Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Positive Brains Are Smarter Brains

Explicit instruction to guide students toward taking charge of their outlook on academic endeavors can lead to a more positive—and ultimately more productive—approach to learning. Applying metacognition to both the emotional and cognitive aspects of learning can help students steer their minds to make steady gains in developing their knowledge and skills.

In a previous post, we explored the gains that are possible when students adopt an attitude of practical optimism as they learn. These advantages persist into adulthood, as business research shows that people with a positive outlook are more productive, motivated, and likely to achieve their goals on the job. And optimistic people enjoy better personal and professional relationships and even better physical health than people who tend toward pessimism.


Influences on Learning Outlooks

A common assumption is that the tendency toward optimism or pessimism is predetermined by genetics. Indeed, research by psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky and colleagues indicates that roughly half of people's "baseline level of well-being," the propensity toward cheerfulness or negativity, owes to DNA. However, students can learn to exert control over other significant influences on their emotional outlook and, in doing so, sharpen their focus on positive outcomes.

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