Americans have historically shown a unique tolerance to accept high levels of inequality. This springs from an embedded national belief in mobility: a conviction that hard work and honest labor deserve just reward, and a confidence that our society is and should be constructed to provide equality of opportunity, not to guarantee equality of outcomes. But if the ladder of opportunity truly is — or is perceived to be — inaccessible to a great number of Americans, this value system is at risk of crumbling. A discussion that identifies and quantifies the drivers of and obstacles to economic mobility should be a top priority for those interested in preserving and protecting the spirit and reality of the American Dream.
Here are a set of new reports focused on the details of economic mobility. "Contrary to American beliefs about equality of opportunity, a child’s economic position is heavily influenced by that of his or her parents. Forty-two percent of children born to parents in the bottom fifth of the income distribution remain in the bottom, while 39% born to parents in the top fifth remain at the top,” Julia Issacs , a Brookings Institution fellow, writes in Pew’s latest analysis.more»
What would happen if we added being fluent in multiple languages to the national learning standards and accountability structures? Many recent immigrants to the U.S. would actually be advantaged -- and rightfully so. It sure would make sense given an increasingly interconnected world. more»
Keywords: language learning
Universal primary education by 2015 is a UN Millennium Development Goal. In this article Secretary Spelling argues for constructing systems built on the principles of measurement and accountability. I sure hope that there will be considerable attention being given to providing instructional resources, tending to local educational needs and processes, and utilizing models of diagnostic, low-stakes assessment -- rather than simply layering on high-stakes testing and educator accountability. more»
"Around the globe, we have done a good job of educating children of privilege. Now we must begin the harder work of equipping poor and vulnerable children with the skills they need to succeed. As you know, worldwide, approximately 77 million children do not attend school. More than 771 million adults cannot read. Two-thirds of these adults are women, and 85 percent live in just 35 countries."
Keywords: universal education
Imagine a school where students select their own learning projects rather than having scheduled classes, where adults serve as guides and critics rather than teachers, where technology is employed as a learning infrastructure, where loners feel comfortable and collaboration is promoted, and where test performances are perfectly fine... more»
Stanford University's School of Education and George Mason University have been awarded $7 million by the U.S. Department of Education to establish a virtual "Federal Clearinghouse for History Education" to help teachers become more effective educators and teach K-12 students why history is relevant to their daily lives... more»
Proposition: The continuing introduction of new technologies and new media adds little to the quality of most education. debate»
Over the last several decades, large investments have been made to equip primary and secondary schools with computers and teacher training. Now it is time to examine whether there has been a sufficient return on this investment. Does technology really offer substantive advantages to students? Does technology accelerate or impede real progress in education? Similarly, does technology serve as a teaching crutch or does it offer the ability to promote sustainable change in the world?s classrooms? And if so, is the technology deployed today being used to best possible advantage? What conditions need to exist in schools for technology to have an impact?
Here in the US, we have collectively decided long ago to present the disciplinary work of science as a universalistic methodological apparatus -- packaged in such images as the scientific method, fair tests, experiments. Given that there is no disciplinary unity in method, the gap between the contemporary practice of science and science education continues to expand. This is especially true as we ratchet down to increasingly narrow educational outcomes -- still hopelessly focused on content. Here's a nice image of what the 'practical work' of contemporary science looks like -- it is one of persistent tinkering, customization, finagling of resources, and innovation... more»
Here's a short video made by some college students summarizing how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams & what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime... more»
The authors of this volume demonstrate that modern language is derived from practical actions and gestures that were increasingly recognized as having the potential to represent, and hence to communicate. In other words, the fundamental ability that allows us to use language is our ability to use pictures or icons, rather than linguistic symbols... more»
"This new research shows that as young toddlers learn language, they are more likely to focus on objects rather than parts..." more»
Science and Technology Studies is a flourishing interdisciplinary field that examines the creation, development, and consequences of science and technology in their cultural, historical, and social contexts. The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies provides a comprehensive and authoritative overview of the field, reviewing current research and major theoretical and methodological approaches and analyzing emergent issues in a form that is accessible to new and established scholars from a range of disciplines. more» more» table of contents»
"More than 1,000 of California’s 9,500 schools are branded chronic failures, and the numbers are growing. Barring revisions in the law, state officials predict that all 6,063 public schools serving poor students will be declared in need of restructuring by 2014, when the law requires universal proficiency in math and reading.
“What are we supposed to do?” Ms. Paramo asked. “Shut down every school?” more»
“What are we supposed to do?” Ms. Paramo asked. “Shut down every school?” more»
The United States possesses the most innovative, technologically capable economy in the world, and yet its science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education system is failing to ensure that all American students receive the skills and knowledge required for success in the 21st century workforce... more»
From this book, here are 10 myths of scientific collaboration...
- ICTs improve collaboration
- Larger collaborations are more rigid & hierarchical (No -- on matters pertaining to the generation of scientific research, they are not. Size is less significant than we suspected.)
- Outcomes of a collaboration determine success.
- Collaborations are based on Trust. (Trust has no influence on outcomes.)
- Co-authorship tells us important things about collaboration
- We can learn from high energy physics. (Not typical - Physics is only typical of high-energy physics. Not a model.)
- Collaboration is a necessity
- Collaborations are formed by people who know each other.
- Collaborations benefit everyone (e.g., Matthew effect).
- Benefits of collaboration are greater than the costs. (Believe it -- but it isn’t true.)
"Collaboration among organizations is rapidly becoming common in scientific research as globalization and new communication technologies make it possible for researchers from different locations and institutions to work together on common projects. These scientific and technological collaborations are part of a general trend toward more fluid, flexible, and temporary organizational arrangements, but they have received very limited scholarly attention..." more»
The authors find that collaborative research depends on both technology and bureaucracy; scientists claim to abhor bureaucracy, but most collaborations use it constructively to achieve their goals. The book analyzes the structural elements of collaboration (among them formation, size and duration, organization, technological practices, and participant experiences) and the relationships among them. The authors find that trust, though viewed as positive, is not necessarily associated with successful projects; indeed, the formal structures of bureaucracy reduce the need for high levels of trust--and make possible the independence so valued by participating scientists.
