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Annie Murphy Paul: Why Floundering Makes Learning Better

TED: Sir Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity

PBS News: Bringing Babies to the Classroom to Teach Empathy, Prevent Bullying

Study Finds Possible Bias in High School Math Teachers

Head Impacts in College Sports May Reduce Learning in College Athletes

Catastrophic Head Injury Three Times Greater in High School versus Collegiate Football Players

Physically Fit Students Tend to Score Higher on Standardized Tests

The Neuroscience of Effort

Babies Brains Benefit from Music Lessons: Even Before They Can Walk and Talk

Chelsea's Beacon: An Online Magazine for Children


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Language Structure: You’re Born with It

 

April 8, 2014—Humans are unique in their ability to acquire language. But how? A new study published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) shows that we are in fact born with the basic fundamental knowledge of language, thus shedding light on the age-old linguistic “nature vs. nurture” debate.

While languages differ from each other in many ways, certain aspects appear to be shared across languages. These aspects might stem from linguistic principles that are active in all human brains. A natural question then arises: are infants born with knowledge of how the human words might sound like? Are infants biased to consider certain sound sequences as more word-like than others?

“The results of this new study suggest that, the sound patterns of human languages are the product of an inborn biological instinct, very much like birdsong,” said Prof. Iris Berent of Northeastern University in Boston, who co-authored the study with a research team from the International School of Advanced Studies in Italy, headed by Dr. Jacques Mehler. The study’s first author is Dr. David Gómez.
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Perceptions of Student Ability, Testing Pressures Hinder Some Science Teachers

 

Boston College researchers find barriers to use of science teaching method

Chestnut Hill, MA ; April 5, 2014—A survey of science teachers finds they support a new approach to science education, but they struggle to believe that all students are capable of exploring science using a method called argumentation, according to researchers from the Lynch School of Education at Boston College.
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Kinder, Gentler Med School: Students Less Depressed, Learn More

 

Curriculum changes, resilience training lowers anxiety, SLU research shows                                           

ST. LOUIS; March 31, 2014—Removing pressure from medical school while teaching students skills to manage stress and bounce back from adversity improves their mental health and boosts their academic achievement, Saint Louis University research finds.
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Who’s Afraid of Math? Study Finds Some Genetic Factors


Genetics plays a role, but researchers say environment still key

COLUMBUS, OH; March 18, 2014—A new study of math anxiety shows how some people may be at greater risk to fear math not only because of negative experiences, but also because of genetic risks related to both general anxiety and math skills.
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Preschoolers Outsmart College Students at Figuring out Gizmos

BERKELEY; March 6, 2014—Preschoolers can be smarter than college students at figuring out how unusual toys and gadgets work because they’re more flexible and less biased than adults in their ideas about cause and effect, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Edinburgh.
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Study: Classroom Focus on Social and Emotional Skills Can Lead to Academic Gains

WASHINGTON, DC; March 6, 2014—Classroom programs designed to improve elementary school students’ social and emotional skills can also increase reading and math achievement, even if academic improvement is not a direct goal of the skills building, according to a study to be published this month in American Educational Research Journal (AERJ). The benefit holds true for students across a range of socio-economic backgrounds.
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Retention Leads to Discipline Problems in Other Kids

 

Kids who are 'held back' may contribute to disruptive middle school environment

DURHAM, NC; February 28, 2014—When students repeat a grade, it can spell trouble for their classmates, according to a new Duke University-led study of nearly 80,000 middle-schoolers.
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Can Babies Learn to Read? Probably Not, NYU Study Finds

February 25, 2014—Can babies learn to read? While parents use DVDs and other media in an attempt to teach their infants to read, these tools don't instill reading skills in babies, a study by researchers at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development has found.
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Intuitive Number Games Boost Children's Math Performance

CHAMPAIGN, IL; January 29, 2014—A quick glance at two, unequal groups of paper clips (or other objects) leads most people to immediately intuit which group has more. In a new study, researchers report that practicing this kind of simple, instinctive numerical exercise can improve children's ability to solve math problems.
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Practice Makes Perfect If You Have a Partner's Touch

