Video highlights cultural differences in helpfulness

Annual competition runs May 14-21; viewers vote for their favorite video

Photo of Barbara Rogoff
Barbara Rogoff

For the third year, a video by Distinguished Professor of Psychology Barbara Rogoff is featured in the "2018 STEM for All Video Showcase" hosted by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Rogoff's 3-minute video, "Learning by Helping," is part of NSF's annual competition showcasing innovative projects that seek to improve learning and teaching in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the so-called "STEM fields." The videos highlight initiatives for students of all ages, kindergarten through graduate school, as well as for adult learners.

Rogoff's submission shows California schoolchildren interacting with a science instructor and highlights the helpfulness of children from Mexican immigrant families who have not had much schooling. These children are more likely than their middle-class European American peers to spontaneously help the instructor, and their mothers report that they also voluntarily pitch in and help at home, according to Rogoff.

"Helping others may be a powerful motivator for children to engage in science," said Rogoff. "This may be especially true for children from underrepresented backgrounds." Although teachers often discourage children from helping them, changing classroom practices could help to broaden children’s participation in science, she said. Rogoff's former graduate students Angélica López Fraire and Lucía Alcalá are featured as co-presenters in the video.

Rogoff's video is available for viewing May 14-21 as part of NSF's annual competition; viewers are invited to vote for their favorite video and join an online discussion about the submissions.

Rogoff's team has submitted videos that have taken top public awards in the previous two years. Her work is funded by NSF and the University of California.