Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

April 23, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Another Big Surprise: Reflection Helps Learning


Hot on the heels of Another Shocker – NOT! Students Respond Better To Support Than Threats, yet another study has been released finding something that has been obvious to teachers for years — reflecting on a learning experience enhances it.

Here’s how the Harvard Business Journal summarized the results:

Research participants who did an arithmetic brain-teaser and then reflected on their strategies for solving it went on to do 18% better in a second round than their peers who hadn’t set aside time to reflect, according to Giada Di Stefano of HEC Paris, Francesca Gino and Gary Pisano of Harvard Business School, and Bradley Staats of the University of North Carolina. The unconscious learning that happens when you tackle a challenging task can become more effective if you deliberately couple it with controlled, conscious attempts to learn by thinking, the research suggests.

A huge added benefit to this research is that the study itself is available for free download. And, not only that, but it’s actually written in a way relatively accessible to laypeople (without lots of academic gobbledy-guk) and contains a great summary of previous research on learning and reflection.

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources On Student & Teacher Reflection.

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April 21, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Another Shocker – NOT! Students Respond Better To Support Than Threats


Yet another study has found that threats of punishment is not a very effective motivating tactic.

You can read a summary of this new study at Science Daily, Teachers’ scare tactics may lead to lower exam scores.

And if you want to read about a zillion other studies that show the same thing, you can start at:

Surprise, Surprise — Study Finds Shouting At Children “creates further discipline problems”

Emphasizing Pride, Not Shame, In Classroom Management

The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students

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April 17, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Study: Gratitude Increases Self-Control

'PATIENCE' photo (c) 2009, Gemma Bardsley - license:

I’ve written in the past about my use of “Reflection Cards” in the classroom, including the research behind them (you can download a copy of the card and read the research at my post, Giving Students “Reflection Cards.”

Research shows that self-control can be replenished by both self-affirmation exercises and by remembering better times.

So, I created cards that I sometimes give to students when they are having behavior issues in the classroom to complete outside and come back in after they’re done. The cards just take a couple of minutes to complete and include these instructions:

1. Please write at least three sentences about a time (or times) you have felt successful and happy:

2. Please write at least three sentences about something that is important to you (friends, family, sports, etc.) and why it’s important:

They’ve worked pretty effectively.

Now, new research written about in the Harvard Business Reviews suggests that having people write what they are grateful for can also increase patience. You can read about their experiments in the short article, Gratitude Is the New Willpower.

Here’s an excerpt:


I guess it’s time to add another instruction to the card (this is what the researchers had participants do):

Briefly write about an event from your past that made you feel grateful:

I’m adding this post to to lists:

The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control

The Best Resources On “Gratitude”

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April 15, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Research On Listening To Music When Studying

'Typical Teen' photo (c) 2011, Tyler-Adams - license:

I’ve published a few posts about the question of playing background music in the classroom, along with info on the practice of listening to music when studying.

I thought I’d bring them together in one post, and invite readers to contribute their own ideas and experiences, too.

I’ll be adding this “Best” list to The Best Resources On The Dangers Of Multitasking.

Here goes:

This is a reprint of my first post on the topic. It’s worth looking at the original post because of the comments readers left:

A  study find that listening to music while performing a task can impair cognitive ability.

Researchers divided participants into three groups — one listening to music they liked, one to music they didn’t like, and one with no music:

The most accurate recall occurred when participants performed the task in the quieter, steady-state environments. Thus listening to music, regardless of whether people liked or disliked it, impaired their concurrent performance.

One of the study’s authors concluded:

“Most people listen to music at the same time as, rather than prior to performing a task. To reduce the negative effects of background music when recalling information in order one should either perform the task in quiet or only listen to music prior to performing the task.”

This reflects my experience in the classroom (and my own personal experience). I use music a lot with English Language Learners as parts of lessons, and use music in lessons with our mainstream English classes when studying Bob Marley and, also, New Orleans. But they are always specific parts of lessons. Any time I acquiesce to student pleas to let them listen to those music examples outside of those specific lessons — for example, if they are working on a group project or during silent reading, it becomes an obvious distraction and I usually turn it off relatively quickly.

However, there is an important caveat — I have found that a few students who face particular challenges actually work better if they are listening to their own mp3 player at times, and have made individual agreements to let students sometimes use them.

Several years ago, when I was teaching a particularly challenging class, having students close their eyes for a couple of minutes after lunch and listen to soothing music also worked well as a calming influence. But they did not have to perform any task other than calming down, and the study does point out that music can “very positive effect on our general mental health” in that kind of situation.

Another study has found that working in quiet is the best atmosphere for cognitive work, listening to music you don’t like is next, and listening to music you like creates the worst cognitive atmosphere.

Don’t Listen to Music While Studying is useful post from Edutopia.

Okay, I’m all ears. Please share if your experience agrees, or disagrees, with this research….

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April 15, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Research Studies Of The Week

'magnifying glass' photo (c) 2005, Tall Chris - license:

I often write about research studies from various fields and how they can be applied to the classroom. I write individual posts about ones that I think are especially significant, and will continue to do so. However, so many studies are published that it’s hard to keep up. So I’ve started writing a “round-up” of some of them each week or every other week as a regular feature.

By the way, you might also be interested in My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2013.

Here are some new useful studies (and related resources):

The Education Endowment Foundation has published a useful free Neuroscience and Education Literature Review. They describe it as:

A review of education literature, considering the impact of neuroscience informed approaches or interventions on the attainment of children.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources On “Brain-Based Learning.”

Frequent school moves can harm children’s mental health — study is from The Washington Post, though it’s no surprise to many of us teachers. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

With data from some 6,500 families who were part of a long-term study, the researchers found that students who as children had moved to three or more different schools were 60 percent more likely to experience at least one psychotic symptom when they were 12 years old. They did not find a causal relationship between frequent school changes and an increased risk of psychotic symptoms in preteens but the researchers said that moving often can fuel low self-esteem in children who find themselves socially isolated in new environments, which can affect brain chemistry.

Youth Gang Involvement Is a Public Health Issue Into Adulthood, Study Concludes is from Education Week. Here’s an excerpt:

It probably won’t surprise many educators that a young person’s decision to join a gang will have negative effects that continue well into his or her future. But a new study, published this month in the American Journal of Public Health, paints a clearer picture of how long the effects of that decision echo and how negatively it impacts a broad scope of factors—from the likelihood of later drug abuse and incarceration to poor health in adulthood.

America’s Teens Outscore Adults On Stress is from TIME Magazine. Here’s an excerpt:

Since 2007, the American Psychological Association (APA) has conducted a survey of different aspects of stress in America. This year’s analysis focused on teens, and on a 10-point scale, adolescents ranked their stress at 5.8, compared with a score of 5.1 reported by adults.

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning About Teens & Stress.

I’m adding this video report from The Brookings Institution to The Best Resources For Learning About Homework Issues:

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April 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

How Adam Grant Just Made Teaching More Complicated

I’m a big fan of Professor Adam Grant’s work (see my interview with him at Education Week, Teachers As “Givers, Takers & Matchers”: An Interview With Adam Grant).

And I was very excited to see his must-read guest column in The New York Times today, Raising a Moral Child.

It’s geared towards parents, but just about everything he says is also extraordinarily useful to teachers, too.

He discusses recent studies identifying effective ways to help children become “kind, compassionate and helpful.”

Developing these kinds of qualities are being identified more and more as an important part of our work as educators (see my Ed Week series, ‘Character Is Not Compliance Out Of Fear,‘ and The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources).

There’s so much substance in his short column that I’m not even going to try to summarize it — just read the whole thing.

I do, however, want to highlight one part of it where I think he just made our job more complicated (obviously, I’m talking tongue-in-cheek):


Many of us who are familiar with Carol Dweck’s work on praising action instead of intelligence might find a contradiction in this finding.

I know I was a bit confused.

So I sent an email to Adam asking about this apparent contradiction and he was kind enough to respond right away. Here’s what he said:

In “Mindset”, Carol Dweck describes her famous body of groundbreaking research demonstrating that when we praise children for their intelligence, they develop a fixed view of ability, which leads them to give up in the face of failure. Instead of telling them how smart they are, it’s wise to praise their effort, which encourages them to see their abilities as malleable and persist to overcome obstacles. Some parents and teachers have stretched this idea to its logical conclusion: always praise actions, not fixed qualities. In the domain of moral character, though, this might be the wrong approach. If we want children to become caring and generous, the evidence suggests that there’s value in helping them see these as stable dimensions of their identities.

That said, even in the moral domain, there may be some risks of praising character. Research on moral licensing suggests that when we see ourselves as good people, we sometimes feel greater freedom to engage in unethical behaviors. This is captured in chilling detail in Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson, and in The Honest Truth about Dishonesty by Dan Ariely. I’d love to see more research on how to instill a sense of moral character without leading people to say, “I’m a good person, so I can do a bad thing”—or worse yet, “I’m a good person, so this clearly isn’t a bad thing.”

So, now, based on this research, we might need to be aware of which character quality we want to teach and employ contradictory instructional strategies for some of them.

Teaching is complicated, ain’t it?

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April 9, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Poverty-related Challenges Sap Instructional Time in High Schools”

Poverty-related Challenges Sap Instructional Time in High Schools is the headline of an article in Education Week on a new study that finds teachers in high-poverty schools like ours end up with thirty minutes of less instructional time each day than those in higher-income areas:

Disruptions such as welcoming new students to the classrooms, and locking down the school during emergencies and drills eat away at more instructional time at high poverty schools than in lower-poverty schools. So too do routines, such transitioning students from the hallways to the class period. First period is a particular challenge in high-poverty schools.

I tend to think that in schools with an excellent administrative team in place and with a strong system of teacher support, like we have, that half-hour figure is considerably less. However, there is no question that we do face challenges.

Here’s a passage in the story that particularly struck me:


If you teach in a high-poverty school, what do you think?

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April 6, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Bunch Of Student Motivation Resources

'Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink' photo (c) 2010, cdorobek - license:

As regular readers know, I have a particular interest in the topic of student motivation, and my third book on the topic will be out next year.

I’ve been accumulating some related resources, and am putting them all together in this post:

Studies Offer Practical Ways to Bring ‘Growth Mindset’ Research to Schools is an Ed Week post about some recent studies. One of them featured having students read about the struggles experienced by famous scientists, as opposed by focusing solely on their achievements, and resulted in higher student motivation and academic achievement. Here’s an earlier study done by the same researchers with Taiwanese students (the most recent research was with classes in New York) that reached similar conclusions and has a lot of interesting background information. I’m adding this info to The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset.”

Teachers told: use ‘not yet’ in place of ‘fail’ when marking is from The Telegraph. It’s about a new guide for UK teachers on how to help students develop a growth mindset. I’m adding it to the same list.

Carol Dweck and others have developed an online program focused on helping students develop a growth mindset around math. They are invited teachers to participate for free. You can find more information about it here.

Here are links to two articles that don’t really provide any new information on motivational issues (at least, they’re not new if you’ve been following this blog). However, they do provide good short summaries on the topic. I’m adding them to The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students:

Why Incentives Don’t Actually Motivate People To Do Better Work is from Business Insider.

How To Motivate People – 4 Steps Backed By Science is from Barking Up The Wrong Tree.

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March 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Knowledge Motivates Preschoolers More Than Stickers, Study Says”


Ho-hum — yet another study has been published demonstrating that extrinsic motivation is less effective than intrinsic motivation, even though that doesn’t deter proponents of merit pay and other forms of classroom punishments and rewards.

