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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.

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Education

Care is Apprenticeship Ambassador Elen’s true vocation

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ELEN LEWIS is developing a career in health and social care thanks to a bilingual Foundation Apprenticeship opportunity provided by Blaenmarlais Care Home in Narberth.

Elen, 19, who lives in Narberth, believes care is her true vocation and may consider training to become a hospital nurse in the future.

Due to her passion for the Welsh language and apprenticeships, she has been appointed an Apprenticeship Ambassador by Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol (CCC) and the National Training Federation of Wales (NTfW).

Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol leads the development of Welsh medium and bilingual education and training in the post-compulsory sector in Wales and the NTfW represents work-based learning providers across Wales.

She began working at Blaenmarlais Care Home 18 months ago, having previously taken a Health and Social Care Level 3 course at Pembrokeshire College. She is now completing her Foundation Apprenticeship in Health and Social Care through City & Guilds, delivered by the same college and hopes to progress to a Level 3 Apprenticeship.

Happy speaking in both Welsh and English to improve her language skills, Elen said: “I love my job because it’s so rewarding to care for our residents and develop a relationship with them. A couple of them enjoy having a conversation in Welsh.

She is proud to be an Apprenticeship Ambassador because, she says, it gives her a chance to promote the Welsh language: “I like apprenticeships because they allow people to earn while they learn, which is one of the main reasons I was not interested in going to university.

“Welsh medium and bilingual apprenticeships provide an opportunity to learn in the language of your choice and encourages the use of the Welsh language, which is important.

“We have spoken Welsh in my family for generations and it’s a unique language to our country and should be preserved. It’s a real bonus when you go into a job and you have an opportunity to speak both Welsh and English.”

Helen Hill is deputy manager of Blaenmarlais Care Home, which has 22 residents and 30 staff, including four apprentices. Despite only two residents speaking Welsh, she thinks it’s important that they are able to converse in the language of their choice.

“We support the opportunity for our staff to do bilingual apprentices if they wish,” she said. “I am one of five members of staff who speak Welsh and am proud of the language and my heritage.”

Janice Morgan, Pembrokeshire College’s Welsh language development officer, has taken on an extra role as bilingual support tutor, funded by Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol.

“Elen is an excellent Apprenticeship Ambassador and fully realises the importance of using her Welsh language skills in her work setting when speaking to residents and staff in their first language,” she said.

Lisa Mytton, the NTfW’s strategic director, said: “Many workplaces are becoming more bilingual, so completing an apprenticeship bilingually or in Welsh can increase an individual’s confidence to work in both languages and their employability.

“Our Apprenticeship Ambassadors are excellent role models for apprenticeships, highlighting the benefits of learning and working bilingually in the workplace.”

Elin Williams, from the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, said: “This is the third year running that we have appointed ambassadors for the apprenticeship sector, and we think this is a vital tool in showing people that it is possible to continue with your bilingual learning through the apprenticeship route.

“With the Welsh Government’s target to reach one million Welsh speakers by 2050, it has never been more important to develop your bilingual skills and increase your employability prospects.”

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

To find out more about apprenticeship opportunities go to Careers Wales https://careerswales.gov.wales/apprenticeships or telephone 0800 028 4844.

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Education

Young people’s equality and diversity debate held at County Hall

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STUDENTS from all secondary schools in Pembrokeshire, including the Pembrokeshire Learning Centre, took part in a lively debate recently on equality and diversity issues affecting young people in Pembrokeshire.

The debate was chaired by Cllr Pat Davies, Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council, and the guest speakers were Rocio Cifuentes, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Jane Houston, Welsh Government Senior Policy Advisor (Education), Cllr Guy Woodham, Pembrokeshire’s Cabinet Member for Education and the Welsh Language, and Steven Richards-Downes, Director of Education.

The presentations were followed by a question and answer session, which focused in particular on LGBTQ+ areas of discussion.

“We thoroughly enjoyed our visit as it was fantastic to see all of the Pembrokeshire Secondary Schools coming together as a collective to discuss such an important issue,” said Rocio Cifuentes. “You’ve helped establish an excellent forum and we hope it continues!”

Cllr Pat Davies said it was great for so many interesting and valuable views to be shared. “For my year of office as Chair of the Council I have picked up a theme of inviting young people into the Council Chamber to debate issues relating to Democracy, Equality and Diversity and discuss their concerns and hopes around these issues,” she said.

“This was the first of such meetings and it was obvious that there are further conversations needed concerning the issue of LGBTQ+ and the intention is that another meeting be arranged.”

Cllr Guy Woodham said, ‘The opportunity to hear the views of young people is always a valuable experience and I am keen to explore ways in which they can become regularly involved in debating issues that are important to them and which will also help inform the Council’s own decision making process’.

The event was organised by Pembrokeshire County Council with support from the County’s secondary schools, Welsh Government and the Children’s Commissioner’s Office.

(Pictured: The secondary school representatives with speakers in the Council Chamber at County Hall – Credit PCC)

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Education

Port sponsors inspirational Duke of Edinburgh event at Pembrokeshire College

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OVER seventy people came together at Pembrokeshire College recently to celebrate and learn about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at a Business Tea, sponsored by the Port of Milford Haven.

The audience heard from Pembrokeshire-born adventurer Tori James who embarked on her DofE journey in school, but now holds the title for the first Welsh woman to climb Mount Everest and is a proud ambassador for the programme. Gold award holder Lucy Aur also spoke about her positive experiences of the DofE programme, highlighting the strong connections she created with her fellow explorers.

During the afternoon, certificates were presented to businesses, the Ascona Group and Hydro Industries, who have pledged their support for DofE, as well as volunteers Caroline Wilson and Andy Jones who have dedicated many years of hard work and commitment to the charity.

The Port of Milford Haven is proud to be a Silver Associate of DofE and its Chief Executive Tom Sawyer and Chairman Chris Martin were delighted to be able to speak about their support. Tom Sawyer said “The DofE programme offers young people so many opportunities and equips them with important life skills such as confidence, creativity and compassion. From an employer’s perspective, candidates who have completed DofE often have an incredibly interesting background and have broadened their horizons as a result of enrolling onto the programme. I would wholeheartedly encourage anyone who’s thinking of signing up to do so and would certainly recommend that other businesses in the area consider offering their support.”

Robert Newsome OBE, who is Chair of Ambassadors for DofE Wales and hosted the Business Tea event, commented “This event has been a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the impact and success DofE has on the lives of participants. It has also afforded the opportunity to thank local volunteers who support young people in engaging with the programme. Most of all, this has been a chance to showcase to community and business leaders how The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award contributes positively to personal development and wellbeing, encourages volunteering work within our communities and fosters a range of employability skills. We are extremely grateful to all those industries and businesses that support us in ensuring the inclusion of young people in West Wales.”

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