A Fairy Tale Reform

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Once upon a time, there was much unemployment, poverty, and homelessness across our land. Leaders tried one thing after another to end these grim conditions. Nothing worked.

In the midst of these bad times, however, a small group of educators, upset over what our youth were learning in high schools decided to take action.

Schools were dull places. Students listened to teachers, read books, and took exams. Schools were supposed to prepare students for life but much of what they studied they forgot after graduating. Worse yet, what they had learned in school did not prepare them to face the problems of life, think clearly, be creative, or fulfill their civic duties. Complaints to school officials got the same answer repeatedly: little could be done because college entrance requirements determined what courses students took in high school.

So to give high schools the freedom to try new ways of schooling…

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This is nice: The story of music is the story of humans and bringing humans together

From experience to meaning...

A new article discusses how music arose and developed. When I first saw the press release, I surely hoped the article would be open access. And great news: it is.

You can read the full article here, but the press release will give you already some idea:

How did music begin? Did our early ancestors first start by beating things together to create rhythm, or use their voices to sing? What types of instruments did they use? Has music always been important in human society, and if so, why? These are some of the questions explored in a recent Hypothesis and Theory article published in Frontiers in Sociology. The answers reveal that the story of music is, in many ways, the story of humans.

So, what is music? This is difficult to answer, as everyone has their own idea. “Sound that conveys emotion,” is what Jeremy Montagu…

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New article by Paul Kirschner & me: The myths of the digital native and the multitasker

From experience to meaning...

Paul Kirschner and yours truly just got a new article published in Teaching and Teacher Education on 2 common myths in education: the digital native and the multitasker. You can read it for free here (until Aug. 4)

The highlights:

  • Information-savvy digital natives do not exist.
  • Learners cannot multitask; they task switch which negatively impacts learning.
  • Educational design assuming these myths hinders rather than helps learning.

The abstract of our paper:

Current discussions about educational policy and practice are often embedded in a mind-set that considers students who were born in an age of omnipresent digital media to be fundamentally different from previous generations of students. These students have been labelled digital natives and have been ascribed the ability to cognitively process multiple sources of information simultaneously (i.e., they can multitask). As a result of this thinking, they are seen by teachers, educational administrators, politicians/policy makers, and…

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Best Evidence in Brief: Children with ADHD more likely to have language problems

From experience to meaning...

There is a new Best Evidence in Brief and while I skipped the previous one because the mentioned research was less interesting to my personal taste, this time there is a lot to choose from.

I picked this one first:

Children with Attention-Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can have trouble with hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattention, and distractibility, all of which can affect language and communication and can lead to low academic performance and antisocial behavior.

A systematic review published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry seeks to establish the types of language problems children with ADHD experience in order to inform future research into how these language problems contribute to long-term outcomes for children with ADHD.

Hannah Korrel and colleagues examined the last 35 years of ADHD research and identified 21 studies using 17 language measures, which included more than 2,000 participants (ADHD children = 1,209; non-ADHD children =1,101) for…

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Microlearning – A New Old Concept to Put Out to Pasture

Mirjam Neelen & Paul A. Kirschner

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Microlearning looks like the new hipster term in the workplace. We’re not sure when it became so cool but what we do know is that it isn’t new. If we look at the research, it all started with ‘VTR: In-Service Tool for Improving Instruction’ by Attea (for the youngsters: VTR = video tape recorder) written in 1970 to help teachers improve their lessons. He used the term microlearning so we can conclude that it has been around for almost half a century. He writes:

The VTR was used as a tool through which teachers could analyse their classroom behaviour via the micro-teaching technique. This technique has a teacher present a brief lesson to a small group of students from five to ten minutes, concentrating on the implementation of a specified teaching skill such as questioning. After teaching the abbreviated sequence, the teaching process is…

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Is our brain too complex for simple tests?

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This new paper featured this month in a special edition of Neuron states an interesting thesis: most tasks we use today to test the brain are too simple.

From the press release:

Xaq Pitkow and Dora Angelaki, both faculty members in Baylor’s Department of Neuroscience and Rice’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said the brain’s ability to perform “approximate probabilistic inference” cannot be truly studied with simple tasks that are “ill-suited to expose the inferential computations that make the brain special.”

A new article by the researchers suggests the brain uses nonlinear message-passing between connected, redundant populations of neurons that draw upon a probabilistic model of the world. That model, coarsely passed down via evolution and refined through learning, simplifies decision-making based on general concepts and its particular biases.

The article, which lays out a broad research agenda for neuroscience, is featured this month in a special edition…

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Oh, oh mindset? Association between academic achievement/mindset might be weaker than previously thought

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I found this new study published in Personality and Individual Differences via Tommy Opgenhaffen and to my opinion it’s not a nail in the coffin of mindset-theory imho, but it does warrant for some precaution.

What does the new research say in short:

  • They measured the mindset of 5653 university applicants taking a scholastic aptitude test.
  • Growth mindset was not positively associated with results of the test.
  • Mindset did not predict change of the results for those who retook the test.
  • Mindset did not predict participation in a future administration of the test.
  • Mindset did not predict the total number of tests taken.

Why am I not saying that this debunks the mindset-theory? Well, because it’s a precise group of respondents, maybe mindset still works for younger children?

Abstract of the study:

Implicit theories of intelligence have been proposed to predict a large number of different outcomes in education…

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