January 23, 2014—People improve their performance more when they practice with a partner rather than on their own, according to a new study.
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Study: Kids Teased in P.E. Class Exercise Less a Year Later

 

Anti-bullying efforts may boost physical fitness

January 16, 2014—A new study found that children who were bullied during P.E. class or other physical activities were less likely to participate in physical activity one year later. 
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Researchers Show the Power of Mirror Neuron System in Learning and Language Understanding

TEMPE, AZ; December 19, 2013—Anyone who has tried to learn a second language knows how difficult it is to absorb new words and use them to accurately express ideas in a completely new cultural format. Now, research into some of the fundamental ways the brain accepts information and tags it could lead to new, more effective ways for people to learn a second language.
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No Math Gene: Learning Mathematics Takes Practice

 

Practice, not innate skill, makes for good mathematicians

December 13, 2013—New research at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim could have an effect on how math is taught.
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A Sudden Interest in Math: How Teachers Can Motivate Their Pupils

 

Researchers create professional development program to promote open dialogue in the classroom

December 5, 2013—The lack of interest in math or natural sciences is one of the most frequently voiced causes for concern in the debate surrounding education, at least in Germany. It has been seen time and again that pupils lose their enthusiasm for physics, chemistry and math once they reach eighth or ninth grade. But is this inevitable? And if not, how can teachers steer a different course?
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Different Types of Teacher-Child Interactions Support Children's Development in Different Areas

 

Study finds responsive teaching and language-rich instruction are both important for student success

November 21, 2013—Teachers' daily interactions with children are crucial to making sure they're ready for school. Many state early childhood systems and the federal Office of Head Start consider teacher-child interactions when they measure programs' quality. But research hasn't always been clear about which aspects of interactions are most important to how children do academically and socially. A new study that used a novel approach to analyzing data in this area has identified which types of teacher-child interactions support children's learning and development in which areas.
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A Decline in Creativity? It Depends on How You Look at It

November 14, 2013—Research in recent years has suggested that young Americans might be less creative now than in decades past, even while their intelligence—as measured by IQ tests—continues to rise.
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One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

 

International study documents importance of language to learning math

October 28, 2013—Talk to your toddler. And use numbers when you talk. Doing so may give a child a better head start in math than teaching her to memorize 1-2-3 counting routines.
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Participation in Mindfulness-Based Program Improves Teacher Well-Being

October 24, 2013—Teacher well-being, efficacy, burnout-related stress, time-related stress and mindfulness significantly improve when teachers participate in the CARE (Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education) for Teachers program, according to Penn State researchers.
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Spatial, Written Language Skills Predict Math Competence

October 22, 2013—Early math skills are emerging as important to later academic achievement. As many countries seek to strengthen their workforces in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, understanding the early contributions to math skills becomes increasingly vital. New longitudinal research from Finland has found that children's early spatial skills and knowledge of written letters, rather than oral language skills, predict competence in this area.
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Baby's Innate Number Sense Predicts Future Math Skill

 

Sense of quantity is there before the words or numbers

DURHAM, NC; October 22, 2013—Babies who are good at telling the difference between large and small groups of items even before learning how to count are more likely to do better with numbers in the future, according to new research from the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences.
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Non-Traditional Mathematics Curriculum Results in Higher Standardized Test Scores

COLUMBIA, MO; September 16, 2013—For many years, studies have shown that American students score significantly lower than students worldwide in mathematics achievement, ranking 25th among 34 countries. Now, researchers from the University of Missouri have found high school students in the United States achieve higher scores on a standardized mathematics test if they study from a curriculum known as integrated mathematics.
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Study Shows Mindfulness Training Can Help Reduce Teacher Stress and Burnout

MADISON, WI; August 28, 2013—Teachers who practice "mindfulness" are better able to reduce their own levels of stress and prevent burnout, according to a new study conducted by the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds (CIHM) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Waisman Center.
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Do Girls Really Experience More Math Anxiety?

 

Or do they just admit to more?

August 26, 2013—Girls report more math anxiety on general survey measures but are not actually more anxious during math classes and exams, according to new research forthcoming in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science (APS).

