Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sensitivity 'can boost exam results by an entire grade'

Being sensitive can push up children's exam results by an entire grade, researchers have found.

Skills in "emotional intelligence" can make the difference between a B grade and an A among teenagers with the same IQ levels, according to a new study.

Psychologists have long claimed that understanding emotions can help to boost careers, aiding the development of key relationships and an understanding how to impress potential employers.

But the new research suggests that the skill can also improve exam results.

Researchers believe that the reason behind the findings could be that emotional intelligence allows pupils to manage stress more easily and also to understand the long term consequences of doing well at school.

"This finding is particularly exciting because we know that there are things that we can do to improve emotional intelligence in children, such as encouraging them to talk about their feelings and to recognise emotions in others," said Dr Pamela Qualter, from the University of Central Lancashire, who carried out the study.

"What we found was that in girls having a high level of emotional intelligence made the difference between an entire grade, pushing them up for example from a B to an A.

"For boys the same seemed to be happening in most cases, although the results were slightly less clear cut, which could be to do with differing maturity levels of boys at that age."

The researchers tested 628 Year 7 students on their emotional intelligence, including their ability to identify and manage their own emotions and those of others, and their IQ levels.

The results were then compared to the student's results in English Language, English Literature, Maths and Science results in their SAT exams two years later and in their GCSE exams.

"Detailed analysis of the results suggests that emotional intelligence may moderate the effects of IQ on academic achievement," Dr Qualter added.

"Faced with failure, a student low on IQ but who is emotionally intelligent will be able to manage their emotions surrounding failure, reconcile poor performance and work to improve, a student low on IQ and low emotional intelligence may find failure more difficult to deal with, which undermines their academic motivation."

The research also suggests that the Government's recent introduction of "emotional classes" under its social and emotional aspects of learning (SEAL) program in schools could help not only their future relationships but also their academic progress, she added.

Alan Mortiboys, an expert in emotional intelligence at Birmingham City University, said that students could also benefit from a teacher with a high level of emotional intelligence.

He said: "You can see that teachers who understand pupils emotions and create an atmosphere where they actually want to learn get better results."

Dr Qualter will present her findings to the The British Psychological Society's Education Section Annual Conference in Milton Keynes today (Sat) .

Nansi Ellis (corr), head of education policy and research at Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) union said: "Teachers know intuitively that if you are supporting children to develop personally and emotionally then it will help their learning.

"If you feel secure in yourself you are more able to do things like admit that you don't understand what is being discussed, for instance, and we know that learning itself can be a very emotional process."

She added: "However, it is difficult to know which way the relationship goes.

"If you are already good at school you may feel more happy in yourself and be able to learn better, rather than the other way around."

Source: Telegraph

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