In the beginning, there was action -- and learning was accomplished through sustained apprenticeships and deliberative practice. And now, of course, there is still action -- but we put a lot of energy into thinking it isn't the central thing... more»
The cave man’s mind was never prepared for, or concerned with, knowing. There was no test. There were no game shows. There was no Nobel Prize. There was action. The winner was the person who brought down the elk or buffalo. He didn’t have to know how to do it, at least not consciously. He had to be able to do it. What knowledge he had was unconscious. He may not have been able to say what he knew that helped him throw a rock straight. He could just do it. He practiced a lot.
RESOURCE: NCTM Illuminations - Standards-based resources that improve the teaching and learning of math
From the national organization that oversees math ed...here are activities, lessons, clarifications about standards, and links to resources involved in the teaching and learning of math... more»
Scientific visualization is a powerful representational practice that can clarify complex concepts, reveal patterns in data, or provoke a deep aesthetic reaction. SCIENCE magazine held a contest to identify the best visualizations in science for 2007... more»
REPORT COMING: National Science Board to Release National Action Plan for 21st Century STEM Education
The National Science Board (Board) is scheduled to unveil a national action plan for 21st Century STEM education on Wednesday, Oct. 3, in a briefing at the U.S. Capitol... more»
LEGISTLATIVE NEWS: The House and Senate passed the America Competes Act; President Signs It Into Law
As of the August congressional recess, Congress is poised to add billions of dollars to proposed budgets for the federal investment in research and development (R&D) for fiscal year (FY) 2008... more» more» more»
REPORT: A National Action Plan for Addressing the Critical Needs of the U.S. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education System
The National Science Board proposed on Wednesday a "national action plan" intended to spur major improvements in the teaching of science and mathematics at all educational levels but especially elementary and secondary schools... report» article»
Online virtual worlds have great potential as sites for research in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences, as well as in human-centered computer science... more»
Here's a top 10 list of what you can learn practically from psychological research... more»
Books published in this new series are concerned with the study of meaningful human activity as it is mediated by tools and technologies. The series will explore developments in postcognitivist theory and practice concerning technology from the fields of sociology, communication, education, and organizational studies, as well as from science and technology studies, human-computer interaction and computer-supported collaborative work... more»
Keywords: technology learning
There is a growing trend for anthropologists to be hired to work to understand the cultural workings of corporations. Intel has been hiring ethnographers for years to influence product design. "Adding an anthropologist to a research team is like moving from black-and-white TV to color...we're able to observe shades of color that others can't see. Anthropologists understand complexity and can help devise answers that reflect that complexity." article» more»
Here's a research-based interactive and participatory map of the predicted major influences on education over the coming decade... more»
This web site presents a method that demonstrates the conscious-unconscious divergences much more convincingly than has been possible with previous methods. This new method is called the Implicit Association Test, or IAT for short... more»
Infants comprehend spatial relationships such as "in" and "on" through language input from caregivers and the babies' own play behaviors... more»
The Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) strives to promote more effective educational practices, programs, and policies for disadvantaged children and youth by generating, publishing, and disseminating our and others’ research. Their complementary learning model focuses on how school-based and non-school-based supports can be linked and can all work toward consistent learning and developmental outcomes for children. They have developed a set of Family Involvement Teaching Cases that relate to dilemmas in family educational involvement. more»
Here's a proposal about Open Educational Resources from the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning (COSL) at Utah State University. Their mission is to facilitate the provision of high quality learning opportunities. We accomplish our mission by promoting open education and by building tools to catalyze the creation, sharing, and reuse of open educational resources... more»
"Rather, the master question from which the mission of education research is derived: What should be taught to whom, and with what pedagogical object in mind? That master question is threefold: what, to whom, and how? Education research, under such a dispensation, becomes an adjunct of educational planning and design. It becomes design research in the sense that it explores possible ways in which educational objectives can be formulated and carried out in the light of cultural objectives and values in the broad." - Jerome Bruner from Issues in Educational Research (1999)
Here's an article on the "graying of kindergarten." Some argue that one way to help solve the accountability crisis (i.e., poor performance on high-stakes achievement tests) is to just have parents hold back (or "red-shirt") their children. Of course, we could also get a bump by just pushing off the testing and not starting it in the third grade. How about we let kindergarten be kindergarten and allow instruction to be guided by children's development and interests rather than attempting to reverse-engineer a solution to this heavily manufactured crisis... more»
In a report on kindergarten, the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education wrote, "Most of the questionable entry and placement practices that have emerged in recent years have their genesis in concerns over children's capacities to cope with increasingly inappropriate curriculum in kindergarten.
In a recent study, researchers have shown that "new adult neurons showed a pattern of changing plasticity very similar to that seen in brain cells in newborn animals. That is, the new adult brain cells showed a 'critical period' in which they were highly plastic before they settled into the less plastic properties of mature brain cells. In newborn animals, such a critical period enables an important, early burst of wiring of new brain circuitry with experience..." more»
"Study shows that children spontaneously show a sense of number when presented with symbolic math." This work will no doubt feed the nativist developmental camp. It is quite striking that so many programs of developmental psych research are built upon the assumption that if a child has not attended school yet then they must not have been taught in any formal way -- say in the home by parents, siblings, or media. This is especially not true in these academically fueled times we live in. But their assumption allows them to claim things are "spontaneous" or taught "implicitly" -- when the fact of the matter is that they just never empirically look at actual early childhood development in naturalistic settings... more»
New studies claim that: "Anger is appropriately blamed for flawed thinking since it tends to alter perception of risk, increase prejudice, and trigger aggression... Anger can actually prompt more careful and rational analysis of another person’s reasoning." But they apparently cue anger that is orthogonal to the task subject matter at hand -- so it supports the idea that reflecting on a prior event that angered you somehow gets you more focused in your reasoning. I wonder if there an associated physiological arousal response that would helps explain the effect... more»
Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and share your creations on the web... article» web site»
My research has been conducting a video-based, team ethnography over the past two years. Because people have been asking about what equipment we use in our work, we've written up a brief technical report on the choices we've made and a bit about what we've learned... more» report»
From the Physics Education Technology Team, here are a range of educational simulations focused on the learning of physics. more»
Embodied approaches to cognition propose that our own actions influence our understanding of the world. Do other people's actions also have this influence? There seems to be a tendency to adopt the actor's perspective when attention is drawn to specific actions being performed. more»
A better understanding of the role that timing plays in human learning could lead to improved teaching techniques and alter the trajectories of countless human lives... news» center web site»
Bridging the gap between lab and field, here are a range of early reports presented in newsletter format of core studies associated with the "practical thinking" perspective -- a precursor to everyday and distributed cognition... more»
This volume approaches numeracy as a social practice with ethnographic work on the meanings and uses of numeracy in schools and home and community contexts... more»
This project has the view that present-day curricula underestimate, by a long shot, the learning capabilities of students. They feel that the best way to show this, and to pave the way to major reform in mathematics education, is to set up a research basis that we and others can learn from... more» publications»
BOOK: The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies
"The Difference" is about how we think in groups--and how our collective wisdom exceeds the sum of its parts. Diversity wins out over homogeneity... more»
Why can teams of people find better solutions than brilliant individuals working alone? And why are the best group decisions and predictions those that draw upon the very qualities that make each of us unique? The answers lie in diversity--not what we look like outside, but what we look like within, our distinct tools and abilities."The Difference" reveals that progress and innovation may depend less on lone thinkers with enormous IQs than on diverse people working together and capitalizing on their individuality.
