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Education

The power of competition: the impact of social motivation on learning

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Introduction

WE know that competition is a powerful driving force in physical activities. Competition is what motivates athletes to do better and achieve higher results. Thanks to scientific research, we know that kids aim to do a better job at tests and quizzes when they know there’s a prize waiting for impressive results. However, how does competition influence students’ ability to learn? Is there a correlation between competition and the human learning process?

We did some research and came up with some intriguing findings. In this article, we are going to discuss the influence of social motivation on students’ ability to learn.

Competition drives effort

In recent scientific research, a group of undergraduate students took part in a series of tests to show the impact of competition on long-term memory. The participants went through the testing process in different conditions. This was necessary to assure the validity of the results. The final results showed that there was no significant direct influence of competition on long-term memory. Yet, competitive conditions had a significant influence on students’ efforts to complete tasks.

This means that students placed more effort to achieve higher academic performance. Furthermore, the research results showed no significant difference between male and female students. This means that the influence of competition on our desire to learn more and achieve a higher academic result is not related to gender.

Coping with competition in college

While competition has a positive effect on our desire to win, a series of poor results could lead to a loss of self-confidence. Some students react poorly when their results can’t match those of other students, which can lead to a drop in academic performance. To avoid reduced scores or even failing a class, students often seek help with essay writing tasks online. This helps them focus on more pressing tasks and the high-quality essays they receive, increase their level of confidence.

It’s important to consider competition as a driving force instead of a measure of your worth. If someone scores higher than us at a certain point, that doesn’t mean our effort was worthless.

Some students experience anxiety issues when faced with competition. This can lead to poor results in a competitive environment. It’s known that anxiety harms working memory and recall. If students see their competitors as a threat, they would most probably experience anxiety which would hinder memory.

Is there a cultural influence of a competitive environment?

In many countries, there is a long tradition of keeping a competitive atmosphere in classrooms. In countries like Japan, a competitive learning environment is customary. Students experience a competitive classroom atmosphere from an early age. In the USA, students are not used to competing with others in the classroom, so it’s reasonable to expect a negative reaction from some students.

Therefore, it’s safe to assume that the impact of competition on education also depends on the cultural background. Students used to a competitive learning environment will use competition as a driving force. On the other side, in countries where competition in the classroom is not cultivated from the start, students could experience anxiety. Also, they could show low performance when placed under the pressure of competition.

While quizzes and tests are part of every educational system in the world, these academic activities are not a social motivator to their full extent. Test and quiz results show how we stand against ourselves, it’s up to students individually to choose whether they will compare their scores with how other students in the class performed.

Moreover, in most countries nowadays, tests are often individualised, so students don’t even get the same tests. Therefore, students can’t even compare their test results with the scores of their peers since they answer different questions.

Conclusion

While athletes consider the competitive environment as their natural habitat and the driving force behind their activities, with learning things are not that uniform. There are many ways in which students’ view of the competitive environment differs. Some people thrive in harsh competition, while others block. We saw that there is also a cultural influence, or better said the difference in educative systems that plays a role.

It’s up to teachers to create a competitive classroom environment that would help students feel good and achieve higher results. Still, humans are different and there will always be among us those that react well when faced against a competitor and those that freeze when they are being compared with their peers.

Education

Silver UNICEF award for Neyland Community School

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NEYAND COMMUNITY SCHOOL’S is celebrating after being awarded a prestigious UNICEF award.

The Rights Respecting Schools (RRS) Award is granted to schools that show commitment to promoting and realising children’s rights and encouraging adults, children, and young people to respect the rights of others in school.

The Silver award is awarded to schools that make excellent progress towards embedding the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into its ethos and curriculum.

Neyland Community School joins 1,300 schools across the UK that have achieved the Silver status.

Headteacher Clare Hewitt, said: “UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation working for children and their rights and I am very proud of our RRS ambassadors and the school community for achieving our Silver status. 

“Pupils’ rights and wellbeing is at the heart of all we do and it is fantastic that we have been recognised for this.”

Assistant Headteacher and RRS Lead, Gemma Morris, said: “Here at Neyland Community school we believe that it is so important for the children to understand that they have rights and to what these rights are. 

“This really is at the heart and centre of all that we do. We have been on a wonderful journey and it is great to be recognised for the Silver award.”

Pictured: Assistant Headteacher and RRS Lead, Gemma Morris with Neyland Community School children.

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Education

College to launch Energy Transition Skills Hub supported by Shell UK

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PEMBROKESHIRE COLLEGE says it is delighted to announce that it is working with Shell UK to develop an Energy Transition Skills Hub on the College site in Haverfordwest.

The Energy Transition Skills Hub is currently one of three supported by Shell UK and will focus on providing people with the skills and knowledge to find employment in renewable and low-carbon energy projects through an immersive and interactive learning experience.

