Posts categorized “Uncategorized”.

Professional Development

I’ve been feeling stuck in abstraction, too removed from what often feels like “real” work—partly just from being in grad school, partly from the incredible distance caused by this pandemic. So last week I attended some teacher professional development!

I’ve been reading Megan Bang‘s work here and there for years, and recently revisited some of it for a literature review, but I had never had the opportunity to watch her ethical and intellectual convictions “in action” as it were. Despite the limitations of online PD sessions, it was an inspiring look at the cumulative work that the Learning in Places project has accomplished in the past decades, as well as a chance to reconnect with the daily constraints of science teachers. It was also really nice in this time of acute racial reckoning to hear from folks who have been thinking carefully about how to address systemic issues for longer than the past few months.

I am hoping that after a couple more weeks of focusing on my dissertation work I can get back to creating professional development experiences for field trip educators, and no doubt this work will be at the front of my mind.

AERA 2018

Long but exciting week at the AERA conference in NYC. I’ve had a cold for the last several weeks so I didn’t see as much of the conference as I might have, but found some really inspiring work nonetheless. Maisie Gholson was such a treat to watch, as were numerous Vanderbilt friends. An evening trip to the American Museum of Natural History was an obvious highlight, as was learning about the research program at AMNH. Finally digging into their call for a coherent research agenda in informal science learning in preparation for some work this summer at PacSCI and CWB! Now, to get through the last bits of this semester.

Reliable Circumstances

Last week the University of Rochester announced a very interesting update to the famous “Marshmallow Study”. In the original study, children were put in a room and given a single treat, after which the researcher left the room for a time. The children were told that they could eat the treat if they wanted to, but that if they waited until the researcher returned fifteen minutes later, they would be given a second treat in addition to the first. In follow-up studies decades later, kids who held out longer, despite the temptation to eat the first treat, were shown to have better “success” on all kinds of qualitative and quantitative measures.

In the study released this week, researchers showed that they could influence the wait times of children by manipulating the reliability of the researcher. In the “unreliable” case, researchers made promises that they failed to deliver on. In the “reliable” case, researchers made the same promises, but did deliver. Kids given the “unreliable” researchers waited for significantly less time than the average from the original study, while kids given the “reliable” researchers waited significantly longer, which findings suggest that an overall sense of the reliability of their environment heavily influences children’s tendency to delay gratification.

Math Anxiety in Early Elementary Students

A new study out of the University of Chicago tracks “math anxiety” in early elementary students. Interestingly, they found that because anxiety most notably affects working memory, it also tends to affect higher-performing students more profoundly than lower-performing students. The idea is that because so often lower-performing students have less robust working memory to begin with, and so use externalization strategies, their achievement on math tests is less affected by anxiety.

(Link to an article about the study here.)

Mastering Self-Control

Went to see Roy Baumeister and John Tierney give a brief talk about willpower (based on their book “Willpower”) at Town Hall last night. It was a cursory talk, though Baumeister’s observations of “decision fatigue” were intriguing, as were his claims that similar phenomena illustrate that willpower acts as a muscle. Unfortunately for me, follow-up questions about ADD and other specifics about the potential applications of his theory were barely addressed. In particular, I wonder what Baumeister would say about notions of self-efficacy, which are (for me) a more compelling explanation, at least of the data presented in this 30 minute talk.

ADD research

After hearing Dr. Gabor Maté interviewed on NPR recently, I immediately picked up his book “Scattered“, which has quickly become one of my favorite books on ADD. In addition to discussing some of the neurobiology (Dr. Maté claims that ADD is a miscalibration of the dopamine-receptor system due to stress in early childhood), the book gives clear importance to the emotional context within which the ADD child functions and develops. Most importantly, perhaps, he re-frames ADD in terms of development. “Attention Deficit”, he claims, is not a static disorder, but a sign that the development of the individual has been arrested. From that perspective, he provides insight into how to help continue that development, particularly in the context of emotionally supportive relationships.