卓越實證概述 Best Evidence in Brief

Social and Motivational Outcomes

Chinese and Finnish students’ praises to peers reflected their mindset

Growth mindsets and academic motivations have been increasingly valued. A recent study published in Frontiers in Psychology examines how mindsets and academic motivations are reflected in how students praise their peers. The study was conducted among Chinese and Finnish students to examine any potential differences. The study collected data from 992 Chinese and 870 Finnish fourth to ninth graders from two Chinese and two Finnish public schools. Students completed a questionnaire which measured how they gave feedback to their peers, their mindset and academic motivation. Their feedback was assessed in terms of three kinds of praise, namely neutral praise (e.g., "Great!"), person praise (e.g., "You are so gifted" or "You were really lucky!") and process praise (e.g., "You must have worked hard to achieve this score"). The authors analysed how the use of praise predicted mindset and academic motivation. The findings were as follows: Giving person-focused praise was associated with a fixed mindset and negative academic motivation,...

22 09 2020
Some Bad News for The Good Behavior Game

The Good Behavior Game (GBG) is a school intervention that motivates students to have better behavior through winning rewards on a team for positive behaviors. Many prior studies have found significant positive impacts of GBG on student and school outcomes. However, a recent study from Ashworth and colleagues found no effects on behavior from this intervention. Ashworth and colleagues specifically studied GBG in a 2-year randomized control trial among 3,084 6-7 year old children in 77 UK primary schools. The results showed that: This study found no overall effects on student disruptive behavior, concentration problems, nor pro-social behavior (as observed by teachers). Additionally, the study found no subgroup effects either on demographic factors (such as being male) or based on cumulative risk. The study also found no effect based on how much the program was implemented by teachers. The authors hypothesize that this lack of an effect may be due to the...

22 09 2020
Children’s prosocial behaviors also promote happiness

Cultivating prosocial behaviors is an important educational goal. A recent study published in Frontiers in Psychology examined whether prosocial behaviors were also rewarding for young children. The participating children were given a sharing, an instrumental helping task, and an empathic helping task. Their prosocial behaviors and happiness levels during and after the tasks were coded and compared. The study was conducted using a Dutch cohort and a Chinese cohort of young children to examine whether cultural differences exist. In total, there were 122 Dutch toddlers of which 101 participated again one year later, and 91 Chinese preschoolers involved in the study.  The following results were found consistent across both Chinese and Dutch children: Compared with receiving treats, children became happier after sharing. Children also became happier after performing instrumental helping behaviors. Whether children were being thanked after they helped others did not change their happiness levels. The authors concluded that prosocial behaviors...

27 08 2020
The danger of classifying “reading” or “math” people

Academic self-concept is a central factor that affects various psychological and behavioral outcomes. Students compare their academic achievement across social (How good am I at this compared to my classmates?), temporal (How good am I compared to how I was?), and dimensional (How good am I in math compared to English?) domains. A meta-analysis of 505 datasets (n=572,718) gathered findings on social and dimensional comparisons concerning achievement and academic self-concept in mathematical and verbal subjects. An important consequence of the dimensional construct is that as students develop positive self-concepts around particular subjects, they may develop negative self-concepts around those on the other end of the math-verbal continuum. Strengthening self-concept in math or science leads to weaker self-concept in reading and writing, and vice versa. Students who realize they excel in math may mentally diminish their skill in reading–they become ‘math’ people. Interestingly, this balancing act of math-verbal abilities does not align with...

12 08 2020
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
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
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
A review of pre-school SEL interventions

Dana Murano and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis to summarize the effects of social and emotional learning (SEL) interventions on the development of social and emotional skills and the reduction of problem behaviors in pre-schoolers. The review, published in Review of Educational Research, considered 48 studies that looked at the effects of either universal (delivered to all students) or targeted (delivered to students who were identified as being in need of additional support) SEL interventions. The interventions in these studies were delivered to pre-school-age children (mean age = 4.31 years), and a total of 207 effect sizes were extracted. Overall, the results of the meta-analysis suggest that pre-school children benefit from SEL interventions, and in particular those receiving targeted interventions, details are as follows: Compared with students in control conditions, students who received a universal SEL intervention showed overall improvements in social and emotional skills (effect size = +0.34) and reductions in...

17 06 2020