Evidence That It Works
Researchers differentiate between two types of courage. While general courage is defined as the confident or seemingly brazen actions perceived by others, personal courage involves actions that require bravery in the minds of the actors themselves. In one study of 250 undergraduates, researchers found that students associated personal courage with both fear and personal vulnerabilities (such as struggles with their emotions).
Therefore, being able to recognize, understand, label, and express emotions are all important skills that can guide our decisions and actions (including courageous ones), and practicing these skills may lead to the best outcome for ourselves and others. Research suggests that working with tools like the Mood Meter (featured in this practice) can help educators and students become more aware of their feelings, supporting the development of emotional intelligence skills.
Why Does It Matter?
This practice recognizes, celebrates, and potentially encourages acts of personal courage which may otherwise go unnoticed by students (such as overcoming a fear of public speaking). As we support students in practicing personal courage in school, they may learn to better cope with emotionally challenging situations while striving to reach their personal and academic goals.
For example, students who engage in “academic courage” learn to persevere in learning despite their fear, which can lead to more positive academic outcomes. In fact, a more flexible mindset may lead to academic risk-taking that improves students’ performance while boosting their social competence and overall well-being. Finally, when we ask students to note and label courageous actions they have already taken, this may help them to feel a greater sense of agency in school and in life.