Psycho-Social Factors: Learning English in School

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Grit and hope are also correlated. To the extent that these constructs share variance, an important question is which psychosocial constructs have the greatest utility in performance outcomes. Perceived ability was used for both pragmatic and theoretical reasons. First, from a practical standpoint, collecting cognitive test data alongside measures of psychosocial functioning on a large sample could not be accomplished in time to respond to this call.

As reliability and validity are of scores in a specific sample, in keeping with best practice, we began with an examination of the internal consistency and structural validity of scores on the three constructs in this sample. We hypothesized that scores on the three psychosocial constructs would be reliable and valid in the sample. We hypothesized that these variables would contribute positively and meaningfully to this construct.

Thus, we hypothesized that the variables would add less variance than in the previous analyses, but would still contribute meaningfully on the basis of the extant literature. The sample consisted of Students are admitted to the program on the basis of grades, teacher recommendations, standardized test scores, and stated interests. The ethnic breakdown of the sample consisted of Asian Americans The socioeconomic classification of the sample was 1. The mean GPA of the group was close to 4.

For the consistency of interests over time subscale, lower scores indicate more grit; thus, responses are reverse coded. For the perseverance of effort subscale, higher scores indicate more grit. Pathways measures one's ability to envision paths and alternative paths to one's future goals three items, e. Agency measures one's belief, and corresponding motivation, in one's own ability to accomplish their goals via envisioned paths three items, e. The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at the first author's institution.

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Missing data were handled using maximum likelihood estimation 25 iterations. Percentage of values imputed for variables ranged from 2. Means, standard deviations, and intercorrelations among the variables are reported in Table 1. Given the sample size, tests of normality for all the variables yielded statistically significant results. Outside of these values, which were near the center of the distribution, the distributions generally fell within the normal curve outline.

Moreover, the variables generally had similar levels of association with perceived ability and academic achievement. As grit and hope scores are well established in the literature, the structural validity of these scores was examined using confirmatory factor analyses CFAs , all of which are reported in Table 2. CFAs were conducted using Mplus 7. These results are presented in Table 2. Two items, computer and foreign language, were dropped from the scale because communalities were low 0. A subsequent analysis indicated that communality estimates for the other seven items ranged from 0.

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  4. In the next analysis Table 4 , we predicted academic achievement with the demographic variables in block 1, perceived ability in block 2, and the psychosocial variables in block 3. Although not statistically significant, hope had a standardized coefficient around 0. We included the interactions between grit facets and the other two psychosocial variables in a fourth block, but they did not contribute to the equation.

    These findings indicate that some psychosocial variables play meaningful roles in predicting performance in a talented sample of students beyond perceived ability. Hope contributed significantly to the prediction of perceived ability but not to academic achievement. Given the popularity of the construct and the claims made in the literature, 1 , 62 this finding was surprising. Indeed, the construct of grit received a considerable amount of attention and critical scrutiny in At the same time, several researchers have stated that grit is overblown.

    All of these findings, including those in the current study, remind us of the importance of assessing constructs in a broad range of samples before assuming that they will work more generally, a concern that is even more important in the context of grit, given the decision to base schools on this construct or assess this construct as part of student evaluations. The correlations among the variables in the study provide support for the hypothesis that some psychosocial variables are related, at least modestly, to perceived ability and to academic achievement.

    In other words, the same variables that contribute directly to academic outcomes also contribute to academic outcomes via a student's academic history.

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    Thus, it is not surprising that there were associations with perceived ability. Moreover, given that the mean GPA of the sample was 3. Moreover, although we did not test the relationship with outstanding performance directly, the fact that psychosocial variables contribute some variance when the range is so restricted suggests that these variables may help to distinguish outstanding performers from high performers.

    The findings also raise an important caveat for researchers and educators to consider—all psychosocial variables are not created equal. The study's findings indicate that some psychosocial factors contribute to academic achievement beyond perceived ability. For example, after first encountering highly talented peers, an adolescent may lose confidence, yet with coaching and practice, confidence can either be regained or worked around so that it does not interfere with performance.

