Monday, June 22, 2015

Smart Praise for Students

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 17th, 2015

In the late 1990s, the psychologists Carol Dweck and Claudia Mueller conducted an experiment to see if the way we praise children influences their learning.
They gave more than 100 fifth graders (from two very different population sets: one urban and multiracial and the other Midwestern and mostly white) four minutes to solve 10 math problems. Afterward, all of the children were lauded for their achievement: "Wow, you did very well on these problems." But then two groups of children were given additional praise: some for their abilities ("You must be smart at these problems") and some for their effort ("You must have worked hard at these problems"). The objective was to explore the differing effects of "ability praise" ("you must be smart") versus "effort praise" ("you must have worked hard).
Then the children were given another set of 10 problems, but much more difficult ones. No matter how well they did this time, all of the children were told they had performed "a lot worse." The idea was to test how they would respond to failure.

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