Tuesday, June 7, 2011

High-stakes testing

Interesting not-yet-published study of the day:

Researchers looked at high-stakes testing and found that kids with higher IQs tend to under-perform on them--more so, in fact, than "average" students. However, if the students were asked to journal for 10 minutes before the tests, their results were in the higher range that would be expected.

The idea is that under stressful conditions, the brain tends to revert to a more emotional response rather than engaging the centers of reason and logic. By writing in a journal first, the kids were able to settle themselves and get in a better frame of mind before commencing.

I would bet that some kind of relaxation / breathing / meditation could serve a similar function.But it got me thinking back to my days teaching English. Most days, I would have students start by writing in journals, either writing about something we'd be discussing or writing in response to some writing prompt (they were also free to free write if they had something on their mind). I wonder if this helped class discussions to go better, not only because they had organized their thoughts (if writing about the topic we'd be discussing) but also because it settled them into a less-stressed frame of mind?

In other news, I enjoyed our professional development workshops today.


  1. Please post where this study comes from. I'd love to take this info to my administration, but I would need to back it up.

  2. The results were presented by our academic dean and one of our learning specialists, who heard about it from one of the researchers. It hasn't been published yet, but I believe it was coming out of the University of Chicago. I'll check in with the presenters and see if I can pin this stuff down better...