A new study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology looks at the impact of “struggle stories” on success in science.
Students who think that success in science is only possible with
exceptional talent may become demotivated and, for example, turn away
from the idea of studying science in college.
In this study, 402 students in ninth and tenth grades (Year 10 and
11) in New York City schools read one of three kinds of story about an
eminent scientist who:
struggled intellectually (eg, made mistakes and overcame them through effort);
struggled personally (eg, was poor or lacked parental support, but overcame it); or
made great discoveries (a control condition, without struggle).
The intervention lasted five weeks. Student achievement was measured
using grades from the six-week sessions before and after the
intervention, and motivation was measured using a pre- and post-test.
Students in both of the “struggle story” conditions had higher grades
than did those in the control condition, though the difference was not
significant. There was no measurable difference on the motivation of the
groups, but analysis of interviews showed that the students felt more
connected to the scientists.
Source: Even Einstein Struggled: Effects of Learning
About Great Scientists’ Struggles on High School Students’ Motivation
to Learn Science. (2016), Journal of Educational Psychology.