Archive for the ‘Education – Academics’ Category

You can’t control everything that happens to you but …

December 18, 2018

… you can control the way you respond to everything that happens to you.

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That’s one of the admonitions from my adios lecture to my MBA students.

I was amped when Condi Rice used a version of the line in one of her speeches

Other snippets from her speech that caught my eye are below  …

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The world is a chaotic and dangerous place. 

The U.S. has since the end of World War II had an answer – we stand for free peoples and free markets, we are willing to support and defend them – we will sustain a balance of power that favors freedom.

Our friends and allies must be able to trust us. From Israel to Poland to the Philippines to Colombia and across the world — they must know that we are reliable and consistent and determined.  And our adversaries must have no reason to doubt our resolve — because peace really does come through strength.

When the world looks at us today they see an American government that cannot live within its means.  They see a government that continues to borrow money, mortgaging the future of generations to come.  The world knows that when a nation loses control of its finances, it eventually loses control of its destiny.  That is not the America that has inspired others to follow our lead.

The essence of America – that which really unites us — is not ethnicity, or nationality or religion – it is an idea — and what an idea it is:  That you can come from humble circumstances and do great things.  That it doesn’t matter where you came from but where you are going.

Ours has never been a narrative of grievance and entitlement.  We have not believed that I am doing poorly because you are doing well.

We have been successful too because Americans have known that one’s status at birth was not a permanent station in life.  You might not be able to control your circumstances but you could control your response to your circumstances

Today, when I can look at your zip code and can tell whether you are going to get a good education – can I really say that it doesn’t matter where you came from – it matters where you are going.  The crisis in K-12 education is a grave threat to who we are.

We need to have high standards for our students – self-esteem comes from achievement not from lax standards and false praise.  And we need to give parents greater choice – particularly poor parents whose kids – most often minorities — are trapped in failing neighborhood schools.

And on a personal note– a little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham – the most segregated big city in America – her parents can’t take her to a movie theater or a restaurant – but they make her believe that even though she can’t have a hamburger at the Woolworth’s lunch counter – she can be President of the United States and she becomes the Secretary of State.

Click to see the video

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Ouch: U.S. math scores continue to drop

December 6, 2018

U.S. now trails 39 countries …

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The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) recently released its  survey results for math “literacy” … and, the results aren’t pretty.

The average for 15-year-old U.S. students slipped to 470 on the PISA scale … down about 3.5% from 2009 … ranking the U.S. #40 among developed nations (see list at end of this post) … 20 points lower than the average of the 35 OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

The scores differential versus the OECD countries is roughly equal for the average, 25th percentile and 90th percentile … refuting claims that “our” best are head-to-head competitive with the the rest of the world’s best.

 

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Digging a bit deeper into the numbers ….

(more…)

Need proof that charter schools work?

December 4, 2018

New study of NYC charter schools provide compelling evidence.
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I recently stumbled upon an interesting research study by CREDO – the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University.

CREDO was established to gather and analyze empirical evidence about education reform and student performance (i.e. “outcomes) with a particular emphasis on innovative programs, curricula, policies and accountability practices.

A recent report focused on New York City  charter schools since “New York City has been the nexus of public discourse about charter schools for nearly two decades but only a fraction of that debate has been grounded in well researched evidence about charter schools’ impact on student outcomes.”

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And, the answer is …

(more…)

Score higher on the SATs … GUARANTEED!

November 30, 2018

Just make sure that your parents went to college.

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Earlier this week we posted about how Asian-American students are being admitted to selective elite high schools at increasingly high rates.

Why?

Because they are academic achievers.

Why?

In part because Asian-American parents place a high priority on education, drive their children to excel (especially in STEM academics) and provide their kids with extensive  extracurricular learning experiences.

And, oh yeah, they’ve probably gone to college … providing good role modeling and ready tutoring capabilities.

To that point …

The College Board published a  “Total Group Profile Report” for recent college-bound seniors …

One set of numbers caught my eye:

SAT scores by the student’s parents level of educational attainment.

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Note that about 2/3’s of the college-bound seniors taking the SAT came from homes with a degreed parent – either associate, bachelor or graduate.

Only about 1/3 came from homes with parents having only a high school education or less.

And, the performance differentials are substantial between the groups …

(more…)

Some “interesting” SAT results …

November 29, 2018

The College Board publishes a “Total Group Profile Report” for  college-bound seniors.

