REPORTS: From the Pew Economic Mobility Project

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»
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.

ARTICLE: Building a Nation of Polyglots, Starting With the Very Young

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»

ARTICLE: Secretary Spellings's Remarks at UNESCO General Conference Plenary Debate in Paris, France

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."

ARTICLE: Experimental School Gets Rid of Classes, Teachers

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»

PRESS RELEASE: Universities get $7 million for history-education clearinghouse

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»

ONLINE DEBATE: The Economist Oxford-Style Debate on Effectiveness of Technology in Education

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?

IMAGE OF SCIENCE: Astrophysicist Replaces Supercomputer with Eight PlayStation 3s

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»

VIDEO: A vision of students today [about the world and education]

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»

RESOURCE: Educator orientation island unveiled in Second Life

A new destination in Second Life designed to help quickly orient teachers to the immersive enterprise... more» more» more»

BOOK: The Gestural Origin of Language

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»

STUDY: Young toddlers think in terms of the whole object, not just parts

"This new research shows that as young toddlers learn language, they are more likely to focus on objects rather than parts..." more»

HANDBOOK: The New Handbook of Science and Technology Studies

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»

ARTICLE: Failing Schools Strain to Meet U.S. Standard

"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»

REPORT: National Action Plan for STEM Education

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»

ARTICLE: Snooze or Lose

Overstimulated, overscheduled kids are getting at least an hour’s less sleep than they need, a deficiency that, new research reveals, has the power to set their cognitive abilities back years... more»

QUOTE: Goethe on How We See and Learn to See

"We don’t know what we see; we see what we know."
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

STUDY: Ten Myths of Scientific Collaboration

From this book, here are 10 myths of scientific collaboration...

Big Myths...

  • 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.)

Other Myths...

  • 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.)

BOOK: Structures of Scientific Collaboration

"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.

SPECIAL ISSUE: Social Cognition in SCIENCE

Social cognition is a very active field these days. SCIENCE magazine recently did a series of articles on recent developments... more»

OPINION: Cave Man Didn’t Have Classrooms

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 are activities, lessons, clarifications about standards, and links to resources involved in the teaching and learning of math... more»

ARTICLE: 2007 Visualization Challenge Winners

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»

ARTICLE: What's Next: The Top Topics in Teaching and Learning This Year

From Edutopia, here are predictions about the trends in education for the upcoming year... more»

TALK: Pushing Past the Achievement Gap (video)

Gloria Ladson-Billings presents a broad conceptual framing / reaction to the achievement gap... 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»

Back from summer vacation...

I went to a much lower level of posting over the summer given a range of research, professional, and personal goals. The academic year just started yesterday. I'll be back to more regular posting to the blog.

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»

ARTICLE: The Scientific Research Potential of Virtual Worlds

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»

ARTICLE: 10 Practical Uses For Psychological Research in Everyday Life

Here's a top 10 list of what you can learn practically from psychological research... more»

BOOK SERIES: Acting with Technology

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»

ARTICLE: Baby Einsteins: Not So Smart After All

Mounting evidence suggests that passive screen sucking not only doesn't help children learn, but could also set back their development...more»

ARTICLE: Anthropologists Go Native in the Corporate Village

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»

QUOTE: Richard Rorty on Rational Argument

"What counts as rational argumentation is as historically determined and as context-dependent, as what counts as good French."

INTERACTIVE MEDIA: What will shape the future of Education? The 2006-2016 Education Map

Here's a research-based interactive and participatory map of the predicted major influences on education over the coming decade... more»

RESOURCE: Project Implicit - Online Implicit Association Tests (IATs)

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»

STUDY: Understanding the Building Blocks of Language and Thought

Infants comprehend spatial relationships such as "in" and "on" through language input from caregivers and the babies' own play behaviors... more»

ARTICLE: Japanese scientists develop robo-toddler

A group of scientists in Japan have developed a robot that acts like a toddler to better understand child development... more» more» movie»

RESEARCH GROUP: Harvard Family Research Project

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»

REPORT: Catalyzing the Development and Innovative Use of Open Educational Resources

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»

QUOTE: Jerome Bruner on Design Research in Education

"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)

ARTICLE: When Should a Kid Start Kindergarten?

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.