This journal will promote the integration of the diverse disciplines that investigate human learning and development -- to bring together education, biology, and cognitive science to form the new field of mind, brain, and education. more»
Human beings are unique in their ability to learn through schooling and diverse kinds of cultural instruction. Education plays a key role in cultural transformations: It allows members of a society, the young in particular, to efficiently acquire an ever-evolving body of knowledge and skills that took thousands of years to invent. It is time for education, biology, and cognitive science to join together to create a new science and practice of learning and development.
This new report summarizes important principles that educational practitioners, policy makers, and researchers can use to build upon the learning that occurs in the homes and community cultures of students from diverse groups...
PRINCIPLE 1: Learning is situated in broad socio-economic and historical contexts and is mediated by local cultural practices and perspectives.
PRINCIPLE 2: Learning takes place not only in school but also in the multiple contexts and valued practices of everyday lives across the life span.
PRINCIPLE 3: All learners need multiple sources of support from a variety of institutions to promote their personal and intellectual development.
PRINCIPLE 4: Learning is facilitated when learners are encouraged to use their home and community language resources as a basis for expanding their linguistic repertoires.
"Perhaps gestures contain meaning, displaying the mind at work or perhaps they help us produce speech more effectively. Either way gestures are not just useless by-products of some other process, but provide vital support for our communicative abilities..." more»
Project-based learning ties nicely into role play dimensions of early development. "Student-driven projects, enhanced by technology, launch kindergartners on their way to lifelong learning..." more»
In this paper, Collins shows us how mainstream science documentaries systematically avoid revealing the 'window of uncertainty' that is a cornerstone of the epistemic practice of science. It is little wonder that the images of science held by the public are at odds with the practical dimensions of actual scientific work... more»
Mirror neurons have become the "left brain/right brain" of the 21st century... more»
The myth of mirror neurons may not do much harm. Perhaps it's even good for science that in the 21st century we turn to the brain, rather than gods and monsters, for our mythical images. Still, science and science writing are supposed to get us closer to the truth, while the myth of mirror neurons may do just the opposite. Instead of teaching us about how the mind works, it may perpetuate some broad misconceptions about neuroscience and what the study of the brain can tell us about human nature.
STUDY: I like to do it, I’m able, and I know I am: Longitudinal couplings between domain-specific achievement, self-concept, and interest
Here's a study of longitudinal development of the intraindividual coupling between academic achievement, interest, and self-concept of ability (SCA) with a sample of about 1,000 children between grades 1 and 12. The degree of coupling was the highest between interest and SCA and the lowest between interest and achievement... more»
What do toddlers learn from everyday picture-book reading interactions? Well, the older children get, the better they become at realizing the connection between abstract representations and their real-life counterparts. Learning follows the iconicity... more» more»
With strong support from both parties, the U.S. Senate recently passed several pieces of legislation greatly increasing federal funding for research and education in an effort to boost student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math... more»
BOOK: Discovering Successful Pathways in Children's Development: Mixed Methods in the Study of Childhood and Family Life
This book provides a new perspective on the study of childhood and family life. Successful development is enhanced when communities provide meaningful life pathways that children can seek out and engage... more»
Successful pathways include both a culturally valued direction for development and competence in skills that matter for a child's subsequent success as a person as well as a student, parent, worker, or citizen. To understand successful pathways requires a mix of qualitative, quantitative, and ethnographic methods--the state of the art for research practice among developmentalists, educators, and policymakers alike.
"Philosophy of science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds." - Attributed to Richard Feynman
Although intelligence is generally thought to play a key role in children's early academic achievement, aspects of children's self-regulation abilities--including the ability to alternately shift and focus attention and to inhibit impulsive responding--are uniquely related to early academic success and account for greater variation in early academic progress than do measures of intelligence... more»
Using an open-source Encore's goal is to support researchers as they exchange open source or open content materials, including relevant support documentation, constraints to implementation, and contact info... more»
ENCORE is implemented in an enhanced wiki format, allowing for easy maintenance of small thematic spaces and collaborations. Researchers may find great materials here, and get support from colleagues to embed or intermingle those materials effectively and appropriately. Instructors or students in learning sciences courses may find and contribute reviews of papers, technologies, or other resources. Small groups can form "Collaborations" to support their efforts to exchange materials or develop new ones.
Dyscalculia is just as prevalent in the population as dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – around 5% of the population is affected. Scientists have induced dyscalculia in subjects without the maths learning difficulty for the first time. The study, which finds that the right parietal lobe is responsible for dyscalculia, potentially has implications for diagnosis and management through remedial teaching... more»
“This is the first causal demonstration that the parietal lobe is the key to understanding developmental dyscalculia. Most people process numbers very easily – almost automatically – but people with dyscalculia do not. We wanted to find out what would happen when the areas relevant to maths learning in the right parietal lobes were effectively knocked out for several hundred milliseconds. We found that stimulation to this brain region during a maths test radically impacted on the subjects’ reaction time. This provides strong evidence that dyscalculia is caused by malformations in the right parietal lobe and provides sold grounds for further study on the physical abnormalities present in dyscalculics’ brains. It’s an important step to the ultimate goal of early diagnosis through analysis of neural tissue, which in turn will lead to earlier treatments and more effective remedial teaching.
CONFERENCE: "CogSci In the Real World" Theme at the 2007 Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
Keywords: cognitive science
It was only a matter of time. Researchers have been funded to develop a networking system which will create virtual representations of real people to improve our knowledge. They will use artificial intelligence and natural language processing software to enable us to interact with these avatars. It sounds like they may be using ethnographic field techniques to capture the expertise of the "teacher subject" before they build the system... more»
The pay content for the New York Times is now available to university students and full-time faculty for free... more»
From the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences: 18-month-old toddlers engage in "emotional eavesdropping" by listening and watching emotional reactions directed by one adult to another and then using this emotional information to shape their own behavior. It is the first demonstration that infants can modify their own behavior in response to an emotional communication that does not involve them. press release» study»
The best video and audio transcription package I'm aware of just got updated. We make extensive use of InqScribe in my research group -- and we have been quite pleased with it. It is intuitive, feature-rich, and exceedingly reasonable in terms of cost... more»
At a time of increased interdisciplinarity and an exponential expansion in data production, is it really the time for narrowing the curricular goals of K-12 education? Moves toward fewer standards might be a good fit with the heightened attention to inherently narrow accountability structures like high-stakes tests. But will fewer concepts taught more coherently across 13 years of instruction really serve youth well? Could we ever agree what those "core" concepts should be? more»
For those of you who video-based research, here's info on an updated platform for online video annotation. It allows a user to easily add subtitles, text, animated shapes and pointers, freehand text and drawings, images, webcam video and even RSS feeds directly into your web-hosted videos... article» Mojiti platform» demo»
Students from low-income backgrounds or certain minority groups are all too often overlooked for placement in gifted and talented programs... more»
Declarative memory -- about people, places, and things -- is highly fallible and susceptible to distortion and suggestion. This book provides a framework for understanding the memory miscues that occur in everyday life: absent-mindedness, transience, blocking, misattribution, suggestibility, bias, and persistence... more»
This (updated) bibliography of 7700 articles attempts to document research on teaching and learning science with a certain emphasis on research from constructivist perspectives. The database was originally focused on the "conceptions" literature -- but now it is focused more broadly on constructivist approaches to science ed... more»
Simple online tool for visualizing word frequencies in any user-supplied text by creating what is popularly known as a tag cloud... more»
The Mondialogo Engineering Award invites engineering students in developing and developed countries to form international teams to create project proposals that address the United Nations Millennium Development Goals -- proposals to improve the quality of life in the developing world, particularly poverty eradication and the promotion of sustainable development... more»
Keywords: engineering learning
Describing the work of the LearnLab Science of Learning Center, here's an interesting article on the scaling of cognitive tutors out into school instruction... more»
Educators are finding that "intelligent tutors" are an effective supplement to classroom instruction, thanks to their ability to understand a student's shortcomings, customize instruction, and provide instant tracking of behavior. Developed by Carnegie Mellon University researchers, Cognitive Tutor programs are currently in use in 1,500 school districts nationwide, and are either available on the market or in development for instruction in chemistry, foreign language, reading, and computer science, among other subjects. "What distinguishes intelligent tutors from integrated learning systems or skill-building software is that the tutors sort of both scaffold and support more complex cognitive processes," said Center for Children and Technology director Margaret Honey. "Well-designed tutors are smart enough to know there's not a single way to solve a problem, and that's what makes them 'intelligent.'" The NSF, the pentagon, and the Department of Education have supported intelligent-tutoring systems since the 1970s, but in a 2004 What Works Clearinghouse study, Cognitive Tutor Algebra was one of only two middle school math programs to receive a "positive" rating for effectiveness. Studies have shown that Cognitive Tutor can improve a student's performance by a single letter grade, while one-on-one human instruction has been found to increase performance by two letter grades. The "goal is not to replace teaching," explains CMU human-computer interaction professor Kenneth R. Koedinger. "It's to give teachers more time to do what they do best ... The contrast to use might be a textbook. With textbooks, students don't get feedback on solutions."
Here's an analysis of elementary school classrooms in the United States that is discouraging in terms of the range of quality of students' experiences... more» activity mapping»
The AAAS has been producing mainstream press book accounts around what is known scientifically on particular topics -- focusing on health issues in particular... more»
Through the use of repeated boilerplate language across proposals, it may be possible to keep university IRB committees somewhat informed about the variety of methodological techniques and assumptions that underlie the logic of inquiry associated with ethnography... more»
Here's a synthesis of what we know about how children learn science across the K-8 grade span. It argues that they are much more capable than our historical account of young children as "concrete" thinkers -- and it shows how they bring a lot of relevant prior knowledge to kindergarten from the earliest years of development... report» article» press release» press release»
A heart-wrenching account of the kind of culture clash that can take place between the Western medical establishment and those who live according to fundamentally different indigenous knowledge... more»
CLASSIC: Ecological Niche Picking: Ecological Invalidity as an Axiom of Experimental Cognitive Psychology
Although Cole, Hood and McDermott failed to get this article published in mainstream journals at the time, this paper was a clarion call for focusing on cognition as it occurs in everyday life and for questioning the generalizability of findings from mainstream laboratory experimental work on cognition... more»
"The information technology revolution is transforming almost every aspect of society, but girls and women are largely out of the loop. Although women surf the Web in equal numbers to men and make a majority of online purchases, few are involved in the design and creation of new technology. It is mostly men whose perspectives and priorities inform the development of computing innovations and who reap the lion's share of the financial rewards"... more»
Why is software so hard -- to make, to deliver, to use? The sheer intellectual and technical complexity of programming large systems continues to grow. For example, since the 1960s the code required to run a jet fighter has grown from 50,000 lines to 5 million lines of code. Given that, what kind of individual and distributed expertise is needed to be successful... web site» book»
[This] story takes us through a maze of dead ends and exhilarating breakthroughs as they and their colleagues wrestle not only with the abstraction of code but with the unpredictability of human behavior, especially their own. Along the way, we encounter black holes, turtles, snakes, dragons, axe-sharpening, and yak-shaving—and take a guided tour through the theories and methods, both brilliant and misguided, that litter the history of software development, from the famous “mythical man-month” to Extreme Programming. Not just for technophiles but for anyone captivated by the drama of invention, Dreaming in Code offers a window into both the information age and the workings of the human mind.
After compiling their list of the Top Ten Discoveries in Psychology, PsyBlog is now asking people to vote for the most influential... vote»
This is the first study that examines the brain basis of fears acquired indirectly. Similar neural systems are engaged when fears are learned through first-hand experience or by merely observing others... more»
Rats can judge whether they have enough information to pass a test... more»
The One Laptop Per Child effort is controversial because it is such a bold proposition. It is seemingly fueled by a universalistic epistemology coupled with a significant dose of techno-determinism. Will the empirical studies follow? more»
To a significant degree, our minds are built to produce and interpret narratives. Why isn't that a more pervasive, underlying image of cognition built into our educational structures? more»
A blogroll of mostly neuroscience but inclusive of some cognitive science, psychology and psychiatry weblogs... more»
STUDY: Expertise in pictorial perception: Eye-movement patterns and visual memory in artists and laypeople
An instance of disciplined perception: artists have learned to identify the real details of a picture, not just the ones that are immediately most salient to the perceptual system, which is naturally disposed to focusing on objects and faces... more»
This study (among others) was instrumental in highlighting the prominence of "cultural" aspects of mind right from within the fold of experimental psychology... more»
From 2005: "When it came to research...we all went strictly kosher, or at least we kept our yamulkes well pinned on! If I wanted to explore anything that sounded 'cultural,' I made it a point to use the most psychophysically exquisite cover I could find -- as with the so-called New Look in perception where, with the most meticulous controls going, I showed that kids overestimated the sizes of coins proportionately to their value, the more so for poor kids than better-off ones... The word 'culture' does not appear in the papers reporting those results, nor does the term 'meaning.' We'd already learned by then how to avoid quarrels with psychology journal referees!" (Bruner in Clifford Geertz by His Colleagues, 2005, p. 21)
A situated interactional account of how we learn to see in disciplined ways... paper»
This article investigates the discursive practices used by members of a profession to shape events in the domain of professional scrutiny they focus their attention upon. The shaping process creates the objects of knowledge that become the insignia of a profession’s craft: the theories, artifacts and bodies of expertise that are its special and distinctive domain of competence.
STUDY: Using brain scans, researchers find evidence for a two-stage model of human perceptual learning
This study provides the first human evidence for a two-stage model of how a person learns to place objects into categories more»
In the formation of long-term memories, the brain apparently co-opts the same machinery by which cells stably alter their genes to specialize during embryonic development... more»
Meaningfully engaging high school students in the practice of laboratory science can make a difference in their conceptual understanding and beliefs about science... more»
Here's the first study to provide concrete evidence that playing a musical instrument significantly enhances the brain stem’s sensitivity to speech sounds... more»
"We've found that by playing music -- an action thought of as a function of the neocortex -- a person may actually be tuning the brainstem," says Kraus. "This suggests that the relationship between the brainstem and neocortex is a dynamic and reciprocal one and tells us that our basic sensory circuitry is more malleable than we previously thought."
Apparently, the brain reorganizes in a very fundamental and gendered way during adolescence [in rats]. What it really means, who knows... more»
Many of the professional practices associated with being a successful academic are privately held secrets. One such practice has to do with getting your work taken up by a publisher... more»
Instructionally building on students' interests still remains elusive in mainstream approaches to curriculum. This volume "shows readers the powerful results that can occur in secondary science classrooms when students’ interest and curiosity about science are brought firmly to the center of the curriculum"... more»
This (now available) handbook provides a comprehensive, coherent, current synthesis of the empirical and theoretical research concerning teaching and learning in science and lays down a foundation upon which future research can be built... more»
It is important to not equate learning with formal schooling. For example, families strongly influence how, what, and why children learn while they are in non-school settings... more»
The findings showed that families engaged with children's inquiries at home in many ways - by providing resources, conversing, and investigating collaboratively with children. Moreover, when families pursued inquiries together and when children conducted their own sustained intellectual searches, children's ideas deepened. Such evidence of the educational significance of what families do suggests that early science and technology education might be made more effective if it were aligned with the ways people learn together outside formal institutions.
This article examines the ensemble of conversational practices a particular family makes use of to cultivate active and joyful engagement in imaginative inquiry about the world, during mundane, largely unstructured activity... more»
Parents provide opportunities for children to query new words, idioms, and concepts, and invite them to do so, though they do not impose explanations on children. Explanations are ‘recipient-designed’ in terms of age appropriateness, and may involve dramatic animations through use of the current scene as a local metric. Unpacking meanings of words and concepts can involve the playful exploration of possible rather than literal meanings as well. Participants choose to hear (and restructure) words in particular ways so that they can be seized as opportunities for launching play on sound structure. Involvement in the talk of the moment entails practices such as collaborative production of utterances, format tying, and sound play.
A 14 year-old girl: "You just multitask...my parents always tell me I can't do homework while listening to music, but they don't understand that it helps me concentrate"... more»
CELF is an interdisciplinary center where anthropologists, applied linguists, education specialists, and psychologists study how working parents and their children approach the challenges of balancing the demands of work, school, and family life using detailed, ethnographic research of everyday life... more»
The organizers of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) in 2006 did a really nice job capturing a bunch of research sessions and keynotes which are now available online... more»
So, we have increased bureaucratic ethics regulation on the one hand (IRB) and a blurring of research and everyday involvement of researchers in naturalistic contexts on the other (ethnography). These two things don't easily reconcile... more»
Open collaboration on a mass scale might just transform scientific inquiry and progress in many fields... more»
As large-scale scientific collaborations become the norm, scientists will rely increasingly on distributed methods of collecting data, verifying discoveries, and testing hypotheses not only to speed things up but to improve the veracity of scientific knowledge itself. For example, rapid, iterative, and open-access publishing will engage a much greater proportion of the scientific community in the peer-review process. Conventional paper-based scientific journals, meanwhile, will be augmented by dynamic publishing tools such as blogs, wikis, Web-enabled RSS feeds, and podcasts that turn scientific publications into living documents. Projects such as MIT's OpenWetWare are already doing this.
