Putting evidence to work

Evidence into Practice

With the resurgence of interest in evidence-based research in education, whether arising from randomised controlled trials conducted in classrooms or from cognitive science, there’s an on-going question about how we can get this evidence into the hands of the people who can best make use of it: Teachers. This issue, sometimes called the knowledge mobilisation problem, was the topic of a recent piece of research conducted by Teach First.

Putting Evidence to Work’ involved interviews and consultations with a range of academics, researchers and practitioners from education, psychology and related fields. I was really struck by the sheer generosity with which our respondents gave up their time to contribute to our thinking; so I’d like to say a big public ‘thank you’ to all of them:

Becky Allen, Tom Bennett, Daisy Christodoulou, Rob Coe, Kevan Collins, Philippa Cordingley, Caroline Creaby, Becky Francis, Ben Goldacre, Jonathan Haslam, Jennifer van Heerde-Hudson…

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Where Are the Learning Sciences in Learning Analytics Research?

3-Star learning experiences


Mirjam Neelen & Paul A. Kirschner

In his LAK 2016keynote in Edinburgh Paul Kirschner answered the question ‘What do the learning sciences have to do with learning analytics (LA)?’ with a firm: ‘Just about everything!’ He also noted that in most LA projects and studies, the learning scientist and learning theories are conspicuously absent, which often lead – in his words – to dystopian futures.

The trigger to write this blog was far and foremost a statement that Bart Rienties made in his keynote at EARLI17 (summary and slides here), in which he said that research shows that learning design[1] (LD) has a strong impact on learner behaviour, satisfaction, and performance. This, in itself, isn’t earth shocking for us (we’d expect effective LD; that is LD based on evidence from learning sciences, to positively impact learning and ineffective LD to harm it). However, it’s of tantamount…

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October 17, 2017 · 6:58 pm

“The Dance of Ideology” (Charles Payne)

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

A sociologist from the University of Chicago, Charles Payne has taught and worked in urban schools for decades. Based upon his work in Chicago schools and many experiences in urban districts, Payne authored So Much Reform, So Little Change (2008). In the following excerpt from that book, Payne distills the basic assumptions that drive school reformers (including educators) from both the political left and right. He believes that the history of urban school reform and the current context calls for rethinking both sets of ideas in trying to improve big city schools.

…For progressives, [their] ideas include the following Holy Postulates:

  1. Thou Shalt Never Criticize the Poor. It is okay to imply that the poor have agency but agency only to do good. If the poor do anything that’s counterproductive, it is only because of the inexorable weight of oppression, which leaves them no choice. We do not talk about…

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Reducing racial bias in children (for 2 months)

From experience to meaning...

A new study with young children shows a technique to reduce racial bias in young children (4 to 6 year olds), well the key element is repetition.

From the press release:

We tend to see people we’re biased against as all the same. They are “those people.” Instead of thinking of them as specific individuals, we lump them into a group. Now an international team of researchers suggests that one way to reduce racial bias in young children is by teaching them to distinguish among faces of a different race.

The study, published in the journal Child Development, is the first to show a lasting effect – and in kids young enough to not be too set in their ways.

It is co-authored by researchers from the University of California San Diego, the University of Toronto, the University of Delaware, l’Université Grenoble Alpes in France, and Hangzhou Normal University…

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Modern speedreading apps don’t help comprehension

From experience to meaning...

Do you know Tsundoku? It’s a Japanese word to describe the pile of books that lays beside your bed that you should read. It is acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one’s home without reading them. If only you could read a bit faster, maybe that could help?

I’m sorry, but the answer seems to be ‘no’ as this new study by Acklin and Papesh shows:

Despite the claims of companies marketing speed-reading tools (e.g., Spritz), our results clearly demonstrated comprehension deficits after rapid presentation of text passages. Consistent with pre- vious research (e.g., Juola et al., 1982), RSVP text presentation led to comprehension scores well be- low those obtained after static reading, regardless of whether the presentation rate was 700 or 1,000 wpm.

The test group wasn’t that big, as forty-two undergraduate psychology students from Louisiana State University with a mean age of 20 years (SD =…

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A Plea for Nuanced Conversations to Improve L&D Practices

3-Star learning experiences

Mirjam Neelen

Let’s start with a quote: “Successful training is not a one-time event but an iterative process that considers the elements leading up to training as well as important factors after training” (Salas, Tannenbaum, Kraiger, & Smith-Jentsch, 2012, p 78).

This quote is from their meta-analysis of the science of training and development in organisations. I feel it’s important because it provides a nuanced picture of what training is. Their article in combination with a discussion initiated by Maaike Endedijk on LinkedIn on the 702010 model, sparked the idea for this blog. On Wednesday 4 October she has delivered a key note at HRD Werkvelddag on the benefits and drawbacks of the 702010 model and she asked for input.

Now, I think we all understand at this point that the numbers of the 702010 framework itself are not so important (they seemed important when it was first popularised by

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Didactics versus pedagogy, a personal note

From experience to meaning...

I’m attending ResearchED NY at the moment and during a discussion something popped up that I never noticed before. People were using pedagogy and didactics as almost synonyms. They aren’t.

If you do a Google check on the differences, you’ll get a lot of different possible distinctions. The distinction I learned at university way too long ago is the following:

  • pedagogy is the biggest of the two as it covers the why and how of education, but also talks and thinks about the curriculum, the values, the visions on education, etc. Pedagogy can therefor be more philosophical by moments.
  • didactics focuses on the how. It’s more mechanic, often easier to research.

When I talked with John Hattie a while ago when we discussed inclusive education, he only said something about the learning effect. This was a rather didactical answer. The discussion about inclusive education is more pedagogical than purely didactical.

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