Category Archives: personal

Are extracurricular activities for preschoolers worthwhile?

Best Evidence in Brief Index

By Winnie Tam, Centre for University and School Partnership, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

In China, preparing children for primary school has been recognized as one of the motives to enroll preschoolers in organized extracurricular activities (EA). A longitudinal study recently published in Journal of School Psychology investigated the associations between EA participation and various school readiness outcomes for Chinese preschoolers.

A total of 345 children (age 3-4 at T1) enrolled in 12 public preschools from middle-class families in urban Shanghai provided data on EA participation. Parents completed questionnaires about their children’s EA participation at three time points (T1=November 2017; T2= November 2018; T3=May 2019). At T1, assessment was conducted to obtain children’s baseline development. At T3 children’s school readiness skill outcomes, including receptive vocabulary, Chinese reading, expressive language, and early math skills were measured. Parents reported their children’s social-emotional development. EA participation was assessed in two scales, breadth…

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Order of instruction

Best Evidence in Brief Index

By Justin Hill, Johns Hopkins University

A recent meta-analysis performed by Tanmay Sinha and Manu Kapur utilized 53 studies from around the world comparing the order of instruction for a range of learners, primarily focused on 2nd graders through undergraduate students.  The focus of the meta-analysis was to investigate outcomes for students exposed to learning that introduces problem solving prior to instruction (PS-I) compared with students exposed to learning that introduces instruction prior to problem solving (I-PS).  Arguments in favor of PS-I designs emphasize the acquisition of higher-order thinking skills developed by allowing students to grapple with concepts they have not yet formally studied, while arguments supporting I-PS designs suggest that direct instruction is needed to enable students to focus on the most important aspects of the material.  Within the broader category of PS-I designs, the authors were also interested in the effects of productive failure (PF), where the…

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How Professors Teach

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Jonathan Zimmerman’s Amateur Hour (a great title) documents how college professors have taught over the past two centuries. It is a worthwhile read for those who have experienced the full range of university teaching from packed lecture halls to wood-paneled seminar rooms. And it got me thinking of my experiences in college and university classrooms over many years. I have forgotten most of my professors’s names as I collected degrees except for a handful who have had a large influence upon me as both a student and human being.

Since I was a high school history teacher for many years before becoming a professor, I prized teaching before scholarship. Sure both are important, but my previous experiences as a graduate student made me very aware of the startling variation in university teaching as I stumbled through a Masters degree and doctorate. Here is one story about professors teaching that…

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What Bob Slavin Would Want Us To Remember

Robert Slavin's Blog

“There is much technique to master in creating educational programs, evaluating them, and fairly summarizing their effects. There is even more technique in implementing proven programs in schools and classrooms, and in creating policies to support use of proven programs. We must care about technique because we care about children. All of us go into education to solve real problems in real classrooms. That’s the structure we are all building together over many years. None of us will live to see our structure completed, because education keeps growing in techniques and capability. But it’s useful to stop from time to time and remember why we do what we do, and for whom.”

-Bob Slavin

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Launching ProvenTutoring

Robert Slavin's Blog

Today, my colleagues and I are launching The purpose of this website is to help make certain that the opportunities made available by the American Rescue Plan and other funding actually have their intended impact on the school success of America’s children.

Websites are launched every day. Why is this one special? introduces the ProvenTutoring Coalition, a collaboration among 14 established tutoring programs, each of which has strong evidence of its effectiveness. Together, we are capable of disseminating proven tutoring on an unprecedented scale. Collectively, our goal is to serve 100,000 tutors throughout the U.S. with top-quality materials, software, and professional development. These 100,000 tutors, some working one-to-one and some one-to-small group (up to one to five), should be able to provide proven tutoring services to about four million children each year. Each of us has prepared ambitious scale-up plans to accomplish this. We can create the…

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Lessons for Educational Research from the COVID-19 Vaccines

Robert Slavin's Blog

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 130 biotech companies have launched major efforts to develop and test vaccines. Only four have been approved so far (Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca). Among the others, many have outright failed, and others are considered highly unlikely. Some of the failed vaccines are small, fringe companies, but they also include some of the largest and most successful drug companies in the world: Merck (U.S.), Glaxo-Smith-Kline (U.K.), and Sanofi (France).

