS profile was originally developed by Human Ecology Education’s parent company in the 2000s as a measure of leadership mobility. It is used successfully to help employers select and train their internal leaders by indicating whether candidates have the requisite skills to adapt into the varied tasks, contexts and relationships required in the work place. It seems likely, therefore, that student CAS scores could have a bearing not just for success in the classroom but beyond school in the workplace.

We hope that this current state-independent dividend school study will shed some further light onto CAS and its impact in determining student educational outcomes. We hope it will help us understand whether different models of schooling have different impacts on CAS development. We hope it will highlight if there are gender differences in CAS development and what educational experiences are most likely to boost CAS development, so that our country’s education can be as effective as it possibly can.

Dr Simon Walker, Lead Researcher, Human Ecology Education

August 2014



Academic edu page.