Author Archives: Pedro

Educator Discussions That Avoid “The Problem”

“Educational leaders long ago worked out adequate techniques for dodging the issue.”

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

In 1942, Progressive educator Paul Diederich wrote “The Light Touch: 27 Ways to Run Away from an Educational Problem” for Progressive Education. He wrote this piece after being part of intense discussions with hundreds of teachers during summers in the late-1930s when the Eight Year Study was being implemented in 30 high schools across the nation.*

Like Diederich, I have participated in thousands of discussions with teachers, principals, superintendents, board of education members, researchers, and policymakers over my half-century in public school work. I might be able to add one or two but Diederich does a fine job, in my opinion. When I think of (and listen to) current debates about problems like inequality, racism, and poverty as they influence what techers do, how schools operate, and effects on students, I recall many times when I heard and saw school baord members, superintendents, principals, teachers, and parents engage in what…

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A new review study about Collaborative Problem Solving, still a lot to research

I found this new review study via Jeroen Janssen and it’s quite interesting as it tackles Collaborative Problem Solving and how much is already known about how to advance this. Spoiler: not that much, it seems, while it now is being measured e.g. by PISA.

But first what is it? That is already a bit more difficult question to answer, but I do think this description of what is needed makes it more clear:

…team members must be able to define the problem, understand who knows what on the team, identify gaps in what is known and what is required, integrate these to generate candidate solutions, and monitor progress in achieving the group goals. From the social perspective, the success of a team requires that members establish shared understanding, pursue joint and complementary actions, and coordinate their behavior in service of generating and evaluating solutions.

So what is (un)known? This overview at the end of the article with suggestions for further research, makes a lot more clear:

  1. CPS has been identified as an important skill in the international community and workforce, but recent assessments have revealed that students and adults have low CPS proficiency. This calls for an analysis of CPS mechanisms, frequent problems, and methods of solving these problems. Psychological scientists could play a major role in this broad effort by partnering with stakeholders.
  2. CPS is rarely trained in schools and the workforce, and the existing training is not informed by psychological science. This opens the door to the value of psychological scientists’ being part of national and international efforts drawing from their expertise in science, learning and training.
  3. Psychological scientists have developed a body of empirical research and theory of team science over the years, but much of this work has focused on group learning, work, memory, and decision making rather than CPS per se. We need to sort out how much of the existing research in team science applies to CPS. Psychological scientists are encouraged to direct their focus on CPS per se in the team science research landscape.
  4. Intelligent digital technologies have the potential to automatically analyze large samples of group interactions at multiple levels of language, discourse, and interactivity. This is landmark progress because existing research on teams has had small samples and time-consuming annotation of the interactions. There is a need for psychological scientists to partner with the developers of these technologies to recommend psychological characteristics to track and to scrutinize the validity of automated measures.
  5. A curriculum for training CPS competencies has not been developed and adequately tested. There is a need to develop a program of research on CPS curriculum design for both students and instructors. Psychological scientists are an important asset to generate potential curricula and to test their efficacies.

Abstract of the open access review:

Collaborative problem solving (CPS) has been receiving increasing international attention because much of the complex work in the modern world is performed by teams. However, systematic education and training on CPS is lacking for those entering and participating in the workforce. In 2015, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a global test of educational progress, documented the low levels of proficiency in CPS. This result not only underscores a significant societal need but also presents an important opportunity for psychological scientists to develop, adopt, and implement theory and empirical research on CPS and to work with educators and policy experts to improve training in CPS. This article offers some directions for psychological science to participate in the growing attention to CPS throughout the world. First, it identifies the existing theoretical frameworks and empirical research that focus on CPS. Second, it provides examples of how recent technologies can automate analyses of CPS processes and assessments so that substantially larger data sets can be analyzed and so students can receive immediate feedback on their CPS performance. Third, it identifies some challenges, debates, and uncertainties in creating an infrastructure for research, education, and training in CPS. CPS education and assessment are expected to improve when supported by larger data sets and theoretical frameworks that are informed by psychological science. This will require interdisciplinary efforts that include expertise in psychological science, education, assessment, intelligent digital technologies, and policy.

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Will the effect last? Math on a tablet helps low-performing second graders… for a while

There is a new Best Evidence in Brief with among others, this study that shows how important it can be to check the lasting effects of what you do.