STUDY: New Adult Brain Cells May Be Central To Lifelong Learning

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: Children can perform approximate math without arithmetic instruction

"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»

STUDY: Thinking straight while seeing red?

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»

RESOURCE: New Graduation Rate Resource

Here's a beta version of a new online mapping tool to help the public, policymakers, and educational leaders understand the high school graduation crisis... web site» tool» article»

RESOURCE: Scratch - With simplified code, programming becomes child's play

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»

RESOURCE: Recommended Fieldwork & Analysis Equipment for Video-based Ethnographic Research

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»

RESOURCE: Audio Gear for Rich Media

I'll post our list of field recording equipment in a later article, but here's a nice summary of equipment and software that can be used to capture quality audio recordings... more»

RESOURCE: The National Science Digital Library

NSDL is the U.S. online library for education and research in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. more»

EDUCATIONAL OBJECTS: Interactive Physics Simulations

From the Physics Education Technology Team, here are a range of educational simulations focused on the learning of physics. more»

STUDY: Putting action in perspective

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»

ARTICLE: News from the Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center

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»

CLASSIC: Practical Thinking at Work (LCHC Newsletter, 1984)

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»

BOOK: Navigating Numeracies: Home/School Numeracy Practices

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»

RESEARCH GROUP: Early Algebra, Early Arithmetic

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»

STUDY: New Computer Model Predicts Crowd Behavior

Since you can't arrange an angry mob experimentally, why not try to simulate them and the resulting dynamics... more»

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.

NEW JOURNAL: Mind, Brain, and Education

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.

CONSENSUS REPORT: Learning In and Out of School in Diverse Environments

Banks-Learning-In-Out-of-School.jpgThis 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.

ARTICLE: Bots on The Ground

Humans have long displayed an uncanny ability to make emotional connections with their manufactured helpmates. People frequently treat machines they come to depend upon as "sort of alive." more»

PAPER: Pointing as Situated Practice

Gesture is bound up in becoming an expert. One way that people learn to see as a professional through pointing... more»

BROADCAST: Gestures help learning

Turns out that hand gestures are important for the learning of science subjects... more» book»

MICRO-REVIEW: Meaning and Memory in Gesture

"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»

ARTICLE: Beginning the Journey: Five-Year-Olds Drive Their Own PBL Projects

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»

CLASSIC: Certainty and the Public Understanding of Science: Science on Television

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»

ARTICLE: What the myth of mirror neurons gets wrong about the human brain

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»

STUDY: Toddlers find photos easier to learn from than drawings

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»

ARTICLE: Congress Gets Competitive With Bills

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: How We Reason

I haven't seen it first-hand yet, but here's a recent book by Johnson-Laird providing an update on his take on mental models... 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.

QUOTE: Richard Feynman on Philosophy of Science & Science

"Philosophy of science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds." - Attributed to Richard Feynman

STUDY: Self-regulation Abilities, Beyond Intelligence, Play Major Role In Early Achievement

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»

ARTICLE: Language Gap Mars Parent-Teacher Chats

Federal law requires school districts to provide interpreters for parent-teacher conferences. But demand far outstrips the state and federal funds provided. How are schools adapting? more»

ORGANIZATION: Encore - an Educational Network and Community for Open Resource Exchange

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.

STUDY: The root of dyscalculia found

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

The conference will be held in Nashville, Tennessee from August 1-4, 2007...conference» theme»

PROJECT: Our next teachers: avatar experts

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»

RESOURCE: NYT TimesSelect content is now free for university students and faculty

The pay content for the New York Times is now available to university students and full-time faculty for free... more»

STUDY: Toddlers engage in 'emotional eavesdropping' to guide their behavior

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»

RESOURCE: New Version of InqScribe Video and Audio Transcription Tool

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»

ARTICLE: As States Feel Pressed to Revisit Standards, Calls Are Being Renewed to Tighten Them

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»

RESOURCE: Online Video Annotation Takes A Giant Leap Forward

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»

ARTICLE: Subtracting a 'gifted' gap in math education

Students from low-income backgrounds or certain minority groups are all too often overlooked for placement in gifted and talented programs... more»

BOOK: The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and Remembers

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»

RESOURCE: Students' and Teachers' Conceptions and Science Education

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»

RESOURCE: TagCrowd - an online tool for creating simple visual summaries of any text

Simple online tool for visualizing word frequencies in any user-supplied text by creating what is popularly known as a tag cloud... more»

ORGANIZATION: Mondialogo Engineering Award

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»

ARTICLE: New Breed of Digital Tutors Yielding Learning Gains

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."

