News Brief #2369 Category: Education Study Report
TITLE: "In Fighting Stereotypes, Students Lift Test Scores"

A study conducted by a team of psychology researchers suggests that girls and low-income students can overcome the power of stereotypes about their ability to achieve when they are given positive messages.

"One of the biggest pictures our research tells us is that performance is so much more psychological than anything else," said Dr. Joshua Aronson, an associate professor of psychology at New York University and one of the researchers.

The study used college students as mentors for 138 7th graders in a low-income school district in Texas. Students were assigned to one of four groups. Each group received a different lesson from their mentors: how the brain processes information; the difficulty of transitioning to junior high and how to overcome it; both of the previous messages; or the dangers of drug use.

The three groups that received positive academic messages all scored significantly higher on standardized reading and math tests than the students who only received information about drugs.

"The key is for students to think that change is possible," Aronson said. "Kids who believe intelligence is malleable are not demoralized and succeed."

SOURCE: New York Times, 20 January 2004

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