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Failure As Option Aids School Success

New research completed by the American Psychological Association states, students are able to learn better if they are told that failure is an option and is even a normal part of learning. It is important to help kids understand learning is hard and failure is a part of learning. It’s normal and OK.

Kids today are obsessed with success. They associate success with being smart and failure with being not smart. It is because of this students are afraid to learn more and take on new material. Learning more increases the chance for failure.

In an experiment with 111 sixth graders, two groups were all given a difficult problem to solve. One group was given encouragement and told failure is normal and practice helps to overcome failure while the other group was merely asked how they attempted to solve the problem.

Students then took a test that measured their working memory, which is a predictor of academic achievement. Working memory is how we learn and store new information. Those who were told that failure is ok had better results on the working memory test than the other.

Two more experiments were performed with a reading comprehension instead of a working memory test. Those students who were explained the idea that failure is an option and a natural part of the learning process did much better than those just given tests.

Learning that it is alright to fail also increased the students’ views of their own academic performance. Researchers did state that this explanation would produce temporary results but it still has an effect on their academic achievement.

An emphasis on progress instead of just grades and tests would improve academic performance. Learning is a process and failure is part of it – students who know this experience a decrease in stress regarding academics and end up performing better.


What do you do to help your child succeed in school?

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