11th March 2016 at 00:00

Social media ‘a vital aid to study’

Facebook plays a vital role in assisting pupils to find help with their homework, a new study reveals. Janus Aaen and Christian Dalsgaard, from Aarhus University, in Denmark, surveyed 932 Danish secondary pupils, as well as analysing 2,247 Facebook posts and more than 12,200 comments. They concluded that Facebook was an important educational tool for pupils, allowing them to request and receive help with homework assignments. They suggested that Facebook groups could be defined as an area of school life, where pupils were able to merge personal and social life with academic work.

Vicious circle theorem

Children who are anxious about maths tend to perform poorly in the subject – and children who perform badly in maths tend to be anxious about it. The result, according to Emma Carey and three other academics from the University of Cambridge, is a vicious cycle of maths anxiety and under-performance. The academics analysed existing research on maths anxiety to find out whether maths anxiety caused poor performance or vice versa. They found evidence to support both theories, which led them to conclude that maths anxiety and maths under-performance influence one another, perpetuating the problem.

Evolved creationists

Creationist pupils who learn about evolution become increasingly willing to accept the validity of science, a joint Thai and British study has found. Pratchayapong Yasri, of Mahidol University in Thailand, and Rebecca Mancy, of the University of Glasgow, worked with 125 Buddhist and Christian pupils at a high school in Thailand. After a school course on evolution, a high proportion of the pupils said that they were now better able to fit evolution to their religious beliefs. This trend was particularly clear among Christian pupils. The religious beliefs themselves did not change.

Stress without borders

Pupil anxiety is not limited to the developed world. A new study reveals that particularly high numbers of Tanzanian pupils have experienced anxiety brought on by school-based stress.

Yusuph Kambuga, of the University of Bucharest in Romania, surveyed 92 secondary pupils in Tanzania. He found that 90 per cent of the girls had experienced anxiety in their school lives, as had 74 per cent of the boys. By comparison, it is estimated that between 13 and 25 per cent of teenagers across the world experience school-related anxiety. Among the Tanzanian pupils, causes of anxiety included school rules, teaching practices and corporal punishment.

Adi Bloom (@adibloom)

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