“A challenge, I like it!” says Mr. Sparks, on the animated television show “Noddy,” my daughter’s first favorite cartoon. She doesn’t remember it now — now that she’s a big first grader — but when she was three she could recite lines from Noddy like nobody’s business. In every episode, the character I mention here, Mr. Sparks, faces challenges, works hard, and solves them. Clearly, the screen writers for the show are trying to instill in their young audience a script for success.
Is that what success boils down to, though? The ability to face challenges head on, persevere, and work till it’s done? Attention, persistence, self regulation, and the delay of gratification, all in the name of achievement? That is what the results of the original “marshmallow study” imply, after all (at least, that’s how it’s often discussed today).
I find myself thinking about this a lot. If you’ve read all my posts here (or even just some of them), I suspect an answer to the question will pop out at you. Be that as it may though, I know it’s a complicated process and don’t think I’ve yet to fully capture the entirety of it here on cognitioneducation.
This morning, as I was grading the 3rd round of assignments for one of my classes – a class where students complete 10 such assignments during the semester – I found myself mulling this over again. Turns out that students who do well on the assignments also tend to do really well on the in-class exams. Why is this? Here are some options:
- Students who do well on assignments also do well on exams because they are smart.
- Students who do well on assignments also do well on exams because they have a winning work ethic.
- I designed the assignments such that careful attention to the process of assignment completion serves as an effective study aide. They do well on the exam because they properly worked through the assignment, just as I intended.
When you think about the success of students, to what do you attribute success? Do you tend to think about one of the options above, or do you think in a different way? I welcome you to share your thoughts and really want to know your perceptions, whether you follow research or not. Speaking from your experience, whatever that may be, I’d like to know.
If you are willing to answer my question for you then, “What makes students successful?” here’s what you can do:
- Share your thoughts in the comments section here
- On your own page, write a post articulating your thoughts on success, and link back to this challenge so I can keep track of the responses
Once a set of responses accumulates, I will write a larger post reflecting what you all think and include a compare / contrast element as well. That is, I want to write a post showing the intersection between conventional wisdom and current trends in the developmental and learning sciences. If conventional wisdom and current research trends are at odds, then work needs to done to make research accessible and applicable.
I look forward to your replies, ’cause as it turns out, I like challenges too! Though I am glad not to be plagued by the catchy Noddy theme song these days, I do sometime miss Mr. Sparks’s perky enthusiasm for challenge.