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Role of non-cognitive variables in learner performance among disadvantaged learners

Dirk Jacobus Pretorius
Michelle Jackel-Visser
Dirk Johannes Malan


We acknowledge the existing educational inequalities that South Africa faces as a result of differences in developmental and equal  educational opportunities. The aim with this study was to investigate the role of non-cognitive learning performance variables that affect  the learning performance and success of secondary-school learners. Data were collected from a sample of 395 Grade 9 learners. The  proposed learning performance structural model was empirically evaluated by using various instruments and was analysed by means of  structural equation modelling. The results indicate statistically significant positive relationships between learning performance and  cognitive engagement, learning performance and grit, cognitive engagement and conscientiousness, grit and learning motivation, grit  and cognitive engagement, learning motivation and parental quality, learning motivation and tenacity, learning motivation and cognitive  engagement, and conscientiousness and resilience. Both tenacity and parental quality acted as moderators of the relationship between  environmental unfavourableness and cognitive engagement. The selection of variables was more effective in explaining variance in  cognitive engagement than in learning performance. The results of the study could be used to facilitate cognitive engagement as a  pivotal variable in learning success among secondary-school learners. 

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eISSN: 2076-3433
print ISSN: 0256-0100