A resource from the American Anthropological Association: "Racism is not about how you look, it is about how people assign meaning to how you look..." more»
Looking through the eyes of history, science and lived experience, the RACE Project explains differences among people and reveals the reality – and unreality – of race. The story of race is complex and may challenge how we think about race and human variation, about the differences and similarities among people.
The International Society of the Learning Sciences sponsors two conferences and two journals. One pairing looks at issues at the intersection of technology and collaborative learning. The corresponding conference (CSCL) is at Rutgers this July. more»
The [conference] theme denotes the relationship between the technological interface (of mice) that supports individual or group cognition (of minds). It also reflects the larger societal context in which collaborative activity is valued, promoted, and encouraged (of society). Collaborative activity that is supported by computing resources can achieve its potential to foster creative problem solving, build and extend community, and amplify the resources available to individuals or groups.
Children with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and high levels of the stress hormone cortisol were likely to experience a decrease in the size of the hippocampus - a brain structure important in memory processing and emotion... more»
The National Science Foundation released new stats today for groups historically underrepresented in science and engineering, including such data as overall projected shifts in U.S. demographics, gender enrollment in grad school, and race/ethnicity representation in undergrad education. press release» data»
A combination of cultural toughness and focused practice makes particular places fertile ground for producing world-class athletes. As an athlete practices, myelin wraps around nerve fibers. Each layer adds an infinitesimal bit more skill and speed. The article makes it sound like its myelin all the way down... more»
So even here, at the core of one of the globe's brightest talent blooms, the question of that talent's source remains enigmatically tangled, perhaps as much of a mystery to those who nurture these athletes as it is to the rest of us. It's enough to make you wish for a set of X-ray glasses that could reveal how these invisible forces of culture, history, genes, practice, coaching and belief work together to form that elemental material we call talent — to wish that science could come up with a way to see talent as a substance as tangible as muscle and bone, and whose inner workings we could someday attempt to understand. As it turns out, that's exactly what's happening.
Every talent, according to Ericsson, is the result of a single process: deliberative practice...[which] means working on technique, seeking constant critical feedback and focusing ruthlessly on improving weeknesses... As Ericsson succinctly puts it, 'there's no cell type that geniuses have that the rest of us don't.'
STUDY: Becoming a scientist: The role of undergraduate research in students’ cognitive, personal, and professional development
During apprenticeships, faculty think they are socializing the next-generation while students believe they are experiencing personal and intellectual growth... more»
ABSTRACT: In this ethnographic study of summer undergraduate research (UR) experiences at four liberal arts colleges, where faculty and students work collaboratively on a project of mutual interest in an apprenticeship of authentic science research work, analysis of the accounts of faculty and student participants yields comparative insights into the structural elements of this form of UR program and its benefits for students. Comparison of the perspectives of faculty and their students revealed considerable agreement on the nature, range, and extent of students’ UR gains. Specific student gains relating to the process of “becoming a scientist” were described and illustrated by both groups. Faculty framed these gains as part of professional socialization into the sciences. In contrast, students emphasized their personal and intellectual development, with little awareness of their socialization into professional practice.
"Drawing on a recent research project on young children's communication difficulties, the author argues that the currently popular discourse on ‘listening to children’ is beset with practical and ethical ambiguities that result from the ‘socialness’ of human interaction, discourses and practices..." more»
In particular, the author argues that the notion of the child's ‘voice’ is, despite being a powerful rhetorical device, socially constructed. This article illustrates and discusses ambiguities that arose from fieldwork in two ‘special needs’ settings, considering their epistemological implications for social research, and offers reflexivity as a strategy for ethical research conduct.
"On countless playgrounds each day girls are at work crafting intricate social organizations through language and embodied action..." more»
In this ground-breaking ethnography, the voices of girls from a range of ethnicities and social classes show that rather than avoiding conflict, girls actively seek it out. The Hidden Life of Girls thus offers a challenge to the notion that girls are inherently supportive of each other. The moral universe that girls create, and in which they hold their peers (including boys) accountable, contradicts stereotypes that have dominated much work on female moral development.
This book describes women engaged with science or engineering at the margins: an innovative high school genetics class; a school-to-work internship for prospective engineers, an environmental action group, and a nonprofit conservation agency... more»
Yet, even in these more marginal workplaces, women had to pay a price. Working outside traditional laboratories, they enjoy little public prestige and receive significantly less financial compensation. Although most employers claimed to treat men and women equally, women in fact only achieved success when they acted like male professionals.