STUDY: Opportunities to Learn in America's Elementary Classrooms

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»

BOOK SERIES: The Science Inside Book Series at AAAS

The AAAS has been producing mainstream press book accounts around what is known scientifically on particular topics -- focusing on health issues in particular... more»

RESOURCE: How to Educate Your IRB [about ethnography]

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»

REPORT: Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8

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»

STUDY: Body position affects memory for events

Turns out that holding your body in the right physical position seems to lead to faster, more accurate access to certain memories... more»

BOOK: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

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»

RESOURCE: Online concept mapping tool

From information aesthetics, here's a nice online app for basic concept mapping... more»

BOOK: Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing

"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»

BOOK: Dreaming in Code

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.

POLL: Vote for the greatest discovery in psychology

After compiling their list of the Top Ten Discoveries in Psychology, PsyBlog is now asking people to vote for the most influential... vote»

STUDY: Fears learned by observing others are similar to those learned from direct experience

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»

STUDY: Metacognition: Faced with a test, rats can check their knowledge first

Rats can judge whether they have enough information to pass a test... more»

PERSPECTIVE: The Real OLPC Debate: Laptop Project vs. Education Project

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»

PERSPECTIVE: Neuroscience and Science Writing

Are "writerly approximations" acceptable when journalists cover neuroscience research as a way of collapsing different levels of scientific description? more»

BOOK: How We Think, But Not in School - A Storied Approach to Teaching

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»

RESOURCE: Long list of blogs about neuroscience and other topics

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»

CLASSIC: Bruner & Goodman - Value and Need as Organizing Factors in Perception (1947)

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)

STUDY: Professional Vision

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»

STUDY: How the brain makes memories that last a lifetime

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»

STUDY: Cognitive Apprenticeship in Science through Immersion in Laboratory Practices

Meaningfully engaging high school students in the practice of laboratory science can make a difference in their conceptual understanding and beliefs about science... more»

RESOURCE: Census Data in Google Earth

From Information Aesthetics, gCensus is an effort to make geographic data freely and easily accessible to the public -- without the need for expensive GIS software packages... tool» more» more»

STUDY: Research finds music training 'tunes' human auditory system

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."

STUDY: Prefrontal cortex loses neurons during adolescence

Apparently, the brain reorganizes in a very fundamental and gendered way during adolescence [in rats]. What it really means, who knows... more»

RESOURCE: How to get published by a university press

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»

RESOURCE: Low budget lighting for videorecording

Because visual anthropology research can take you into settings that are dark... more»

RESOURCE: Portable brain-computer interface (EEG)

The world’s first commercially available brain computer interface (BCI) for EEG... more»

BOOK: Connecting Girls and Science

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»

BOOK: Handbook of Research on Science Education

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»

STUDY: Families' engagement with young children's science and technology learning at home

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.

ORGANIZATION: Informal Science Web Portal

This online "knowledge networking" effort supports the field of informal science learning by providing resources to build knowledge, share outcomes and improve practice... more»

STUDY: Occasioned knowledge exploration in family interaction

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.

ARTICLE: The Multitasking Generation (Time magazine)

A 14 year-old girl: "You just parents always tell me I can't do homework while listening to music, but they don't understand that it helps me concentrate"... more»

ORGANIZATION: The Center on the Everyday Lives of Families (CELF) at UCLA

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»

RESOURCE: Videos of ICLS 2006 Presentations and Keynotes

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»

PERSPECTIVE: IRBs and the ethnography problem: demarcating ‘research’, locating allies

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»

RESOURCE: A Girl Like Me (video)

Gloria Ladson-Billings used the anguishing doll selection moment from this video to exemplify her recent work on the ethnography of (collective) misery -- miserable indeed... more»

ARTICLE: The new science of sharing

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.

RESOURCE: Understanding Race

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.

CONFERENCE: Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) 2007 - Mice, Minds & Society

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.

