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).

Teachers and technology survey

According to a national survey, more teachers said that technology has changed how they approach time management (93 percent) than how they approach instructional delivery (88 percent). It has also transformed how they handle parent communication; a solid 7 in 10 reported that they now use tech to do that. Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they now use open educational resources more than textbooks.
TES Global. (2016).  Teachers & technology survey. San Francisco: TES Global.

Technology and social-emotional learning skills survey

Education technology can help improve students' social-emotional learning (SEL) skills, according to an international report.The survey of 2000 educators and parents revealed three ways technology can aid in SEL development: improved collaboration, communication, and problem-solving.
World Economic Forum. (2016). New vision for education: Fostering social and emotional learning through technology.  Geneva: Author.

Website evaluation study

In responding to a survey about web-based information evaluation, students indicated they already find several criteria to be important when evaluating information. Instruction should address student opinions and misconceptions about Web-based information in the context of their school assignments or other information needs. For example, students may be more motivated to learn about and apply evaluative criteria that are generated through discussion with their peers. Students may also be more receptive to expanding information evaluation criteria when they are researching topics they find interesting or important. Finally, the researchers recommend that instruction should take into account the context or situations in which various evaluation criteria may be most important.
Pickard, A. J., Shenton, A. K., & Johnson, A. (2014). Young people and the evaluation of information on the World Wide Web: Principles, practice and beliefs. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 46(1), 3-20.

Research on the value of fictoin

Mar and Rain (2015) reported on four different studies in which university students were asked how much fiction and nonfiction they read and also took an author recognition test for fiction and nonfiction reading material.  Results were similar for both measures: The amount of fiction read was a consistent (but modest) predictor of various measures of verbal ability, including a test of synonyms (vocabulary) and reading comprehension.
The amount of nonfiction read was a consistently weaker predictor of verbal ability.
Mar, R. and Rain, M. 2015.  Narrative fiction and expository nonfiction differentially predict verbal ability. Scientific Studies of Reading 19: 419-433
Krashen, S. 2015. The great fiction/nonfiction Debate (with the title Fact or Fiction: The Plot Thickens). Language Magazine, November.

College admissions and social media survey

Admissions officers were more likely to go online and research applicants for the 2014-2015 academic year than they were in the previous year. Nearly half (45 percent) reported that they performed applicant searches during the more recent admissions season compared to 36 percent during 2013-2014. Almost 7 in 10 (67 percent) hunted on Facebook and 4 in 10 searched on Twitter. Those are some of the results from an annual survey performed by an education technology company that sells a service to help students assess and manage their online presence.
Cornerstone Reputation. (2016).  2016 Cornerstone admissions survey report. Cambridge, MA: Author.

Survey on new teachers

More than half of America's newest teachers believe that an infusion of technology in their classrooms could help them be more efficient according to a new survey. They also tend to be "comfortable" with major areas of teaching responsibilities — understanding instructional goals, lesson planning and classroom management. But they also possess "concerns" about preparation in other areas. They're less confident than more experienced teachers, for example, in preparation of instructional goals and standards, project based learning, differentiated learning and developing assessments.
Simba Information, & NCH Strategic Data. (2016). New teachers, getting adjusted, 2015-2016.  Rockville, MD: Simba Information. 

Deepr learning study

High schools in which educators use "deeper learning" methods may post better graduation rates than schools in which educators use more traditional methods, according to a study of 14 schools. Data also showed that the approach may be most effective among students from affluent families.
Zelser, K. et al. (2016). Graduation advantage persists for students in deeper learning network high schools. New York, NY: American Institutes for Research.

iPad studies

Several iPad studies investigate the impact of iPad use. Students overwhelmingly enjoy learning and stay more on task when using iPads. Teachers are often resistant to integrate iPads because of constraints of time and training. While iPads improve classroom learning because teachers who integrate iPads into their lessons tend to do more project-based learning, which has been found to improve students learning across class levels; teachers using iPads to become more innovative, which leads to improve classroom learning. When training mixes with support, a successful learning experience results.
Cheu-Jey, L. (20150. Project-based learning and invitations: A comparison. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 1(3), 63-73.
Maich, K., Y Hall, C. (2016). Implementing iPads in the inclusive classroom setting. Intervention in School and Clinic, 51(3), 145-150.
Mango, O. (2015). iPad use and student engagement in the classroom. Turkish Online Journal of Education Technology, 14(1), 53-57.

Digital content integration study

This research studied how digital content is being integrated, how administrators are making the decision to transition from print to digital, and what the future holds for digital materials that support curriculum and instruction goals. Among findings are:
- Teachers are most interested in digital resources for ELA.
-  To help them integrate digital content into curriculum, teachers want hands-on, how-to, differentiated, and in-person professional development.
ASCD, & Overdrive. (2016). Digital content goes to school.  Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Growth mindset study

Students in poverty are less likely that others to have a growth mindset, but those who do can be more resilient to poverty's effects, a new study finds. But poor students studied by researchers were also less likely to have a growth mindset than their higher income peers, researchers found.
Dweck, C., Claro, S., & Paunesku, D. (2016). Growth mindset tempers the effects of poverty on academic achievement. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A.

