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Affirming Essays

June 29, 2017

Brief, self-affirming writing exercises can help minority students excel in school.



Essays that boost grades. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Writing self-affirming essays in middle school can make minority students more likely to attend college. This according to Stanford researcher Parker Goyer and her colleagues, writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Previous studies showed that students who wrote about how they embody positive values, like being good at art, creativity or family relationships, went on to get better grades than other students.

PARKER GOYER (Stanford University):

And so we knew that they positively affected GPA, at least in the first two or three years, but what we wanted to know is did this have a long term effect?


Now they report that seven years later, the essay-writing students are far more likely to have enrolled in college. She says the brief writing exercises weren’t solely responsible: rather, they nudged students in a positive direction, and that push was amplified over time. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon