Saturday, June 25, 2011

The teacher effect: bad performance on a problem-solving task.

Sheena Iyengar, professor at Columbia Business School, talks about an experiment conducted with Anglo– and Japanese-American children in San Francisco. All kids were asked to solve several anagrams, the only difference being how they chose their task.

The first group got to choose their own anagram set and the marker to write the answers. The second group was told by the teacher, Ms Smith, which anagrams to work on and what marker to use. The third group was told that it was their mother who recommended the anagram set and the marker for writing. Behind the scenes, the experimenters ensured that in all three conditions the kids were involved in the same activity.

The children's performance turned out to be very different. Once clear difference was that both Anglo- and Japanese-American children performed the worst in the teacher condition (the left columns on the chart above). The other one was the contrast in the mother condition: Anglo–American kids performed much worse than Japanese kids (the right columns).

Looks like giving people a choice, even when the choice itself is meaningless, improves their performance, but as the rest of the talk shows, not happiness.

tags: education, control, psychology, performance, book,  video, information

No comments: