15 December 2014

Items to Share; 14 December 2014

Education Focus
  • The Growth Mindset : Telling Penguins to Flap Harder ? | Disappointed Idealist 'My objection is to the way in which Dweck’s conclusions are rapidly metamorphosing into something completely different, and thus reinforcing the set of existing bonkers principles which are largely shaping education policy. Dweck’s well-meaning and perfectly reasonable research may well end up producing toxic outcomes if we don’t nip it in the bud.'
  • Colour coded self-assessment | Teaching: Leading Learning 'this term I have been working with colleagues from Maths and Languages on using self-assessment to improve redrafting. The concept is based on [...] the principles of improving work over time through specific feedback. This is best encapsulated by his famous “Austin’s Butterfly” example – mandatory viewing for all teachers! Just in case you haven’t seen it...'  

  • Donald Clark Plan B: VR is a medium not a gadget: 7 learning principles that work in VR 'Virtual Reality is a medium not a gadget; but how appropriate is it for education and training? I’ve spent a lifetime using technology in learning but am no technological determinist. [...] However, the first time I tried an Oculus Rift, it blew my mind, not just with its total immersion but its possibilities in learning. Before we get carried away with the sheer joy of the toy, what does the psychology of learning tell us about VR?' 
Other Business
  • Science News Fail: How NOT to Illustrate Your Story » Sociological Images 'Mainstream media outlets such as the Today Show, Marie Claire, and Huffington Post have been reporting on a new scientific study that claims “women talk more than men.” These media outlets report there’s new “biological evidence to support the idea that women are more talkative than men.' [...] Not quite!

08 December 2014

Items to Share: 7 December 2014

Education Focus
  • Is the Feedback Your'e Giving Students Helping or Hindering? | Learning Sciences Dylan Wiliam Center 'In 38% of well-designed studies, feedback actually made performance worse—one of the most counterintuitive results in all of psychology. [...] If there’s a single principle teachers need to digest about classroom feedback, it’s this: The only thing that matters is what students do with it. No matter how well the feedback is designed, if students do not use the feedback to move their own learning forward, it’s a waste of time. We can debate about whether feedback should be descriptive or evaluative, but it is absolutely essential that feedback is productive'
  • The Future Part 7a: Whats a Digital Native? 'A few years ago I sat through an INSET where we were shown pictures of a couple of everyday items and asked what they were called. The wrong answer was “a digital camera and a mobile phone”. Apparently, to our students, they would simply be “a camera and a phone”. This shows that our students are fundamentally different to us as they are “Digital Natives” and, [...] have to be taught according to all the usual progressive education methods of discussion, discovery learning and groupwork. Or at least that’s what we were told.' but...
  • Digital Natives Like a Good Lecture, Too - Advice - The Chronicle of Higher Education 'A large part of the value that we bring to the classroom is that of the "sage on the stage," rather than the "guide on the side." We have the qualifications and skill, and for students, being in the same room as an expert is an valuable part of university experience. [...] Students don’t enroll at brick-and-mortar colleges because they want a distance-learning experience. Instead of trying to offer both and ending up with neither, let’s play to our strengths.'
  • What Are They Learning? And How? | Vitae [chroniclevitae.com] 'What we’re looking for here are practical ways to elicit and make use of quality student feedback. We want to learn from students the information—about what they knew beforehand, what they’ve learned from us, and what they still don’t understand—that will help us teach more effectively. Providing students with ways to give us that information not only helps us tailor our teaching, it helps them become more aware of themselves as learners.'
  • Brain Training Doesn’t Make You Smarter - Scientific American "The strong consensus of this group is that the scientific literature does not support claims that the use of software-based “brain games” alters neural functioning in ways that improve general cognitive performance in everyday life, or prevent cognitive slowing and brain disease." 
  • Unlocking the Mystery of Critical Thinking | Faculty Focus ''As the instructor, you [...] provide a key learning experience by serving as a role model. Students need to see you demonstrating the courage to question your own beliefs and values, the fair-mindedness to represent multiple perspectives accurately, and the open-mindedness to give viewpoints opposed to your own their due. In such instances, you should point out to students that you are practicing critical thinking.'
Other Business
  • An immigration lawyer reviews Paddington | Free Movement 'Paddington stows away and deliberately avoids the immigration authorities on arrival. He is [...] an illegal entrant and as such commits a criminal offence under section 24 of the Immigration Act 1971 [...] punishable by up to six months in prison. [...] [F]or offering a home to Paddington — or harbouring him, as the Home Office would have it — Mr and Mrs Brown could potentially face prosecution under section 25 of the Immigration Act 1971, [...] The maximum sentence is 14 years.
  • Tim Harford — Article — Learn from the losers 'It’s natural to look at life’s winners – often they become winners in the first place because they’re interesting to look at. That’s why Kickended (site about failed Kickstarter bids) gives us an important lesson. If we don’t look at life’s losers too, we may end up putting our time, money, attention or even armour plating in entirely the wrong place.  