"In this book, [the authors] address the gap by presenting the first systematic examination of gender differences in the science career trajectory throughout the life course: from middle school through the career years. Our research explores both the early life course processes of selection into and out of the science educational track and the stratifying influences that operate after entry into the science labor market..." more»
The inadequate supply of interested and qualified women has been as much, if not more, of a hindrance to the feminization of science as has the influence of demand factors. In other words, in our view, it would be naïve to presume that science and engineering occupations are closed to women simply through discriminatory practices and structural barriers. Despite a trend toward convergence, it remains true that women trail men in their desire and persistence in pursuing scientific careers. Among those who do pursue science, however, a significant portion of women achieves a level of success on par with their male colleagues. (Xie & Shauman, Ch. 1)
Here's another one from the Google Books archive. Arguably, W.E.B. DuBois penned the first ethnography in 1899... more» PDF»
An account of two important tasks of language--presenting 'who' we are talking about (the referent) and 'what happened' to them (their actions and attributes) in a narrative--and explores how this presentation alters in relation to emergent forms and meanings... more»
I saw this inspirational work presented last week. For obvious reasons, it is among the most urgent work I can imagine. The paper makes clear the important role that teachers can play in the lives of children who have experienced catastrophic events or live in areas of ongoing emergencies.... more»
Eat chocolate before a test, but don't look at anything red. Here's some evidence of a wacky semiotic influence -- no doubt culturally specific if sizable at all... more»
We seem to have a real difficult time understanding the cultural work associated with schooling. Not a new perspective, but still one that doesn't get enough consideration... more»
We argue that the concept of "cultural production" allows us to better understand the resources for, and constraints upon, social action -- the interplay of agency and structure -- in a variety of educational institutions. We also argue that a culturally specific and relative conception of the "educated person" allows us to appreciate the historical and cultural particularities of the "products" of education, and thus provides a framework for understanding conflicts around different kinds of schooling. (1996, p. 3)
Social class is an organizing category in education. The values of dominant groups help explain the reproduction of social class... more»
First, adult wages vary widely, with the income gap increasing over recent years...Second, per capita pupil expenditure correlates with social class; hence schools differ in the quality of their facilities, materials, and human resources...Third, there is a high correspondence between student class status and school achievement and attainment...Although these strong links between class status, school structures, and student outcomes are well known, social class is still ignored or treated as if it were relatively unimportant to schooling. (Brantlinger, p. 1)
Lareau shows how middle-class parents, whether black or white, engage in a process of "concerted cultivation" designed to draw out children's talents and skills, while working-class and poor families rely on "the accomplishment of natural growth," in which a child's development unfolds spontaneously--as long as basic comfort, food, and shelter are provided... more»
Upcoming conference (March 8-11, 2007) associated with a broad, multidisciplinary organization of individuals interested in cultural, psychological, and social interrelations at all levels... conference» program» society»
Here's a theoretical recasting of some mental illnesses as behaviors with (plausible) positive selection pressures associated with them in evolutionary terms... more»
Does cognitive neuroscience really have the power to distinguish between psychological theories? more»
Ruh-roh! "An absence of prior sleep substantially compromises the neural and behavioral capacity for committing new experiences to memory"... more»
An examination of how topics fundamental to psychology -- identity and social relations, the self, cognition, emotion and motivation, and development -- are influenced by cultural meanings and practices... more»
The increased rate of forgetting with age may be from a slight shift in a normal forgetting mechanism... more»
Topics investigated at the Chicago School included urban sociology, community studies, immigration, racism, inequality, identity and adaptation, political participation, leisure and commercialized entertainment, African American politics, exclusion, community radicalism, religion, white people' perceptions of black communities, social problems, traditions, sub-cultures, urban planning, institutionalization, social reform, social mobility... more»
User-created content, social networking, mobile phones, virtual worlds, new scholarship and emerging forms of publication, and massively multiplayer educational gaming... more» critique»
To realize both general societal interests and worthwhile personal development, the content of educational programmes for children must be grounded in the local conditions within which the children live... more»
The brain may use fairly similar methods to generate light-based and sound-based memories... more»
"Culturally and educationally, the United States specializes in the production of kinds of persons described first by ethnic, racial, and linguistic lines and second by supposed mental abilities. Overlaps between the two systems of classification are frequent, systematically haphazard, and often deleterious..." more»
Human abilities and disabilities are variable social constructions that derive from a culture's sense of development... more» more»
Common sense allows that persons unable to handle a difficult problem can be labeled "disabled." Social analysis shows that being labeled often invites a public response that multiplies the difficulties facing the seemingly unable. Cultural analysis shows that disability refers most precisely to inadequate performances only on tasks that are arbitrarily circumscribed from daily life. Disabilities are less the property of persons than they are moments in a cultural focus. Everyone in any culture is subject to being labeled and disabled. (McDermott & Varenne, 1995)
The world's definitions are one thing and the life one actually lives is quite another. One cannot allow oneself, nor can one's family, friends, or lovers--to say nothing of one's children--to live according to the world's definitions: one must find a way, perpetually, to be stronger and better than that. (James Baldwin, The Evidence of Things Not Seen, 1985)
We have organized our schools to manufacture individual success and failure... more»
The success and failure system, as a cultural fact, is real in its connections to the political economy, exquisitely detailed in its connections with the everyday behavior of the people who make up the system, and in both these ways massively consequential in the lives of all. Yet it does not have to be this way, and if everyone stopped measuring, explaining, and remediating, school success and failure would in a significant sense disappear. Other ways to stratify would soon evolve, but this evolution would have the virtue of separating education from resource allocation. (Varenne & McDermott, 1998, p. viii)
An attempt to understand the relation between societal knowledge on the one hand, and children's learning and development of thinking and motives on the other... more»
Hmmm...do you think people have more real-life experience with petty crime or with white-tailed deer damaging property? Perhaps reasoning is somehow attentive to one's knowledge of everyday life... more»
SRCD conference in Boston from March 29 to April 1 to include such topics as child development in the rural poor, children’s understanding of truth and lies, neuroscience in anxious children... more» society»
Keywords: child development
Without social identity there is no human world. Without frameworks of similarity and difference, people would be unable to relate to each other in a consistent and meaningful fashion... more»
It is not consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. (Karl Marx)
Identity is produced and reproduced both in discourse -- narrative, rhetoric and representation -- and in the practical, often very material, consequences of identification (Richard Jenkins, 2004, p. 176)
The use of narrative self-references in ads -- where we get transported into the story line -- seem to make people overlook weak arguments... more»
Likely goes into the "just because you (barely) can category"... more»
Keywords: virtual worlds
Another effort attempting to ride the motivational wave of gaming for the purposes of learning serious content. Think of it as Po-Ke-Mon focused on really, really small phenomena... more»
Using Second Life as a context for distance learning in computer science... more»
For the first time, a cellular interaction has been demonstrated between purely cognitive and purely motor information. The study elucidates the mechanisms by which the basal ganglia integrate these two types of information... more»
