It’s almost the end of the school year. The summer holidays will fly be and students will be back at school before we know it. So what can we do to ensure students progress from this year and make next year at school their best yet? We consider 5 psychological strategies that can help students raise their game for the year ahead.
1. Have High Expectations – Teacher expectations can significantly influence the level of student achievement. This was illustrated in a study almost fifty years ago where teachers were falsely told that some of their students had been identified as potential high achievers. At the end of the year, these students had made significantly more progress. This increase in achievement was put down to the effect of the teacher having higher expectations of them. This is known as the Pygmalion Effect. Sometimes students need someone to believe in them before they can believe in themselves. Having high standards and expectations for all students is central to this.
2. Be a Guide – Even with the best of intentions, people are often poor predictors of their own future behaviour. This is why some people use a personal trainer to help them bridge the gap between intention and action. The Daffodil experiment is a great example of this. On one weekend in spring each year, Cornell University sell daffodils for a dollar to raise money for charity. When asked how likely they were to buy a daffodil, 83% of undergraduate students said they would. The reality? Only 43% did.
3. Provide Regular Feedback – A lot of research has been conducted on the type of feedback to give students. Praising effort, different strategies, choosing the hard task, and persistence are ways to help students develop their growth mindset. The frequency of feedback has been less researched. By regular feedback we don’t mean lavish praise. This would probably do more harm than good, as it conveys a message of low expectations. But in terms of feedback, we think ‘a little and often’ is better than ‘all at once’. This is one of the reasons why Accenture, one of the world's largest companies, is scrapping its Annual Performance Review with its employees and moving to more fluid and regular feedback sessions.
It is a daunting thought to consider the next school year filled with a roller-coaster of emotions (for staff, students and parents alike). But by tapping into these five areas: high expectations, being a guide, providing regular feedback, modelling the desired behaviour, and regular deadlines, hopefully we can help students raise their game and have their best year yet in education.
For even more info take a look at our page How to Develop a Growth Mindset, where you'll find links to blogs and research.