Browsing it, a couple of sets of numbers caught my eye ….

Let’s start with math scores/

Two big takeaways:

(1) The gap between boys and girls narrowed from the 40 point difference in the 1970s to about 25 points … but has remained fairly constant at that level for about the past 20 years

(2) Scores for both boys and girls have been falling for the past dozen years or so.

image

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OK, boys outscore girls in math, but girls do better on the verbal part of the SATs, right?

(more…)

Why are Asian-American students dominating “elite” schools?

November 27, 2018

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (“TJ” for short), is a selective DC-area magnet school designed to provide an elite, high-tech education for the most academically gifted students in Northern Virginia.

The school offers rigorous study in advanced college-level offerings like electrodynamics, neurobiology, and artificial intelligence.

High octane academics, for sure … offered to the best and brightest.

What’s the rub?

Demographic mix.

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The school’s newly accepted Class of 2022 is 65 percent Asian, 23 percent white, five percent Hispanic, and two percent black.

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20 years ago, the concern was that Black and Hispanic representation at TJ was less than half their demographic mix in Fairfax County – the “feeder” county.

Several initiatives were launched to increase Black and Hispanic representation, including early identification and proactive outreach to high potential minority children; supplementary in-school and extracurricular programs to teach and mentor them; and more ready access to prep and gateway courses such as Algebra.

While undertaking those initiatives, something unexpected happened.

The numbers of Black and Hispanic students applying and enrolled at TJ remained stalled at the pre-initiative levels. So, that’s still a concern.

But, during the same time period (and unrelated to the minority initiatives), the number of white students declined sharply … and the number of Asian-American students has soared.

Why is that?

(more…)

Answer to: Are you smarter than a 3rd grader?

November 20, 2018

Yesterday, we posted a question posed to me last year by my soon-to-be 10 year old granddaughter … and challenged you to give it a try:

Determine the numerical values for a roasted turkey, a slice of pie and a cob of corn.

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Here’s the answer … if you haven’t already done the problem, do it before peeking:

(more…)

Are you smarter than a 3rd grader?

November 19, 2018

A Thanksgiving Day puzzle from my granddaughter.

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What does your family do for fun at Thanksgiving?

Nowadays, mine tries to stump me with math problems.

Last year, my soon-to-be 10 year old granddaughter brought over a set of puzzles that she’d been working on at school (when she was in 3rd grade).

Give one a try:

Determine the numerical values for a roasted turkey, a slice of pie and a cob of corn.

image

We all like to whine that American students are slipping behind other countries in math and science … which begs a basic question:

Are you at least as smart as a 3rd grader?

I’ll post the answer tomorrow …

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Thanks to AMH for feeding the lead.
=========

#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

Shocker: Majority of Harvard students cut class…

August 31, 2018

A recent WSJ article written by a clinical psychologist advocated that college students attend classes.

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Say, what?

(more…)

Words really do matter … especially in a kid’s early years.

July 25, 2018

Interesting study reported in The Atlantic

A pair of psychologists – Betty Hart and Todd Risley –  got curious about why some 3 and 4 year old kids are more academically ready than others.

“They devised a novel (and exhaustive) methodology: for more than three years, they sampled the actual words spoken to young children from 42 families at 3 different socioeconomic levels: (1) welfare homes, (2) working-class homes, and (3) professionals’ homes. Then they tallied the quantity and quality of the words spoken to the kids. “

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The results were – in the words of the researchers – “astounding”…

(more…)

Great Moments in Education: Proud Americans

July 3, 2018

Recently, two  of my grandkids — Maddie & Ryne — “graduated” from pre-school and are ready to start kindergarten in the fall.

Both graduation ceremonies were awesome.

I love the pomp & circumstances that elevate the importance of education.

At Ryne’s ceremony, the parental crowd broke into applause when the kids presented their rendition of “Proud to Be An American”.

Very appropriate to the July 4th run-up.

If your battery needs charging, click the pic below to view a 15-second snippet.

There’s still hope ..

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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

>> Latest Posts

#HomaFiles

Mastering math … or anything else.

May 30, 2018

Some insights on the science & practice of learning.

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Interesting article buried in a weekend edition of the WSJ: “How a Polymath Mastered Math—and So Can You”

The subject polymath (a person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning) is Prof. Barbara Oakley.

