& Researchers Making News RIGHT NOW - in 2017
12, 2017: Research for the last several years
has shown us the strong relationship between math skills
and literacy. Math skills in young children are highly predictive
of later literacy development. What's been missing from
the research though is "why?". Until now. Using 124 preschool
aged children, researchers measured mathematics, literacy
and cognitive ability. What they discovered is that is mathematical
performance was positively correlated with mathematic literacy
skills. So it appears that it is the development of language
for mathematics in young children which predicts later more
complex language skills.
D. et al. (2017). Why do early mathematics skills predict
later reading? The role of mathematical language. Developmental
Psychology, 53(9), 1633-1642.
12, 2017: Emotion and motivation influence how
quickly students forget course content - at least in Math.
A new research project had students in math courses repeat
taking their final exam two weeks after their first attempt.
Students who had reported ongoing stress during the math
coarse had increased forgetting of course content as reflected
by the 2nd attempt at the final exam. They also reported
avoidant thinking about the course. Ramirez, G., McDonough,
I. M., & Jin, L. (2017). Classroom stress promotes motivated
forgetting of mathematics knowledge. Journal of Educational
Psychology, 109(6), 812-825. l
28, 2017: Social Emotional Learning (SEL) can
make a big difference in schools -especially when introduced
in the early years. SEL in preschool and early elementary
leads to long term well adjustment. Take just a few minutes,
3 times a week to teach the 10 critical skills (listen,
say please & thank you, follow rules, pay attention
to your work, ask for help, take turns, get along, stay
calm, do the right thing, do nice things for others) and
you will have both behavior and academic payoffs.
Jennifer (2017). "Effectiveness of Universal Social
Skills Programs in Early Childhood." Presented at the
annual American Psychological Association Conference, Washington,
DC. Aug 5.
3, 2017: Student out of control? Distracted? Try
giving them "free drawing" time. Drawing helps regulate
mood in children. It can help them focus and be less distracted.
Drawing can also lead to improvements in mood, as they create
an imaginary world.
with social skill challenges (such as Autism or Prader Willi
Syndrome lack or have inappropriate imagination. Use of
a play partner, in pretend play can increase imagination
and divergent thinking in these children.
J. (2017) The Power of Imagination --- Building Emotion
and Creativity Skills Through Art and Play Interventions.
Aug 3 presentation, American Psychological Association Annual
Conference, Washington, DC. .
8, 2017: Not only are nutrionists pointing us
to the relationship between better eating and better brains,
but the Neuropsychology research is also pointing us in
the same direction. The Journal of Neuropsychology recently
published a study showing the relationship between diets
high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids and better cognitive health
as we age. The ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 Fatty Acids
in our diets affects hippocampus-dependent spatial memory
and overall general cognitive function. The hippocampus
region of our brain, responsible for memory, is one of the
first areas affectd by the aging process.
researchers found that older adults who had a high Omega
3 (relative to Omega 6) Fatty Acid diet had more accurate
spatial memory, faster learning and high overall cognitive
status than those with higher Omega 6, low Omega 3 diets.
So choose wisely, especially as we age. Natural fats and
oils such as fish, avacado, coconut, palm, grass-fed butter
and other naturally fed animal fats help the brain age.
Try to avoid or limit other, industrial modern fats and
Andruchow, N. et al (2017). "A Lower Ratio of Omega-6
to Omega-3 Fatty Acids Predicts Better Hippocampus-Dependent
Spatial Memory and Cognitive Status in Older Adults".Neuropsychology,
Apr 10 preview, nps.
11, 2017: Teens who suppress their emotions can
cause unhealthy eating in parents and other close adults.
(and vice versa). New research studied adolescent - parent
relationships and emotional suppression. Suppressing one's
emotions results in stress which often also results in poor
eating choices. But this new research showed that emotional
suppression in teens resulted in their parents eating more
hedonic foods (low nutrient, high energy dense, aka: junk
food) and less nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables.
The relationship was also found to be reversed as well (emotional
suppression in parents correlated with teens making poor
food choices), but the results were strongest in the first
Ferrer, R. et al (2017). Emotion Suppression, Emotional
Eating, and Eating Behavior Among Parent–Adolescent Dyads.
Emotion, Apr 03 preview, nps
13, 2017: Extroverts are happier people. Not because
of their social power, but because of their positive social
influence. Studies have always shown extroverted behavior
to be associated with greater positive affect. But why?
