Please find relevant information and research below.
Empathy Improves Academic Competency
The authors hypothesize that affective response (empathy, depression, and aggression) influences a child’s cognitive development, and, specifically, that empathy improves academic competency. They study children at ages 8-9 and 10-11. They find that empathy is not predictive of current achievement; however, it is predictive of future achievement among girls only.
The author cites studies that say that too much emphasis on self-esteem can be damaging to the individual and society (narcissism, bullying, separation) and that we should instead emphasize self-compassion. She defines self-compassion as “(a) self-kindness versus self-judgment, (b) a sense of common humanity versus isolation, and (c) mindfulness versus overidentification.”
Wentzel investigates the impact of behavior on academic achievement, controlling for teacher preference, as well as other factors (including IQ, socioeconomic status, and minority status). She separates behavior into two parts: social behavior (prosocial vs. antisocial/aggressive) and academic behavior. She finds that prosocial behavior is predictive of both GPA and standardized test scores. Prosocial is an independent positive predictor of GPA and standardized test scores.
Higher levels of self-compassion are linked to increased feelings of happiness, optimism, curiosity, and connectedness, as well as decreased anxiety, depression, rumination, and fear of failure. – Kristin D. Neff
In this article, Canadian researchers found that children aged 9-11 who performed acts of kindness received greater peer acceptance than children who visited places.
According to the authors of this study, “Prosocialness included cooperating, helping, sharing, and consoling…. Prosocialness had a strong positive impact on later academic achievement and social preferences.”
The frequency of prosocial and antisocial student behaviors were rated by 1503 students and 92 teachers in four urban middle schools ranked by achievement. The highest achieving school combined an emphasis on academics with a culture of caring that was reflected in higher rates of prosocial behaviors and lower rates of antisocial behaviors among students.
Prosocial children create enduring school environments that are conducive to academic learning. – Gian Vittorio Caprara et. al
The More Caring, the Better Grades
[P]rosocial behavior, antisocial behavior, and emotional distress were examined as processes that might explain [the] significant links between peer relationships and academic achievement. Results of longitudinal analyses support a conclusion that aspects of peer relationships are related to classroom achievement indirectly, by way of significant relations with prosocial behavior.
One method for increasing positive outcomes for students is to change from a competitive to a cooperative classroom. A technique of classroom instruction that requires students to work together and teach each other is described and illustrated. This method has been found to increase self-esteem, promote liking for classmates and school, and reduce interethnic prejudice because it provides cooperative students more opportunities to see things from other people’s perspective.
Fourth-grade students were trained to observe and report peers’ prosocial behaviors and interdependent group contingencies and public posting were used to reinforce those reports. Although the first intervention phase showed much variability, subsequent phases showed that an intervention composed of public posting and interdependent group contingencies increased prosocial behavior reports.
Giving is as good for the giver as it is for the receiver. Science says it’s so. We’ll be happier, healthier, and even, odds are, live a little longer if we’re generous. – Steven Post
Hidden Gifts of Helping
“Scientific investigations tell us that relatively modest activities – a few hours of volunteering once a week or perhaps a ‘random act of kindness’ a few days a week – help us live longer, healthier lives as they stimulate a shift from anxiety, despair, or anger to tranquility, hope, and warmth.”
“A number of studies demonstrate that those individuals who volunteer at an earlier point experience greater functional ability and better health outcomes later in life, even when the studies control for other factors.”