Some skills needed for literacy may be developed in infancy: complex babble linked with better reading

From experience to meaning...

A study published in PLOSOne is again something rather nice to know than showing us something new to do, infants capable of complex babble may grow into stronger readers, except it may help us in a future to identify reading disabilities at an early age.

From the press release:

Infants’ early speech production may predict their later literacy, according to a study published October 10, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Kelly Farquharson from Florida State University and colleagues.

Children with difficulties in identifying letters are more likely to develop reading impairments, but such difficulties cannot be uncovered until the child is 3 to 5 years old. The authors of the present study investigated whether assessing language ability even earlier, by measuring speech complexity in infancy, might predict later difficulties.

The authors tracked nine infants from English-speaking US families between the ages of 9 and 30 months…

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How much English do non-english children learn outside the classroom?

From experience to meaning...

This morning my colleague Vanessa De Wilde shared her first soon to be published scientific paper with me and I like to share the insights here too as they can be relevant to other people too. The study is soon to be published in Bilingualism: Language and Cognition and was co-authored by Marc Brysbaert and June Eyckmans.

I first want to share with you the abstract as it already summarizes the study clearly:

In this study we examined the level of English proficiency children can obtain through out-of- school exposure in informal contexts prior to English classroom instruction. The second aim was to determine the input types that fuel children’s informal language acquisition. Language learning was investigated in 780 Dutch-speaking children (aged 10-12), who were tested on their English receptive vocabulary knowledge, listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. Information about learner characteristics and out-of-school English exposure was gathered using questionnaires…

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Can rationality be enhanced through education?

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Short answer: yes! This is an interesting study but with also an element of frustration. The study ticks many boxes (Randomized controlled trial, big sample,…) and it has clear results. So what’s to complain? Well, the why. How education enhances rationality? But I can live with this frustration as the researchers have found something very relevant – and because there are some theories about that why-question. Oh, and how would this affect boys as the study is only conducted with girls?

From  the press release:

There has been interest across behavioral and social sciences – including psychology, economics and education – in whether people are born to be rational decision-makers or if rationality can be enhanced through education.

Published in Science, a new study led by Hyuncheol Bryant Kim, assistant professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell University, found that education can be leveraged to help enhance…

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Yes, retrieval and testing does work, but what limits the effect? Insights from a new meta-analysis

From experience to meaning...

A new meta-analysis does confirm memory retrieval can be beneficial for learning, but also shows there are limits:

  • the frequency and difficulty of questions.
  • Simply asking a question is not enough; students must respond to see a positive effect on learning

Probably you now want to know how much is too much? Well, you’re in for a bit of a disappointment I’m afraid, as you can learn from the press release which explains it better than the original paper imho:

“Frequency is a critical factor. There appears to be a trade-off in how often you test students,” Chan said. “If I lecture nonstop throughout class, this lessens their ability to learn the material. However, too many questions, too often, can have a detrimental effect, but we don’t yet know exactly why that happens or how many questions is too many.”

The answer to that question may depend on the length…

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Nothing new: personalized education (but does the article add something new?)

From experience to meaning...

Nihil sub sole novum, we may think the idea of personalized education is new, although defenders of the idea such as Zuckerberg and Gates often refer to a study by Benjamin Bloom from decades ago. But in a new paper published in Nature David Dockterman argues that the idea is even much older than that. But if that’s the case, why didn’t it catch on and even more important: why would it now?

The article pleas for a new kind of pedagogy – and of course that got me triggered – but than seems to fall in many mistakes other people thinking about reform in education have done before by not being critical enough towards both the need for personalization and possible consequences. Biesta describes three tasks of education: the personal development, qualification and socialization. The author does mention something similar by stating

It isn’t enough to scale an instructional…

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Interleaving: Variety is the Spice of Learning

3-Star learning experiences

Paul A. Kirschner & Mirjam Neelen

interleaving 1

Last year, we wrote a blog on spaced learning and right before summer, we published one on retrieval practice. Both strategies are proven to be very effective for learning. There’s a third one that falls into the ‘effective learning strategy’ category –it’s evidence-informed – and that’s interleaving. And, no surprise probably, that’s what this blog is about. 😊

Two scenarios to paint the picture; one in an educational context, one in a workplace context.

interleaving 2Education – You, as the teacher, have taught a lesson or given your students a piece of text that they need to learn. Hopefully, they’ve learned the content of the lesson or the text and now they’re ready for the next step: practice. What we usually see is what we call ‘crammed practice’ or ‘massed practice’, meaning that students practice something repeatedly until they know it or until get…

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What if this study is correct and believing in neuromyths doesn’t matter?

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There is a new interesting study published in Frontiers on how the believe in neuromyths doesn’t seem to matter as the best teachers believe as much in neuromyths as regular teachers. You can check the study here and read a good analysis by Christian Jarrett at BPS Digest here. Ok, I want to add maybe just one thing to the analysis. The researchers picked teachers that were selected as winners of best teacher elections. The authors acknowledge this is a weak spot, as we don’t know how those teachers were selected. If you read the new book by Dylan William, you will discover how it’s almost impossible to find out which teachers are actually really good or which ones are doing a bad job. It’s hard to observe the difference between a bad teacher having a good day and a great teacher having a bad day.

It may…

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