Students who have a growth mindset are more likely to consider poor academic performance as a temporary setback that can be overcome, according to a recent study. The study's lead author looked at students' reactions to transitioning to high school by tracking their levels of the stress hormone cortisol. For most students it drops back down to normal levels a day later, but for some it stays high. These students remain fixated on the setback and have difficulty moving forward. A majority of these students—68 percent—experienced a drop in grades in the first semester and reported feeling stressed as a result. In how they handled that stress, two clear groups emerged. Students who believed that intelligence can be developed—a growth mindset—were more likely to see setbacks as temporary, and not only had lower overall cortisol levels but were able to return to lower levels shortly after a setback. Students who believed that intelligence is fixed, on the other hand, felt threatened by the setback and had trouble thinking about solutions.
Lee, H. et al. (2018).  An entity theory of intelligence predicts high cortisol levels when high school grades are declining. Child Development.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Testing devices research

A recent report summarized research about the impact of devices on students' online standardized testing performance. "Device effects" are a real threat to test-score comparability, the report concludes. From a practical standpoint, researchers say, the key to avoiding potential problems is to ensure that students have plenty of prior experience with whatever device they will ultimately use to take state tests.
Council of Chief State School Officers. (2016). Score Comparability Across Computerized Assessment Delivery Devices. Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Video use in education survey

A national survey found that 87% of K12 schools use video in the classroom, and 71% of classroom use video as part of student assignment. 43% of K12 schools integrate video into their learning management system. The optimum length for educational videos is 10 minutes or less.
Kaltura. (2016). The state of video in education. New York, NY: Kaltura.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Teenager characteristics research

This study's fact sheets present information about the percentages of high school students who engage in certain risk behaviors, along with the status of school health policies and programs designed to address those behaviors. The study debunks some long-held beliefs about teenagers. For example, researchers have found that teens feel vulnerable -- rather than invincible -- and that youths today are overall better behaved than teenagers have been in the past.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Adolescence and school health: Youth risk behavior surveillance system. Atlanta, GA: CDC.

Teenager characteristics research

This study's fact sheets present information about the percentages of high school students who engage in certain risk behaviors, along with the status of school health policies and programs designed to address those behaviors. The study debunks some long-held beliefs about teenagers. For example, researchers have found that teens feel vulnerable -- rather than invincible -- and that youths today are overall better behaved than teenagers have been in the past.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Adolescence and school health: Youth risk behavior surveillance system. Atlanta, GA: CDC.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Improving school climate in four areas (leadership and professional leadership, high academic expectations for students, teacher relationships and collaboration, and school safety and order. could help schools boost student achievement and reduce teacher turnover, according to a study of New York City schools. Data show improvements can lead to the equivalent of an extra month and a half of math instruction and reduce teacher turnover by 25%.
Krafct, M., & Marinell, W. (2016). School organizational contexts, teacher turnover, and student achievement.  New York, NY: Research Alliance for New York City Schools.

School use of digital technology survey

Sixty-two percent of school districts have digital content and curriculum in place -- up from 49% last year -- according to the Digital School Districts Survey, conducted by the Center for Digital Education and National School Boards Association. Data also show more progress in implementing one-to-one initiatives and in the use of technology among local school boards.
Schaffhauser, D. (2016). Survey shows schools hitting digital hard. THE Journal (March 31). 

Fiction/nonfiction debate

There is strong pressure for American schools to de-emphasize fiction and focus more on nonfiction, because of the belief that nonfiction provides more "academic" language. But studies suggest that fiction may be the bridge between everyday conversational language and academic language. Self-selected reading, which is largely fiction, provides us with the literacy development and background knowledge that makes demanding texts more comprehensible.  Studies also show that fiction exposes readers to other views of the world and increases the ability to deal with uncertainty, which is crucial for problem-solving. 
Krashen, S. 2015. The Great Fiction/Nonfiction Debate. (Published as: Fact or fiction? The plot thickens.) Language Magazine, 15(3): 22-27.  Available at: and

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Audiobook research

This paper reviews the literature on audio delivery of content to three participant groups: adolescents with visual impairments or learning disabilities, adolescent second language learners, and typically developing adolescents. Findings from the studies of audio delivery of content are mixed, and great variability in outcomes have been reported, depending on the characteristics of the groups studied. Numerous gaps exist in the research surrounding adolescents’ use of audiobooks, including examinations of the effectiveness of commercially produced audiobooks and explorations of adolescents’ listening preferences.
Moore, J., & Cahill, M.  (2016). Audiobooks: Legitimate ‘reading’ material for adolescents? School Library Research, 19.