January 3, 2011 Leave a comment
One of the things we generally fail to consider when thinking about our education system is whether negative student attitudes toward school cause us to lose them before they ever walk into the building. A new study on how “mood” affects learning lends some support to this idea.
Nadler, Rabi, and Minda had people learn either a novel category that required a rule to learn or a novel category that required implicit learning. Before people learned the category, they were exposed to music and videos designed to influence their mood. Using these clips, some people were given a positive mood, others were given a negative mood, and a third group was given a neutral mood.
The people in a positive mood learned to classify items that required a rule-based strategy faster than those in a neutral or negative mood. The moods did not influence the speed of learning the categories that required implicit learning.
This finding suggests that positive mood has a specific influence on learning. It affects your ability to learn things that require some amount of flexibility and creativity. It does not influence learning where flexibility is not required.
Instead of cutting 10 minutes from lunch and giving it to history class, we might actually help students learn better by cutting 10 minutes from history class and giving it back to lunch.