    Future research should examine if the contributions of psychosocial variables differ from childhood to adolescence and as individuals move from less selective to more selective peer groups. The current study found an association between psychosocial skills and achievement, and we hypothesize that this effect will increase as individuals progress in their careers.

    First, as individuals move up in a domain, they will be competing against others who are more similar in abilities; thus, ability will become less of a distinguishing characteristic. Concomitantly, psychosocial factors, rather than competence, may distinguish one individual from others of similar training and ability. For example, an adolescent who is more skilled at engaging teachers by way of enthusiasm and effort may be more successful at garnering talent development opportunities, leading to an accumulation of advantage.

    For individuals at higher stages of talent development, possessing skills that attract patrons and mentors is important for career advancement. Similarly, models of talent development have generally not acknowledged that the profile of psychosocial skills that support achievement may vary by the domain of talent. Most promising is research showing that psychosocial skills are malleable and can be modeled, taught, and deliberately cultivated by teachers, mentors, coaches, and even parents. We recommend that researchers of academic outcomes look to performance areas, such as sport and music performance, for ideas on transferring psychosocial strength training to academic domains.

    As with all studies, this one had several limitations. Although the pattern of relationships and the results reported provided support for the hypotheses, it will be important to examine these relationships using some variables that are not reported by participants e. Second, the sample reflects the lack of diversity in gifted and talented education programs, with small numbers of underrepresented minorities.

    Third, more rigorous analyses of the relative roles of psychosocial variables and ability will require longitudinal studies of students in gifted and talented programs, with appropriate measurements of the psychosocial and ability constructs over multiple years. The few longitudinal studies in the extant literature have not assessed the contributions of psychosocial variables to performance.

    In sum, the current study promotes the need for further study to disentangle the relative roles of ability, social skills, psychological strength, and demographic variables as they interact with focused instruction and deliberate practice in accounting for achievement at different stages of talent development.

    Beyond perceived ability: the contribution of psychosocial factors to academic performance

    Volume , Issue 1. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account. Below is a review of the principles and potential applications for their use in teaching high school psychology. A great deal of research from cognitive and educational psychology has discovered how thinking and learning can be improved in the classroom. The first eight principles highlight some of the most important findings on teacher practices that impact student growth.

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    Research shows that learners who hold the growth mindset that intelligence is malleable, and success is related to effort level are more likely to remain focused on goals and persist despite setbacks. A great way to start off the year in a psychology class is with a discussion of growth versus fixed mindsets because it helps students understand how their beliefs about intelligence can influence their own academic success. For more information about fixed and growth mindsets and how they impact student performance, see the TED talk by psychologist Carol Dweck.

    A TED talk by Angela Lee Duckworth discusses how student learning can be examined in the context of motivation and illustrates how the personality trait of grit, which is correlated with success, can be developed through teaching of a growth mindset. Research shows that prior knowledge influences both conceptual growth and conceptual change in students. With conceptual growth, students add to their existing knowledge, and with conceptual change, students correct misconceptions or errors in existing knowledge. Facilitating conceptual growth or change requires first obtaining a baseline level of student knowledge prior to the start of each unit through formative assessment.

    The results of this discussion can guide the selection of assignments and activities that will be appropriate for facilitating either conceptual growth or conceptual change. Prior knowledge can be used to help students incorporate background knowledge and draw connections between units during the course. Research indicates that cognitive development and learning are not limited by general stages of development. Instructors can use this research to facilitate learning by designing instruction that utilizes scaffolding, differentiation and mixed ability grouping.

    It is also critical that the most advanced students have the opportunity to work with others who will challenge them, including other students or the instructor. Learning is based on context, so generalizing learning to new contexts is not spontaneous, but rather needs to be facilitated. Student growth and deeper learning are developed when instructors help students transfer learning from one context to another.

    Students will also be better able to generalize learning to new contexts if instructors invest time in focusing on deeper learning. One method of developing this skill is to have students use their understanding of a particular unit to generate potential solutions for real-world problems.


