Insight Questionnaire

For many colleges, the application process is a numbers game; students with the highest GPAs, ACT scores and SAT scores are admitted without hesitation. At the University of Northern Colorado, we know test taking isn’t for everyone. For students who may not have scored as high as they desired in the classroom UNC now offers the Insight Questionnaire as an alternative way to understanding potential students and their goals. This option gives students the chance to thrive in a college environment regardless of test taking skills.

Personalizing the Path to Higher Education

As part of a two-year pilot study, first year undergraduate applicants may be asked to complete an Insight Questionnaire – a written assessment designed to measure students’ nontraditional academic behaviors in an effort to get to know the applicant better. Personal traits include self-concept, realistic expectations, ability to set short and long term goals, leadership skills and community involvement, among others.


By acknowledging noncognitive variables in testing, research has discovered these benefits:

  • Predictions of students’ overall performance in college improve. The most accurate predictions are found when results of the “Insight Questionnaire” are combined with high school GPAs, ACT scores, SAT scores and high school curriculum.
  • Students who use alternative learning styles can demonstrate their academic potential, which often is overlooked in the traditional admissions process.
  • Useful information is obtained for academic advising and other student support service access.

Background Research

According to research by Dr. William Sedlacek at the University of Maryland, noncognitive characteristics are evaluated by written responses to a set of questions, which are then scored by a group of trained assessors using advanced scoring guides. Significant levels of inter-coder reliability have been met through these procedures. UNC has adopted the use of six questions that have been reviewed and endorsed by Dr. Sedlacek.

Scoring Method

Each Insight Questionnaire is scored by a group of people from different backgrounds and perspectives, all of whom are required to go through rigorous training on noncognitive skills in admission and scholarship selections. A scoring guide was developed based on Dr. Sedlacek’s work, and has been implemented at other universities across the country.

Dr. Sedlacek’s research shows that understanding noncognitive factors greatly contributes to the predictions of a student’s academic success in the future. Ultimately, the Insight Questionnaire gives more students the chance to bring their education to life.

The six topic areas and questions of the Insight Questionnaire are:

  1. Leadership/Group Contributions: Describe examples of your leadership experience in which you have significantly influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time. Consider responsibilities to initiatives taken in or out of school.
  2. Knowledge in a field/creativity: Describe any of your special interests and how you have developed knowledge in these areas. Give examples of your creativity: the ability to see alternatives; take diverse perspectives; come up with many, varied, or original ideas; or willingness to try new things.
  3. Dealing with adversity: Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to address this challenge. Include whether you turned to anyone in facing that challenge, the role that person played, and what you learned about yourself.
  4. Community service: Explain what you have done to make your community a better place to live. Give examples of specific projects in which you have been involved over time.
  5. Handling systemic challenges: Describe your experiences facing or witnessing discrimination. Tell us how you responded and what you learned from those experiences and how they have prepared you to contribute to the UNC community.
  6. Goals/task commitment: Articulate the goals you have established for yourself and your efforts to accomplish these. Give at least one specific example that demonstrates your work ethic/diligence.

Directions to Complete the Insight Questionnaire

When a student has been identified to complete the Insight Questionnaire, an email request will be sent to complete the Insight Questionnaire through the same application process when first applying for admission to UNC. The following link will guide you on how to complete the online process if you have been directed to do so:

Download Step-by-Step Insight Questionnaire Instructions

If you have any questions about completing the Insight Questionnaire, please call UNC Admissions at 970-351-2881 or 1-888-700-4UNC or send an email to

Insight Resume™ Copyright 2004 Oregon State University. All rights not licensed are reserved. Reprinted with permission under license from Oregon State University solely for internal use by University of Northern Colorado. Any other publication or use is strictly prohibited.