Thursday, September 25, 2014

Deeper learning research

Deeper Learning Approach Shows Positive Student Gains
      The idea that students need to develop a deeper understanding of content and the ability to apply what they learn in one area to another area are major premises of new learning standards, such as the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. A new study now shows that schools promoting the practices of what's called "deeper learning" are getting better results from their students. According to the American Institute for Research,
deeper learning consists of three elements: a "deeper understanding of core academic content"; "the ability to apply that understanding to novel problems and situations"; and "development of a range of competencies," such as communication, collaboration, "learning to learn," development of an academic mindset and self-control.
     The organization examined outcomes for students attending schools that participate in a deeper learning network community of practice. Researchers compared 13 "network" schools against non-network schools with similar levels of incoming student achievement rates and comparable levels of federal, state and local funding. All are public high schools with student populations that include students of color, English language learners and students from low-income families.
     The study found that the network schools tackled development of deeper learning competencies in different ways. Most used project-based learning to help students master core academic content areas and critical thinking skills, but the structure of those projects varied across schools. Students at these schools reported "greater opportunities" to engage in deeper learning than the students in non-network schools. The network schools, for example, put a bigger emphasis on internship opportunities, study groups and student participation in decision-making.
 American Institute for Research.  (2014). Study of deeper learning: Opportunities and outcomes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Learning spaces research

Research shows that reshaping physical learning environments to emphasize collaboration and mobility can help boost student performance. Space for students to move around and work together, muted colors and comfortable seating areas are among the ideas educators and others share in this article.

Literacies divide

Three recent studies reveal the impact of poverty on information and digital literacy.

A new study shows that a separate gap has emerged, with lower-income students again lagging more affluent students in their ability to find, evaluate, integrate and communicate the information they find online. Although the study is based on a small sample, it demonstrates a general lack of online literacy among all students, indicating that schools have not yet caught up to teach the skills needed to navigate digital information. Seventh grade students from a school in a community where the median family income was more than $100,000 demonstrated slightly more than one extra school year’s worth of online reading ability compared with students from a community where the median family income was close to $60,000. Despite the higher rates of academic Internet use among the more affluent students in the study, a little more than a quarter of them performed well on tasks where they were required to discern the reliability of facts on a particular web page. Only 16 percent of the lower-income students performed well on those tasks.
The New Literacies of Online Research and Comprehension: Rethinking the Reading Achievement Gap
Donald J. Leu, Elena Forzani, Chris Rhoads, Cheryl Maykel, Clint Kennedy and Nicole Timbrell
14 SEP 2014 | DOI: 10.1002/rrq.85

In  a $20 million project carried out there beginning in 2003, laptops were randomly assigned to public middle school students. The benefit of owning one of these computers, researchers later determined, was significantly greater for those students whose test scores were high to begin with.
Shapley, K. (2009). Evaluation of the Texas Technology Immersion Pilot: Final Outcomes for a Four-Year Study (2004-05 to 2007-08). ERIC.

     Researchers are also documenting a digital Matthew Effect, in which the already advantaged gain more from technology than do the less fortunate. As with books and reading, the most knowledgeable, most experienced, and most supported students are those best positioned to use computers to leap further ahead.
     This may stem in part from the influence of adults on children’s computer activities. At the more affluent neighborhood library,  young visitors to the computer area were almost always accompanied by a parent or grandparent. Adults positioned themselves close to the children and close to the screen, offering a stream of questions and suggestions. Kids were steered away from games and toward educational programs emphasizing letters, numbers and shapes. When the children became confused or frustrated, the grownups guided them to a solution.
     At the less affluent library, children manipulated the computers on their own, while accompanying adults watched silently or remained in other areas of the library altogether. Lacking the “scaffolding” provided by the richer parents, the poorer kids clicked around frenetically, rarely staying with one program for long. Older children figured out how to use the programs as games; younger children became discouraged and banged on the keyboard or wandered away.
These different patterns of use had quantifiable effects on the children’s learning. More affluent preschoolers encountered twice as many written words on computer screens as did the poorer children; the more affluent toddlers received 17 times as much adult attention while using the library’s computers as did their less privileged counterparts. The researchers documented differences among older kids as wellNeuman, S., & Celano, D. (2012). Worlds apart. American Educator (fall), 13-23.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Millennial view of libraries

A new report synthesized the library habits of Americans 16-20 years old. The survey questioned how they see libraries’ roles in their lives and communities. The good news is that young people are reading as much as older adults, and are even more likely to have read a book in the past 12 months. Also, their library use is holding steady. Nonetheless, the report warns, their levels of engagement vary in a number of ways.
Millennials read about as much as older adults, with 43 percent saying that they read a book in some format (print, audiobook, or ebook) every day. As a group, they are also as likely as older adults to have used a library in the past 12 months, and more likely to have used a public library website.
One of the survey’s most interesting findings is that, despite the major presence of technology in their lives, 62 percent of the group as a whole agrees there is “a lot of useful, important information that is not available on the Internet,” as opposed to 53 percent of older Americans. Still, 98 percent of all Millennials believe that “the Internet makes it much easier to find information today than it was in the past,” and 79 percent of those surveyed hold that “people who are without internet access are at a real disadvantage.” A full 98 percent of Millennials use the Internet, as opposed to 82 percent of those over 30.
At the same time, only 57 percent of those surveyed believed that “it’s easy to separate the good information from the bad information online.” Some 61 percent of all Americans—those over 30 as well as the Millennials—have a library card, and roughly half of the younger Americans have visited a library in the past year.
However, the report notes that Millennials do not seem to be engaging with libraries to the fullest extent possible.Zickuhr, K., & Rainie, L. (2014). Younger Americans and Public Libraries. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Survey of mobile technologies in schools

Mobile technology is becoming more popular in today's classrooms, according to a recent survey. A majority of educators -- 86% -- who responded to the survey said mobile technology bolsters student engagement, and 67% said it helps support personalized learning. Nevertheless, the digital divide persists.
  • Eighty percent of students in grades 9-12, 65 percent of those in grades 6-8, 45 percent of grades 3-5 students, and 18 percent of K-2 students have access to a smartphone.
  • When it comes to tablets, 45 percent of 9-12, 52 percent of 6-8, 48 percent of 3-5, and 26 percent of K-2 students have access.
  • Sixty-three percent of children from high-income homes have access to a tablet, compared to 20 percent of those from low-income homes. Seventy-five percent of high-income parents and 35 percent of low-income parents have downloaded educational apps for their children.

Grunwald and Associates. (2013). Learning and living with mobile devices study. Bethesda, MD: Grunwald and Associates.

Living and Learning with Mobile Devices Study
Living and Learning with Mobile Devices Study

Digital inclusion survey

This 2014 survey reveals the newest library technology trends: uneven tech growth (slower in rural areas), STEM maker spaces, 3D printing, coding/programming, wifi printing, social media training. Libraries' greatest identified need was more bandwidth, and the chief barrier was cost/money.
ALA. (2014). Digital inclusion survey.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

School stats survey

The National Center for Education Statistics has added the 2011-12 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) data to PowerStats. This update includes the following datasets from the 2011-12 Schools and Staffing Survey: Public Schools, Private Schools, Public and Private Schools combined, Public Principals, Private Principals, Public and Private Principals combined, Public Teachers, Private Teachers, Public and Private Teachers combined, Public School Districts, and Public School Library Media Centers.