Yet another study on the efficacy of small writing assignments to improve student performance

These studies keep coming out but I don’t hear of anyone trying them in the classroom. Frankly, the results are spectacular given the very small investment of energy and attention by students or teachers–these exercises beg to be tested in the real classroom. Who is going to step up for their students?

From Ed Yong’s blog: Writing about exam worries for 10 minutes improves student results



3 thoughts on “Yet another study on the efficacy of small writing assignments to improve student performance”

  1. I recently read a book that may speak to some of Harry’s concerns. How We Decide by Johna Lehrer discusses how the unconscious “emotional” brain is well equipped for tasks such as sports due to the volume of cognition required for success (how many variable influence a basketball shot). In such a case, conscious thought actually impedes the faster and more fluid processes occurring in the unconscious parts of the brain controlling muscle memory. In contrast, performance on academic tasks such as tests requires critical thinking. In those situations the student needs as much working memory as possible. Further, in these situations the emotional brain can interfere with the higher level processes and tax the finite cognitive resources available to the student. Exercising emotional stresses early may help keep them from being a cognitive draw during tests. The book is an excellent read and cites many studies. It is a 2009.

  2. I find this really interesting. I no longer have a class to try this with, but I am somewhat skeptical. In coaching track, where neuro-muscular recall is a key to performing complex tasks (pole vaulting), one well established psychological principle is to avoid negativity. Prior to a performance, if the athlete thinks about what they want to avoid, it is more apt to trigger the negative performance than the positive one. I had students visualize a positive performance to purposely avoid those negative thoughts. The more we practiced this, the more it seemed to help.

    Although writing about worries on an exam evidently helps relieve stress, I wonder whether visualizing (maybe writing) about figuring things out, understanding questions, making correct selections, etc. might not produce even more dramatic results.

    Not too old to ponder. Harry

  3. I have recently begun to follow Ed Yong’s blogging, etc… via Twitter. I have enjoyed the two or three things I have read of his and look forward to reading this post as well.

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