Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Do Children Understand How Feelings Affect School Performance?

Date:
February 6, 2009
Source:
Society for Research in Child Development
Summary:
A new study of 70 five-, six- and seven-year-old children and adults finds that children -- like adults -- understand that negative emotions can cause poor school performance and that levels of interest, effort and classroom noise can also affect performance. Findings also suggest that if children know how and why emotions affect them, they will be better able to prepare for and control the impact of emotions on school performance.

Most of us know that the way we feel emotionally and physically can influence how we do on tests. That's why we're told to get lots of rest and eat a good breakfast before taking a big exam. And previous studies have found that people do worse on tests and solving problems when they're tired, hungry, or upset.

But do children understand the link between feelings and performance? A new study by researchers at the University of Washington and the University of California, Davis, tells us that children comprehend the influence of one on the other, but only under certain circumstances.

The researchers looked at more than 70 children who were 5, 6, and 7 years old, as well as a group of adults. Study participants heard stories about children who felt different positive and negative emotions (such as happiness or sadness) or different physical feelings (such as feeling well-rested or hungry), then faced challenging tasks at school (such as a spelling test, math problems, and a science lesson). For example, in one story, a girl loses her favorite teddy bear on the way to school and feels sad. Later that day, still feeling sad, she has to complete a difficult math assignment.

The researchers also looked at the participants' understanding of how other factors—such as how much effort a student makes and the amount of noise in the classroom—affect school performance.

They found that children of all ages understood that negative emotional and physical states would lead to poorer school performance. The fact that young children knew that negative emotions could cause poor school performance was especially surprising, since parents and teachers often focus on the physical side of getting ready for school (hence the advice to get lots of rest or eat a good breakfast), and rarely talk about the emotional side (for example, advising children to try not to feel sad). The researchers also found that children understood that levels of interest, effort, and classroom noise would affect performance.

When it came to positive feelings, however, only 7-year-olds recognized, as adults do, that positive feelings could improve school performance. For the younger children, seeing the tie between positive emotions and school performance was difficult; it was easier for them to grasp how positive physical feelings would lead to doing well in school.

The older children also had a better understanding of why emotions and physical states affect school performance. In explaining their judgments, they described how such feelings influence concentration, attention, the brain, and other aspects of thinking.

"Changes in emotional and physiological states are an inevitable part of children's everyday experience in the school setting," according to Jennifer Amsterlaw, research scientist at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences at the University of Washington, who led the study. "If children know how and why these experiences affect them, they will be better able to prepare for and control their ultimate impact on school performance."

The study was supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Research in Child Development. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Amsterlaw, J et al. Young Children's Reasoning About the Effects of Emotional and Physiological States on Academic Performance. Child Development, Vol. 80, Issue 1

Cite This Page:

Society for Research in Child Development. "Do Children Understand How Feelings Affect School Performance?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090206081301.htm>.
Society for Research in Child Development. (2009, February 6). Do Children Understand How Feelings Affect School Performance?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090206081301.htm
Society for Research in Child Development. "Do Children Understand How Feelings Affect School Performance?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090206081301.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) Yale researchers tested 135 men and women, and it was only obese women who were deemed to have "impaired associative learning." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) A new study suggests that mixing alcohol with energy drinks makes you want to keep the party going. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pot Cooking Class Teaches Responsible Eating

Pot Cooking Class Teaches Responsible Eating

AP (July 18, 2014) Following the nationwide trend of eased restrictions on marijuana use, pot edibles are growing in popularity. One Boston-area cooking class is teaching people how to eat pot responsibly. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins