Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Langer's "The Power of Mindul Learning": Work vs. Play

Yesterday I purchased a battered copy of Ellen J. Langer's "The Power of Mindful Learning". It's brilliant. At some point I will pick apart all the important conclusions she reaches, however the most stand-out bit so far is Langer's insistence that dressing a learning task as 'play' instantly makes it more appealing.

She, and colleague Sophia Snow, gave adults a series of tasks to do. With one group Langer referred to the tasks as 'work' throughout her instructions; with the other group she presented the task as 'playing a game'. The adults then started their tasks. The harder the tasks became the more the work group reported not enjoying the task. They also reported higher levels of 'mind wandering'. This did not happen with the 'play' group.

By the end of the experiment, when participants were completing the hardest task, the 'play' group were twice as likely to enjoy the task and stay focused on it.

Surely there's a tip in there somewhere??