Ted Talk – Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are
In her Ted Talk Cuddy starts by talking about how different students shaped their bodies in the business classroom but as a post secondary instructor for the last several years I think this could be taken further into the classroom. If power poses (taking up space or standing, sitting with confidence) affect your performance and your hormone levels in a job interview as discussed by Cuddy, it makes sense that they could also affect your performance on an exam, and yet how do most students write tests? Curled over the exam on the desk. Would performance on the tests change if students were able to write exams while sitting with their feet up on the desk, or perhaps sprawled across the floor?
My hunch is that this would also expand beyond test writing to the learning itself. This past semester I had a class of really awesome students. To an outsider looking in at the class it was on the edge of the traditional classroom. I did use PowerPoint and most of the students took notes but we discussed things, got distracted by videos that both I and the students brought to the class, I was known to sit on the top of the desk, so were the students. My students would tell me how their friends and family constantly questioned how the class ran. But the class received the best marks overall that I had ever had in that class. They were able to make spur of the moment jokes that connected to the subject and ask true thinking questions. The class also connected and we have continued meeting on a regular basis since the class ended.
No one was small in this class and it was reflected in their understanding. Is it possible that it was just random selection that put a bunch of strong students in the same class? Yes. Is it possible that it was just the right mix of people? Yes. Is it also possible that the relaxed and collaborative atmosphere actually affected the hormone levels of the students and me allowing us to pursue learning in a more positive, engaged, and perhaps even powerful position? I would like to think so.
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