Monday, May 07, 2012

Failure School: Metacognitive Reframing Boosts Working Memory

What's a quick way to boost a student's working memory?  Tell them that learning is difficult and failure is common. At least that's a conclusion from a French research study that tested 111 6th graders with a series of difficult anagram puzzles. None of the 6th graders could solve them and then...

"... a researcher talked to the students about the difficulty of the problems. One group was told that learning is difficult and failure is common, but practice will help, just like learning how to ride a bicycle. Children in a second group were just asked how they tried to solve the problems. The students then took a test that measures working memory capacity, a key cognitive ability for storing and processing incoming information...the students who were told that learning is difficult performed significantly better on the working memory test, especially on more difficult problems, than the second group or a third control group who took the working memory test without doing the anagrams or discussions with researchers."


The researchers also went on to test reading comprehension, and the students who had heard that learning is difficult and often accompanied by failure scored higher than all the other groups.


"The study noted that the students’ improvement on the tests most likely was temporary, but the results showed that working memory capacity may be improved simply by boosting students’ confidence and reducing their fear of failure. “Our research suggests that students will benefit from education that gives them room to struggle with difficulty,” Autin said. “Teachers and parents should emphasize children’s progress rather than focusing solely on grades and test scores. Learning takes time and each step in the process should be rewarded, especially at early stages when students most likely will experience failure.”




Improve Memory By Metacognitive Reframing
Reducing Academic Pressure Helps Students Succeed Press Release
Working Memory Graphic

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