Existing research suggests that females are more anxious when it comes to mathematics than their male peers, despite similar levels of achievement. But education researchers Thomas Götz and Madeleine Bieg of the University of Konstanz and the Thurgau University of Teacher Education and colleagues identified a critical limitation of previous studies examining math anxiety: They asked students to describe more generalized perceptions of mathematics anxiety, rather than assessing anxiety during actual math classes and exams.
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Going through the Motions Improves Dance Performance

July 23, 2013—Expert ballet dancers seem to glide effortlessly across the stage, but learning the steps is both physically and mentally demanding. New research suggests that dance marking—loosely practicing a routine by "going through the motions"—may improve the quality of dance performance by reducing the mental strain needed to perfect the movements.

The new findings, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science (APS), suggest that marking may alleviate the conflict between the cognitive and physical aspects of dance practice, allowing dancers to memorize and repeat steps more fluidly.
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Digital Tablets May Improve Classroom Learning

June 26, 2013—During 2012-2013, over 2,000 pupils and 150 teachers in early childhood, primary, secondary and special education, took part in a study to identify the best learning activities with tablets, and the advantages and disadvantages of using them.
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Quality Matters More Than Quantity for Word Learning

June 24, 2013—A new study by psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania now shows that early vocabulary improvement is likely to have more to do with the “quality” of the interactions in which the words are used rather than the sheer quantity of speech directed at young children. Moreover, the study shows that, unlike quantity, the quality of these interactions is not related to the parents’ socioeconomic status.  
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Mindfulness Can Increase Wellbeing and Reduce Stress in School Children

June 19, 2013—Mental training could reduce symptoms of stress and depression and promote wellbeing among school children, say U.K. researchers.
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TLC for Education: Tribal Learning in the Classroom

June 12, 2013—In a recent interview with psychologist and neuropsychotherapist Louis Cozolino, Gina Stepp explores the concepts behind his 2013 book, The Social Neuroscience of Education. The human brain is a social organ, Cozolino points out. Its natural habitat for growing is in the context of secure attachment bonds and nurturing relationships.

How can we apply this understanding to reimagining the educational system? The approach Cozolino offers isn't a quick or easy fix, but it is fairly simple in principle: create classroom situations that come as close as possible to the early tribal social environments in which the human brain first learned to learn.
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Teacher Collaboration, Professional Communities Improve Student Math Scores

CHARLOTTE; June 7, 2013—Many elementary students' math performance improves when their teachers collaborate, work in professional learning communities or do both, yet most students don't spend all of their elementary school years in these settings, a new study by UNC Charlotte researchers shows. The U.S. Department of Education funded the study, which the journal Sociology of Education recently published.
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Look! Something Shiny! How Some Textbook Visuals can Hurt Learning

COLUMBUS, Ohio; May 8, 2013—Adding captivating visuals to a textbook lesson to attract children’s interest may sometimes make it harder for them to learn, a new study suggests. Researchers found that 6- to 8-year-old children best learned how to read simple bar graphs when the graphs were plain and a single color.
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Early Math and Reading Ability Linked to Job and Income in Adulthood

APS; May 8, 2013—Math and reading ability at age 7 may be linked with socioeconomic status several decades later, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The childhood abilities predict socioeconomic status in adulthood over and above associations with intelligence, education, and socioeconomic status in childhood.
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Teachers' Gestures Boost Math Learning

MSU, March 29, 2013—Students perform better when their instructors use hand gestures—a simple teaching tool that could yield benefits in higher-level math such as algebra.

This is "some of the strongest evidence yet that gesturing may have a unique effect on learning" say the researchers who performed this classroom comparison study. As a side note, they point out that U.S. students lag behind some countries in math performance, and interestingly, teachers in the United States tend to use gestures less than teachers in other countries.
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Outdoor Education Helps Minority Students Close Gap in Environmental Literacy

March 22, 2013—Environmental education programs that took middle school students outdoors to learn helped minority students close a gap in environmental literacy (EL), according to research from North Carolina State University.
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Mindfulness at School Reduces Likelihood of Depression-Related Symptoms in Adolescents

