Teach the child, not the promise

How much should test scores influence teaching?

Go to the profile of Alan Woodruff
Jun 14, 2017
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A recent study suggests that children as young as 10 develop career interests based on their test scores, with higher-scoring children favoring architecture, medicine, science and law. In a write-up of the study, the authors suggest this is due to teacher and parent expectations. Because of the strong effects of self-belief on school performance, teachers are urged to be cautious in how test scores are managed. "I think we have to be careful in schools not to too quickly label children as low achieving, because kids develop early ideas of their own abilities," said Professor Jenny Gore, an author of the study. It's worth noting that, without access to the original study, it isn't possible to dissect cause and effect: for example, it could be that children interested in science, medicine and law see relevance in the school work that they do, and so perform better. 

Go to the profile of Alan Woodruff

Alan Woodruff

Community Editor, Queensland Brain Institute

3 Comments

Go to the profile of Margie Meacham
Margie Meacham 5 months ago

Tantalizing results. The obvious question is, how can we get access to the study, so we know what we're talking about?

Go to the profile of Warren Raye
Warren Raye 5 months ago

Hi Margie, it took some time and effort but it looks like this is the article Alan is referring to is, "Unpacking the career aspirations of Australian school students: towards an evidence base for university equity initiatives in schools". It also looks like it's an open access article (i.e., not behind a paywall) so you should be able to download directly from the publisher's site: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07294360.2017.1325847

Go to the profile of Alan Woodruff
Alan Woodruff 5 months ago

Thanks to Warren for finding that.

My skim of the article (and it's only a skim, so...disclaimer...) suggests that they don't show that test scores in any way CONTRIBUTE to a child to having particular career goals. Anecdotally though, I think it's probably true; my point was that without seeing the actual article, we shouldn't assume that school performance had been proven to affect career goals.

In any case, there's much more to the article than the link between performance and career aspiration, like the possible contributions of gender, socioeconomic status, and how interests for different careers develop as a child gets older.