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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November 15, 2012

Financial Aid Workshop
EOS Lecture Hall
December 11
7 PM

Volunteer Opportunity for $$$
Second Call

Volunteers Wanted for Participation in a Research Study
at the University of Connecticut

A Multi-Method Assessment of Youths' Friendships
Attention Parents:

The UConn Peer Project is looking for volunteers ages 12-18 to participate in a research project on friendships.

Volunteers will visit the UConn Social and Emotional Development Lab with a friend. During the visit, the friends will be video- and audio- recorded talking together and answering interview questions and will fill out questionnaires. The visit will last about two and a half hours.

The purpose of this project is to learn more about how friends act with one another and how teenagers feel about themselves and their friendships.

Volunteers will receive $40 for participation.

To learn more about this research, please contact Dr. Rhiannon Smith at 860-486-3563 or email rhiannon.smith@uconn.edu.

Attributions - How We Use Them, Even Unknowingly
The Little Red Engine That Could...

You learn about attributions in Psychology 101 - that we all look to attribute explanations for outcomes that we experience in our lives. Another way of saying this is that we all have our explanatory styles for making "sense" of the lives we live.  Here's a very simplistic explanation of attribution theory - we believe that the successes and failures we experience are the results of luck (superstitions?), task difficulty (Oh, I succeeded because it was too easy or I didn't because it was too hard), ability (I'm not good enough or I am good enough), and effort (I didn't try hard enough - or I tried really hard at it). If you're wondering - "How about if I just don't care?" - well, this has to do with effort. Doesn't it? Although, it may be that some don't care because they don't think they have what it takes (ability) to care. 

There's much to be said about how people assign reasons for what they experience in their lives. Think about it - failing at something because you believe you aren't good enough (ability) is different from failing because you didn't try hard enough (effort). In the latter case, you can do something about it - you can try harder.

Trying harder (or smarter) - grit - has been the subject of much research lately, some of which has been published in a book written by Paul Tough entitled How Children Succeed.

The EOS Guidance Department actually includes an attribution survey in every Student Success Plan (housed in Naviance). There are 15 statements and students are asked how strongly they agree or disagree with each - 1) Heredity determines most of what a person is like, 2) Luck has little to do with being successful, 3) Whatever plans I make, there is always something that will get in the way of completing them, 4) Failing a test is a sign of incomplete preparation on my part - I didn't study hard enough, 5) Being in the right place at the right time is essential for getting what I want in life, 6) If I set realistic goals, I can succeed at most anything in life, 7) School success is mostly the result of one's socioeconomic background (how much money a family has), 8) Each person is responsible for her/his own actions, good or bad, 9) If I don't succeed at something, it's because I don't have what it takes to succeed, 10), Being smart/intelligent isn't entirely inborn - a person can become smarter/more intelligent through hard work, 11) If I successfully complete a task, it's because it was easy, 12) My chances of succeeding in school are largely based upon my effort, 13) Teachers have more to so with student success than students themselves do, 14) If I study hard enough, I can succeed in any course, and 15) I can complain about being treated unfairly, but that's about all I can do. The responses students choose may provide some insight on how they respond to difficulties that life inevitably presents along the way.

We've heard this phrase expressed repeatedly - "Forget it. I can't do that." Okay. Maybe not - yet. Yet, what if we added a three-letter word to the end of our judgments - yet? "Yet" can change everything. It can empower us to keep on keepin' on in pursuit of those goals we're otherwise so quick to discard. "Yet" changes the perception of "failure" from a sense of permanence to one that is temporary. "Yet" extinguishes excuses. "Yet" connotes choice. "Yet" tells us that it's a judgment in the moment and not one that is absolute. "I can't do that - yet." From an attributional standpoint, this is about effort.

If you're old enough, you may remember the three "Rs" as Reading, 'Riting, and 'Rithmetic. Each still has its place in learning, but so does another set of "Rs" - Relationships, Relevance, and Resilience. It's this last one that deserves our attention in this piece. Resilience is about belief.
How Not to Let Mistakes Define You
The "power of yet" is linked to failure, that word in our culture with an undeserving reputation. Really, who has ever achieved success without experiencing failure along the way?  We should be paying more attention to those who are successful and how they've learned to befriend failure instead of turning our backs to it.

It's important to fail. And it's important to give children permission to fail. Only by risking failure can anything really ever be achieved. Failure can be an ally in other ways, too. Failure gives us a unique opportunity to learn. And it gives us options, if we're paying attention. Failure, by the way, is no more permanent than is success.

You've heard it - the road to success is full of hurdles and potholes. You may have also heard the Japanese proverb - "Fall down seven times, get up eight." So, failure may simply mean "not yet successful".
Mistake Bank
 In reality, sometimes the right choice to make when pursuing a goal is to say "Not now, and - you know what? - not ever". This isn't always an easy decision to make because one never knows how close s/he may be to achieving the desired goal. But here's another spin on it. "Stuff" happens and we have to learn how to deal with it. RESILIENCE. Framing setbacks in a way that provides constructive feedback is an immensely important skill to acquire in life. Sometimes stuff happens that seems devastating at the time but later on may evolve into a blessing. Take a moment to read the SHORT story below;

There was an old man and is son who worked a small farm with only one horse to pull the plow. One day, the horse ran away. "How terrible," sympathized the neighbors, "What bad luck."
But the farmer replied, "Who knows whether it's bad luck or good luck."

A week later, out of nowhere, the horse returned from the mountains, leading five wild mares into the barn. The neighbors heard about this and exclaimed, "What wonderful luck!" "Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?" answered the old man.

A couple of days later, the son, trying to tame one of the wild horses, fell and broke his leg. "How terrible. What bad luck!" cried the neighbors. "Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?" said the farmer.

Ten days later, the army came to all the farms to take the young men for war. The farmer's son - with his broken leg - was of no use to them, so he was spared. Good luck? Bad luck?

Retrospect offers us what no moment, in the present, is capable of doing. Time will reveal the reason for the baffling or troubling situations that have dogged our paths along the way. Whenever the road feels rocky or we are confused, we need to trust. Our lives are not happenstances. There is a performance being staged. (From a Promise of a New Day).

In one sense, then, nothing really matters in and of itself because the importance of things lies in the ways we have learned to think about them.It's really all about framing your experiences, and this includes "setbacks" along the way. Experience isn't what happens to you so much as it is how you interpret what happens to you.

Check out the one-minute video interview (posted below) with Bill Bradley, the former basketball player who starred at Princeton in the 1960s and later on with NY Knicks in the NBA, but not before taking two years to study at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in between. Later on, he had a long career in politics as a US Senator from NJ and made an unsuccessful run (not yet - not ever) for the presidency.
 How to Deal with Setbacks
You're also encouraged to open the links under "Articles of Interest" that relate to this issue of resilience.  As mentioned in one piece, grit has been found to be more important in school success than intelligence.  Hmmm...
Learning how to be resilient in the face of challenge is unarguably a skill critical for real-world success - a skill that just about every student can (and should) learn before reaching adulthood.

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