Friday, November 8, 2019

Brain and math study

Brain activity in male and female students ages 3 to 10 years old is largely similar when they are engaged in math tasks, according to a report released today in the journal Science of Learning. Researchers said they have, however, identified gender differences in high-level mathematical thinking. However, brain differences are not the reason. Researchers suspect the answer involves the societal messages girls and young women get, and the difficulty of entering a field that includes very few women. Males, especially if less strong in reading, lean to STEM; girls have more options so do not feel they have to enter STEM careers if they come from wealthier families.
Cantlon, J. (2019). Gender similarities in the brain during mathematics development. Science of Learning, 4, 19.

Kersey, A. J., Wakim, K. M., Li, R., & Cantlon, J. F. (2019). Developing, mature, and unique functions of the child’s brain in reading and mathematics. Developmental cognitive neuroscience, 39, 100684.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Transformative Technology Study

Transformative technology has the edge in teaching over substitutive technology, meaning students learn more when technology is used not to replace pencils and paper to do similar tasks, but rather when tech is used to reshape the projects themselves, a report from Gallup finds. This includes allowing students to choose what they learn, discuss topics without a clear answer and work on multidisciplinary projects.
Gallup. (2019). Creativity in learning. Washington, DC: Gallup.

Computer literacy report

     The average score among students in 12 countries on a computer and information literacy exam was 496, on a scale from 100 to 700, according to a recent study. The US students' average score was 519, but data shows that while students grow up as digital natives they may lack sophisticated digital literacy.  US students are less skilled at creating algorithms or debugging them when problems arise. Seventy percent of students across countries attended schools where digital resources connected to textbooks was available, but 32% of teachers reported using such content. 
     Gender differences were apparent for both computer and information literacy and for computational thinking, but they varied. In the computer and information literacy section, females outscored males on average and in most of the countries. But in computational thinking, males consistently scored higher than females.
     “Confidence, and crucially, competence, in the use of digital devices is of vital importance globally,” Dirk Hastedt, IEA executive director, said in a statement. “It is essential that young people are taught these skills at schools, and that their teachers are well supported in delivering this bedrock of modern education.” The findings confirm other recent studies in the U.S. showing students can be easily misled by digital media messages.
Fraillon, J. (2019). International Computer and Information Literacy Study. Amsterdam: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Digital literacy and computational thinking survey

The United States participated in the 2018 International Computer and Information Literacy Study (ICILS), which assesses 8th-grade students in two domains: computer and information literacy (CIL) and computational thinking (CT). It also compares U.S. students’ skills and experience using technology to that of students in other education systems and provides information on factors such as teachers’ experiences and school resources that may influence students’ CIL and CT skills. This information is especially relevant today, since building strong foundations for STEM literacy, including CT, has been identified as one of the three goals in the White House’s 5-year STEM education strategic plan, “Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education.”

As the results show, U.S. 8th-grade students’ average score in CIL was higher than the ICILS 2018 average, while the U.S. average score in CT was not significantly different from the ICILS 2018 average. In the United States, female 8th-grade students outperformed their male peers in CIL, but male 8th-grade students outperformed female students in CT. Also, U.S. 8th-grade students with 2 or more computers at home performed better in both CIL and CT than their U.S. peers with fewer computers. Among U.S. 8th-grade students, 72 percent reported using the Internet to do research every school day or at least once a week, and 65 percent reported teaching themselves how to find information on the Internet.

About half of U.S. 8th-grade teachers reported using information and communications technologies (ICT) in teaching. Eighty-six percent of U.S. 8th-grade teachers strongly agreed or agreed that ICT was considered a priority for use in teaching at their schools. Compared with the ICILS 2018 averages, higher percentages of U.S. 8th-grade teachers reported participating in eight out of nine professional learning activities related to ICT.

Click on the questions below for more details. The technical notes for the 2018 ICILS, additional informationthe questionnaires, FAQs and the full international report, International Computer and Information Literacy Study, are also available.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Recently a study considered strategies that can help close achievement gaps and get students learning at grade level. The study -- which included an examination of personalized learning versus rigorous curricula -- found that struggling students can improve if they have caring relationships with their teachers, an environment that nurtures agency and access to quality and coherent content, among other factors.
Bellwether Education Partners. (2018). The opportunity myth. New York, NY: TNTP.

Growth Mindset Studies

A survey on growth mindset was sent to a national sample of more than 600 K-12 teachers. The study was designed to examine teachers’ perspectives, professional development and training, and classroom practices.Educators believe growth mindset has great potential for teaching and learning. Nearly all survey respondents (98%) agree that using growth mindset in the classroom will lead to improved student learning. Nearly as many report that it will improve the quality of their instruction.
However, putting growth mindset into practice poses significant challenges. Only 20 percent of teachers strongly believe they are good at fostering a growth mindset in their own students. They have even less confidence in their fellow teachers and school administrators. And just one in five say they have deeply integrated growth mindset into their teaching practice.
Mindset in the classroom. (2016). Bethesda, MD:  Editorial Projects in Education. 

Any student's self-confidence can take a hit at the start of high school. Yet giving students even a brief opportunity to understand and reflect on their mindsets for learning can make them likelier to challenge themselves and improve, finds a new national study. It found that two sessions of a 25-minute online task at the start of freshman year could boost students’ grades and willingness to take advanced classes. Specifically, researchers found low-performing students who participated in the exercise developed a stronger “growth mindset”—the belief that skills are developed over time and through effort, rather than being innate and “fixed.” By the end of freshman year, low-performing students who had participated had higher grade point averages, both in core academic classes and specifically in math and science courses, which prior research has suggested may be more likely to trigger a fixed mindset.
Yeager, D.S., Hanselman, P., Walton, G.M. et al. (2019). A national experiment reveals where a growth mindset improves achievement. Nature, 573, 364–369.

Academic Progress Report

The latest results of the tests known as the Nation's Report Card offer a mostly grim view of academic progress in U.S. schools."Over the past decade, there has been no progress in either mathematics or reading performance, and the lowest-performing students are doing worse," said Peggy Carr, the associate commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers the NAEP. "In fact, over the long term in reading, the lowest-performing students—those readers who struggle the most—have made no progress from the first NAEP administration almost 30 years ago." Since 2017, reading performance has dropped significantly across grades 4 and 8, with math performance mixed. Some racial achievement gaps closed—in part because of falling scores among white students—and gaps between struggling and high-achieving students continued to widen.
National Assessment of Educational Progress. (2019). the nation's report card. Washington, DC: Author.