Reducing academic pressure may help children succeed
Children may perform better in school and feel more confident about themselves if they are told that failure is a normal part of learning, rather than being pressured to succeed at all costs, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.
"We focused on a widespread cultural belief that equates academic success with a high level of competence and failure with intellectual inferiority," said Frederique Autin, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Poitiers in Poitiers, France. "By being obsessed with success, students are afraid to fail, so they are reluctant to take difficult steps to master new material. Acknowledging that difficulty is a crucial part of learning could stop a vicious circle in which difficulty creates feelings of incompetence that in turn disrupts learning."
The study, published online in APA's Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, could have important implications for teachers, parents and students, said Jean-Claude Croizet, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Poitiers who supervised the research based on Autin's doctoral dissertation. "People usually believe that academic achievement simply reflects students' inherent academic ability, which can be difficult to change," Croizet said. "But teachers and parents may be able to help students succeed just by changing the way in which the material is presented."
In the first experiment with 111 French sixth graders, students were given very difficult anagram problems that none of them could solve. Then a researcher talked to the students about the difficulty of the problems. One group was told that learning is difficult and failure is common, but practice will help, just like learning how to ride a bicycle. Children in a second group were just asked how they tried to solve the problems. The students then took a test that measures working memory capacity, a key cognitive ability for storing and processing incoming information. Working memory capacity is a good predictor of many aspects of academic achievement, including reading comprehension, problem solving and IQ. The students who were told that learning is difficult performed significantly better on the working memory test, especially on more difficult problems, than the second group or a third control group who took the working memory test without doing the anagrams or discussions with researchers.
A second experiment with 131 sixth graders followed a similar procedure with the difficult anagrams and discussions with a researcher. An additional group of students took a simpler anagram test that could be solved, and this group was not told that learning is difficult. All of the students then completed a reading comprehension test. The children who were told that learning is difficult scored higher than the other groups, including the students who had just succeeded on the simple test. How students think about failure may be more important than their own success when learning challenging skills, the study noted.
A third experiment with 68 sixth graders measured reading comprehension and asked questions that measured students' feelings about their own academic competence. The group that was told that learning is difficult performed better in reading comprehension and reported fewer feelings of incompetence.
The study noted that the students' improvement on the tests most likely was temporary, but the results showed that working memory capacity may be improved simply by boosting students' confidence and reducing their fear of failure. "Our research suggests that students will benefit from education that gives them room to struggle with difficulty," Autin said. "Teachers and parents should emphasize children's progress rather than focusing solely on grades and test scores. Learning takes time and each step in the process should be rewarded, especially at early stages when students most likely will experience failure."
More information: "Improving Working Memory Efficiency by Reframing Metacognitive Interpretation of Task Difficulty," Frederique Autin, PhD, and Jean-Claude Croizet, PhD, University of Poitiers and the National Center for Scientific Research, Poitiers, France; Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, online. www.apa.org/pubs/j… fp-autin.pdf
Provided by American Psychological Association
- Do middle-school students understand how well they actually learn? Nov 26, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- How psychological cues can limit black students' academic learning, success Jul 12, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- How courage can help students learn and achieve Aug 19, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Recognizing children's successes in all areas may prevent teenage depression Jan 08, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- High school whiz kids may face reading comprehension issues in university Jan 25, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
4 hours ago Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
Johns Hopkins researchers say they have discovered specific chemical alterations in two genes that, when present during pregnancy, reliably predict whether a woman will develop postpartum depression.
Psychology & Psychiatry 6 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
A Mediterranean diet with added extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts seems to improve the brain power of older people better than advising them to follow a low-fat diet, indicates research published online in the Journal of ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 16 hours ago | 2 / 5 (1) | 2
More people are being diagnosed with eating disorders every year and the most common type is not either of the two most well known—bulimia or anorexia—but eating disorders not otherwise specified (eating disorders that ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 16 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Turns out, that old "practice makes perfect" adage may be overblown. New research led by Michigan State University's Zach Hambrick finds that a copious amount of practice is not enough to explain why people ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 17 hours ago | 3.5 / 5 (11) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Individuals who learn two languages at an early age seem to switch back and forth between separate "sound systems" for each language, according to new research conducted at the University of Arizona.
Psychology & Psychiatry 18 hours ago | 5 / 5 (4) | 1 |
Delayed transfer to the intensive care unit (ICU) in hospitalized patients significantly increases the risk of dying in the hospital, according to a new study from researchers in Chicago.
55 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
The surgical management of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in U.S. hospitals varies widely depending on the race of the patient, according to a new study.
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
In a remote fishing community in Venezuela, a lone fisherman sits on a cliff overlooking the southern Caribbean Sea. This man –– the lookout –– is responsible for directing his comrades on the water, ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0 |
A novel approach to obstructing the runaway inflammatory response implicated in some types of asthma has shown promise in a Phase IIa clinical trial, according to U. S. researchers.
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
Authorities are investigating rice mills in southern China following tests that found almost half of the staple grain in one of the country's largest cities was contaminated with a toxic metal.
1 hour ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Lund University, Sweden, have bioengineered a novel molecule which has been proven to successfully kill tumour cells.
1 hour ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0