Retaining new information can be tricky, especially with topics far outside of what we’re familiar with. A good teacher can make a huge difference, but effective teaching techniques can add new dimensions to our ability to really take on what we’re being told.
A new study by academics from the University of California and University of Georgia identifies one such technique, and it turns out to be incredibly simple: hand gestures.
It’s no secret that marginalised groups face barriers in educational settings that the able-bodied, male, and racially privileged largely do not. Issues pertaining to access, sense of belonging, potential discrimination, and financial difficulties can add often insurmountable layers of complexity to applying for further education.
Efforts to address this in recent years have crystallised into a number of measures, including the wide adoption of diversity and inclusion grants. These provide financial support specifically for selected individuals from marginalised groups, in order to give them a more equal footing with applicants from privileged backgrounds.
However, recent research from Adriana L. Germano and colleagues at The University of Washington has illustrated some unintended flaws with this approach. In stark contrast with the ethos behind diversity and inclusion initiatives, these grants may be serving to make applications to prestigious scholarships even less diverse than before.
Imposter syndrome — the feeling that you don’t belong or aren’t capable at work or in education — can affect anybody. But people from underrepresented backgrounds are more likely to experience imposter syndrome: first generation university students, for example, or people of colour.
Imposter syndrome can be particularly acute in academia, where intellectual flair is prized. In fact, a new study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology finds that in fields in which intellectual “brilliance” is perceived to be a prerequisite to success, imposter syndrome is more likely to strike women and early-career academics.
As children head back to school, teachers and parents will of course be concerned about kids catching up on their education after the Covid-19 lockdowns. But, as many psychologists have pointed out, they need to catch up on play, too. So what does the research tell us about the need for and the importance of play?
The world is full of fascinating opportunities to learn. But with so many different topics for children to explore, why do they pick certain paths? In a new paper in Psychological Science, a team from Rutgers University looks closely at what drives children’s curiosity. They find that children are motivated to learn more about a topic when there is a gap in their knowledge that they want to fill. The results suggest that for young children there is a sweet spot for learning, when they already know enough to find a topic interesting, but not so much that it becomes boring.
Despite the fact that psychology students are more likely to be women than men, and that women outnumber men in the clinical psychology workforce, women in psychology publish less, receive fewer citations, and are underrepresented at senior positions within university departments. This juxtaposition of over and underrepresentation poses an interesting question about how people perceive gender roles within the field.
It’s this question Guy A. Boysen and team explore in a new study, published in the Journal of Social Psychology. They find that people associate psychology more strongly with femininity than masculinity — and that this may affect how men and women feel about working or studying within the field.
Multiple factors influence how we perform educationally: the way we’re taught, our particular needs and how they’re met, our parents, and our socio-economic background to name a few. Gaps in attainment can start from very early on: some children have already fallen behind before the age of seven.
But what about how much we enjoy school? A new study in npj Science of Learning, led by the University of Bristol’s Tim Morris, looks at this relatively under-explored factor. And the team finds that enjoyment at the age of six has a significant impact on achievement, which was visible even years later when participants took their GCSEs.
“Passion” is a word that often crops up on job descriptions and in interviews; articles proliferate online explaining how to adequately express your passion to potential employers. On the whole, passionate people — those who have a strong interest in a particular topic, who are confident in themselves and who dedicate themselves to what they’re doing — are thought of in a positive light, and considered likely to achieve their goals.
But when it comes to predicting achievement, how important is passion really? According to Xingyu Li from Stanford Universityand colleagues, writing in PNAS, passion may be less important in certain cultures — and the fact that passion is often seen as the key to achievement may reflect a “distinctly Western model of motivation”.
Doing well in educational settings can have huge advantages — better job prospects, higher wages, greater life satisfaction and more. Achievement at university isn’t always to do with how hard you work or how intelligent you are, however — first generation university students are more at risk of impostor syndrome, for example, reducing their engagement in class, their attendance, and their overall performance.
And for those with extra needs, university can offer all kinds of extra challenges, as a new study in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology makes clear. It finds that students with ADHD obtained significantly lower grades than those without the diagnosis, suggesting that academic and pastoral services are not going far enough to support neurodiverse students.
This is Episode 24 of PsychCrunch, the podcast from the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, sponsored by Routledge Psychology. Download here.
What role does play have in child development? In this episode, our presenter Ginny Smith talks to some top play researchers to find out how children learn new skills and concepts through play, and explores what teachers and parents can do to encourage this kind of learning. Ginny also discovers how the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way kids play and learn.