‘If at first you don't succeed then try, try and try again;' may not be the age-old adage that it seems. A team of researchers from Linköping and Lund universities in Sweden used a digital history game to assess how perseverance affected children’s performance with conclusive findings that those who returned to their task and renewed their efforts after failing did significantly better.
The investigation builds on a growing body of research which demonstrates that those with a growth mindset; - the belief that effort will lead to improvement as opposed to a feeling that one's abilities are fixed - are more successful at school.
The study documented the experiences of 108 pupils aged 10 to 12, while playing a digital history game. The tasks became increasingly difficult, with all bound to fail at some point. In the game, children had to prove their historical knowledge and ability to learn in order to assist an elf named Timmy in his quest to win a place in the team at the 'Castle of Time.' Each time a child failed, he or she was presented with five choices: to continue the same mission; to choose a less difficult mission; to tackle another mission at the same level, to brave a more difficult mission or to take a break to play another game before continuing.
At the end of the study, a questionnaire was completed, to gain insight as to how challenging children had found the game, how much they felt they had learned, whether they had enjoyed the game and how much effort they felt they put in to the task. Results showed that there were no significant differences between the different perseverance groups in terms of effort, difficulty, learning, and fun. Where significant differences lay, however, were with the children who persevered the most; they completed more missions and journeyed further up the scale in terms of the difficulty of the tasks they completed.
At Wandsworth Prep, we have always believed in the power of perseverance. One of the key findings of our recent ISI report was how a ‘have a go’ culture has been so successfully inculcated across the school, empowering our children to make mistakes on the road to success. Whilst perseverance alone does not guarantee success, giving up most certainly guarantees failure.