卓越實證概述 Best Evidence in Brief

Secondary School Education

What makes for an effective student reward?

A National Bureau of Economic Research working paper explores the short-term effects of incentives on student effort and performance, varying the size and type of the rewards as well as how they are presented. As part of the study, field experiments were conducted across multiple years in over 7,000 elementary and high schools. Findings were as follows: Incentives framed as losses (i.e., a reward that is given before an assessment begins that the student can keep if they meet the goal, or will have to give back if they don’t) have more robust effects than comparable incentives framed as gains (i.e., receiving a reward only after the goal is met). Non-financial incentives (e.g., a trophy) are considerably more cost-effective than financial incentives for younger students, but are not effective with older students. All motivating power of the incentives vanishes when rewards are handed out with a delay rather than immediately. For this...

29 07 2020
Stories about struggling scientists improved science grades?

A study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology looks at the impact of “struggle stories” on success in science. Students who think that success in science is only possible with exceptional talent may become demotivated and, for example, turn away from the idea of studying science in college. In this study, 402 students in ninth and tenth grades in New York City schools read one of three kinds of story about an eminent scientist who: Struggled intellectually (e.g., made mistakes and overcame them through effort); Struggled personally (e.g., was poor or lacked parental support, but overcame it); or Made great discoveries (a control condition, without struggle). The intervention lasted five weeks. Student achievement was measured using grades from the six-week sessions before and after the intervention, and motivation was measured using a pre- and post-test. The study found that: Students in both of the “struggle story” conditions had higher grades than the...

29 07 2020
The relation between student motivation and reading performance

The latest issue of Review of Educational Research presents a meta-analysis on the relationship between reading achievement and motivation. The review examined whether ability to decode and understand text, goal orientation, students’ at-risk status, or grade level moderated the relationship, as well as whether motivation and reading are related over time. Jessica Toste and colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Iowa included 132 peer-reviewed articles with 1,154 effect sizes. Most of the studies took place in the United States (41%). Other studies were from Canada or Europe. Results suggested that: The relation between motivation and reading achievement is moderate (ES = +0.22). For specific reading domains, average correlations with motivation were moderate as well: ES = +0.19 for the ability to read in an accurate and fluent way, ES = +0.21 for the ability to understand and learn from reading text, and ES= +0.23 for general reading. Further...

29 07 2020
Student motivation and school reform

The Center on Education Policy in the US offers a series of papers that examines topics related to students’ academic motivation. The summary paper, Student Motivation: An Overlooked Piece of School Reform, pulls together findings from a wide array of studies by scholars in a range of disciplines, as well as lessons from programs intended to increase motivation. Topics include: why motivation is important and how it might be defined and measured; whether rewarding students can result in higher motivation; whether students can be motivated by goal-setting; the role of parental involvement, family background, and culture; strategies schools might use to motivate students; and non-traditional approaches to motivating otherwise unenthusiastic students. A few of many suggestions that the authors offer for schools to consider are: Programs that reward academic accomplishments are most effective when they reward students for mastering certain skills or increasing their understanding rather than rewarding them for reaching a performance...

29 07 2020
The benefits to students of helping others

Teachers would be grateful if students adopted the positive social custom of “one for all, all for one”. However, would helping others be beneficial to the students themselves? A recent study published in Journal of Happiness Studies examined whether the altruistic personality trait of Chinese students contributed to their life satisfaction.  The study conducted a survey of 428 students from schools in East China, of whom 148, 139 and 141  were drawn from, respectively, primary schools, junior high schools and senior high schools. Students were assessed for their altruism, life satisfaction, positive and negative emotions. Altruism was measured in terms of sociability, empathy, social responsibility and interpersonal trust. The findings were as follows:  Adolescents who have higher levels of altruism were found to have more positive emotions, fewer negative emotions. Their life satisfaction was also higher.  Empathy, social responsibility and interpersonal trust positively predicted life satisfaction. On the other hand, no direct...

15 07 2020
Virtual charter schools’ consistent and persistent negative impacts

As COVID-19 pushes more schools online, the call for evidence of online learning is at a premium. Virtual charter schools are one recent innovation claiming to utilize technology for more individualized and flexible learning. However, a recent article published in Educational Researcher from Fitzpatrick and colleagues used a robust quasi-experimental approach to confirm prior negative effects of the virtual charter model as a whole. Fitzpatrick and colleagues looked at state-wide end-of-year test results from Indiana in grades 3-8, including data from students in four virtual charter schools and 67 in-person (“bricks and mortar”) charter schools. The researchers set up a comparison group by matching students who transferred into a virtual charter school to a similar student in a traditional public school. They also looked at how virtual students compared to students who transferred into the more typical, in-person charter school. Results show that: Virtual charters schools negatively affected student achievement. This effect grew...

15 07 2020
How do students’ achievement goals affect their well-being?

The importance of students setting academic goals has been increasingly recognized. Students can have mastery goals which target learning and improving their ability. They can also have performance-approach or performance-avoidance goals that focus on outperforming others or being outperformed by others. A study recently published in School Mental Health identified that students’ performance goals were not conducive to their well-being. The study was first conducted on a corpus of 894 Grade 7 students from two public schools in northern China. Of these students, 763 and 590 participated, one year and two years later respectively, in a further study. The attrition was mainly due to school transference and absence from school during the assessment. They completed a questionnaire measuring their achievement goals, academic social comparisons, self-esteem and subjective well-being in school. The findings showed that:  Students’ mastery goals had positive effects on later subjective well-being through academic social comparison and self-esteem. Performance-avoidance goals...

01 07 2020
Teaching Students to Recognize Expository Text Structures

Students tend to struggle understanding informational text more than narrative text. What instructional strategies for fostering informational (expository) text comprehension are backed by strong evidence of effectiveness? One intervention strategy is teaching students to recognize expository text structures. Text structure is the organization of ideas, the relationship among the ideas, and the vocabulary used to convey meaning to the reader. The thought is that if readers can understand that authors purposely use various structures to organize text, then readers are assisted to construct an integrated mental representation of key ideas similar to the text’s organization. In a systematic review of 21 studies, Pyle and colleagues examined the effects of expository text structure interventions on comprehension outcomes of typically achieving students, at-risk students, and students with learning disabilities in grades K–12. Supporting the findings of previous reviews, Pyle found that teaching students to recognize text structures produced large effects on reading comprehension....

01 07 2020
Balanced reading and writing programs: More than the sum of their parts

While many reviews already examine the impact of either reading or writing interventions, a recent meta-analysis took an alternative approach by analyzing studies focused on programs balancing writing and reading instruction to determine if these programs had greater success in developing these skills. Including 47 studies, Graham and colleagues analyzed 46 unique programs, each with no more than 60% of instruction dedicated to either reading or writing, arguing that programs focused on both skill sets could improve skills in both reading and writing, and that while research shows that reading instruction improves writing and vice versa, studies had not determined the impact of balanced programs. The included programs were divided into 9 categories: cooperative learning, content literacy, early literacy, home based, literature based, remedial, strategy instruction, whole language, and IBM’s Writing to Read (a computer-based program). Of these, cooperative learning approaches were the most common type of program, followed by Writing to...

01 07 2020