An article published in Frontiers in Psychology examines how maths homework effort among middle school pupils is influenced by adult support from family and school. The authors hypothesised that support from parents and teachers could promote the autonomous motivation of pupils by providing a sense of having free choice, and by generating interest.
A questionnaire was distributed to 666 grade 7 and 8 (Year 8
and 9) pupils from three schools in the Hubei Province of China. The
questionnaire sought information about pupils’ maths homework effort,
autonomous motivation, maths teacher support and parental autonomy support. The
results were as follows:
Pupils perceived that parental autonomy support
and maths teachers’ support facilitated pupils’ autonomous motivation, which in
turn enhanced their effort in homework.
Furthermore, pupils perceived that parental
autonomy support directly promoted their maths homework effort.
The authors concluded that parents and teachers should
provide more support for middle school pupils’ maths learning. Specifically,
they provided three practical strategies to parents, namely: “Try to understand
children’s perspective when communicating homework and school life, offer
meaningful reasons why homework is important, and allow children to arrange
their homework time”.
of parental autonomy support and teacher support on middle school students’ homework
effort: Homework autonomous motivation as mediator (March 2019), Frontiers in Psychology
Self-regulated learning has been regarded as essential for effective learning. Research suggests that self-regulated learning is associated with academic performance, but different self-regulated learning strategies are not equally effective. Addressing the gap that occurred for Chinese pupils because few studies conducted in Asia were included in a previous meta-analysis, a meta-analysis published in Frontiers in Psychology has investigated what the most effective strategies for Chinese pupils were.
Using Chinese academic databases, Junyi Li and colleagues analysed 264 independent samples that involved 23,497 participants from 59 studies. In order to be included in this meta-analysis, studies had to be conducted in real teaching situations; studies based on online learning environments were excluded. Furthermore, participants had to be primary, middle, or secondary school pupils in China. The effect sizes of self-regulated learning strategies on academic achievement were analysed. The results showed that:
Among the self-regulated learning strategies, self-efficacy (ES = +0.70), self-evaluation (ES = +0.72), and task strategies (ES = +0.60) had relatively large effect sizes on academic achievement.
On the other hand, the effect sizes of goal orientation (ES = +0.09) and attributions (ES = +0.27) were relatively small.
The effect sizes of self-regulated learning on science (ES = +0.45) were larger than those on language (ES = +0.29).
authors suggest that task strategies supported learning by reducing a task to
its key parts, that self-evaluation helped learners compare results with their
goals, and that self-efficacy helped learners to use their resources.
Source: What are the effects of self-regulation phases and strategies for Chinese students? A meta-analysis of two decades research of the association between self-regulation and academic performance (December 2018), Frontiers in Psychology
In recent years, interventions that apply positive psychology principles have become increasingly popular, providing an alternative approach to promoting pupils’ well-being. A recent research study published in Frontiers in Psychology examined a positive education programme in China focusing on positive emotion for middle school pupils.
Participants were drawn from a public middle school in the city of Chengdu, China. A total of 173 eighth graders (Year 9) from six classes participated in the study, of which three classes (84 pupils) were randomly allocated to the intervention group, and three classes (89 pupils) were assigned to the control group. Pupils in the intervention group received a 10-session positive education programme delivered by their teachers who received training in positive psychology from the researchers. The programme consisted of three main modules, namely understanding emotions, fostering positive emotions, and managing negative emotions. Each session lasted 45 minutes. Pupils in the control group spent the same time taking a moral education class that covered moral character, school discipline and class culture building.
Pupils completed online assessments (a Chinese version of the
PROMIS paediatric scale) measuring depressive symptoms before and after the
intervention. The study found that:
The level of depressive symptoms for pupils in both groups increased as measured by the post-test.
However, compared to the pupils in the control group, the increase in the level of depressive symptoms of pupils in the intervention group was significantly less.
