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We teachers obviously need to be kind to our students — just because.

In the midst of our hectic days, however, it’s probable we miss plenty of opportunities to do so.

A new study (focused on employees but, it seems to me, easily applicable to the classroom) finds that small acts of kindness could result in improved student self-efficacy – a sense of confidence that they can do what is asked of them.

A little kindness goes a long way for worker performance and health in Science Daily summarizes the study, where researchers gave bus drivers some fresh fruit each day, resulting in both increased self-efficacy and less depression.

Here’s an excerpt:

The team measured self-efficacy — perceived confidence and ability to implement the necessary actions and tasks so as to achieve specific goals — using the 10-item General Self-Efficacy Scale. Items on this scale included, “I can always manage to solve difficult problems if I try hard enough” and “I can usually handle whatever comes my way.”

“We found that self-efficacy was significantly higher in the middle of the experiment week than in the week after the experiment ended,” said Zhong.

Zhong concluded that while eating an extra apple at lunchtime may seem trivial, its impact can be large.

“This research suggests that employees can be sensitive to any improvement at the workplace,” he said. “Before an ultimate solution is possible, some small steps can make a difference — one apple at a time.”


Read more about self-efficacy at a previous post, “Fixed-Fights,” Self-Efficacy & Student Motivation.

I’m adding this piece to Best Posts On “Motivating” Students.