LEUVEN, BELGIUM; March 15, 2013—While mindfulness has already been widely tested and applied in patients with depression, this is the first time the method has been studied in a large group of adolescents in a school-based setting, using a randomised controlled design.
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Closer Personal Relationships Could Help Teens Overcome Learning Disabilities

AFTAU, February 28, 2013 In addition to struggling in school, many learning disabled children are known to face social and emotional challenges including depression, anxiety, and isolation. Often beginning early in childhood, they become more pronounced during adolescence, an emotionally turbulent time. For these youngsters, more positive relationships with the significant adults in their lives—including parents and teachers—can improve learning and "socioemotional" experiences, says Dr. Michal Al-Yagon of Tel Aviv University's Jaime and Joan Constantiner School of Education.
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Engaging Educators

Daniel H. Pink's bestseller Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us addresses how to break out of what Pink calls "Motivation 2.0" thinking—a mentality that depends on carrots and sticks to the point that, in many cases, they have been inappropriately applied. "Motivation 2.0 still serves some purposes well," Pink writes. "Sometimes it works; many times it doesn't. And understanding its defects will help determine which parts to keep and which to discard as we fashion an upgrade."
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Researchers Examine How Teachers Can Increase Students' Interest and Engagement in the Classroom

October 8, 2012—Although many factors can contribute to students' academic risk, negative emotions associated with learning can cause students' disengagement, withdrawal, and failure in school. A new article, published today in Communication Education, explored how specific teacher communication behaviors can influence students' emotional interest, cognitive interest, and engagement.
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Teachers, School Climate Key to Latino Immigrants' Academic Success

September 11, 2012—Teachers and schools that value diversity have a big impact on the academic experiences of Latino immigrant children living in predominantly White communities. That's the finding of a new study by researchers at the University of Kentucky. The study appears in a special section of the September/October 2012 issue of Child Development on children from immigrant families.
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Relationships Improve Student Success

COLUMBIA, MO; June 30, 2009—When students are underachieving, school policymakers often examine class size, curriculum and funding, but University of Missouri researchers suggest establishing relationships may be a powerful and less expensive way to improve students' success. In a review of the research they show that students with positive attachments to their teachers and schools have higher grades and higher standardized test scores.
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Got Behavior Problems in the Classroom? Call Grandma

April 3, 2008—Of all the issues teachers face in the classroom, behavioral problems seem to top the list of pet peeves. In fact, student misbehavior has raised such a roadblock to academic achievement in some nations that if there were an intervention program to solve the problem, its developers would surely have school administrators beating down their door. And if the program could address a couple of other pressing issues at the same time, most everyone would have to agree that it would be a keeper.

Interestingly, a program studied by researchers from the University of Tennessee could be said to have reached this level of success. The 2003 study looked at how older adults might affect the school behavior patterns of young children, as well as students’ attitudes toward the elderly. The children in this case were 4th-graders.
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The Homework Debate Continues

March 25, 2008—Is homework necessary for young children, or is it burdensome? This debate is not new, it returns like a comet, at least once every generation. News sources from PBS to The Washington Post have discussed the issue, searching for the balance: how to educate children at all socio-economic levels without overloading some or boring others. Some innovative schools have even begun to work at eliminating the kind of monotonous busy-work that kills a child's incentive to learn and keeps them from their families for extended periods in the evenings.

But is all homework bad for children? How can parents best help their children learn? This interesting question was addressed presciently by educator John Holt in his 1967 book, How Children Learn. How well have his observations stood the test of time?
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How Important Is Homework?

March 4, 2008—In May of 2005, two education researchers from Pennsylvania State University—David P. Baker and Gerald K. LeTendre—coauthored an investigative report titled National Differences, Global Similarities: World Culture and the Future of Schooling. Analyzing data collected from schools across more than 41 nations, the researchers came to a conclusion that might surprise many parents and educators: More homework does not necessarily translate to higher academic achievement.

But wait. Isn’t Japan’s technological success due to the slavish study habits of its school children? Isn’t there a strong proven connection between increased homework and good grades? And aren’t we obligated to ensure children’s school success for the greater national good?  After all, how can academically lagging nations expect to maintain economic strength in a world that is increasingly dependent on technology?
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