Thursday, October 19, 2006

Happy students don't necessarily do well in math, according to a study by the Brookings Institution's Brown Centre on Education Policy.

"Real student engagement is not about keeping students happy, boosting their self-esteem, or convincing them that what they are learning is relevant; it's about acquiring new knowledge and skills and pursuing the activities that contribute to that attainment," the report said.

Instead, the Center's Director (the aptly-named Mr Loveless) suggests in the report that an over-emphasis on trying to make students happy in class could actually distract the students from their core learning objectives.

The report bases its conclusions on math test scores taken from around the world and a correlating questionnaire relating to students' confidence in, enjoyment of, etc. the subject. American children claim to be very confident in math and enjoy math a lot, but still score below the International Average in their tests.

The results shouldn't be surprising, though. You can give a kid the best, most comfortable, most entertaining environment to learn in hoping to enhance the kid's motivation in a subject, but if the kid enjoys the environment too much and doesn't study, the result is still a foregone conclusion.

So, regardless of how entertained or how bored you are in class, there is only 1 secret to academic success: study hard. No two ways about it. Sorry.

Read a summary of the report ("koped" from ST) here.

The full report (a large 1mb .pdf file) here. Check out page 12 onwards for its findings on the happiness factor, and page 18-20 for a direct comparison between American and Singaporean student responses.

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