To make her long story short, she was a self-proclaimed horrible math student in high school, dove back into math in her mid-20s, and is now an engineering professor..

“Her progression from desultory student to respected scholar led her to a sideline in the study of learning itself.”

She is the author of ‘A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra)’ and ‘Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential’.

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Here are a few snippets from the article …

(more…)

Frat boys party more, study less and earn more … say, what?

April 20, 2018

Fraternities get a lot of press.

You know: Heavy drinking, hazing tragedies and pure goofiness.

Why would anybody want their sons to join one?

Well, a couple of economists at Union College did a study that makes joining a fraternity look like a very rational decision.

clip_image002

Here’s the scoop …

(more…)

Score higher on the SATs … GUARANTEED!

April 6, 2018

Just make sure that your parents went to college.

=======

The College Board has just released it’s “Total Group Profile Report” for recent college-bound seniors …

One set of numbers caught my eye:

SAT scores by the student’s parents level of educational attainment.

image

Note that about 2/3’s of the college-bound seniors taking the SAT came from homes with a degreed parent – either associate, bachelor or graduate.

Only about 1/3 came from homes with parents having only a high school education or less.

And, the performance differentials are substantial between the groups …

(more…)

Some “interesting” SAT results …

April 5, 2018

The College Board has just released it’s “Total Group Profile Report” for  college-bound seniors.

A couple of sets of numbers caught my eye ….

Let’s start with math scores/

Two big takeaways:

(1) The gap between boys and girls narrowed from the 40 point difference in the 1970s to about 25 points … but has remained fairly constant at that level for about the past 20 years

(2) Scores for both boys and girls have been falling for the past dozen years or so.

image

=======

OK, boys outscore girls in math, but girls do better on the verbal part of the SATs, right?

(more…)

Need proof that charter schools work?

February 13, 2018

New study of NYC charter schools provide compelling evidence.
============

I recently stumbled upon an interesting research study by CREDO – the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University.

CREDO was established to gather and analyze empirical evidence about education reform and student performance (i.e. “outcomes) with a particular emphasis on innovative programs, curricula, policies and accountability practices.

A recent report focused on New York City  charter schools since “New York City has been the nexus of public discourse about charter schools for nearly two decades but only a fraction of that debate has been grounded in well researched evidence about charter schools’ impact on student outcomes.”

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And, the answer is …

(more…)

Teachers with conservative views don’t make the cut.

February 2, 2018

Topic came up (again) in a post-class chat with students, prompting this HomaFiles flashback…

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GREAT article in the WSJ from MSB’s own John Hasnas – MSB Professor of Policy & Ethics: The One Kind of Diversity Colleges Avoid

His central point: When recruiting faculty, universities seek diversity by gender, race and nationality … but, not ideology.

In many instances, conservatives and libertarians need not apply.

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That conclusion probably doesn’t surprise many of you who already see the elephant in the middle of the room.

But, Prof. Hasnas provides some texture and “inside scoop”

Here are a couple of highlight snippets from the article … (more…)

SOTU: Trump gave a shout-out to “American grit” ….

February 1, 2018

What is this “grit” that he’s talking about?
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In his inaugural SOTU, President Trump said:

Together, we can reclaim our building heritage.

We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways across our land.

And we will do it with American heart, American hands, and American grit.

So, what is this “grit” that he’s talking about?

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Well, psychology professor Angela Lee Duckworth has researched successful students, athletes and business managers.

She concludes that talent and intelligence will get you only so far.

Prof. Duckworth says the characteristic that separates successful people from the also-rans is, in a word, grit”.

Grit is tenacious spirit that keeps certain people dedicated to their goal (whether it involves their studies, their projects, their clients, or something else) for the long haul, determined to accomplish what they set out to do.

Grit is working with intensity and  stamina over long periods of time to incrementally chip away at some goal.

Prof. Duckworth says schools & companies should recruit people who are not only smart, but also demonstrate “true grit”.

Maybe she’s onto something.

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Here’s a TED talk in which Prof. Duckworth summarizes her findings.

 

* * * * *
Follow on Twitter @KenHoma                         >> Latest Posts

Frat boys party more, study less and earn more … say, what?

January 11, 2018

Fraternities get a lot of press.

