Children are being exposed to more positive messages about education than negative ones, according to a study published Monday in the journal Child Development.
Researchers from the University of Michigan and the University at Buffalo used the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a nationally representative sample of more than 2,300 high school students in the United States, to find that the more positive the school message, the more likely a child was to report liking and liking the school’s curriculum.
The findings contradict claims by some that negative messages about schools are more harmful than positive ones.
The research found that the positive school message actually had a stronger effect on children who had not received it than it did on those who had.
“When a positive school-to-prison pipeline is implemented, there’s no question that a school environment that is more positive can have positive effects on a child’s self-esteem,” said study author Sarah J. Moseley, a professor of child psychology at the University and a research associate professor at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.
The results also contradicted previous research that found the effect of positive school messages on children’s well-being was more negative than positive.
The study was conducted by the U-M School of Education and the U Buffalo College of Medicine and was published online by the Journal of Research in Personality.
It is the first to test the impact of a positive classroom message on childrens’ psychological well- being.
“We know from other studies that the impact on kids is very negative,” Mosely said.
“The impact on children is usually positive.”
Moseley and her colleagues found that children who heard positive school information showed a statistically significant improvement in their self-perceived academic ability and emotional health over those who heard negative information.
They also found that positive messages were more effective than negative in encouraging children to learn more about themselves, with positive messages showing a greater benefit on self-reported self-efficacy.
“This study shows that even a positive, positive-sounding message can have a significant impact on a student’s self esteem, especially if the school is a good one,” said Mosey.
“Our findings indicate that a positive message about learning can also have a positive impact on academic achievement.”
The researchers were also able to determine that positive and negative messages had a similar impact on students’ emotional health, with students feeling better when receiving positive messages.
The researchers believe that positive school programs may have a substantial effect on the childrens ability to learn and have positive impact in terms of their self esteem.
“Schools are the only place where children feel like they are not alone,” Miceley said.
The new findings are based on a small sample of students, who ranged in age from 14 to 16 years old, and did not include any students who did not have parents or teachers with whom they had communication with.
Micely hopes to expand her study to include more students, in order to better understand the effects of positive and non-positive school messages.
“The message is that the world can be good if you’re prepared for it,” Micesley said, adding that schools are a good place to start learning about the world and how it can be better.