Education Week reports that:

Offering meaningful knowledge is “an effective tool for enhancing task engagement in preschool-age children,” the researchers wrote. They suggested that such rewards could be useful when teaching math facts, for example, or learning to write letters.

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students.

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March 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources On The Dangers Of Multitasking

'How to become a SocialMediaManager' photo (c) 2011, Urs Steiner - license:

I’m beginning to prepare and short lesson on dangers of multitasking, and thought I’d bring together some of the resources I’ll be using for it. Additional suggestions are welcome:

You might also be interested in The Best Research On Listening To Music When Studying.

Don’t Multitask: Your Brain Will Thank You is from TIME.

Why Humans Are Bad at Multitasking is from Live Science.

12 reasons to stop multitasking now is from Fox News.

The Multitasking Mind is from

Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work is from Forbes.

How Does Multitasking Change the Way Kids Learn? is from Mind/Shift.

Here’s a video from Daniel Willingham:

What people know about the cost of multitasking is also by Dan Willingham.

Data shows kids shouldn’t multitask is by Dan Willingham, too.

Here’s an interactive on multitasking from Scientific American.

Please Include Attribution to With This Graphic
Multitasking Infographic

This is What Heavy Multitasking Could Be Doing To Your Brain is from Psy Blog.

Study Suggests Multi-Tasking Is Not So Bad — I’m Skeptical

You can see all 1,300 of my “The Best…” lists here.

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March 9, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Research Studies Of The Week

'magnifying glass' photo (c) 2005, Tall Chris - license:

I often write about research studies from various fields and how they can be applied to the classroom. I write individual posts about ones that I think are especially significant, and will continue to do so. However, so many studies are published that it’s hard to keep up. So I’ve started writing a “round-up” of some of them each week or every other week as a regular feature.

By the way, you might also be interested in My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2013.

Here are some new useful studies (and related resources):

Our quick guide to literacy research for teachers is a useful summary from The Guardian.

Socialization technique helps in academic achievement, trial study finds is from The Washington Post, and describes results from a study on using Social Emotional Learning in the classroom. I’m adding it to The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources. Here’s more info on the same research.

Does Stymied Educational Attainment Lead to Depression? is an interesting article about new research, and appeared in the Pacific Standard. Here’s an excerpt:

Reynolds and Baird conclude that there are no long-term emotional costs to aiming high and falling short when it comes to educational aspirations. This contradicts decades of research that holds that unmet educational expectations lead to psychological distress. In fact, not trying is the only way to ensure lower levels of education and increased chances of poor mental health. So, go ahead and shoot for that moon.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Showing Students Why They Should Continue Their Academic Career.

The way a room is lit can affect the way you make decisions is from Science Daily. Here’s an excerpt:

The next time you want to turn down the emotional intensity before making an important decision, you may want to dim the lights first. A new study shows that human emotion, whether positive or negative, is felt more intensely under bright light. under bright lights emotions are felt more intensely.

This is probably a good classroom management tip to keep in mind. I haven’t been that intentional about it, but I think — in my experience, at least — overly-enthusiastic classes tend to be a bit calmer when the lights are off (I generally have them off when I have something on the document camera for students to see — it’s more clear with less light in the room). I’ll have to more conscious of it to see its effect on behavior. Of course, we also have to balance it out with the potential tendency among some who might become more drowsy with the lights out. What has been your experience?

Common Core is Focus of New AERA Site on Newsworthy Research Topics is from Education Week. It shares some useful information:

The Trending Topic Research File  provides free online access to Common Core-related articles appearing in the six peer-reviewed journals of the American Educational Research Association. (The “free” part is important because, typically, nonsubscribers pay $30 to download a single article.)

Retention leads to discipline problems in other kids is the title of a new report on research coming out of Duke University. Here’s an excerpt:

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.

In schools with high numbers of grade repeaters , suspensions were more likely to occur across the school community. Discipline problems were also more common among other students, including substance abuse, fighting and classroom disruption.

