Teachers: Get Better Grades? Make Them Compete

Does your daughter expect a D on the algebra test?  No matter the amount of studying, she will probably get it.

Not because she's dumb.  Because somehow kids' expectations of how they will do in a class actually affect the outcome, according to a new study.

Research has shown that what a student expects to learn and how they expect to do in a class actually has an impact on their learning, professor Angela King has found.

For example, she says at newswise.com, a student might take a divisional class and assume they will get an A because it’s viewed as their “easy” class. “They are already calculating their GPA based on that A and will do whatever it takes to get that A, while a student who takes a class perceived as more difficult, like an organic chemistry course, just wants to pass the class.”

And sometimes that means they settle for a C, she added, when a little more effort or an alternative study method could help them improve their learning, and their grade.

 It's a little like positive thinking, I guess, though I always got Ds in math and a mountain of positive thinking couldn't have changed that!

But apparently, after working with students to prove her thesis, King found that dividing them up into teams who competed by building up points based on the grades they received (F's deleted points while A's earned extra points) actually started to do better. The big prize? Fifteen-point bonuses on their final exams.

Since most were premed, this was very enticing.

Ironically, the team which won was so far out in front that the other students stopped adding up points (and I guess, let their grades slip).  So much for motivation!


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