02 December 2014

Items to Share: 30 November 2014

Education Focus
  • The crisis in adult education | The Learning Age '[T]here is a growing crisis in adult participation in education and training, with stark implications both for our economy and our democracy. If the trend continues it will soon be necessary to reinvent from scratch a part of the education system which has taken over a century to build up.
  • Why ‘triple marking’ is wrong (and not my fault) | David Didau: The Learning Spy  '[T]eachers should not [mark] students’ work for accuracy. If we point out their mistakes, there is no impetus to complete work accurately first time round. By insisting that the minimum expectation for written work is that it be proofread before it’s handed in, we make committing careless errors burdensome. If they know they will be expected to correct these mistakes before you are prepared to mark their work then they will learn that it easier to write correctly first time round. And if they don’t know how to correct an error then they will be requesting feedback at the point that they are ready to learn. Any input we give is far more likely to have impact than any amount of unsolicited advice.'
  • Older people may be better learners than we think '“The take-home message the study authors gave was that healthy older people are good at learning,” said Professor Henry Brodaty, co-Director of the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) at UNSW. “They have the same plasticity, but they’re not as good at filtering out other information.”[...] The brain needs to be able to easily learn new information (plasticity), and filter out irrelevant information (stability). The experiment was designed to test whether ageing affects the brain’s plasticity, stability, or both.' 
  • Psychophysiology of blackboard teaching | Mathematics under the Microscope (Alexander Borovik) 'Mathematics teaching is not a science. It is an art. [...] Moreover, it is a performance art, like drama or ballet, and should be treated as such. Unsurprisingly, ballet dancers are very fussy about the state of the stage floor: they need a surface with just right level of friction, support and spring. Normally, we are very fussy about the quality of the blackboard surface -I can tell a lot on that subject. Unfortunately, we are reduced to fighting for continuing existence of our old blackboards; we do not even dare to raise the issue of their quality.' [This is an old post which I have just re-discovered, but still worth sharing.]
  • The “New” Professional Standards | Sam Shepherd (for teachers in FE) 'There is a general sense that the best development comes not from some advanced practitioner/consultant/manager telling you what is “best practice” (a phrase happily absent in the standards, you will note) but rather through working together. This places the emphasis on action research, peer observations, and raises the value of those staff room discussions about what is and isn’t working in class. To my mind, this shift from top down cascading of “best practice” to critical joint practice development is no bad thing at all.' 
Other Business
  • Leonard Cohen and smoking in old age | OUPblog 'Leonard Cohen’s decision to take up cigarettes again at 80 reveals a well kept secret about older age: you can finally live it up and stop worrying about the consequences shortening your life by much.'
  • What do fans of Spotify and meat pies have in common? [theconversation.com] 'Before the era of big data we believed that the inter-relationships between cultural preferences were esoteric, idiosyncratic, and very difficult to predict. The YouGov profiler indicates that they are anything but. I’m off now to find out what meat pie lovers have in common with jazz fans.'