Kamala Harris gets her vaccine.

Photo courtesy of NIH

If no further companies succeed, the score is something like 4 successes and 126 failures.  Based on this, is the COVID vaccine a triumph of science, or a failure? Obviously, if you believe that even one of the successful programs is truly effective, you would have to agree that this is one of the most extraordinary successes in the history of…

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Let’s Get to Work with Productive Learning Strategies: Mapping

3-Star learning experiences

Paul A. Kirschner, Mirjam Neelen, Tine Hoof & Tim Surma

This blog is the second one in a series of eight blogs, originally written by Tine Hoof, Tim Surma & Paul Kirschner, and published on

In 2015, Richard Mayer and Logan Fiorella published their book ‘Learning as a Generative Activity’ describing eight generative learning strategies. They’re called generative (also productive) because they allow/force learners to ‘remould’ the subject matter and based on that, create their own output, such as a summary or a drawing. In other words, as a learner, you generate/produce something yourself based on and that goes further than what you’ve learned. In addition to mapping,  Mayer and Fiorella also discuss summarising, drawing, imagining, self-testing, self-explaining, teaching, and enacting.

Each strategy prompts learners to apply Mayer’s Selection, Organising, and Integrating (SOI) memory model. These strategies ensure that the learner engages with the new subject matter in…

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A Few Thoughts about Classroom Technology Then and Now

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Two decades ago, research I had done on schools and classrooms in Silicon Valley during the 1990s was published as Oversold and Underused: Computers in Classrooms.  In 2018, The Flight of a Butterfly or Path of a Bullet, another book researching 41 exemplary Silicon Valley teachers who had integrated technology appeared. Since then, I have visited many classrooms where teachers used electronic devices seamlessly in lessons until the pandemic hit. Then remote instruction became the primary medium of teaching and learning.

What similarities and differences do I see between the two periods of intense activity in gettinghardware and software into schools and classrooms?

The similarities are easy to list.

*At both times, policy elites including donors and computer companies urged districts and schools to get desktops and laptops into classroom teachers’ and students’ hands.

The hype then and now promised that students would learn more, faster, and better…

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Prioritize Tutoring for Low-Achieving Readers

Robert Slavin's Blog

In speaking and writing about tutoring, I am often asked about where limited tutoring resources should be concentrated. My answer is this: “Make certain that every single child in America who needs it gets enough tutoring to be proficient in phonics. All other priorities are tied for second place.”

There are many pragmatic reasons why early reading should be the focus. First, the largest number of proven tutoring programs focus on grades K-2 or K-3 reading, and these programs tend to have spectacular impacts on measures of reading comprehension as well as phonics. Second, reading is fundamental. Very few students end up in special education, or are held back in grade, due to failure in any other subject, for example. Most other subjects depend on reading, of course. But also, a student’s academic self-esteem depends primarily on his or her self-perception as a reader.

Note that “early reading” in this…

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The History of the Future of Education (Audrey Watters)

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

From Audrey Watters’s self-description:

I am an education writer, an independent scholar, a serial dropout, a rabble-rouser, and ed-tech’s Cassandra.

“It’s a long story,” I often say. You can catch snippets of it, if you pay attention. I’ve got aCVif you care about such formalities. And I wrote an FAQ if that helps.

I love science fiction, tattoos, and, some days, computer technologies. I loathe mushy foods and romantic comedies. I’m not ashamed to admit I like ABBA and dislike Tolkien. I am somewhat ashamed to admit I’ve not finished Ulysses, and I’ve never even started Infinite Jest. I prefer cake to pie, unless we’re talking pastry projectiles. I pick fights on the Internet. I’m a high school dropout and a PhD dropout. I have a Master’s degree in Folklore and was once considered the academic expert on political pie-throwing. I was (I am?) a widow. I’m…

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