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»