Friday, May 31, 2019

Learning Style Limitations

Tailoring instruction to the way students say they prefer to learn does not improve outcomes, according to a study by researchers at the University of Michigan that calls into question the relevance of learning styles. Instead, educators should focus on using best practices in the classroom.
Nancekevell, S., Shah, P., & Gelman, S. (2019, May). Maybe they’re born with it, or  maybe it’s experience: Toward a deeper understanding of the learning style myth. Journal of Educational Psychology.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Social-Emotional Learning Perspectives

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which students develop interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies. This report presents findings from teachers and principals surveyed. These educators addressed questions about the importance and value of SEL in schools, their approaches to promoting and measuring SEL, and their opinions regarding supports for improving SEL. The findings should be useful to developers of SEL-related resources and to researchers, policymakers, and practitioners.
Key Findings
  • Large majorities of principals described SEL as a top priority.
  • Most educators rated a wide range of SEL skills as important; teachers tended to assign greater importance to SEL skills.
  • Educators believed that SEL programs can improve student outcomes and school climate.
  • Elementary educators tended to use programs and curricula; secondary school educators tended to use informal practices.
  • Educators reported using a variety of strategies; positive behavior systems and trauma-informed practices were common.
  • Majorities of educators reported receiving SEL training and that schools measured SEL.
  • Many educators reported that having more time would improve their school's ability to address SEL. 
Hamilton, L., Doss, C., & Steiner, E. (2019).Teacher and principal perspectives on social and emotional learning in America's schools. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.

Teachers unprepared to work with students having disabilities

Only 30% of general-education teachers feel "strongly" that they can successfully support students with learning disabilities, according to a recent survey by  About one-third of teachers surveyed said they have not received professional development on teaching students with special needs.
Forward together: Helping educators unlock the power students who learn differently. (2019).
National Center for Learning Disabilities and

The findings square with the conclusions of a survey conducted earlier this year. That survey found that special education teachers are concerned about the ability of general education teachers and supervisors to work with students who have disabilities. Of the special education teachers who participated in the 's survey, fewer than 15 percent thought their general education colleagues were highly prepared to work with students with disabilities. Both sets of teachers felt they weren't given ample time to plan with peers and had questions about their ability to co-teach with colleagues.
Survey: Ground-Level Perspectives on Special Education. (2019). Arlington, VA: Council for Exceptional Children.

The two surveys do highlight a key difference in how special education and general education teachers view IEPs: the special education teachers see the individualized education plans as essential documents that play a large role in determining student and teacher success; their general education colleagues are more likely view IEPs as mere paperwork. Of the general education teachers who participated in the National Center for Learning Disabilities and Understood survey, just 56 percent of teachers believed IEPs provide value to students, and just 38 percent believe IEPs improve their teaching.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Teen brain development

According to a new study, one in 4 Americans is a teenager or young adult, and the period represents some of the greatest peril and promise of their lives. Supports or inequities in adolescence are particularly likely to "get under the skin" of adolescents developing who they will be as adults. Emerging research identified adolescence and young adulthood—the period roughly from ages 10 to 24—as a second "critical window" of brain development after the early years. During this time, students become better at social learning, pattern recognition, and more responsive to changes in school and academic climates. Teenagers have been found to gain or lose as many as 20 IQ points during this period, making testing potentially less valid at the exact time it is used for critical decisions about their educational trajectory. Math or reading gender gaps can close or even flip. Teenagers' brain malleability, the research committee found, means that interventions during secondary school can help students overcome trauma or adversity in their early life. But adolescents also become increasingly aware of and damaged by bias, stereotypes, and institutional or social inequities, the report found, which can create "missed opportunities" for learning and becoming more resilient. Instructional interventions considered effective with younger students can suddenly backfire, and adolescents also have the greatest risk for developing mental illnesses or becoming involved in the justice system.