You know: Heavy drinking, hazing tragedies and pure goofiness.

Why would anybody want their sons to join one?

Well, a couple of economists at Union College did a study that makes joining a fraternity look like a very rational decision.

clip_image002

Here’s the scoop …

(more…)

Answer to: Are you smarter than a 3rd grader?

November 28, 2017

Yesterday, we posted a question posed to me by my soon-to-be 9 year old granddaughter … and challenged you to give it a try:

Determine the numerical values for a roasted turkey, a slice of pie and a cob of corn.

image

Here’s the answer … if you haven’t already done the problem, do it before peeking:

(more…)

Are you smarter than a 3rd grader?

November 27, 2017

A Thanksgiving Day puzzle from my granddaughter.

==========

What does your family do for fun at Thanksgiving?

Nowadays, mine tries to stump me with math problems.

This year, my soon-to-be 9 year old granddaughter brought over a set of puzzles that she’d been working on at school (3rd grade).

Give one a try:

Determine the numerical values for a roasted turkey, a slice of pie and a cob of corn.

image

We all like to whine that American students are slipping behind other countries in math and science … which begs a basic question:

Are you at least as smart as a third grader?

I’ll post the answer tomorrow …

=========
Thanks to AMH for feeding the lead.
=========

#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

A prof says: “You earn exam points … and, the burden of proof is on you”

November 7, 2017

Students often take issue with grades … sometimes understandably, sometimes not so much.

For perspective, here’s an interesting op-ed by an econ prof …

(more…)

Gates, Zuckerberg … and the limits on educational philanthropy.

October 24, 2017

Both threw much money at education with disappointing results.

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Two related reports hit over the weekend.

The first announced that the Gates Foundation would spend more than $1.7 billion over the next five years to pay for new initiatives in K-12 public education. The plan is a “redirection” of prior initiatives. More on that later.

As the Washington Post observed, Gates’ prior mega-contributions to improve K-12 education “didn’t go so well, but the man, if anything, is persistent.”

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The second story dealt with Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million donation to improving Newark NJ’s schools. A report was released indicating disappointing results. More on that later, too.

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I commend both Gates and Zuckerberg for throwing a massive amount of money at improving education. Their intentions seem good and the amounts of money are, as we say in academia, statistically significant.

That said, what’s going on?

 

(more…)

Frat boys party more, study less and earn more … say, what?

October 23, 2017

Fraternities get a lot of press.

You know: Heavy drinking, hazing tragedies and pure goofiness.

Why would anybody want their sons to join one?

Well, a couple of economists at Union College did a study that makes joining a fraternity look like a very rational decision.

clip_image002

Here’s the scoop …

(more…)

Words really do matter … especially in a kid’s early years.

October 20, 2017

Interesting study reported in The Atlantic

A pair of psychologists – Betty Hart and Todd Risley –  got curious about why some 3 and 4 year old kids are more academically ready than others.

“They devised a novel (and exhaustive) methodology: for more than three years, they sampled the actual words spoken to young children from 42 families at 3 different socioeconomic levels: (1) welfare homes, (2) working-class homes, and (3) professionals’ homes. Then they tallied the quantity and quality of the words spoken to the kids. “

image

The results were – in the words of the researchers – “astounding”…

(more…)

College: Making Freshman year (almost) free …

October 11, 2017

Let more students earn AP credits by putting “boilerplate” courses online and beefing-up certification testing.

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A article posted on Real Clear Politics caught my eye.

The author Steven Klinsky, is credentialed as a businessman and education reformer, chairman of Harvard’s Public Education Policy Group and founder of the Modern States Education Alliance (MSEA).

He observes that (1) traditional brick & mortar colleges are increasingly unaffordable, (2) that “the tuition cost for many online courses has been set every bit as high (or sometimes higher!) than for the same course delivered in the physical classroom” and (3) that increasingly popular MOOCs can deliver quality content but no college credits—just “certificates of completion”.

So, as a private citizen and philanthropist, Mr. Klinsky has been trying to “square the circle” with MSEA’s “Freshman Year for Free” program.

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How does Klinsky and MSEA plan to do it?

(more…)

Score higher on the SATs … GUARANTEED!

October 6, 2017

Just make sure that your parents went to college.