24 November 2014

Items to Share: 23 November 2014

Education Focus
  • Ivan Pavlov in 22 surprising facts | OUPblog 'An iconic figure of 20th century science and culture, Ivan Pavlov is best known as a founding figure of behaviorism who trained dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell and offered a scientific approach to psychology that ignored the “subjective” world of the psyche itself. [ ] While researching "Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science", I discovered that these and other elements of the common images of Pavlov are incorrect. The following 22 facts and observations are a small window onto the life of a man whose work, life and values were much more complex and interesting than the iconic figure with whom we are so familiar.'
  • Teaching Practices Inventory Helps You Examine Your Teaching | Faculty Focus 'It’s an inventory that lists and scores the extent to which research-based teaching practices are being used. It’s been developed for use in math and science courses, but researchers Carl Wieman and Sarah Gilbert suggest it can be used in engineering and social sciences courses, although they have not tested it there. I suspect it has an even wider application. Most of the items on the inventory are or could be practiced in most disciplines and programs.'
  • Does brain training really work? | Loony Labs 'Ever wonder if you could be the next Einstein if only you could do some brain training? Well as it turns out, while computer based ‘brain training’ can boost memory and thinking skills in older adults, many programs promoted by the $1 billion brain training industry are ineffective.'
  • Students don't know what's best for their own learning [theconversation.com] 'Two recent studies of student evaluations [...] looked at student evaluations and learning. Both came to the same conclusion: university students evaluate their teachers more positively when they learn less.' 
Other Business

    18 November 2014

    Items to Share: 16 November 2014

    Education Focus

    • University courses for prisoners could reduce re-offending rates [theconversation.com] 'Those prisoners who had successfully completed at least one higher-level course while in prison developed a positive student identity, resilience and hope with realistic aspirations for a crime-free life after release. Those who had not engaged with learning lacked these qualities and most returned to prison. Of the 28 adults I traced, only four had not engaged with learning – and three of them returned to prison. Of the other 24 former prisoners I traced who had studied while in prison, only two returned to prison – and one of those was on a technicality.'
    • The Problem with Learning Technology | Vitae [chroniclevitae.com] 'It now seems important, as it didn’t 10 years ago, to keep things simple: to focus on the humans in the room, the literature we’re reading, the tools that help us make sense of the texts. Students experience much of their contact with other people by making things happen on a screen. What feels fresh and immediate to them now is a real conversation, in real time, over pieces of paper that can be held in the hand.' 
    Other Business
    • The Decline of Grammar Education – Lingua Franca - The Chronicle of Higher Education (Geoff Pullum) 'Google fetches more than 300,000 hits for the term "grammar quiz"; yet if quizzes on chemistry were as uninformed as those on grammar, they would ask silly questions on peripheral topics (“Who is the Bunsen burner named after?”), and would make no reference to the periodic table, or atoms or molecules. The web’s grammar quizzes deal in minor pieces of puristic flotsam with roots in dimly understood 18th-century grammatical analysis.'
    • Explainer: the pitch drop experiment [theconversation.com] 'Something strange is happening within the world-famous pitch drop experiment with the latest drop forming much faster than the last couple of drops. There have been nine drops so far and all attention is now on trying to observe the tenth, expected sometime in the 2020s. The actual experiment began in October 1930 and is now recognised by Guinness World Records as the longest-running laboratory experiment – and in all that time no one has ever witnessed a single drop of pitch to fall. But what started as a simple lecture demonstration has captured the interest of tens of thousands of people worldwide'
    • Kurt Vonnegut Explains "How to Write With Style" | Open Culture 'If you feel the need for tips on developing a writing style, you probably don’t look right to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ journal Transactions on Professional Communications. You certainly don’t open such a publication expecting such tips from novelist Kurt Vonnegut, a writer with a style of his own if ever there was one. But in a 1980 issue, the author of Slaughterhouse-Five, Jailbird, and Cat’s Cradle does indeed appear with advice on “how to put your style and personality into everything you write.” ' 
    • The Great Psychologists: Sigmund Freud As a commenter puts it, ' A great introduction to a man who was about as troubled as all of us. A reminder that we are all quite mad, and everyone else is a degree of crazy.'