Tuesday, Apr. 18, 2017
Xiaodong Lin, Associate Professor of Cognitive Studies at Teachers College, was a special keynote speaker at the annual gathering of the largest organization of mathematics teachers in the country on April 7. Lin presented her research showing that science test scores improve for high school students who learn that even great scientists fail and struggle throughout their careers.
Lin’s featured keynote address at the annual meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) in San Antonio, Texas, was unusual in that she is not a mathematician, but a cognitive scientist. She was invited to discuss how her research on the positive effects of “failure stories” on high school science students could translate to students in any STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) discipline.
Lin’s paper, titled “Even Einstein Struggled: Effects of Learning About Great Scientists' Struggles on High School Students' Motivation to Learn Science,” published last year in the journal of the American Psychological Association, suggests that students’ understanding of how to succeed contributes significantly to differences in motivation and academic performance.
In a presentation at Teachers College last spring, Lin said this about her research: “Maybe sharing struggles can create a very powerful natural link among people regardless of race, regardless of power and gender. Schools really should create a culture of talking about failure; it’s OK to normalize struggle, [to] humanize our science textbooks. Telling students what it takes to succeed really matters.”
The NCTM is the public voice of mathematics education, supporting teachers to ensure high-quality, equitable mathematics learning for all. Founded in 1920, NCTM has 90,000 members and more than 230 Affiliates throughout the United States and Canada.
Find more related stories on Dr. Xiaodong Lin here.