Success accelerants and stamps of positive success

I love having GPS access in my car.  I often need help to arrive at my destination.  She gives me in the moment directions and helps me feel confident that I can get to where I need to be.  I will admit that I am not always kind to her.  I find it frustrating that she does not give me credit for what I already know.  For example, she directs me out of my neighborhood to I-75 – something I do every day.  It makes me wonder how we might teach from where students are rather than from “the beginning.”

In Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change, Shawn Achor writes about success accelerants.

The researchers repeated the coffee shop experiment, but this time half the customers got a “buy ten coffees and get one free” card, and the other half received a “buy twelve coffees and get one free” card— with the first two already stamped. So in both cases a person needed to buy ten coffees to get a free one— the goal was equally far away— but group 2 was given a perceived head start. Think about it this way: before even buying a single coffee, group 2 seemed to be one-sixth of the way toward the reward, whereas group 1 hadn’t even started their long road to a free coffee. If you were in group 1, your first coffee would bring you only one-tenth (10 percent) of the way toward your reward, whereas in group 2 it would bring you one-third (33 percent) of the way there. How did this affect purchasing behavior? Fascinatingly, the people in group 2— those who perceived the goal as closer even though it was the same distance away— burned through those ten stamps significantly faster than the people in group 1. (Achor, 117 pag.)

How might we credit students for what they already know and offer success accelerants at the same time? What if we create stamps of positive success throughout learning?

The closer you perceive success to be, in other words, the faster you move toward it. (Achor, 109 pag.)


Achor, Shawn (2013-09-10). Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change. Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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