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Writing About Values Boosts Grades for Middle Schoolers
Date:4/16/2009

But positive effect was only seen in black children, study finds,,,,

THURSDAY, April 16 (HealthDay News) -- When children write about their values, these self-affirmation exercises can help boost grades, new research suggests.

However, the positive effect seems to only translate into higher marks for black students, according to the study, which appears in the April 17 issue of Science.

"This psychological intervention can have a long-term positive impact on children's academic performance and help to close the racial achievement gap," said study author Geoffrey Cohen, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

But, added Cohen, "This is not a silver bullet. The improvements came from the psychological interventions paired with good resources and good teachers."

For this study, Cohen and his colleagues had three groups of seventh-graders: European-American children, high-performing black children and low-performing black children. Each group was split into two, with half receiving the intervention and the other half serving as a control. Each group had between 65 and 75 children.

The intervention was a series of structured writing assignments where the kids were asked to select a value and then write about that value. Each writing assignment took about 15 minutes to complete, and was repeated between three and five times throughout a year.

"What we found is that African-Americans who received the intervention did better academically over the two-year study. Grades improved almost a half a grade point for low-performing African-Americans. The intervention consistently closed the racial achievement gap," said Cohen.

For blacks, the rate of remediation or grade repetition dropped from 18 percent to 5 percent for those children who received the intervention.

One of the ways this type of intervention helps children, according to
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