A close relation with a teacher influences child’s performance

Interesting German research by Lieselotte Ahnert et al. published in Developmental Psychology. They examined with children in kindergarten if they would perform better on a computerized task if they first were primed by showing them a picture of their teacher.

The researchers discovered that the pupils didn’t do it better in making less mistakes, but they do did the tasks faster without making more mistakes if they had a close relation with the teacher.

Abstract of the research:

The present study involved 120 kindergartners, of whom n = 60 were followed up to first grade. Upon making inquiries regarding closeness in teacher–child relationships in the classrooms, the children participated in a laboratory situation in which they were exposed to computerized tasks. These tasks challenged the cognitive processes thought to govern basic knowledge and belief systems. Before each task commenced, however, the image of the child’s teacher (affective prime stimulus), with whom the relationship had been measured, was displayed for an experimental group of children. In contrast to a control group being exposed to a neutral prime, it was assumed that the teachers’ images displayed in the experimental group would affect cognitive performance in a defined way (i.e., if primed by a person schema of a close relationship, these children should perform better than the rest). Whereas solving scores remained unaffected, children displayed shorter solving times under affective primes when in close relationships with their teachers. This effect could even be evidenced after the transition to school. Results suggest that cognitive processing is much more effective if close teacher–child relationships are involved. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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