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, which might indicate a lack of willingness to put effort into learning.
- Chinese students tended to provide process-focused and person-focused praise to their peers, while Finnish students preferred to give neutral praise.
- Both Chinese and Finnish students displayed growth mindsets. However Chinese students held a more malleable view of the developmental potential of giftedness.
- Finnish students’ avoidance-oriented academic motivation was of a higher level than that of Chinese students.
The authors suggested that Chinese students’ preferences to provide process-focused and person-focused praise might reflect the emphasis on both effort and luck in Chinese culture.
Source (Open Access): Zhang, J., Kuusisto, E., Nokelainen, P., & Tirri, K. (2020). Peer feedback reflects the mindset and academic motivation of learners. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1701. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01701