=======

The College Board publishes a “Total Group Profile Report” on college-bound seniors …

One set of numbers caught my eye:

SAT scores by the student’s parents level of educational attainment.

image

Note that about 2/3’s of the college-bound seniors taking the SAT came from homes with a degreed parent – either associate, bachelor or graduate.

Only about 1/3 came from homes with parents having only a high school education or less.

And, the performance differentials are substantial between the groups …

(more…)

Some “interesting” SAT results …

October 5, 2017

The College Board publishes a “Total Group Profile Report” college-bound seniors.

A couple of sets of numbers caught my eye ….

Let’s start with math scores/

Two big takeaways:

(1) The gap between boys and girls narrowed from the 40 point difference in the 1970s to about 25 points … but has remained fairly constant at that level for about the past 20 years

(2) Scores for both boys and girls have been falling for the past dozen years or so.

image

=======

OK, boys outscore girls in math, but girls do better on the verbal part of the SATs, right?

(more…)

Answer: Are you smarter than a 10th grader?

September 25, 2017

Here’s the ANSWER to to last week’s math challenge

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Last week, we touted Chicago’s Noble Network of Charter Schools … specifically, its intensive math curriculum

And, we presented a challenge question (taken from the 10th grade curriculum) …

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Noble Charter HS – Math Challenge Question

The rectangle shown below is divided into four green squares, seven gold squares, four orange squares, and one blue rectangle.

If the perimeter of the blue rectangle is 20 cm, what is the perimeter of the larger rectangle?

Explain your reasoning.

         Recommended: click to download and print PDF

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Here’s the answer …. and a method for get it.

(more…)

Question: Are you smarter than a 10th grader?

September 22, 2017

A math success story … and a challenge (for you).

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Earlier in the week, we posted results of a report ranking U.S. high school students #40 in math literacy among developed nations.

A friend reminded me that those are averages … and there are some bright lights.

One such bright light is shining at Chicago’s Noble Network of Charter Schools.

Noble is comprised of a growing network of high quality public high schools located in Chicago’s communities of greatest need.

Noble has 18 campuses educating 12,000 students.

True to its mission, 98% of the students are minorities and 89% low income.

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Here’s the kicker …

According to Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes:

Students at The Noble Network of Charter Schools receive the equivalent of nearly two years’ worth of math in each single year. Source

What kind of math are they working on?

Here’s a problem from the 10th grade curriculum …. try it.

(more…)

More distressing news on the math front …

September 19, 2017

Last week, we praised algebra, logic and Latin as basic learning skills.

In praise of math, logic, and Latin … say, what?

Yesterday, we reported that U.S. high schoolers math scores are continuing to drop … and that the U.S. now ranks #40 among developed countries.

Ouch: U.S. math scores continue to drop

Now there’s discouraging news out of California: Algebra is under siege.

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In 2009, the California Community Colleges system began requiring demonstrated math competency at the level “typically known as Intermediate Algebra … or another mathematics course at the same level, with the same rigor.”

What was the result, and what do educators plan to do about it?

(more…)

Ouch: U.S. math scores continue to drop

September 18, 2017

U.S. now trails 39 countries …

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The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) recently released its 2015 survey results for math “literacy” … and, the results aren’t pretty.

The average for 15-year-old U.S. students slipped to 470 on the PISA scale … down about 3.5% from 2009 … ranking the U.S. #40 among developed nations (see list at end of this post) … 20 points lower than the average of the 35 OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

The scores differential versus the OECD countries is roughly equal for the average, 25th percentile and 90th percentile … refuting claims that “our” best are head-to-head competitive with the the rest of the world’s best.

 

image

==========

Digging a bit deeper into the numbers ….

(more…)

You’re not paying attention !

August 24, 2017

Busting students using facial recognition software.

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I always walk around the classroom when I teach.

Couple of reasons: it  burns off some nervous energy and it lets me peek at students’ computer screens.

The latter is the the acid test of attentiveness.

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If I see one or two students checking email or sports scores, I figure it’s their problem and they move to the front of the queue for cold call questions.

If I see a lot of students “digitally distracted”, I figure that it’s my problem and I’ve got to adjust … e.g. shift out of lecture mode and into discussion mode.

That’s pretty straightforward in the classroom.

But, how to know if students are paying attention when they’re being beamed material online?

(more…)

What makes a good teacher?