New research measured both extroverted behaviors social
contribution and social power as they correlate to positive
affect. The results indicate that it is the perception of
positive influence, more so than a general sense of power,
that makes extroverted moments happier ones. Thus, there
may be significant benefits to encouraging introverted young
people to practice acting "out of character".
Sun, J. et al (2017) "The Pleasure of Making a Difference:
Perceived Social Contribution Explains the Relation Between
Extraverted Behavior and Positive Affect". Emotion,
Feb 13 preview, nps
16, 2017: Students with Autism are more cautious
readers, according to new research out this month. Tracking
eye movements, researchers examined natural reading in groups
of students with and without autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Students with ASD interpret sentence construction at similar
skill and speed with non ASD peers. However, they take longer
to read sentences on subsequent passes as they do not skip
target work (words skipped by students without ASD), suggesting
that they adopt a more caustious reading strategy. Thus,
they take longer to evaluation sentence interpretation.
Howard, P. et al (2017 Jan). "Benchmark eye movement
effects during natural reading in autism spectrum disorder."
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and
Cognition, Vol 43(1), 109-127.
6, 2016: It stands to reason that a students'
"grit" (consistency of interests and perseverance)
would impact academic performance and grades. Researchers
looked at high school students and compared their grit to
other issues such as self-control and self-regulation. While
these factors did correlate with measures of grit, it was
students' perseverance of effort, not the consistency of
interest which predicted academic grades.
Muenks, K. et al (2016). "How
true is grit? Assessing its relations to high school and
college students’ personality characteristics, self-regulation,
engagement, and achievement." Journal of Educational
Psychology, Dec 05 preview, nps.
16, 2016: Peers play a strong role in gender identity
as it develops through middle school years. Researchers
compared "between" and "within" gender peer influence on
gender identity in 7th and 8th grade students in a longitudinal
study. They found that between gender peer bias and pressure
for conformity was a strong influence on gender identity.
Interestingly, while the middle school students felt pressure
for gender conformity from peers of the gender different
than their own, there appeared to be no such influence from
same gendered peers for gender identity during this developmental
Kornienko, O., et al. (2016). " Peer influence on gender
identity development in adolescence." Developmental Psychology,
Vol 52(10), Oct , 1578-1592.
8, 2016: Looking to increase positive affect in your
students? Want to reduce boredom and dread in your school?
A new study out in the Apr 21st edition of "Emotion" shows
that walking (not exercise, per se, but just plain old "incidental
ambulation" as they call it) boosts mood, especially reduces
the effects of low interest...overrides boredom and dread.
So, WHY do we have students sit all class period?? Get the
students out of those desks and moving!
Miller, J. & Krizan, Z. (2016) "Walking Facilitates Positive
Affect (Even When Expecting the Opposite)", Emotion, Apr
21 preview, nps.
8, 2016: A new study out shows the results of examining
white-matter differences along with neuron connectiveness
measures in children with reading disabilities. Other cognitive
abilities being equal, brain images show that white matter
in a region associated with reading (left arcuate fasciculus)
has altered structure in children with reading disability.
Interesting, they also measure the degree of neuron connectiveness
in this area and found low connectiveness scores in both
children with a reading disability AND in children with
superior pseudoword reading ability. The researchers concluded
that this paradox of connectedness associated with both
these groups indicates that this area involved in reading
has great variation in white matter maturation rates during
this initial time of reading acquisition. Christodoulou,
J., et al (2015) "Relation of White-Matter Microstructure
to Reading Ability and Disability in Beginning Readers."
Neuropsychology, Mar 7 preview nps.
9, 2016: While there have been studies conducted measuring
the effects of emotional exhaustion among teachers, most
of them have focused on the effect it has on teachers -
performance and career engagement. A new study out this
month looked at the relationship between teacher emotional
exhaustion and students' educational outcomes. Using 380
teachers and 8,000 4th grade students researchers measured
teacher emotional exhaustion and school grades, standardized
achievement test school and school satisfaction, as well
as noncognitive outcomes. They found a strong negative correlation
among all of them. Student achievement suffers as teacher
emotional exhaustion increases. Arens, A. et al. (2016).
"Relations Between Teachers' Emotional Exhaustion and Students'
Educational Outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology,
Jan 18 edition preview, nps.