Published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, Martin Hassler and colleagues carried out a randomized controlled trial of a mathematics intervention on tablets (iPads).
The trial involved 283 low-performing second graders spread across 27 urban schools in Sweden. The children were randomized to four groups:
  • A math intervention called Chasing Planets, consisting of 261 planets on a space map, each with a unique math exercise (addition or subtraction up to 12). Students practiced for 20 minutes a day.
  • The math intervention combined with working memory training, where students spent an additional 10 minutes each day on working memory tasks.
  • A placebo group who practiced mostly reading tasks on the tablet (again for 20 minutes each day), including Chasing Planets-Reading, which had a similar format to the math intervention.
  • A control group who received no intervention, not even on improving their skills on the tablets.
The intervention lasted for around 20 weeks, with children completing nine measures at pre- and post-test, and then after 6 and 12 months.
Both math conditions scored significantly higher (effect size = +0.53-0.67) than the control and placebo groups on the post-test of basic arithmetic, but not on measures of arithmetic transfer or problem solving. There was no additional benefit of the working memory training. The effects faded at the 6-month follow-up (effect size = +0.18-0.28) and even more so after 12 months (effect size = +0.03-0.13)
IQ was a significant moderator of direct and long-term effects, such that children with lower IQ benefited more than higher IQ students. Socioeconomic factors did not moderate outcomes.

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A very interesting debate on knowledge and 21st Century Learners

I was reminded of this debate today and is still very relevant:

With endless amounts of information available at the touch of a button or click of a cursor, too many of today’s students are operating with what E.D. Hirsch calls a knowledge deficit. Watch the Debate Chamber at GESF 2017 as the House argues that facts are the building blocks upon which critical thinking and personal development skills are established and the mastery of facts will ensure students are prepared to thrive in the 21st Century. @GESForum #GESF

Speakers:
Mr Nick Ferrari, Broadcaster & Journalist, Global Radio | Mr Nick Gibb, Minister of School Standards, Department for Education | Ms Daisy Christodoulou, Head of Assessment , Ark Schools | Mr Andreas Schleicher, Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills, OECD | Mr Gabriel Sanchez Zinny, Executive Director, Instituto Nacional de Educación Tecnológica Argentina

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How do teachers react in class to the Trump-presidency

The past 2 months I have been slowing down a bit on reading new research because too much work. Sorry for that. This study raises some interesting questions related to what people on the old continent would describe as pedagogy. Does a teacher need to political neutral in the classroom or not, and is being neutral an effective teaching tactic. Teaching in Trump times made teachers feeling immense pressure from school leaders and families to respond in a certain way — or not at all — in their classrooms.

From the press release:

“There were many teachers who said they wanted to talk with students about the election and related issues but were also afraid of backlash,” said Dunn, who conducted the nationwide questionnaire of more than 700 educators.

In the survey, some teachers said they felt election-related topics weren’t appropriate in schools or weren’t relevant to their subject. Others felt they shouldn’t, or couldn’t, share their political affiliations or feelings.

But the idea of neutrality, as this research indicates, doesn’t always work in schools, because “education is inherently political,” Dunn said.

She and her co-researchers argue that by remaining neutral, teachers are enacting the opposite of neutrality by “choosing to maintain the status quo and further marginalizing certain groups.”

Dunn and her colleagues, Hannah Carson Baggett of Auburn University and Beth Sondel of the University of Pittsburgh, say the election is just one example of a renewed call for all teachers to consider the ethics of neutrality in the classroom.

“Midterm voting and the impact of results are an opportunity for them to say, ‘I’m not going to be neutral,'” Dunn said. “Knowing what neutrality means, and how it can be a disservice to students and to themselves, teachers can think about how to adapt their curriculum leading up to and after the midterms and other major events.”

Dunn said many educators and administrators believe that because something is happening “outside of school,” it isn’t relevant in the classroom. But that mentality is an injustice, she argues, and undermines the fact that the classroom is part of the real world.

In a separate study using the same data, the scholars studied what teachers did – or didn’t do – in the days after the election. In that study, teachers reported their students were experiencing political trauma.

