Academic vs. Non-Academic Learning

The difference between academic and non-academic learning

Let’s define the terms first. Academic learning is a way of getting conventional education. The process of studying takes place in the classroom and at home. Students attend lectures in colleges or universities and develop certain skills. Instructors evaluate their academic performance through various tests. As a result, an individual with higher education can expect to get the promotion faster than the one who does not have one.

Non-academic learning is the means of getting the career-related knowledge. Often it is not obtained through formal education, but still, it provides an individual with the important skills for executing their daily duties at working place.

Now let’s take a closer look at skills you can gain through academic and non-academic learning.

Academic skills

Academic learning definition implies the skills we will gain will be developed in the classroom. At first, they will be much helpful for your studying process, e.g. taking exams. Later, you will be able to implement these skills into your working routine.

In the university, academic requirements are successfully fulfilled if the students possess the following set of skills:

1.    Academic strategies  – the skills that let the student understand and give a critical response to the lectures;

2.    Comprehension – the proper understanding of specific ideas in an academic text is achieved with this skill;

3.    Academic text strategies – with the help of these skills the student is able to grasp the implied thoughts of an author and analyze the text given in the framework of an academic study;

4.    Composition – the skills that enable the student to create a piece of academic writing.

5.    Academic discourse – the skills that enable to communicate in the academic verbal activities, e.g. discussions, speeches, debates, and presentations.

This list of academic skills and abilities was created by the Global Scale of English (GSE) with the aim to help teachers in developing these skills in students to prepare them for their university studies. 

Types of non-academic skills

The non-academic definition says the skills you will obtain through such learning are not related to a school and/or formal education. Still, they can be successfully implemented in your studies as well as at work.

Why should I care about any other skills if I went to receive my academic education to be more competitive?” you may think. The answer is easy: your future employer requires it. As Martin West, the representative of Harvard Graduate School for Education said, the skills not measured by the standardized tests are highly important since they bring not only academic but also career success in life.

Below you can see the list of skills he was talking about.

1.    Curiosity.

In the century of fast digital changes, the kids can get information in a few seconds and the ability to stay inquiring and willing to find the answer to the question on their own without turning to a machine is crucial.

2.    Social skills.

The gadgets and social networks were thought to bring us closer, but in fact, they make us apart. Therefore, the ability to communicate face-to-face and be able to empathize dies off causing the failure in building a relationship in the classroom, at work and in life.

3.    A mindset of constant development

The idea of lifelong learning gained its popularity nowadays, but if it wouldn’t, the young individual should perceive life as the opportunity for constant growth. The striving to become better every day is the ability that will keep the person going farther.

4.    Metacognitive skills

Despite the fact that it sounds complex, the core is easy. Basically, these skills are not about what you do, but how you do it. It’s crucial both in academic and non-academic learning to understand where to implement the theory you’ve studied before.

5.    Courage

Building up a career or gaining a new profession in an academic setting may be hard not only in terms of new skills and challenges but also due to twists of fate. It’s worth to learn how to be brave enough to bear it and keep doing your thing.

6.    Soft skills

The one who possesses this set of skills knows how to negotiate, dress and demonstrate good manners. In fact, it is the basic professional skills kit you should learn to succeed in non-academic as well as academic settings.