STUDY: Severe PTSD Damages Children's Brains

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»

DATA: NSF releases latest statistics on women, minorities and persons with disabilities

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»

ARTICLE: How to grow a super athlete

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.

STUDY: The ambiguity of the child’s ‘voice’ in social research

"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.

BOOK: The Hidden Life of Girls

"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.

BOOK: Women's Science

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.

BOOK: Women in science: Career processes and outcomes

"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)

CLASSIC: DuBois - The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (1899)

Here's another one from the Google Books archive. Arguably, W.E.B. DuBois penned the first ethnography in 1899... more» PDF»

BOOK: In other words: Variation in reference and narrative

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»

STUDY: Children, literacy and mass trauma

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»

STUDY: Research on the color red shows definite impact on achievement

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»

BOOK: The Cultural Production of the Educated Person

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)

BOOK: Dividing classes: How the middle class negotiates and rationalizes school advantage

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)

BOOK: Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life

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»

CONFERENCE: 2007 Society for Psychological Anthropology Biennial Meetings

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»

ARTICLE: The mind, as it evolves - Depression as a survival tool?

Here's a theoretical recasting of some mental illnesses as behaviors with (plausible) positive selection pressures associated with them in evolutionary terms... more»

STUDY: Boosting Brain Power -- With Chocolate

Our brains may get an attention boost for 2-3 hours from the flavonols found in dark chocolate. I can just imagine the "dark chocolate as test prep" advertisements being filmed already. Sigh... more»

PERSPECTIVE: Can Cognitive Neuroscience Tell Us Anything About the Mind?

Does cognitive neuroscience really have the power to distinguish between psychological theories? more»

STUDY: A deficit in the ability to form new human memories without sleep

Ruh-roh! "An absence of prior sleep substantially compromises the neural and behavioral capacity for committing new experiences to memory"... more»

BOOK: Handbook of Cultural Psychology

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»

STUDY: Problem forgetting may be a natural neural mechanism gone awry

The increased rate of forgetting with age may be from a slight shift in a normal forgetting mechanism... more»

CONFERENCE: The Legacy of the Chicago School of Sociology

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»

ARTICLE: Report identifies ed-tech trends to watch

User-created content, social networking, mobile phones, virtual worlds, new scholarship and emerging forms of publication, and massively multiplayer educational gaming... more» critique»

BOOK: Radical-Local Teaching and Learning: A Cultural-Historical Approach

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»

OPINION: Top Ten Psychology Studies (first half)

I would hope that Bruner's classic coin study makes the final cut... more»

STUDY: Auditory and visual memory use similar neural mechanisms

The brain may use fairly similar methods to generate light-based and sound-based memories... more»

OPINION: The ups and downs of 'team science'

"Traditional scientific research rewards the rugged individualist, who often triumphs by beating someone else... Collaborative research, on the other hand, requires a willingness to share credit." more»

STUDY: The Cultural Work of Learning Disabilities

"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»

STUDY: Culture as Disability

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)

BOOK: Successful Failure: The School America Builds

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)

RESOURCE: Visuwords Graphical Dictionary (free)

Thinkmap folks must be bumming. Here's a free online dictionary and thesaurus widget built on top of the WordNet database... more»

BOOK: Learning and Child Development: A Cultural-Historical Study

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»

STUDY: Decision making isn't always as rational as you think (or hope) 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»

CONFERENCE: Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting

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»

OPINION: Science Studies is Anthropology

A bit of boundary work attempting to equate Latour's pragmatist bent with the field of anthropology... more»

BOOK: Social Identity

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)

STUDY: Shaky details? Come up with a good story and people might not notice

The use of narrative self-references in ads -- where we get transported into the story line -- seem to make people overlook weak arguments... more»

RESOURCE: Second Life comes to (some) mobile phones

Likely goes into the "just because you (barely) can category"... more»

RESOURCE: Nanocos -- The Card Game of Nanotechnology Concepts

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»

ARTICLE: Distance Learning Moves Into 'Second Life' Virtual Classroom

Using Second Life as a context for distance learning in computer science... more»

STUDY: Decision-making -- Demonstration of a link between cognition and motor execution

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»

MEMORIAL: The Resolute Irresolution of Clifford Geertz

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)