In memoriam... more»
So it is hardly to wonder that my work looks like a grasping for patterns in a swirl of change: I was preadapted. My parents were divorced when I was three, and I was dispatched (the verb is appropriate) to live alone with an older woman, a nonrelative, amid the sylvan beauties of the Northern California countryside (a “nonvillage” of three or four hundred farmers, shopkeepers and summer visitors) in the plumb depths of the Great Depression. I was well cared for, and that’s about it, and I was pretty much left to put my life together (not without real help from schoolteachers responding to a bright kid, and, later on, the U. S. Navy, responding to a callow klutz) by myself. Without going on . . . all this predisposed me to becoming, in both life and work, the seeker after a pattern, however fragmentary, amid a swirl of accident, however pervasive. . . . It has never occurred to me, not really being a deep thinker, just a nervous one, to try to resolve this “binary.” I have just sought to live with it. Pitched early into things, I assumed, and I still assume, that what you are supposed to do is keep going with whatever you can find lying about to keep going with: to get from yesterday to today without foreclosing tomorrow. And it does, that resolute irresolution, indeed show in my work. (Geertz, 2005)
Comprehensive bibliography with full text, translations, and media... more»
From data structures to Arabic to NOVA science videos, here's a master list of online educational resources... more»
Keywords: educational resources
Cultural differences in mental life lie at the heart of any understanding of the human condition. The knowable world is incomplete if seen from any one point of view, incoherent if seen from all points of view at once, and empty if seen from nowhere in particular... more»
William James' thinking applied to the reality of World of Warcraft. What counts as ‘reality’ is the stuff which people care about. What counts as the real here is not the physical but the meaningful -- that is to say, the cultural... more»
Center explores how culture and social relations inform brain development, how the brain organizes cultural and social development, and how development gives rise to a cultural brain... more»
If a child experiences middle ear infection during the crucial first years of life, it may have long-term effects on subsequent language and literacy development... more»
Students who believed their intelligence could be developed placed a higher premium on learning, believed more in the power of effort, and had more constructive reactions to setbacks in school... more»
"When people play action games, they're changing the brain's pathway responsible for visual processing," says Daphne Bavelier. "These games push the human visual system to the limits and the brain adapts to it. That learning carries over into other activities and possibly everyday life." more»
Culture must be considered an intrinsic component of the human mind to a degree that most psychologists and even many anthropologists have not recognized... more»
How a people believe the mind works will, we now know, have a profound effect on how in it is compelled to work if anybody is to get on in a culture. And that fact, ironically, may indeed turn out to be a robust cultural universal." — Bruner (p. xvii)
Despite the recognized importance of cultural diversity in understanding the modern world, the emerging science of cognitive psychology has relied far more on experimental psychology, neurobiology, and computer science than on cultural anthropology for its models of how we think.
Emailing and information browsing are dominant in the U.S. But young people in China play online games, download video and music, enter imaginary worlds and assume online personas. In the United States, roughly 70 percent of Internet users are over the age of 30; in China, it is the other way around -- 70 percent of users here are under 30... more»
Reasons for optimism: the decline of magic, the tools for cultural production and distribution are in the pockets of youth, the increasing coalescence of scientific disciplines, a proper scientific understanding of irrationality, and humans are quite good at muddling... more»
How the brain tells time: It takes into account information from the immediate past while encoding a specific event... more»
Tutors aren't always better than reading a text. Tutorial dialogs are particularly effective when you are learning content that is beyond your current level of understanding when compared to reading... more»
Keywords: tutor research
Lone wolf ethnography has its place, but it also has significant scientific limitations. Team ethnography is a viable alternative, but it comes with numerous practical challenges... more»
Each piece of knowledge that either member of the team acquires speeds up the learning of the other or others. If this is accepted enthusiastically, without rivalry, then any team of whatever composition, but especially one contrasted in sex or age, will be able to do, not twice, but four or five times as much work as one person working alone. However, differential self-esteem and competitiveness are very likely to accompany any field work. (Margaret Mead, 1970, p. 326)
There are numerous influences of family mealtime on the psychological development of young people. It shapes their communicative expectations, well-being, healthy eating behaviors, vocabulary, explanations, knowledge, and family / community membership. more»
Learning sciences is an interdisciplinary field that studies teaching and learning. The sciences of learning include cognitive science, educational psychology, computer science, anthropology, sociology, liguistics, neuroscience, and other fields. Here's what we know... more»
Keywords: learning sciences
Perceiving the minds of others seems to run along two independent dimensions: (1) agency associated with self-control, morality and planning and (2) experience with sensations like hunger, pain, and fear... more»
This is a detailed look at how schools influence the kind of person a child becomes. How does this play out amidst the forces of globalization, tumultuous changes in local industry, and state and national school reform initiatives... more»
Two-thirds of the adult U.S. Internet population watched TV while browsing online last year. Media use is on the rise without declines in the variety of media channels. This is accomplished through more and more multitasking with media... more»
Experts: Which ones should you trust? Some open issues: To what extent is local expertise embodied in the individual mind as opposed to distributed in a network of tools and practices? What does expert practice look like across a variety of domains? Also, how does expertise develop through apprenticeships? more»
Experts are made, not born. Here's what psychology knows about the topic... more»
You might quickly dismiss "afk g2g too ef ot regen no poms," but massively multiplayer online games exhibit complex discourse forms when considered as situated 'everyday talk'... more»
Although school-based accounts suck up most of the oxygen, teaching and learning processes take many different forms under a broad variety of informal settings and circumstances... more»
Several family characteristics -- relating to fathers, gender, parental education, and ethnicity -- have been linked to children's access to discretionary, non-school activities, in the aggregate. Although the study focused on travel outcomes, there are strong implications here for family influences on the social organization of children's informal learning... more» paper» paper»
Women with strong implicit, gendered stereotypes about math ability and who self-identified as feminine performed worse and were less inclined to pursue math than women without those views -- even though many stated there wasn't a gender difference... more»
Ecological validity aside, there is some evidence here that personal experience with interracial romance aids in the "letting go" of fear-based (or at least "shock fear"-based) racial stereotypes that have been learned... more»
Cognitive processes are not universal throughout cultures... more»
Everyday talk is strongly shaped by the broader and social and cultural processes of society... more»
Progress indicators of state efforts to create seamless education systems from early childhood to the world of work. Where a child lives matters for his or her life prospects. Children from low-income families perform significantly worse when they enter kidergarten. Poor 12th graders read on par with affluent 8th graders... more»
"Children whose families live below poverty and with lower levels of family income are less likely to participate in extracurricular activities and to be academically on-track than children living in families above poverty and with higher levels of family income." Select indicators of child well being and daily activities... more»
Only 2% of youth met all four health criteria in this study. Some evidence of cultural mechanism linking health behaviors between parents and children... more»
87% of Americans have conducted research on a scientific topic online. The Internet is the primary news and information source about science for 40 million Americans... more»