Public debate typically focuses on how retention affects an individual student’s academic performance, said lead author Clara Muschkin. So she and her colleagues decided to take a wider view and consider how holding students back may affect the school as a whole.

“The decision to retain students has consequences for the whole school community,” said Muschkin, an associate director of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy. “That wider effect is an issue worth considering as we debate this policy.”

I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Grade Retention, Social Promotion & Alternatives To Both.

The Ed Tech Researcher over at Education Week provides an overview of research on what the best length of a video is to show to students. There’s some disagreement, but is sounds like six minutes is best. That sounds right to me….

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March 9, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

This Has Me Concerned: “Study Links Teacher ‘Grit’ with Effectiveness, Retention”


The SAME day The Washington Post republished my piece on the potential misuse of teaching Social Emotional Learning Skills, Education Week reported on new research titled Study Links Teacher ‘Grit’ with Effectiveness, Retention.

My Washington Post piece had only referred to SEL and students — I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t even thought about how it could be misused against teachers.

Here’s what the study found:

novice teachers in high-poverty school districts, higher levels of “perseverance and passion for long-term goals” (aka “grit”) were associated with higher rates of effectiveness and retention.

The researchers evaluated applicants’ resumes on grit by apparently giving points for extracurricular activities and measured teacher “effectiveness” on student test scores.

Come on, now. It’s pretty clear that using Value-Added Measurements to rate teachers is wrought with errors — can you imagine some district trying to incorporate pretty arbitrary grit scores into evaluations?

I met with a staffperson from Angela Duckworth’s new Character Lab on Friday. I shared with her, as I’ve written before, that I strongly believe that these kinds of character assessments can be useful for self-assessment purposes, with the clear explanation that they might or might not be accurate. In fact, I have students take Professor Duckworth’s online “grit assessment” — but only after I caution that it might or might be accurate, they should take it with a grain of salt, not share it, and only use it if it meshes with their own self-assessment.

Once you start using this kind of data to judge others, you fall into the trap of being data-driven instead of being data-informed.

I’ll end with a quote that is often erroneously attributed to Albert Einstein when, in fact, it was said by sociologist William Bruce Cameron. That doesn’t detract from its wisdom:

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

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February 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Another Study Demonstrates The Ineffectiveness Of Extrinsic Motivation, But Also Something More….

'Carrots' photo (c) 2006, Fovea Centralis - license:

Yet another study has found that extrinsic motivation is not a effective in enhancing motivation. Since there is so much research showing this already, that’s not really big news.

But it’s the details of this study that are particularly intriguing.

Daniel Pink has written and spoken about research showing that extrinsic motivation is effective in enhancing mechanical work that doesn’t require creative or critical thinking. To be honest, I’ve never looked into the research he cites, but this new study reinforces that conclusion. The experiment was a little convoluted but, basically, participants were promised bonuses based on their “test” results (either a high or low reward) and had to answer questions and were given cues. Sometimes the cue was an arrow pointing right next to the word “Right” (or pointing left with the word “Left”) and sometimes the cue was an arrow pointing right or left with the opposite word next to it.

If I’m reading the research correctly, and I believe I am, they found that the people promised high bonuses did well when the arrows and words were “congruent,” but worse than the low-reward group when there were not congruent cues.

In other words, the promise of bonuses helped mechanical thinking, but actually made it more unlikely that they would perform tasks successfully that required critical and creative-thinking.

The researchers point out that this result was specifically for participants with high levels of dopamine, but it appears that either they or the writer of the report for the Association For Psychological Science suggest that it could have broader implications.

I was also particularly intrigued by a couple of other comments in the report:

It appeared the participants with a lot of dopamine in their systems were so distracted by the potential reward that they had trouble concentrating on the task.

In reporting on their findings in the journal Psychological Science, Aarts and her colleagues suggest that for people with naturally high dopamine levels, the promise of a bonus for good performance could actually “overdose” the reward centers of their brains.