BOOK: Clifford Geertz by His Colleagues

These edited speeches cover a broad range of topics, including Geertz's views on morality, cultural critique, interpretivism, time and change, Islam, violence, and cognition... more»

RESOURCE: Online Repository of the Works of Clifford Geertz

Comprehensive bibliography with full text, translations, and media... more»

STUDY: Revealing secret intentions in the brain

With 70% accuracy, it has been demonstrated that measurable brain activity reveals how a person has decided to act in the future... more»

RESOURCE: Massive List of Online Educational Resources

From data structures to Arabic to NOVA science videos, here's a master list of online educational resources... more»

BOOK: The Norton History of the Human Sciences

A comprehensive history of the human sciences--psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, and political science--from their precursors in early human culture to the present... more»

CLASSIC: Dewey - How We Think (1910)

The Google Books effort is making a range of classic volumes available, including this one from Dewey (and others). This is his treatise on how to go about educating minds... more»

BOOK: Why Do Men Barbecue? Recipes for Cultural Psychology

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»

RESOURCE: Fieldwork software and other fieldtools

Organizational software for fieldwork... more»

ESSAY: MMOGs as 'Genuine Reality'

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»

ORGANIZATION: Center for Culture, Brain, and Development (CBD) at UCLA

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»

STUDY: Recurrent Middle Ear Infections Can Have A Major Impact On Children's Development

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»

STUDY: Students who believe intelligence can be developed perform better

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»

STUDY: Action video games sharpen vision 20 percent

"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»

BOOK: Culture in Mind

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.

ARTICLE: Internet Boom in China Is Built on Virtual Fun

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»

OPINION: What are experts optimistic about? Why?

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»

STUDY: At Split-Second Intervals, Brain Has Sense of History

How the brain tells time: It takes into account information from the immediate past while encoding a specific event... more»

STUDY: When Are Tutorial Dialogues More Effective Than Reading?

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»

BOOK: Doing Team Ethnography: Warnings and Advice

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)

ARTICLE: People learn about health from TV dramas

According to the CDC, nearly nine out of 10 viewers reported learning something about diseases or how to prevent them from television... more» more»

BOOK: Family Mealtime as a Context of Development and Socialization

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»

BOOK: The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences

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»

STUDY: How our minds perceive the minds of others

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»
mind survey»

BOOK: Changing Classes: School Reform and the New Economy

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»

ARTICLE: Welcome to the 36-hour day

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»

BLOG: Terra Nova

A multiauthor blog about virtual worlds and their implications. Discussing synthetic worlds, MMOs, MMORPGs, Social Worlds, MUDs, MOOs, and MUSHes... more»

BOOK: Why?

Explanation is multifacted and pervasive. The reasons we offer every day are dictated by, and help constitute, social relationships... more»

REPORT: Online tagging behavior (Pew)

28% of Internet users have tagged or categorized content online; on any given day, 7% of internet users say they tag or categorize online content... more»

BOOK: The Philosophy of Expertise

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»

BOOK: The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance

Experts are made, not born. Here's what psychology knows about the topic... more»

STUDY: Daydreaming is natural

When not tasked with something to do, the mind wanders simply because it can... more»

STUDY: MMO Gaming as participation in complex discourse

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»

BOOK: Learning in places: The informal education reader

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»

STUDY: The social context of children's participation in discretionary activities

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»

STUDY: Implicit academic stereotypes win the day over explicit ones

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»

STUDY: Interracial cultural experience protects against racial stereotyping

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»

STUDY: The neural predictors of shopping

Specific patterns of brain activation predict subsequent purchases... more»

CONFERENCE: "Culture and Cognition" Theme at Association for Psychological Science (APS) 2007

Cognitive processes are not universal throughout cultures... more»

BOOK: Talk and Social Theory: Ecologies of Speaking and Listening in Everyday Life

Everyday talk is strongly shaped by the broader and social and cultural processes of society... more»

REPORT: From Cradle to Career - Quality Counts 2007 (EdWeek)

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»

REPORT: A Child's Day - 2003 (Census)

"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»

STUDY: Youth health behaviors somewhat linked to parents

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»

REPORT: The Internet as a Resource for News and Information about Science (Pew)

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»