August 23, 2017

Short answer: It’s anybody’s guess, until you see them in action.

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Interesting article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives

A couple of economic researchers chased after a Holy Grail: “Searching for Effective Teachers”.

They reviewed a stack of studies, conducted a few new ones and drew conclusions about teacher recruitment in public schools.

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Some of their conclusions are conventional, and some may surprise you …

(more…)

Teachers with conservative views don’t make the cut.

August 11, 2017

Topic came up in recent chats, prompting this HomaFiles flashback…

=======

GREAT article in the WSJ from MSB’s own John Hasnas – MSB Professor of Policy & Ethics: The One Kind of Diversity Colleges Avoid

His central point: When recruiting faculty, universities seek diversity by gender, race and nationality … but, not ideology.

In many instances, conservatives and libertarians need not apply.

image

=======

That conclusion probably doesn’t surprise many of you who already see the elephant in the middle of the room.

But, Prof. Hasnas provides some texture and “inside scoop”

Here are a couple of highlight snippets from the article … (more…)

If you’re stressed out by your grade, just change it … say, what?

August 10, 2017

Here’s one from the “great moments in higher education” file.

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According to Inside Higher Education

Rick Watson — a business professor at the University of Georgia’s Terry School of Business — included a “stress-reduction policy” in his course syllabus. syllabus

Under the policy, students could change their grades if they felt “unduly stressed” by the one they received, and leave group work at any time, without any explanation, if they felt stressed by the situation.

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Here is the complete stress-reduction policy ….

(more…)

Technology throws educators another curve ball …

July 26, 2017

Now, students can access an inventory of exam answers.

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In a prior post Why Johnny can’t write … we reported that high school teachers are assigning fewer writing assignments … in part, because many students simply Google the topic and plagiarize much of their work.

And, they can do so with a high degree of impunity, knowing that teachers and administrators will look the other way rather than go through the aggravation of prosecuting a case of academic dishonesty.

OK, that’s essays and term papers.

But, tests that students take should be relatively clean, right?

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Not so fast, cheating on tests has always been around, but now it’s going high tech …

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Forever, teachers have provided students will sample test questions and libraried past exams.

Students have passed the word to fellow students about tests – how hard? what topics? what questions?

Now there’s a high tech turbo-charger.

In the old days, students might try to slip a note to a fellow test-taker with answers.

Not a prevalent problem since the process was easily detected with documented evidence – the captured note.

Teachers now report that some students will use their cell phones to take a photo of their answers and instant message them to a classmate across the room.

Hit delete and the electronic evidence is gone.

Try to ban cell phones and hear a chorus of “But, it’s my calculator, I need it.”

Now it’s not just a few renegades in class sharing answers.

The process is escalating thanks to technology.

For example, there’s company called QEDed .”

“QEDed is a mobile app that allows you to share your questions and answers from same name courses such as Econ 101, Calculus 101 with schoolmates and new friends around the world.”

Sounds innocuous enough, right?

Here’s a nightmare scenario for teachers:

In real-time student test takers access a QEDed-like site and search for a similar question.

Ouch.

Of course, a defense mechanism might be having students surrender their electronic devices as they enter the test room.

Yeah, right.

Let me know how that goes …

=========

#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

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Why Johnny can’t write …

July 20, 2017

Chatting with faculty colleagues, there seems to be a consensus that writing skills among MBA students have been declining.

I’m not talking about flowery prose and precise grammar.

I’m talking about logical argumentation … being able to explain why something is happening and what to do about it.

My hypothesis was that colleges aren’t requiring students to take courses (or demonstrate proficiency) in, say, critical thinking or logic … and that college students today aren’t required to write many papers that hone their thinking and writing skills.

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Testing my hypothesis on a middle school math teacher-friend, I got a rude awakening …

(more…)

Will liberal arts majors inherit the world?

July 13, 2017

A strong argument … but the data contradicts.

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One of my summer reads is a book called “The fuzzy and the techie” by Scott Hartley –formerly of Google & Facebook, now a venture capitalist.

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Hartley’s basic premise is that, almost by definition, liberal arts majors acquire fundamental thinking and communication skills, such as critical thinking, logical argumentation, and complex problem solving.

Sounds good, but here’s the rub …

(more…)

Should chess be taught in schools?

July 11, 2017

Chess players are smarter – DNA or training?

