Students assigned to the treatment group will complete a 60-minute exercise in which they will read a brief text and write a short letter. This is the strategy employed in previous evaluations of this intervention to ensure that any differences across experimental groups is not attributable to the fact that they are doing an exercise, but rather to its content.
The text that treatment students will read will be adapted and translated into Spanish from the original text written by Paunesku et al. (2015). The text begins arguing that the brain is like a muscle; the more it is used, the stronger it gets. Then, it explains two concepts that
are key to understand the neuroscience behind this statement (the cerebral cortex and the neuron) and the process by which the brain develops with experience (neural connections). Next, it summarizes supporting evidence from research on animals and children’s brain
growth. Finally, it discusses the implications of this research for the reader. The article features pictures and figures to illustrate key concepts and keep the reader engaged. I plan to incorporate some of the improvements to the text that have been recently evaluated
experimentally by the original developers in the U.S. (Yeager et al. 2016).
After reading the text, students will be asked to write a letter to a friend or relative of their choice to tell them what they learned from the article and how it may help them. This has been a key component of interventions of this kind to encourage students to internalize the main messages from the texts (Aronson 1999; Aronson et al. 2002; Walton 2014).
All letters were hanged on the walls of the classroom around a poster to remind students of the activity for the rest of the school year.
We conducted two experiments. The first one was addressed to 12th graders in 2017 and the second, to 6th graders in 2018.