Micro-affirmations are micromessages we send that validate and recognize other people in positive and supportive ways. Micro-affirmations are not the same as compliments.
A cumulative pattern of subtle, affirmation messages can encourage and improve performance (Rowe, 2008). These subtle messages can build up and have a huge impact, such as encouraging STEM identity development and expressing higher expectations for students.
Research shows that micro-affirmations work in any environment, but they require attention to what we say and do and also the behavior and words of others. Although the use of micro-affirmations appears easy, practice is critical to address the wide diversity in classes to ensure that students are engaged and welcomed.
Micro-affirmations have many positive impacts on girls in nontraditional courses. As a result of micro-affirmations girls demonstrate:
- Increased willingness to take risks.
- Enhanced creativity and innovation.
- Increased levels of engagement in complex tasks and open-ended thinking.
- Improved caring about learning.
- Increased interest in nontraditional fields and development of self-efficacy.
Here are some examples of effective micro-affirmations. What messages do they send?
- Creating teams and rotating position responsibilities to develop skills, providing everyone an opportunity to learn.
- Following every question to each student with a follow-up question.
- Introducing examples of scientists and scientific research from different individuals from diverse gender, racial, and ethnic backgrounds.
- Providing positive feedback before providing a critique to improve learning.