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Interesting article from the American Council of Science and Health …

A group of researchers examined people who do and do not play chess.

The question: are chess players smarter than non-chess players?

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Here’s what the researchers found …

(more…)

Want to estimate somebody’s IQ?

July 10, 2017

Ask them what their college major was.

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As the American Council of Science and Health puts it:

Though we don’t like to admit it, intelligence and IQ matter.

Creative people tend to have higher IQs.

Expertise, in any area, generally requires a higher IQ.

One research study concluded that a degree in math or physics takes an IQ of at least 120.

Taking the converse of that last point a step further, an analysis by Quartz indicates that a person’s college major serves as a good proxy for intellectual aptitude.

The Quartz analysis wasn’t able to determine the average IQ by college major, but it was able to triangulate from several cognitive metrics that all converged on a similar pattern.

So, extrapolating to IQ from a metric like SAT or GRE scores isn’t a big leap.

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Let’s drill down on the findings …

(more…)

Should lawmakers (and regulators) have to eat their own cooking?

July 7, 2017

Might induce some genuine empathy and motivate some constructive action.

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According to The Atlantic …

As a presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter criticized “exclusive private schools that allow the children of the political and economic elite to avoid public schools that are considered dangerous or inferior.”

When he assumed office in 1977, he did something remarkable:

He enrolled his 9-year-old daughter, Amy, in a predominantly black Washington, D.C., public school.

Amy became the first child of a sitting U.S. president to attend a public school since 1906.

She still is.

Gotta give the man credit for walking the talk.

Former President Obama?

Not so much …

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A Dept. of Education study found that students in the nation’s capital that were provided with vouchers allowing them to attend private school made “statistically significant gains in achievement.”

Despite that finding, then President Obama curtailed the program … and turned around and enrolled his daughters in Sidwell Friends – the swank private school of choice for the DC elite.

So, it wasn’t at all surprising that several sources found that many of the Democratic Senators who voted against school voucher advocate Betsy DeVos –- opt out of the public school system and send their off-spring to private schools.

OK, maybe they really thought that DeVos wasn’t as qualified as Obama’s basketball buddy, Arne Duncan, who presided for 7 years over declining test scores and “failing schools” headlines.

Or, maybe their pro-choice inclinations don’t really extend beyond their family & friends when it comes to education.

As the USN&WR opined:

Education politics are big business in America, often pitting institutionalized interests like the NEA against parents and kids.

And, equally unfortunately, there are far too many people who are in a position to right the wrongs who are taking advantage of their ability to opt out of the discussion, at least as far as their own children are concerned.

Where education is concerned there’s one America for the elites, like members of Congress and the President, who send their children to private schools.

And, there’s one for everyone else, the regular people who are seeing the educational dreams they have for their children shattered on the altar of politics.

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So, what’s the answer?

(more…)

Mastering math … or anything else.

July 6, 2017

Some insights on the science & practice of learning.

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Interesting article buried in the  WSJ: “How a Polymath Mastered Math—and So Can You”

The subject polymath (a person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning) is Prof. Barbara Oakley.

To make her long story short, she was a self-proclaimed horrible math student in high school, dove back into math in her mid-20s, and is now an engineering professor..

“Her progression from desultory student to respected scholar led her to a sideline in the study of learning itself.”

She is the author of ‘A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra)’ and ‘Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential’.

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Here are a few snippets from the article …

(more…)

Great moments in education … really

June 20, 2017

DC public school “graduates” pre-schoolers.

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Yes, I’m a doting grandfather.

My granddaughter Maddie has been attending pre-school at Hyde-Addison Elementary — a DC public school.

Not a a typical DC school since it’s located in Georgetown …

Evidence: Last week, a highly supportive parents’ group arranged for Maddie’s pre-school class to “graduate” in caps & gowns.

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My first reaction: It seems like a bit of overkill … but she sure looks cute.

Upon reflection, I think the parents at Hyde-Addison School have hit on a brilliant idea…

(more…)

Mastering math … or anything else.

May 25, 2017

Some insights on the science & practice of learning.

=======

Interesting article buried in the weekend edition of the WSJ: “How a Polymath Mastered Math—and So Can You”

The subject polymath (a person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning) is Prof. Barbara Oakley.