10, 2016: The largest gender disparity in STEM courses
is found in Computer Science. Unfortunately girls are stereotyped
out of computer science at a young age. Researchers have
recently found that we can alter girls' interest in Computer
Science simply by changing the physical classroom environment
in our schools. Schools where classrooms were specifically
set out to be more "girl-friendly" and promote women in
Computer Science, found a higher incidence of girls' interest
in Computer Science and more of a sense of belonging. Therefore,
it is imperative that schools begin a conscious attempt
to increase girls interest in Computer Science by removing
the traditional gender stereotypes which signal to girls
that they do not belong. Master, A. et al. (2015, Aug 17).
Computing Whether She Belongs: Stereotypes Undermine Girls'
Interest and Sense of Belonging in Computer Science. Journal
of Educational Psychology, preview, nps.
2, 2015: Executive Function (EF) is frequently studied
due to its involvement with learning and learning challenges
(particularly for persons with ADD and /or head trauma).
Executive Function, our ability to maintain control of our
actions and our thoughts, is mainly a function of the prefrontal
cortex - the region behind your forehead. Research released
this month tracked adolescent twins from teens through their
early 20's to see how stable EF is during this time period
and whether variance in function is more likely to be from
genetics or environmental factors. Tracking 420 sets of
twins for 6 years, they found that EF is relatively stable
by age 17 and that genetics appears to play the biggest
role in variation. So while environment can play a small
role, most executive function appears to be something inherited.
Friedman, N. et al. (2015, Nov 30). "Stability and Change
in Executive Function Abilities From Late Adolescence to
Early Adulthood: A Longitudinal Twin Study." Developmental
Psychology, preview, nps.
15, 2015: Young persons who perceive themselves as
being racial discriminated against are at higher risk of
depression. A new study recently released looked at the
long-term consequences of perceived racial discrimination,
as well as factors that may act as a buffer. The researchers
tracked African American and Latino youth through adolescence.
They found that those in particular who felt ethnic or racial
discrimination from peers were the most likely to suffer
depression with greater symptoms. However, those who began
high school with high levels of positive racial affect were
at a much lower risk for depression over time. So positive
racial affect appears to buffer the effects of perceived
racial discrimination. Stein, G. et al (2015). "A Longitudinal
Examination of Perceived Discrimination and Depressive Symptoms
in Ethnic Minority Youth: The Roles of Attributional Style,
Positive Ethnic/Racial Affect, and Emotional Reactivity."
Journal of Developmental Psychology, Nov 16 preview, nps.
13, 2015: New research shows that when teaching math
fractions to students with poor working memory, it helps
to teach students how to explain their process when comparing
fraction magnitudes. If working with students who have strong
reasoning ability, teaching word-problem intervention is
more effective. Fuchs, L. et al(2015, Sept). "Supported
Self-Explaining During Fraction Intervention." Journal of
Educational Psychology, preview, no page specified.
June 15, 2015: Hippocampal
Neurogenesis involves the development of new neurons in
the region of the brain responsible for memory. This process
of neurogenesis may help clear out old memories as well
as stabilize new memories for long term retention. Researchers
are now looking at the effects of chronic stress and depression
on this process. Both appear to interfere with normal hippocampus
function and in particular cloud long term retrieval. Dery,
N. et al. (2015, June) "A Role for Adult Hippocampal
Neurogenesis at Multiple Time Scales: A Study of Recent
and Remote Memory in Humans". Behavioral Neuroscience,
19, 2015: School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions
and Supports is currently implemented in over 20,000 schools
in the US. The program is designed to improve school climate
and prevent disruptive behavior. New research shows that
at-risk and high-risk students tend to benefit the most
from the program. Bradshaw, C., et al (2015, May) "Examining
variation in the impact of school-wide positive behavioral
interventions and supports: Findings from a randomized controlled
effectiveness trial." Journal of Educational Psychology,
Vol 107(2), 546-557.
2, 2015: Education research has long provided evidence
to support homework to improve students' academic performance.
However, researchers are now digging deeper on the details
surrounding when, how much and what types of homework are
beneficial. What they found is that student autonomy in
homework is the largest predictor of academic benefit. When
students are allowed to choose if, when and how much, homework
is more beneficial than other factors such as effort and
duration. The optimum time spent on homework was one hour.
Fernández-Alonso, R. et al. (2015). Adolescents' Homework
Performance in Mathematics and Science: Personal Factors
and Teaching Practices., Journal of Educational Psychology,
Mar 16 preview, nps.
20, 2015: Helping students with metacognitive skills
improves motivation, learning and future learning - So says
new research out this month. The study involved a 6 hour
training session with middle school students, teaching them
the process skills of planning, monitoring and evaluation.