Abstract of the study:

Guided by perspectives on the sociopolitical contexts of schooling, control of teachers’ curriculum and instruction, and teaching of elections, we use findings from a national questionnaire to explore the contexts that shaped teachers’ pedagogical decision making following the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Our findings reveal that classroom, school, district, state, and national contexts often manifested in pressure from colleagues, parents, the administration, the district, and the public. This pressure is reflective of the lack of trust, autonomy, and professionalism for teachers in our current climate. The days immediately following the election revealed new understandings about teachers’ views on neutrality, opportunities for agency within control of teachers’ work, and a call for justice-oriented pedagogy. Implications for teacher education, practice, and research are discussed.

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Funny on Sunday: useful abbreviations for the time-pressed online reader

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by | November 25, 2018 · 7:42 am

The New Stupid Replaces the Old Stupid (Rick Hess)

Can’t believe this interview is almost 10 years old…

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

From an interview conducted in 2009 with Rick Hess, then Resident Scholar at The American Enterprise Institute. I have lightly abridged the interview. The original article upon which this interview is based is here.

Q: Rick, you recently published an article in Educational Leadership
arguing that the ways in which we rely on data to drive decisions in
schools has changed over time. Yet, you note that we have unfortunately only
succeeded in moving from the “old stupid” to the “new stupid.” What do you do
you mean by this?

A: A decade ago, it was only too easy to find education leaders who dismissed
student achievement data and systematic research as having only limited utility
when it came to improving schools. Today, we’ve come full circle. You can’t
spend a day at an education gathering without hearing excited claims about
“data-based decision making” and “research-based practice.” Yet these…

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Sad thing we still have to discuss this: spanking does more harm than good

It seems so obvious, but a new study confirms that spanking children is a bad idea and even harmful for children on a more global scale than previously known.

From the press release:

Most research on how spanking affects children has involved studying families in high-income countries, such as the United States and Canada, but less was known about how spanking affects children in low- and middle-income countries–or developing countries.

Spanking is one of the most common forms of child discipline used by parents worldwide.

The new international research used data collected by UNICEF in 62 countries–representing nearly one-third of the world’s countries–and demonstrated that caregivers’ reports of spanking were related to lower social development among 215,885 3- and 4-year-old children.

A parent or caregiver was asked in person if the child gets along well with other children; if the child hits, kicks or bites others; and if the child gets distracted easily. The question about spanking concerned the physical discipline used within the last month with the child or their sibling.

One-third of the respondents indicated they believed physical punishment is necessary to bring up, raise or educate a child properly. Among the children studied, 43 percent were spanked, or resided in a home where another child was spanked.

A child’s social development suffered in both cases in which he or she was spanked or during times when a sibling had been spanked, the study showed.

“It appears that in this sample … spanking may do more harm than good,” said Garrett Pace, the study’s lead author and a doctoral student of social work and sociology.

Pace also noted that “reductions in corporal punishment might do a great deal to reduce the burden of children’s mental health and improve child development outcomes globally.”

More effort to create policies that discourage spanking has occurred globally. In fact, 54 countries have banned the use of corporal punishment, which can only benefit children’s well-being long term, Pace and colleagues said.

Abstract of the study:

Spanking is one of the most common forms of child discipline used by parents around the world. Research on children in high-income countries has shown that parental spanking is associated with adverse child outcomes, yet less is known about how spanking is related to child well-being in low- and middle-income countries. This study uses data from 215,885 children in 62 countries from the fourth and fifth rounds of UNICEF’s Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) to examine the relationship between spanking and child well-being. In this large international sample which includes data from nearly one-third of the world’s countries, 43% of children were spanked, or resided in a household where another child was spanked, in the past month. Results from multilevel models show that reports of spanking of children in the household were associated with lower scores on a 3-item socioemotional development index among 3- and 4-year-old children. Country-level results from the multilevel model showed 59 countries (95%) had a negative relationship between spanking and socioemotional development and 3 countries (5%) had a null relationship. Spanking was not associated with higher socioemotional development for children in any country. While the cross-sectional association between spanking and socioemotional development is small, findings suggest that spanking may be harmful for children on a more global scale than was previously known.

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Very interesting and relevant talk by Robert A. Bjork on learning, memory and forgetting (and how bad we are in judging effective learning)

H/T to @triciatailored

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Funny on Sunday: academic translator to help you interpret academic speak

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