The authors suggest that compared to correcting pupils’ behaviours,
positive interventions which keep pupils intrinsically motivated could also
help pupils improve their life in an effective way.
education interventions prevent depression in Chinese adolescents (June 2019), Frontiers in Psychology, volume 10
Research published in Frontiers in Psychology looks at the effects of a nine-week programme of daily exercise on children’s cognitive performance, aerobic fitness and physical activity levels.
den Berg and colleagues conducted a cluster randomised controlled trial in 21
classes in eight Dutch primary schools. A total of 512 children aged 9 to 12
participated. The intervention consisted of daily classroom-based exercise
breaks of moderate to vigorous intensity. Each break lasted approximately ten minutes,
and children were asked to mimic dance moves from a video. Children in the control
group watched 10- to 15-minute information and educational videos related to
the body, exercise and sports.
after the intervention, children were asked to perform four cognitive tasks to
measure their cognitive performance in selective attention, inhibition and
memory retrieval. Children’s aerobic fitness was measured with a shuttle run
test, and accelerometers were used to measure physical activity throughout the
At the end of the nine weeks, the exercise intervention had no effect on children’s cognitive performance or aerobic fitness. Children in the intervention group spent 2.9 minutes more of the school day involved in moderate to vigorous physical activity compared to the children in the control group. The study concludes that daily exercise breaks can be implemented in the classroom in order to promote physical activity during school time, but don’t improve children’s cognitive performance.
Source: Improving cognitive performance of 9-12 years
old children: Just Dance? A randomized controlled trial (February 2019), Frontiers in Psychology 10:174
A randomised controlled trial published in Frontiers of Psychology, assesses the impact of a kindergarten-based yoga programme on cognitive performance, visual-motor coordination, and inattentive and hyperactive behaviours in five-year-old Tunisian children.
Forty-five children (28 female and 17 male) took part in the
12-week trial, and were randomly assigned to one of three groups. Fifteen
children performed Hatha yoga twice a week for 30 minutes per session, 15
children performed generic physical education twice a week for 30 minutes per
session, and another 15 children performed no kind of physical activity, and
served as a control group.
Prior to and after the 12 weeks, all children completed a
visual attention test and a visual-motor precision test, and teachers evaluated
their inattention and hyperactivity behaviours. The three interventions were
conducted in parallel and supervised by teachers who were not involved in
rating the children’s behaviour pre- and post-test.
Sana Jarraya and colleagues found that yoga had a positive
impact on children’s inattention and hyperactivity compared to the other two
groups. Yoga also had a positive impact on the completion times for two
visual-motor precision tasks in comparison to children in the physical
education group. The visual attention scores of the yoga group were also higher
in comparison to the control group.
The researchers concluded that yoga could be a cost-effective
exercise for enhancing cognitive and behavioural factors relevant for leaning
and academic achievement among young children.
Source: 12 weeks
of kindergarten-based yoga practice increases visual attention, visual-motor
precision and decreases behavior of inattention and hyperactivity in 5-year-old
children (April 2019), Frontiers in
A longitudinal study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign shows that the older pupils get, the less they approve of male classmates who are looked upon as class clowns. Specifically, boys who act mischievously to make their peers laugh in first grade (Year 2) start to be shunned for their behaviour by third grade (Year 4), and lose self-esteem.
Educational psychologist Lynn Barnett followed 278 children from kindergarten through to third grade (Year 1 to Year 4) to examine “playful” children’s perception of themselves and how others saw them as the school years progressed. To determine which children were the most “playful,” Barnett used the 23-item Children’s Playfulness Scale; surveys on teacher-, peer-, and self-rated social competence; and teacher-, peer-, and self-rated disruptive classroom behaviours, placing pupils named by at least 25% of their peers into the “playful” category.
She found that pupils in the first grade equally regarded girls and boys as class clowns, but by third grade, mostly boys were labelled as such, even when the girls still demonstrated playful behaviour. Although playful children were often popular in the early school years and saw themselves as having better social skills than others, by third grade the male class clowns were the ones likely to be played with the least, losing confidence and seeing themselves as socially incompetent. This is in sharp contrast to female class clowns, who did not lose popularity or self-esteem by third grade. One pattern of note was that in all Year groups, teachers did not view playful girls as negatively as they did playful boys. Dr Barnett discusses these implications, and teachers’ influence on the way male class clowns are perceived.
Source: The education of playful boys: class clowns in the classroom (March 2018), Frontiers in Psychology Volume 9, Article 232