Let us tell you a story

3-Star learning experiences

Paul A. Kirschner & Mirjam Neelen

Learning strategies that have a high risk of being ineffective, are usually the ones learners prefer. We say, ‘have a high risk of being ineffective’, because the learning strategies we’re referring to, such as highlighting and summarising, are not necessarily ineffective. It’s the way learners apply them that often makes them useless (see our blog ‘Why some things don’t work and how we can make them work’).

Often, learners think they’ll remember more of something that they’re reading when they reread or highlight while reading it. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. To study effectively, and by this we mean studying in such a way that you’re able to remember and apply/use what you’ve learned a day, a week, a month, a year later, you need to use better learning strategies.

The question that arises is, then: How can we support and guide learners…

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How poor children are often hurt twice by teacher shortages

From experience to meaning...

Primary schools with vulnerable children are hit harder by the teacher shortage, according to an analysis of Flemish school data by Kristof De Witte and KU Leuven colleagues. This will surprise only a few people, as we’ve seen this to be the case in many countries and regions. Such schools are more common in an urban context, where the teacher shortage is already higher anyway, and teachers sometimes just can pick where to work because of the shortage.

That this does not help equal opportunities should not be surprising either. In this way, these children are taught less on average than other children, while they would benefit twice as much from this time with a teacher.

But there is more to it than that if we look at what education research currently says has the highest learning effect: collective teacher efficacy. This concept, coined by American-Canadian psychologist Albert Bandura in…

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2/3 of the world’s youth do not reach basic skill levels

From experience to meaning...

There is a new alarming working NBER paper by Gust, Woessmann and Hanushek about the current state of development of young people in the world:

How far is the world away from ensuring that every child obtains the basic skills needed to be internationally competitive? And what would accomplishing this mean for world development? Based on the micro data of international and regional achievement tests, we map achievement onto a common (PISA) scale. We then estimate the share of children not achieving basic skills for 159 countries that cover 98.1% of world population and 99.4% of world GDP. We find that at least two-thirds of the world’s youth do not reach basic skill levels, ranging from 24% in North America to 89% in South Asia and 94% in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our economic analysis suggests that the present value of lost world economic output due to missing the goal of global…

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Dear students take note: strategic self-control may beat pure willpower (probably)

From experience to meaning...

This study can have huge practical consequences for everyday life:

In two surveys of nearly 20,000 high schoolers, students who reported using at least one self-control strategy — such as turning off their phone — tended to spend more time practicing for the SAT and had higher SAT scores than students who relied purely on willpower.

While this insight seems relevant, note that even from this short description, you can notice two of the limitations: correlation and self-reporting. But let’s have a further look. Less clear from this short description is one of the stronger elements: the authors also did their own pre-registered replication!

From the press release:

In two surveys of nearly 20,000 high schoolers, students who reported using at least one self-control strategy — such as turning off their phone — tended to spend more time practicing for the SAT and had higher SAT scores than students…

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Helping children become more ‘digitally resilient’ needs to be a collective effort

From experience to meaning...

For anybody who has learned about the system theory by Bronfenbrenner, this will not come as a surprise:

Helping children become more ‘digitally resilient’ needs to be a collective effort if they are to learn how to “thrive online,” according to new research led by the University of East Anglia.

From the press release:

Digital resilience is the capability to learn how to recognise, manage and recover from online risks — such as bullying and inappropriate content — and has the potential to buffer how these experiences may impact young people’s wellbeing. Until now, research has not examined how digital resilience can be built and shown by children beyond focusing on the individual child.

This new study argues that activating digital resilience needs to be undertaken as a “collective endeavour,” involving the child, their parents/carers within home environments, youth workers, teachers, and schools at a community level, along with…

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Replication in educational science? Things are getting very slightly better (but it’s still very bad))

From experience to meaning...

In 2014 Makel en Plucker found out that less than 1% of the studies published in the top journals for education research were replication studies. Did things get better afterwards? This is what Perry, Morris & Lea tried to find out. And the answer is yes, but very, very, very slightly.

Publication YearTotal publicationsReplication studiesDirect Replications
Freq.Freq.%Freq.%
201118,534240.1380.04
201219,814270.1480.04
201320,110290.1480.04
201420,009390.19130.06
201520,189430.2170.03
201621,870430.20130.06
201722,285430.19170.08
201823,542520.22230.10
201929,355610.21210.07
202030,336810.27270.09
Total226,0444420.201450.06

No really:

This just ain’t good. Psychology as a science has gone through a large self-correcting replication crisis…

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“Dear Sweden: Let Me Tell You What a School Is”—It is Not a Business

Diane Ravitch's blog

Filippa Mannerheim is a Swedish high school teacher and a critic of Sweden’s experiment in school privatization.

She writes.

Dear Sweden, let me tell you what a school is.

A school educates and dares and can demand effort. Sweden has forgotten what a school is. High school teacher Filippa Mannerheim gives a lesson to a country that has lost its grip.

Dear Sweden, since you seem to have completely lost your composure, here is a short, educational guide to help you along in your confused state.

Sweden, let me tell you what school is: A school is an academic place for knowledge and learning. A school is the nation’s most important educational institution with the aim of equipping the country’s young citizens with knowledge and abilities, so that they can develop into free and independent individuals, protect the country’s democratic foundations and with knowledge and skills contribute to the country’s…

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Effect sizes and meta-analyses: How to interpret the “evidence” in evidence-based

3-Star learning experiences

Paul A. Kirschner & Mirjam Neelen

Kripa Sundar and Pooja Agarwal have published a guide to understanding meta-analyses and meta-meta-analyses.

Wikipedia defines a meta-analysis as:

a statistical analysis that combines the results of multiple scientific studies. Meta-analyses can be performed when there are multiple scientific studies addressing the same question, with each individual study reporting measurements that are expected to have some degree of error. The aim then is to use approaches from statistics to derive a pooled estimate closest to the unknown common truth based on how this error is perceived. Meta-analytic results are considered the most trustworthy source of evidence by the evidence-based medicine literature.

Not only can meta-analyses provide an estimate of the unknown effect size, it also has the capacity to contrast results from different studies and identify patterns among study results, sources of disagreement among those results, or other interesting relationships that may come to…

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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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