"Students May Be Learning More About Avoidance Strategies than
Arithmetic in Math Class,"
The findings appear in the current issue of the Journal of Educational Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Teacher observations, say the authors of a recent study of 1,092 6th grade school children, provided valuable insight into how teaching methods affect avoidance behaviors. For instance, in a classroom where students used more avoidance strategies, the teacher placed greater emphasis on getting an answer correct, with little discussion about the important concepts in a lesson and little explanation of why an answer was correct. If a student did not know the answer, the teacher would ask another student and did not usually stop to explain the answer. "Because the teacher typically did not respond to mistakes and misunderstandings with explanations or allow students to explain their strategies, his students may have felt vulnerable to public displays of incompetence and adopted more avoidance strategies," explained the researchers.

"Researchers found that students reported using fewer avoidance
techniques in classrooms perceived as emphasizing learning, understanding,
effort and enjoyment. In those classrooms, teachers helped students who had
problems understanding, gave them opportunities to demonstrate new
competencies and provided substantial motivational support for learning."