Lessons from the classroom: how educators nudge students
This World Teachers’ Day, we wanted to recognize the ways schools are incorporating behavioral science in the classroom. In partnership with Pearson Education, the Behavioral Insights Team has created a guide focused on what educators can say and do to motivate students to learn inside and outside of the classroom. The recommendations are based on research done by behavioral scientists in more than 7,500 schools in England.
While the guide is aimed at parents, teachers, and school leaders, organizations may also benefit from techniques that focus on building “soft skills” like perseverance, emotional intelligence, and creativity. And who knows, you might find some exercises that you want to try out at home, too.
Here are two of our favorite tools from the guide and how we think they might apply to the workplace:
Adopt a growth mindset: Research suggests that the way we interpret challenges matters. People with a fixed mindset define ability primarily by innate talent, whereas individuals with a growth mindset believe ability depends just as much on effort. When faced with a challenge, those with a growth mindset may feel greater control over their development compared to someone with a fixed mindset who may feel unable to overcome their shortcomings. In one study, researchers found that growth mindset trainings increased student motivation and performance in mathematics. Consider seeking out opportunities where you can promote a growth mindset at work by reflecting on how you approach challenges and validate success in yourself and others. Get started by using this simple eight-question self-assessment on page 12 to see where on the spectrum from “fixed” to “growth” your mindset falls.
Give effective feedback: Feedback can be an important developmental tool inside and outside of the classroom. Academic assessments like report cards and grades provide useful indicators of students’ progression towards their goals. In the workplace, performance evaluations similarly help people identify areas where they can grow personally and professionally. Research, however, shows that learning outcomes can be improved when feedback is “specific, timely, challenging, and sets out clear guidance on what to do next.” Beyond any grade or rating, a greater sense of motivation can be provided when you help others understand the root of their mistakes and provide them with tangible ways of improving. Get tips for giving effective feedback with the “Rules of thumb for giving feedback” resource on page 36.