The facility aims to train 600 individuals by July 2026, providing Pembrokeshire and West Wales with a pool of talent that will have knowledge and experience of control systems needed for projects such as offshore floating wind farms and the Haven hydrogen power plants.

With renewables and low-carbon technology high on the agenda, both locally and nationally, the facility comes at an important time for the energy sector.

The state-of-the-art onsite Control Room will enable training in control systems for a wide range of sectors including: Offshore Floating Wind; Hydrogen Plant; Solar PV; Tidal/Marine and gas power stations.

The programme is supported by Shell UK and the Swansea Bay City Deal Skills and Talent Fund and responds directly to the needs of local companies as well as those from further afield who are looking to invest in the region. The Hub, which is scheduled to open this summer, will also support the local community and schools by giving them the opportunity to understand more about how energy transition will impact the way we live and work in the future.

Arwyn Williams, Head of Faculty at Pembrokeshire College states: “We are delighted to be working with Shell UK on the development of the Control Room training facility. Many of our learners and those looking to upskill will benefit from understanding more about the control systems through practical experience. Having the capability to train people for emerging sectors such as Offshore Floating Wind and Hydrogen will give them a real advantage when the opportunities become available.”

Anthony Harte, Shell UK Social Impact Manager, says: “We are pleased to be working closely with Pembrokeshire College on the development of the Energy Transition Skills Hub. This will be one in a series of hubs across Britain that Shell UK is investing in, with a view to help upskill and train the workforce of the future. Shell UK ‘s Skills Transition Programme aims to help 15,000 people into jobs, with a focus on the energy transition by 2035. We want as many people as possible to benefit from the energy system of the future, so that the transition is an opportunity for all.”

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Education

Largest ever global air sampling maps fungal spread

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MUSHROOMS and other fungi spread their spores in a more localised way than once thought and more similar to how animals and plant species migrate, new research has found.

Published in the journal Nature, it is the largest ever global air sampling project and analyses how the climate affects the growth and spread of fungi.

The study used air samplers to collect airborne fungal spores at 47 locations on every continent apart from Antarctica over a two-year period.

Most fungi spread by releasing airborne spores and detection of these spores with air sampling can tell us when they are released and how far they travel.

Mapping of the global distribution of fungi can establish the ecological ranges of rare or threatened species to be observed. This allows us to detect changes in these patterns caused by climate change or habitat destruction.

It also means the spread of fungi which are potentially harmful to humans or crop plants can be monitored.

Fungi are essential to how ecosystems work but they are mostly invisible to the naked eye, so the factors determining their distribution and activity remain poorly understood.

It is estimated that there could be up to five million different species but most of these remain unknown.

For decades scientists debated which factors drive the distribution of fungi and other microbes.

It was originally believed that the long distance dispersal of fungi in the air meant they could reach all parts of the planet, but would only grow in suitable conditions.

This contrasts with animals and plants whose spread is more strictly limited by mountain ranges, seas and other geographical barriers.

However, the new research paper shows that the spread of fungi, like animals and plants, is determined by climatic factors, and that they too are distributed locally, not only in where they grow but in how their spores are spread.

Professor Gareth Griffith from the Department of Life Sciences at Aberystwyth University said: “Sampling of airborne DNA in the way we have for this study is a huge step forward in the understanding of the how fungi grow and disperse in different parts of the world. Overall, our results suggest that the factors that affect where microbes live and grow are similar to those determining the distribution of plants and animals.

“The very diverse kingdom of fungi follows globally highly predictable patterns. These patterns resemble those described for other major groups of organisms. This research makes a major contribution to that long-standing debate.”

The study found that species of airborne fungus found in different regions was most strongly affected by the mean annual air temperature of the site, with diversity and numbers increasing from the poles towards the Equator.

The results also confirms that temperature influences fungal reproduction and that spore release peaks when the wind speeds are high.

Professor Gareth Griffith from Aberystwyth University added:“Our results highlight the role of temperature as an underlying driver of fungal dispersal, with fungal diversity increasing with warmer climates and more spores being released on warmer days. This finding suggests that global climate change, and generally warming climates, will have a major role in restructuring fungal communities.

“Although previous large-scale studies of soil fungi have found clear effects of the climate on community composition, the fact that air temperature explains most of the variation in the distributions of fungi in our data is striking.”

Speaking about the significance of the air sampling, Academy Research Fellow Nerea Abrego, from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, said:

“Air is a real treasure trove for nature research; it is full of DNA from plants, fungi, bacteria, insects, mammals and other organisms. This knowledge is essential not only to understand where and when different fungal species thrive, but also to predict their fate under the ongoing global change.

“One particularly interesting subject for further research is a more detailed review of the sequences for fungi that are important to humans. These include fungal diseases of humans, crops and production animals, as well as fungi that indicate the progress of the loss of nature and the weakening of natural ecosystem processes.”

The Global Spore Sampling Project was funded through a number of bodies, including the UK Natural Environment Research Council.

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