Does reducing academic pressure help children succeed?
Do children perform better in school and feel more confident about themselves if they believe failure is a normal process of learning? New research published by the APA has shown that being pressured may not always be best.
Modern society and education are now obsessed with success; failure is seen as a very unacceptable and negative thing- something many students are now afraid of. Education is supposed to be challenging, difficult and push you to reach your best. It is to be accepted that failure is an important learning process. However, believing that failure is allowable may mean that some children would lower their academic expectation and not try as hard, even though they are capable of doing well in education.
This new research could have important implication for teachers, students and parents. In the first experiment 111 French sixth graders were given a difficult anagram problem that none of them could solve. The students were talked to about the difficulty of the problem by the researcher. One group were told that learning is difficult and that failure is common but that practice will aid their learning. The other group were asked how they tried to solve the problems. A test was taken that measured working memory capacity (ability for storing and processing incoming information). Many aspects of academic achievement can be predicted by working memory capacity.
The results of the study showed that the students who were told that learning is difficult performed significantly better on the working memory test, particularly on the difficult problems. When learning challenging skills, a students opinion on failure is often more important than their own success. Reducing a student’s feel on failure and boosting their confidence can improve working memory capacity.
Students would benefit more from education that gives them room to cope with difficultly. Problem solving will continue to be a part of everyday life, whether it is in school, university or a job. Failure is all about a certain mindset and one that can be broken when progress is focused on, rather than simply concentrating on test scores and grades.
American Psychological Association (APA) (2012, March 12). Reducing academic pressure may help children succeed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 25, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120312101439.htm