You can develop intelligence, so take it easy

July 24, 2018

New York: If you think you can’t do anything about your intelligence as this is something that can’t be changed, check your stress levels as this may harm your studies.

According to the scientists, students’ mindset about intelligence that whether it is a fixed trait or can be developed is associated with the likelihood of overcoming the stressful transition into high school, particularly if their grades begin to drop.

The study showed that bad grades did not indicate a higher stress response for everyone instead indicated greater responses in students who had more of a fixed mindset — the idea that people’s intelligence is fixed and cannot change.

The authors suggested that students with changeable mindset may proactively solve their problems, for instance by talking with teachers or improving their skills, thereby allowing them to cope more effectively the next day.

“Declining grades may get ‘under the skin,’ as it were, for first-year high school students who believe intelligence is a fixed trait,” said lead author Hae Yeon Lee from University of Texas at Austin in the US.

“But believing, instead, that intelligence can be developed — or having what is called a growth mindset– may buffer the effects of academic stress,” Lee added.

To reach this conclusion, the team surveyed 499 ninth-grade high school students during their first semester, and assessed their perceptions of intelligence.

The levels of cortisol — a “toxic stress” hormone secreted by the body — was measured through saliva sampling.

The findings, published in the journal Child Development showed that 68 per cent of students experienced a decline in grades during the first 12 weeks.

Further analysis showed that these students also indicated that they could not handle the stress they were facing daily. Even if their grades were fine, they reported feeling “dumb” on almost 31 per cent of the days.

Students with fixed mindsets who reported feeling stressed continued to show high levels of stress even on the following day.

Whereas those with growing mindsets showed a strong response on the day they reported feeling stressed but returned to normal the following day.

“If not addressed, early academic adversity during school transition periods could contribute to lasting educational gaps in school engagement, drop-out rates and college enrollment,” said co-author David Yeager, professor at the university.

(IANS)

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