(AUDIO) Missouri Partnership to Improve the Learning Environment for Students and Teachers



A team of researchers from the University of Missouri are preparing to partner with 200 college teachers across the state to create a more positive learning environment.

Dr Christi Bergin (Photo courtesy University of MissourI)

The goal is to improve student outcomes and reduce teacher stress for the more than 26,000 Missouri children these educators reach.

The effort deals with what are called prosocial behavior techniques – to help children understand how their behavior affects others. Prosocial behaviors are those intended to help others. These actions are characterized by a concern for the rights, feelings and well-being of others.

Dr Christi Bergin, of the MU College of Education and Human Development, says one approach is to praise the child – not the deed.

“The teacher would say, ‘You are a very nice person.’ Rather than saying “It was a nice thing to do.” It’s a subtle difference, but it’s really powerful for sending messages to kids, ”says Bergin. “So what the teacher said to this kid is, ‘You are a nice person. I see you as a nice person. I expect you to be a nice person. This child is starting to think of himself as a nice person.

She says the focus is on middle school students because there is a steep drop in prosocial behavior during these school years.

“We’re seeing prosocial behaviors at quite high levels in elementary school,” says Bergin. “It drops in college, continues to tumble in high school, and then we start to see another rise towards the end of high school.”

Bergin says practices are a key part of career preparation.

“Employers really value pro-social skills. In fact, some say they are more important to them than intellectual skills or other skills when hiring people, ”says Bergin. “So helping children become more prosocial not only benefits them while they are in school so that they are happier to be in school and learn more, but it also prepares them for. the road when they enter the workforce. “

The partnership will take place virtually. This is thanks to a federal grant of $ 4 million from the US Department of Education.

To listen to the interview with Dr. Christi Bergin of the University of Missouri, click below. The segment was featured on the daily Missourinet radio show – Show Me Today.

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