Teachers' Tactics and Test Performance

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Story Updated: May 5, 2014

Motivation and test performance among high school students may suffer when teachers place their focus on the consequences of failure- as opposed to the benefits of success new research suggests. The finding published in School Psychology Quarterly follows the tracking of nearly 350 British students as they completed the last 18 months of their secondary education.

During a period leading up to a final math exam the teens were surveyed twice. All were asked about the negative and positive ways in which teachers discussed test performance. They were also asked to characterize their motivation to study. Survey responses were then stacked up against final math scores. The result: when teachers discussed testing in terms of the threat of failure student motivation fell. And as motivation fell, so did test scores. By contrast, when teachers focused on the positive consequences of a good test result student motivation rose and so did test scores.

The investigating team concluded that teachers need to consider the psychological impact of the their approach to tests so as to promote, rather than dampen, student motivation.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with the health news for you and your family.

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