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February 8, 2012 at 4:29 PMComments: 8 Faves: 1

Study: Louder Students More Successful!

By Erin Froehlich More Blogs by This Author

A new ADHD study completely dismisses the old notion of “ideal student behavior” and the old adage that children should be “seen and not heard.” In FACT, as this Durham University study shows – it’s those loud, "misbehaving" student that do best!

In a large scale study published just days ago, experts from Durham University England analyzed the PIPS (Performance Indicators in Primary Schools) placement test results of 12,251 four and five year old students from over 500 schools at the end of their first year.

As part of this placement test, teachers not only rated the children’s academic performance, but their behavior as well. Frequency of “problem” areas like blurting out answers, not waiting for their turn and interrupting were recorded.

In the end, as one might expect, they found behaviors indicative of inattention were strongly linked with under-achievement. HOWEVER, among student of similar attention span – both the most attentive student AND the least attentive (read: ADHD) – the more impulsive, the ones that were shouting out answers and interrupting their classmates, rated much higher!

Said lead author on this study and renowned education expert, Professor Peter Tymms, “Children with ADHD symptoms who get excited and shout out answers in class seem to be cognitively engaged and, as a result, learn more. Perhaps those children also benefit from receiving additional feedback and attention from their teacher.”

Although it may seem disruptive, blurting out answers clearly helps these pupils to learn. We need to look more closely at this behaviour and how the interaction can be managed in the classroom.” added study co-author Dr. Christine Merrell.

Certainly this challenges the way many classrooms are structured now – teacher at the front of the classroom lecturing, students listening, then finally, at an allotted time, allowed to raise their hands one by one to comment or answer a question. Rather, it seems a less formal, more conversational approach, one that mirror the way the REST of our lives happen, is actually much more conducive to learning!

Adds Tymms “Managing and responding to pupils’ different needs and abilities within a class is a challenge for teachers. We’re not suggesting that classrooms become free-for-all shouting matches but if this positive learning relationship can be harnessed, it could help teachers and learners.”


Durham University ADHD study reveals louder pupils have greater success

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  • Love this concept! It's so true, those who blurt out answers WILL learn faster. In my mind, I think it's because people learn from mistakes faster than if they don't make mistakes. Oh that's not the right answer? well, let me learn what IS the right answer. It creates more incentive to figure out what the answer is. That's just my interpretation on how I think it works. Anyone else have other thoughts on this?

  • That's an interesting point, Bri!

    When I found this piece, I think my immediate reaction was that it was the fact that these children were participants and not spectators that enhanced their learning experience, but there's another case for an engaging, conversational way of learning! When children respond out loud to a lesson rather than simply sitting and listening, it allows the teacher to understand their thought process - to congratulate them on making connections and asking good questions or to help guide them when they've come to the wrong conclusion or become confused.

    Another point - At my daughter's school, each child must shake their teacher's hand before they enter the classroom each day. They do it to teach them valuable social skills - ones that should eventually help them get a job. By changing the rules and structure of the classroom to something more open, teachers will help children to learn valuable conversational skills. I'm not saying children shouldn't learn to be respect other and listen while they are speaking. I'm just saying normal conversation doesn't require listening to another speak for an hour before responding!

    In my opinion, lectures should be shortened in our classrooms.

  • Active participation makes a lot of sense to why they would learn better as well. Good point, Erin! If someone is actively engaged in their learning environment, they will reap more benefits from it.

    I also believe lectures should be shortened as well. A person I know who is a great public speaker only makes his talks last 15 minutes at the most. He says that 10 minute lecture is the optimal time where people will retain the most information.

  • Erin and Bri, I think both of your points definitely come into play. When a kid blurts out an answer, he/she is engaging in the learning process, putting themselves out there, making mistakes, and learning from them. At first it may seem kind of counter-intuitive, but then again, most of us have had it drilled into our heads from an early age that blurting out answers is disruptive and harmful to the learning process. Don't get me wrong, it can certainly be disruptive - but this study just proves that it actually helps the learning process! Maybe it's the structure and rules of the classroom that need to change, not the kids.

    Erin - my dad is a priest and a professor, and he always keeps his sermons and lectures very short. He refuses to talk for longer than 10 minutes without letting people talk back.

  • As a side note, the photo for this blog is really adorable! :D

  • It's important to start at a young age with behavior expectations. The reason is, even in the work place behavior follows you as an adult. It never goes away and it keeps structure in your life.

  • Love this! Yes being respectful needs to be taught early. That aside you should still let the children ask the questions and let them start using critical thinking skills early on. It wasn't till College that I really understood this concept and I wish it had been taught sooner. I do however see it more with my children's schools than where I grew up!! A+ in my book.

  • Thanks Silver.

    I agree - its important for children to learn to respect other people - young and old, but I think societal definition of respectful behavior are changing. Do I feel disrespected if someone is so excited by the subject I'm talking about, they can't wait to add to the conversation? Somehow a completely quiet audience seems less respectful to me. So long as they are contributing to the topic at hand (and not running off on a topic of their own), I don't see the harm. Real, comfortable conversations don't happen with one person talking on for half an hour or even 5 minutes. With the increased isolation mass media, the internet and cellphones have brought, I think it's more important than ever that children learn basic conversation skills - especially when getting the job is increasingly personality and skill set based and less about qualifications and degrees.

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