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Research Studies Of The Week

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I often write about research studies from various field and how they can be applied to the classroom. I write individual posts about ones that I think are especially significant, and will continue to do so. However, so many studies are published that it’s hard to keep up. So I’ve started writing a “round-up” of some of them each week or every other week as a regular feature:

This study is a few years old, but it’s new to me. It comes via ASCD, and found that children above the age of twelve are more likely to learn from their mistakes than younger kids. I’m adding it to The Best Posts, Articles & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures.

A study reports that students who set a goal of eating more fruit and visualized actually doing it were more successful than those that did not. I’m adding it to My Best Posts On Helping Students “Visualize Success.” And here’s a report on a study showing that people who visualized a job interview going well did better than those who did not.

If You Plan, Then You’ll Do… But It Helps to Have a Friend
is a report on a new study. It reinforces my having students identify goal “buddies” to meet with for mutual support. It’s also prompting me to think about having the buddies not only identify their goals on their own, but perhaps pick one that they have in common, too. I’m adding it to My Best Posts On Students Setting Goals.

Be It Resolved is a useful column in the New York Times by John Tierney. It talks about strategies to use in sticking to New Year’s resolutions, but it’s helpful for any kind of increased effort towards self-control. I’m adding it to My Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control.

The Willpower Trick
by Jonah Lehrer reports on a new study on self-control that seems to reinforce the conclusions by researchers in the original Marshmallow Experiment:

Mischel discovered something interesting when he studied the tiny percentage of kids who could successfully wait for the second treat. Without exception, these “high delayers” all relied on the same mental strategy: they found a way to keep themselves from thinking about the treat, directing their gaze away from the yummy marshmallow. Some covered their eyes or played hide-and-seek underneath the desk. Others sang songs, or repeatedly tied their shoelaces, or pretended to take a nap. Their desire wasn’t defeated — it was merely forgotten.

Mischel refers to this skill as the “strategic allocation of attention,” and he argues that it’s the skill underlying self-control. Too often, we assume that willpower is about having strong moral fiber or gritting our teeth and staring down the treat. But that’s wrong — willpower is really about properly directing the spotlight of attention, learning how to control that short list of thoughts in working memory. It’s about realizing that if we’re thinking about the marshmallow we’re going to eat it, which is why we need to look away.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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