Kids do better in exams if in touch with their emotions

15 May 2009

Dr K V Petrides, Reader in Psychology & Assistant Director, UCL, was speaking at a recent seminar to debate whether the right aspects of Emotional Intelligence (EI) are being taught in schools.

He said: "This is the largest study that has been conducted in the area, ever. No other study comes close to what Cambridge Assessment has pulled off. I am absolutely convinced now that trait EI is related to performance at school. Now is the time to take research evidence and apply it to the intervention programmes that are being rolled out in schools."

The event, co-hosted by the RSA and Cambridge Assessment, on 7 May follows a recent study by Cambridge Assessment’s Research Division which found a link between aspects of Emotional Intelligence – in particular self-motivation and low impulsivity (self-control) – and attainment at GCSE. 

Chaired by Matthew Taylor, RSA Chief Executive, the event brought together a panel of educational experts – including: David Chaytor MP; Professor John Bynner, Emeritus Professor of Social Sciences in Education at the London Institute of Education; and Jackie Beere OBE, Author, Former Headteacher and Educational Consultant.

Tim Oates, Director of Assessment Research & Development at Cambridge Assessment, said: "We see that social background makes a major impact in terms of attainment – and this research, in terms of scrutiny of data, suggests very strongly that Emotional Intelligence in the way in which we’ve measured it, also makes a difference in terms of attainment."

Many UK schools, both at primary and secondary level, are involved in Government-backed initiatives such as the DCSF’s Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) programme.

Meanwhile, Dr Kathyrn Ecclestone, Professor of Education at Oxford Brookes University, challenged: “I’m really pleased that this debate is happening. However, it’s also an abdication for me of the idea that we can inspire people through subject knowledge – learning something really meaningful and deep, not learning about myself and my capabilities.”

Other respondents included: Felicity Martin, Headteacher, Eggars School, Alton; James Park, Director, Antidote; and Sonia Sodha, Senior Researcher, Demos.