A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looks at what impact an intervention designed to help students with concerns about starting middle school has on their academic achievement, behavior, and well-being.
Geoffrey D. Borman and colleagues conducted the study with 1,304 sixth graders at 11 middle schools in a U.S. Midwestern public school district. Within each of the 11 schools, students were randomly assigned to the intervention or control condition. The intervention group was given reflective writing exercises, two months apart, which were designed to help students reassess any concerns and worries they might have about belonging in school. The control condition exercises asked students to write about neutral middle school experiences that were not related to school belonging.
The researchers collected pre- and post-intervention survey data on students’ reported social and emotional well-being, and official school records of student attendance, disciplinary records, and grades. The results of the study suggested that:
- The intervention reduced behavioral referrals by 34% (effect size = -0.14), reduced absences by 12% (ES = -0.13), and reduced the number of failing grades by 18% (ES = -0.11).
- Differences across demographic groups were not statistically significant.
The authors concluded that while previous studies recognized reappraising adversity could support college students, it appeared that the middle school students could also benefit from it during their transition period.
Source (Open Access): Borman, G. D., Rozek, C. S., Pyne, J., & Hanselman, P. (2019). Reappraising academic and social adversity improves middle school students’ academic achievement, behavior, and well-being. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(33), 16286–16291.