To make her long story short, she was a self-proclaimed horrible math student in high school, dove back into math in her mid-20s, and is now an engineering professor..

“Her progression from desultory student to respected scholar led her to a sideline in the study of learning itself.”

She is the author of ‘A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra)’ and ‘Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential’.

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Here are a few snippets from the article …

(more…)

A prof says: “You earn exam points … and, the burden of proof is on you”

April 28, 2017

Students often take issue with grades … sometimes understandably, sometimes not so much.

For perspective, here’s an interesting op-ed by an econ prof …

(more…)

Teachers with conservative views don’t make the cut.

April 7, 2017

Topic came up (again) in a post-class chat with students, prompting this HomaFiles flashback…

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GREAT article in the WSJ from MSB’s own John Hasnas – MSB Professor of Policy & Ethics: The One Kind of Diversity Colleges Avoid

His central point: When recruiting faculty, universities seek diversity by gender, race and nationality … but, not ideology.

In many instances, conservatives and libertarians need not apply.

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That conclusion probably doesn’t surprise many of you who already see the elephant in the middle of the room.

But, Prof. Hasnas provides some texture and “inside scoop”

Here are a couple of highlight snippets from the article … (more…)

Should lawmakers (and regulators) have to eat their own cooking?

March 2, 2017

Might induce some genuine empathy and motivate some constructive action.

=========

According to The Atlantic …

As a presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter criticized “exclusive private schools that allow the children of the political and economic elite to avoid public schools that are considered dangerous or inferior.”

When he assumed office in 1977, he did something remarkable:

He enrolled his 9-year-old daughter, Amy, in a predominantly black Washington, D.C., public school.

Amy became the first child of a sitting U.S. president to attend a public school since 1906.

She still is.

Gotta give the man credit for walking the talk.

Former President Obama?

Not so much …

image

A Dept. of Education study found that students in the nation’s capital that were provided with vouchers allowing them to attend private school made “statistically significant gains in achievement.”

Despite that finding, then President Obama curtailed the program … and turned around and enrolled his daughters in Sidwell Friends – the swank private school of choice for the DC elite.

So, it wasn’t at all surprising that several sources found that many of the Democratic Senators who voted against school voucher advocate Betsy DeVos –- opt out of the public school system and send their off-spring to private schools.

OK, maybe they really thought that DeVos wasn’t as qualified as Obama’s basketball buddy, Arne Duncan, who presided for 7 years over declining test scores and “failing schools” headlines.

Or, maybe their pro-choice inclinations don’t really extend beyond their family & friends when it comes to education.

As the USN&WR opined:

Education politics are big business in America, often pitting institutionalized interests like the NEA against parents and kids.

And, equally unfortunately, there are far too many people who are in a position to right the wrongs who are taking advantage of their ability to opt out of the discussion, at least as far as their own children are concerned.

Where education is concerned there’s one America for the elites, like members of Congress and the President, who send their children to private schools.

And, there’s one for everyone else, the regular people who are seeing the educational dreams they have for their children shattered on the altar of politics.

========

So, what’s the answer?

(more…)

Tell me again why Duncan was good, but charter-advocate DeVos is bad …

February 8, 2017

Math scores dropped since 2009 … U.S. now trails 39 countries.

Strikes me that Duncan is an easy act for DeVos to follow as Education Secretary..

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The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) recently released its 2015 survey results for math “literacy” … and, the results aren’t pretty.

The average for 15-year-old U.S. students slipped to 470 on the PISA scale … down about 3.5% from 2009 … ranking the U.S. #40 among developed nations (see list at end of this post) … 20 points lower than the average of the 35 OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

The scores differential versus the OECD countries is roughly equal for the average, 25th percentile and 90th percentile … refuting claims that “our” best are head-to-head competitive with the the rest of the world’s best.

 

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Digging a bit deeper into the numbers ….

(more…)

Want higher exam grades?

January 31, 2017

Well, then quit browsing the Internet during class.

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A recent study by psychology researchers at Michigan State University investigated students’ actual Internet usage during classes.

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The students agreed to have their in-class browsing activity monitored .

The researchers then matched the browsing activity with the students’ self-reported browsing behavior, their overall academic readiness (think: SAT / ACT scores), their self-reported motivation and interest in the class, and their performance on the course’s final exam.

Here’s what the researchers discovered …

(more…)