Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Research Project Touts Optimism and Learning

One aspect of the BrainSMART Model that impressed Chuck Balogh was its emphasis on the power of positive thinking to increase academic success. As he described in the BrainSMART publication, Effective Teaching, Successful Students, the then-sixth-grade teacher not only put those techniques to work in his classroom, but he also he designed an action research project around optimism and self-reflection.

Balogh, who earned his M.S. degree with a major in Brain-Based Teaching, did his research with 300 students in the Peoria, Arizona, public school district over almost two full school years. The students in his science and social studies classes came from different economic situations and different backgrounds.

A central goal of his research was to increase the positive thinking abilities of learners through self-reflection. Balogh modeled positive thinking and taught his students the power of optimism. He also encouraged them to write daily in “Happy Books,” a technique he adapted based on BrainSMART research that involves writing about emotions, events, and people in students’ lives that make them feel happy and optimistic.

As a result of emphasizing positive thinking to relax and reduce stress about tests, students enjoyed a measurable increase in academic success: Three-fourths or more of the sixth-graders scored 75% or better on the majority of tests taken during the research project.

Balogh credited the programs with majors in Brain-Based Teaching in helping him to develop an effective teaching approach. The program is “cutting-edge, brain-based and proven, and the academic staff is extremely open, helpful and always willing to offer support,” he said in the ETSS interview. “My research has taken me a lot farther than I ever thought it would. It has turned into a passion for me.”

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