Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Teacher math and literacy skills: International study

When compared to both their peers internationally and fellow American college graduates, U.S. teachers have middling math and literacy skills, finds a group of international researchers. They conclude that boosting salaries would be one way to attract higher-skilled individuals into teaching. The report asserts "differences in teacher cognitive skills are a significant determinant of international differences in student performance."
Hanushek, E., Piopiunik, M., & Widerhold, S. (2014). The value of smarter teachers: International evidence on teacher cognitive skills and student performance. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.

Teenage brain research

Brains change a lot during the teenage years, particularly in areas linked to complex thought, according to findings published this year. Researchers scanned the brains of 300 teenagers and young adults, identifying the regions that experience the most change. While the areas associated with the basic functioning of the body such as vision, hearing and movement are fully developed by adolescence, the areas associated with complex thought and decision making are still changing. The new findings also indicate that maltreatment, abuse and neglect may well continue to disrupt the development of the higher brain functions during the crucial teenage years and so contribute to the emergence of mental illness.
Whitaker, K. et al. (2016). Adolescence is associated with genomically patterned consolidation of the hubs of the human brain connectome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Research on Internet access impact on learning

Students without reliable Internet access at home may be at an educational disadvantage, according to a recent study. Researchers found students without reliable at-home Internet access were less likely to take part in informal learning. They also contend that Internet access via a smartphone is not an adequate substitute.
Rideout, V., & Katz, V. (2016). Opportunity for all? Technology and learning in lower-income families. New York: Joan Ganz Cooney Center.

College readiness research

The number of students passing high-school exit exams is at an all-time high, but about 60% of students enrolling in community colleges have to take remedial courses, according to recent research. "There is a disconnect that has existed for a long time in terms of the measures used for high-school graduation and if a student is ready to succeed in a college-level class," said Mary Fulton of the Education Commission of the States.
Community College Research Center. (2016). Community college FAQs. New York: Columbia University.

Research on Common Core standards impact on education

Teaching and learning has changed significantly under the Common Core State Standards, according to a study of five states. Math teachers, for example, are focusing more on real-world applications and conceptual understanding, and English teachers are exposing students to more nonfiction.
Kane, T. et al.  (2016). Teaching higher. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Center for Education Policy Research.

Early predictors of science achievement research

A kindergartner's basic world knowledge may be a strong predictor of third-grade science achievement, according to a recent report. Researchers also found a correlation between early math and reading skills and science achievement. Efforts to address science achievement gaps in the United States likely require intensified early intervention efforts, particularly those delivered before the primary grades.
Morgan, P. et al. (2016). Science achievement gaps begin very early, persist, and are largely explained by modifiable factors. Educational Researcher (Feb. 23).

Research on textbook gender bias

Textbooks may not include enough female characters or too often may portray women in submissive gender roles, according to data released by UNESCO. The data, released to celebrate International Women's Day, revealed that women are underrepresented in textbooks and curricula, researchers noted.
Benavot, A., & Jere, C. (2016). Gender bias is rife in textbooks. World Education Blog (March 8).