Focusing on the positive helps us to do better
In 1982 the University of Wisconsin undertook a study of the adult learning process. Two bowling teams played several games each while the researchers videotaped the games. Then the research team edited the videos so that one team’s video was edited to show only their mistakes and the other team’s video was edited to show only the times when they achieved well.
Each team was then shown their respective videos to study, in order to help them improve their performances. After studying the videos, the teams then went back to the bowling lanes and played again. The good news is that both teams improved their scores. The great news is that the team that studied their strong points on video improved their game by twice as much as the other that studied only their mistakes. The conclusion reached was that focusing on the positive helps us tap into: creativity; passion; the desire to succeed.
Hearing what we did well makes us want to be better, and perhaps even more importantly believe we can be better. Focusing on errors was seen to generate feelings of fatigue.
If this experiment is considered in relation to school examinations it is important that pupils, after receiving their papers back and seeing their results, focus as much and if not more on what they do know and can do well rather than always looking at where they lost marks and errors made. Everyone can learn from mistakes but it is also reassuring to recognise what already it is possible to do well.
In school we shall certainly be encouraging your daughters, following school examination and assessment week, to be inspired and boosted by their results.
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