It seems to me that this relates to another topic that Dan Pink discusses — the difference between learning and performance goals, and how those who focus on learning goals tend to do better than those who focus on performance.

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February 22, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Quote Of The Day: Have You Ever Wondered How Many Decisions We Teachers Need To Make Each Day?

In an excellent post awhile back, Larry Cuban summarized research related to how many decisions a teacher has to make each day:

*Researchers Hilda Borko and Richard Shavelson summarized studies that reported .7 decisions per minute during interactive teaching.

*Researcher Philip Jackson (p. 149) said that elementary teachers have 200 to 300 exchanges with students every hour (between 1200-1500 a day), most of which are unplanned and unpredictable calling for teacher decisions, if not judgments.

Now, a new study (thanks to Dan Willingham for the tip) has identified the number of research-based options we have to choose from when we make these decisions:


There’s certainly no reason why someone with just a few weeks training shouldn’t be able to handle teaching a class, wouldn’t you say?

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February 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Some Very Interesting Info On Self-Control Research

'Marshmallow Nightmares!!' photo (c) 2010, Kate Ter Haar - license:

I’ve written a lot about helping students learn about self-control (see The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control).

Walter Mischel’s famous marshmallow experiment obviously plays a role in that work. I also wrote about a recent study (see Marshmallows and Trust) that raised a question about if that experiment truly measured self-control, or if it really measured the children’s trust in the researcher — would he/she really return with a second marshmallow. I and others thought that was intriguing, though also thought it was far too soon to jump to any conclusions.

Nevertheless, it raises — again — the issue that Social Emotional Learning is not enough, and that, in addition to teaching SEL skills, attacking some of the potential root causes studies have found for SEL challenges facing many low-income people must also be made a priority in our society (see The Best Articles About The Study Showing Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough).

I was prompted to write this post after seeing a tweet from Kevin Washburn, who’s at the Learning and the Brain Conference in San Francisco this week. He was reporting on what sounded to be a great talk by Kelly McGonigal there, including pointing out (I assume based on this recent study) that having a caring teacher is likely to promote self-control. In other words, if trust does indeed play a key role in self-regulation, students feeling that they can trust the teacher is likely to increase the odds of students developing it.

I hadn’t made that obvious connection to that “trust” finding, and thought it was worth sharing — not that we educators don’t have enough other reasons to encourage students to trust us!

I also thought Kevin tweeted out some other useful information, and embedded them below. I also am using this opportunity to try out TweetDeck’s new “custom timeline” feature, and will be comparing it to Storify, which is the tool I usually use to curate tweets.

Speaking of the Learning and The Brain conference, I’ll be there on Friday and Saturday leading workshops, so posts at this blog will be fairly minimal over the next day or two..

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February 8, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Research Studies Of The Week

'magnifying glass' photo (c) 2005, Tall Chris - license:

I often write about research studies from various fields and how they can be applied to the classroom. I write individual posts about ones that I think are especially significant, and will continue to do so. However, so many studies are published that it’s hard to keep up. So I’ve started writing a “round-up” of some of them each week or every other week as a regular feature.

By the way, you might also be interested in My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2013.

Here are some new useful studies (and related resources):

A Simple Daily Intervention Decreases Employee Stress is from The Harvard Business Review. Here’s an excerpt:

Stress levels and physical complaints declined by roughly 15% after employees were directed to spend 10 minutes writing about three things that had gone well each day, says a team of researchers led by Joyce E. Bono of the University of Florida.

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning About Teens & Stress.

Useful Science looks like a great website — it’s visually attractive and provides short summaries of recent research, along with links to the original research. The research is divided into categories, and education is one of them.

Learning To Think Outside The Box is an article in The New York Times about creativity. The article briefly discusses research, but an online test it provides for users to evaluated their own creativity is particularly interesting. It also has additional multimedia resources. I’m adding it to The Best Sources Of Advice On Helping Students Strengthen & Develop Their Creativity.

