Psychology and Math

I think it’s interesting how if I were to tell a grade 9 class (14-year-olds) that girls outperform boys in math until age 15, that the girls probably would outperform the boys, but if I said instead that boys surpass girls at age 13, the boys would outperform.

If I say, “This course is challenging,” does that mean that students will do poorly compared to if I had said “This course is easy”?  I would say it’s challenging in order to emphasize the importance of practice (i.e. homework) and studying, but could I instill the work ethic and create a better psychological effect with a different phrase?  “This course is easy for those who keep up with homework and studying”?  Or possibly even better, a single word, “This course is ___”

I would probably do well to learn more about this, so I can figure out how to have positive effects, but even more importantly, to avoid creating negative ones.

Anyone know of any resources?

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Posted on March 4, 2012, in Social Science, Teaching and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. If you have not already, I would very strongly recommend checking out the JUMPMath program (www.jumpmath.org). They place a huge emphasis on positive reinforcement in the classroom, and have at least some empirical information to back this up.

  2. I will! I’ve heard about it before, but never actually bothered to check it out. Thanks!

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