Paris: Children do
better at school and feel more upbeat if they are told that
failure is just a part of learning, rather than being pressurised
into succeeding at all costs.
"We focused on a widespread cultural belief that equates academic
success with a high level of competence and failure with
intellectual inferiority," said study author Frederique Autin,
postdoctoral researcher, University of Poitiers, France.
"By being obsessed with success, students are afraid to fail, so
they are reluctant to take difficult steps to master new
material," said Autin, the Journal of Experimental Psychology:
"Acknowledging that difficulty is a crucial part of learning could
stop a vicious circle in which difficulty creates feelings of
incompetence that in turn disrupts learning," added Autin,
according to a Poitiers statement.
The study could have important implications for teachers, parents
and students, said Jean-Claude Croizet, psychology professor at
Poitiers who supervised the Autin's doctoral dissertation on the
"People usually believe that academic achievement simply reflects
students' inherent academic ability, which can be difficult to
change," Croizet said. The findings are based on experiments
involving 242 French sixth graders.