Encouragement and Its Effects on Student's Mindsets and Test Taking Abilities in Sewanee University

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Anyanwu, Ijeoma
Jennings, Shameka
Butler, Elizabeth
Yu, Karen
Issue Date
Scholarship Sewanee 2011 , University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee , Undergraduate research , Mindset , Encouragement , Cognitive psychology
It is common to find that in various real life situations individuals are encouraged with positive, and sometimes negative, instructions before performing any given task. These situations often occur in educational settings, for example right before a teacher distributes a test to the class. The present study attempts to determine the extent at which the induced mindset of such instructions affect completion of the task as well as the individual’s confidence in their ability to perform well in the presented task. In this study, 66 undergraduate students attending Sewanee: The University of the South were given a test compiled of 5 visual illusions and 5 cognitive illusions (brain teasers) as a task to complete. Prior to completing this task, the participants each read a set of instructions that included positive, negative or no encouragement at all and at the end of the study, the participants were given a confidence rating scale to complete. We hypothesized that the students that were given the positive encouragement would perform better on the task and have higher confidence ratings than the negative encouragement group and the no encouragement control group. The results of our study did not support our hypothesis. Our results show that encouragement has no significant effect on test taking ability for both the optical and brain illusion tasks (P=.842 and P=.426 respectively) as well as their confidence rating p= (.528). However its effects on perceived difficulty of the tasks did come close to significance (p=.116).