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»
Keywords: everyday cognition
"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»
Keywords: general psychology
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»
Keywords: learning technology
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»
Keywords: perceptual learning
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.
Keywords: science studies
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.
Keywords: racial stereotypes
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»