Description: The move to college or university from high school environment can be a difficult one. In particular, first-year students often struggle with different versions of social stress which are really focused on whether or not there to be able to measure up in their new learning environment. The article linked below talks about a series of studies looking at a relatively simple intervention where students are essentially shown how to help themselves. The intervention did not involve simply telling the students to toughen up and cope with their new environment. The results of the intervention included a remarkable reduction in the rate of depression amongst first-year students in the groups were it was applied. What sort of things do you think might of been involved in these interventions? Have a look at the article and see what you think.
Source: Teaching Teenagers to Cope with Social Stress, Jan Hoffman, Health, New York Times.
Date: September 29, 2016
Photo Credit: Jun Cen
Links: Article Link — http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/30/health/teenagers-stress-coping-skills.html
So you may have noted other posts referring to research based on the work of Carol Dweck that looks at the impact of people’s assumptions about the nature of intelligence on the response to difficulty or failure. Specifically, people who believe that their intelligence is fixed and not subject to change tend to simply fold up when things don’t go well whereas people who believe in the possibility of change find ways to apply themselves when they experience failure and eventually experience success at a greater rate. David Yeager, the researcher whose work is described in this linked article, applied the same reasoning to personality. He had first-year students read and engaging article about the neuropsychology of personality that indicated that personality change is not just possible but likely provided that people work at it. Participants then read accounts provided by senior students describing the circumstances that they had experienced when thinks had not gone well and they dug in and changed what they needed to change about themselves in order to succeed. Yeager found a dramatic reduction in the rate of depression among students who had this experience even though no therapists or other adults were involved in any way in the intervention. You can access a version of this intervention through one of the links under for the reading below.
Questions for Discussion:
- What is it that first-year students do that makes it difficult for them to adapt to the new university environments?
- What was it that Yeager did that seem to help first-year students?
- Can you think of some other areas where the sort of intervention might be of use?
References (Read Further):
Yeager, D. S., Lee, H. Y., & Jamieson, J. P. (2016). How to Improve Adolescent Stress Responses Insights From Integrating Implicit Theories of Personality and Biopsychosocial Models. Psychological science, 27(8), 1078-1091.