    This principle details empirically based strategies that will help students more effectively encode learned materials into long-term memory. In addition to those in the memory unit, examples from this principle can help inform instruction throughout the course. By issuing formative assessment frequently through practice problems, activities and sample tests, instructors can help students increase their knowledge, skills and confidence. Additionally, instructors conducting practice activities at spaced intervals distributed practice will help students achieve greater increases in long-term retrieval ability.

    Practice tests should include open-ended questions that require both the retrieval of existing knowledge and the challenge of applying that information to new situations or contexts, thus also incorporating principle four. See also the APA teaching module on practice for knowledge acquisition.

    This principle highlights the importance of instructor responses and indicates the best manner in which to deliver feedback to students in order to maintain or increase motivation to learn. Providing students with clear, explanatory and timely feedback is important for learning. Self-regulation skills, including attention, organization, self-control, planning and memory strategies, improve learning and engagement and can be taught through direct instruction, modeling and classroom organization. Teachers can model organizational methods and assist students by highlighting learning targets at the start and conclusion of lessons, using classroom calendars, highlighting difficult concepts that will require more practice, breaking large projects into manageable components, using well designed rubrics and allowing sufficient processing time through questioning, summarizing and practice.

    Psychology students can apply this research to their own study habits such as learning to practice self-control by limiting the distractions presented by cell phones and social media. Students can also be encouraged to design experiments related to the limits of attention and discuss the practical implications of their results. Creativity is considered a critical skill for the technology driven world of the 21st century and because it is not a stable trait, it can be taught, nurtured and increased.

    This principle describes specific methods of structuring assignments to increase creativity and ideas for how to model creative problem solving. Creativity in the psychology classroom can include opportunities for student-designed research projects, video projects, demonstrations and model building. Students who are motivated and interested in learning are more successful. CPSE has outlined the most important ways to help increase student motivation and engagement.

    Students tend to enjoy learning and to do better when they are more intrinsically rather than extrinsically motivated to achieve.

    The Psychosocial environment | International Bureau of Education

    This principle is directed at how instructors can increase intrinsic motivation through classroom practices and activities that support the fundamental need of students to feel autonomous. It is important to note that not everything of importance is intrinsically motivating to all students and that there is a place for extrinsic motivation in education.

    During the unit on motivation, when intrinsic and extrinsic motivations are typically discussed, students can examine their personal motivations and how they influence their success. Lastly, students can examine the research related to the overjustification effect, also discussed in this principle. For more information about motivation and the over-justification effect and how they impact student performance, see the TED talk by psychologist Dan Pink. Students persist in the face of challenging tasks and process information more deeply when they adopt mastery goals rather than performance goals.

    Students who form mastery goals are focused on attaining new skills or increasing existing ability, but students who develop performance goals typically are focused simply on showing adequate ability. When students set performance goals, they have a tendency to avoid tasks that might expose weaknesses and end up missing opportunities that would foster the development of new skills.

    Those with mastery goals are more likely to be motivated to learn new skills and achieve higher levels of competence. Principle 10 provides specific methods for organizing instruction that can be used to help students choose mastery over performance goals although under certain circumstances such as competitions, performance goals may be more appropriate. Psychological research has uncovered ways for teachers to communicate high expectations for all students and avoid creating negative self-fulfilling prophecies.

    When discussing self-fulfilling prophecies and the Rosenthal and Jacobson study during the social psychology unit, Principle 11 can be used by teachers to show students how they can prevent negative self-fulfilling prophecies. Setting goals that are short term proximal , specific and moderately challenging enhances motivation more than establishing goals that are long term distal , general and overly challenging.

    This principle explains how students can use short-term proximal , specific and moderately challenging goals to increase self-efficacy and build toward larger goals. Students should maintain a record of progress toward their goals which is monitored by both the student and the instructor.

    After students experience success with moderately challenging proximal goals, they will be more likely to become intermediate risk takers, which is one of the most significant attributes present in achievement-oriented individuals. As a result, they will be capable of achieving larger distal goals. Tips based on this principle can easily be used to create engaging class assignments for the motivation unit in the introduction to psychology curriculum.