Effects of a 10-week mental skills training intervention infused into a pre-existing English composition course

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Physical Education, Health and Recreation


"Academic performance is a complex phenomenon that is shaped by a wide variety of factors which extend beyond the traditional notions of academic skills and content knowledge (Rosen et al., 2010). Dweck and colleagues (2011) - in coining the term academic tenacity - have suggested that educational interventions which target non­ cognitive skills (such as goal-setting, motivation, and resilience) can have transformative effects on students' experience/achievement. However, few in academia have taken Dweck and colleagues (2011) advice and developed interventions specifically targeting this skill set. In this study, "academic tenacity" was taught by infusing mental skills­ related material into a pre-existing 10-week long English composition course. The class was taught by a member of the English department faculty who led students through a series of readings and assignments related to grit, growth-mindsets, and mental toughness. A sport psychology trained graduate assisted by providing one-on-one feedback on these concepts during each class session. Participants included students in the MST themed English course (n = 50) and students in a companion English course as a control (n=14). Instruments were administered to both conditions in pre-post format and included the MTQ-15 (Pickering, 2015), the Grit-S (Duckworth & Quinn, 2009), and the CNAAQ-2 (Biddle, Wang, Chatzisarantis & Spray, 2003). Results revealed that students in the themed course improved on all of the non-cognitive skill variables of interest and on some of the academic success indicators relative to students in the control condition. This suggests that the "infusion" of MST into undergraduate college courses may be a viable mechanism by which to improve student cognitions, and to a lesser extent, student academic performance"--Leaf iv.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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