Multiple-Choice Tests Hinder Critical Thinking. Should They Be Used in Science Classes? is a report on recent research from Real Clear Science.

Why “Just Say No” Doesn’t Work is from Scientific American.

5 key things to know about meta-analysis is from Scientific American. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research.

Understanding Educational Research is by Walt Gardner at Ed Week. I’m adding it to the same list.

We Didn’t Eat the Marshmallow. The Marshmallow Ate Us. is from The New York Times, and makes some interesting points about the famous marshmallow experiment. I’m adding it to The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control.

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January 18, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

New US Dept. of Ed Finds That “Less Effective Teaching” Responsible For 2-4 Percent Of Achievement Gap

Thanks to a tweet from Scott McLeod, I just learned about a new study from The Department of Education titled Do Disadvantaged Students Get Less Effective Teaching?

Yes, it’s a study based on the discredited science of Value-Added Measurement. It highlights VAM studies that I have specifically criticized with “Best” lists of their own (A Beginning List Of The Best Posts On Gates’ Final MET “Effective Teaching” Report and the infamous Chetty study).

So, the study’s conclusions have to be seen in that context. But, hey, if “reformers” are going to live by the sword, they can (figuratively) die by it, too.

And that’s because the researchers conclusions are astounding.

Here’s what they found:


Let me get this straight.

“School reformers,” including Arne Duncan, are alienating millions of teachers and hurting countless students and their families over a teacher evaluation policy that — using their own prize methodology (ignorant that we may believe it to be) — affects two-to-four percent of the achievement gap?

Of course, and unfortunately, Duncan’s ignoring his own Department’s research is no surprise, considering he’s doing the same by pushing merit pay even though his Department  announced last September that out of three approved studies of a New York performance pay program, one showed across the board negative effects on student achievement; another showed negative effects in some areas and no effect in others; and a third one showed no effect at all.

And that his same Department has previously concluded that 90% of the elements that affect student test scores are outside the control of teachers.

If he wants to truly impact student success, perhaps he should read The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher & Outside Factors Have On Student Achievement and The Best Resources For Learning About The “Achievement Gap.”

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January 11, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Research Studies Of The Week

'magnifying glass' photo (c) 2005, Tall Chris - license:

I often write about research studies from various fields and how they can be applied to the classroom. I write individual posts about ones that I think are especially significant, and will continue to do so. However, so many studies are published that it’s hard to keep up. So I’ve started writing a “round-up” of some of them each week or every other week as a regular feature.

By the way, you might also be interested in My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2013.

Here are some new useful studies:

57 Cognitive Biases That Screw Up How We Think is from Business Insider.

Reading a Novel Alters Your Brain Connectivity — So What? offers a different perspective on a recently study I posted about at Study: “How Stories Get Into Your Brain.”

What Would Make You More Likely to Read This Story? reports on research finding what kinds of headlines were more likely to attract readers. Here’s an excerpt:

Not only were question headlines more effective than declarative headlines, self-referencing questions (such as those including “you” or “your”) were also found to generate higher readership than those without self-referencing cues.

I’m adding this info to The Best Sources Of Advice For Teachers (And Others!) On How To Be Better Bloggers.

Coaching Young People to Be Positive Pays Off is from Science Daily. Here’s an excerpt:

Positive attitudes such as self-belief, aspiration, flexibility and appetite for learning were associated with less hyperactivity, fewer emotional problems, fewer problems with fellow pupils and greater inclination to help others. Pupils with this positive mindset were also happier and slept better. Interestingly, a range of employability skills such as teamwork, problem solving and planning were also associated with greater happiness in pupils.

I’m adding this info to My Best Posts On Why It’s Important To Be Positive In Class.

The 99U Guide to Habits includes several good articles. I’m adding it to The Best Ways To Help Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Succeed.

Readability Scores on Kids’ Books Are Bogus: Most books come with an indication of how hard they are, and those estimates are mostly wrong is from the Smithsonian Magazine. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles About Why Book “Leveling” Is A Bad Idea.

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