Which character strengths lead to good achievement?

An article previously published in Frontiers in Psychology by Lisa Wagner and Willibald Ruch reported on two studies conducted with 179 primary pupils from three schools, and 199 secondary pupils from four schools in Switzerland to examine whether character strengths are important to school success for primary and secondary pupils.

The authors measured character strengths by the Value in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth (VIA-Youth,) and positive classroom behaviours with the Classroom Behavior Rating Scale (CBRS), which cover positive achievement-related behaviour and positive social behaviour. For primary pupils, achievement was obtained by teacher ratings; for secondary pupils, the schools’ administration offices provided their grades. The findings showed that:

  • Perseverance, prudence, hope, social intelligence and self-regulation were positively related to positive classroom behaviour for both primary and secondary pupils.
  • Perseverance, prudence, hope, love of learning, perspective, zest and gratitude were positively related to school achievement for both primary and secondary pupils.
  • Perseverance, prudence and hope were associated with both positive classroom behaviour and school achievement across primary and secondary sectors.

According to the authors, these findings indicate there is a rather distinct set of strengths most relevant in schools. The authors also suggest that further research could explore whether teachers and pupils value these strengths.

Source: Good character at school: positive classroom behavior mediates the link between character strengths and school achievement (May 2015), Frontiers in Psychology, Volume 6    

Teachers and pupils don’t always agree on learning styles

A study published in Frontiers in Education investigates whether there is an association between pupils’ self-reported preferred learning styles and teachers’ evaluation of each pupil’s learning style, and whether teachers’ assessments are informed by their pupils’ intellectual ability.

The term “learning styles” is used to account for differences in the way that individuals learn, and the idea that pupils learn better if teachers can tailor their teaching to a pupil’s preferred style of learning, often described as either visual, auditory or kinesthetic.

In the study conducted by Marietta Papadatou-Pastou and colleagues, 199 fifth and sixth grade pupils from five schools in Athens, Greece, chose which was their preferred learning style (visual, auditory or kinesthetic). They also completed a short IQ test (the Raven’s matrices). Their teachers were asked to identify each of their pupils’ preferred learning style. Each pupil’s learning style was judged by one teacher.

There was no significant correlation between the teachers’ judgements of their pupils’ preferred learning styles and the pupils’ own assessment. There was also no association between the teachers’ judgments of their pupils’ learning style and the students’ intellectual ability, suggesting that the teachers were not using intellectual ability as a proxy for learning style.

In Best Evidence in Brief, we have previously reported research showing that there is no practical utility in knowing pupils’ learning styles. This latest research reinforces this conclusion.

Source: The learning styles educational neuromyth: Lack of agreement between teachers’ judgments, self-assessment, and students’ intelligence (November 2018), Frontiers in Education