New connections…

January 24, 2008

I love this new study by psychologist Carol Dweck. It focuses on young learners, but I think it applies to all of us:

A new study shows that if you teach students that their intelligence can grow and increase, they do better in school.

About 100 seventh graders, all doing poorly in math, were randomly assigned to workshops on good study skills. One workshop gave lessons on how to study well. The other taught about the expanding nature of intelligence and the brain. The students in the latter group “learned that the brain actually forms new connections every time you learn something new, and that over time, this makes you smarter.” Basically, the students were given a mini-neuroscience course on how the brain works.

By the end of the semester, the group of kids who had been taught that the brain can grow smarter, had significantly better math grades than the other group.

“When they studied, they thought about those neurons forming new connections,” Dweck says. “When they worked hard in school, they actually visualized how their brain was growing.”

Dweck says this new mindset changed the kids’ attitude toward learning and their willingness to put forth effort. Duke University psychologist, Steven Asher, agrees. Teaching children that they’re in charge of their own intellectual growth motivates a child to work hard, he says.

“If you think about a child who’s coping with an especially challenging task, I don’t think there’s anything better in the world than that child hearing from a parent or from a teacher the words, ‘You’ll get there.’ And that, I think, is the spirit of what this is about.”

The full story is available at:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7406521&sc=nl&cc=es-20071226

(It also includes a 4.5 minute audio version of the story – great for students and tutors who want to read and listen to it during a lesson!)

– Rebecca S.

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One Response to “New connections…”

  1. susan w. albers Says:

    This has been breathtaking! What new and positive approaches! I am going to find out if I can become a literacy teacher. Some of these ideas will help my grandchildren. Thank you!


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