When compared later to a control group, the students taught
metacognitive strategies performed better on tests and had
higher levels of motivation. Zepeda, C. et al. (2015). "Direct
Instruction of Metacognition Benefits Adolescent Science
Learning, Transfer, and Motivation: An In Vivo Study.",
Journal of Educational Psychology, Mar 16 preview, nps.
16, 2015: Teachers, use your big words! New research
out compars reading comprehension progress with middle-schoolers.
They compared beginning of year scores to end of year, from
a variety of classrooms. They then recorded and analyzed
teacher's speech in those same classrooms. Students whose
teachers used the more sophisticated vocabulary in class,
significantly improved their reading comprehension as the
year progressed. Gamez, P. & Lesaux, N. (2015) "Early-Adolescents'
Reading Comprehension and the Stability of the Middle School
Classroom-Language Environment." Developmental Psychology,
Feb 16 preview, nps
4, 2015: Children who experience close teacher-child
relationships during their early elementary years have stronger
receptive language development. Spilt, J. et al (2014, Dec).
" Language Development in the Early School Years: The Importance
of Close Relationships With Teachers." Developmental Psychology,
9, 2015: Perceived control (your belief that your actions
can actually make a difference) changed throughout young
adulthood. For most, it increased between the age of 18
and 25, then decreases slowly through your thirties into
your early 40's. However, having at least one parent with
a college degree changes your perceived control and it continues
throughout most of your mid-adult life, peaking around age
43. Whether or not you earned a degree seems to have no
or little effect on perceived control, but simply having
higher perceived control by age 18 does make it more likely
that you will go on to a university program. Vargas, L.
et al (2015, Jan) "Growth in perceived control across 25
years from the late teens to midlife: The role of personal
and parents' education. Developmental Psychology, Vol 51(1),
30, 2014:Children with dyslexia can write at the same
speed as children without dyslexia. However, on writing
tasks, they write less overall and pause more frequently
while writing. In particular they pause within words due
to poor spelling ability. The majority of writing deficits
in children with dyslexia result from non-automated spelling
and within word pausing. Sumner, E.; Connelly, V.; Barnett,
A. (2014, Sept). "The influence of spelling ability on handwriting
production: Children with and without dyslexia." Journal
of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition,
Vol 40(5), 1441-1447.
2, 2014: Does having a grandparent in the house during
your preschool years make a difference in school readiness?
That may depend on your culture and ethnicity. A longitudinal
study looked at children raised in 3-generation households
(grandparent, parent, child) versus parent only households.
Researchers found that 3-generation households were associated
with lower levels of expressive language for White, Asian,
and Black children but more expressive language for Hispanic
children. Pilkauskas, N. (2014, Dec) "Living with a grandparent
and parent in early childhood: Associations with school
readiness and differences by demographic characteristics."
Developmental Psychology, Vol 50(12), 2587-2599.
22, 2014: What makes a good, supportive parent? Apparently
it all starts way back to the early years of that person's
life. New longitudinal research out now shows that people
who have a sensitive, caregiving mother during the first
3 years of their life, do better with friendships and peer
relationships in school, partner relationships in young
adulthood, and parenting their own children. Raby, K. et
al. (2014). "The Interpersonal Antecedents of Supportive
Parenting: A Prospective, Longitudinal Study From Infancy
to Adulthood." Developmental Psychology, Nov 24 preview,
no page specified.
10, 2014: Gender gaps continue for math and science
literacy in the US. The latest data analysis from the National
Assessment of Educational Progress shows that in terms of
math / science achievement, boys are still favored over
girls right through 12th grade. And when we compare high
achievers in math and science, the statistics are quite
a wide margin. High achieving males outnumber females two
to one. Reilly, D.; Neumann, D.; Andrews, G. (2014). "
Sex Differences in Mathematics and Science Achievement:
A Meta-Analysis of National Assessment of Educational Progress
Assessments. Journal of Educational Psychology, Nov 10 preview,
20, 2014: We generally think of someone with high levels
of Emotional Intelligence (EI) in a positive way. EI is
associated with empathy, understanding and positive responses.
But some new research shows that female adolescents and
young adults who score high for EI also can have greater
sensation seeking needs and thus delinquency. In fact, high
EI scores directly correlated to higher self-reports of
truancy from school, taking drugs and violence. Bacon, A
et al (2014). Sex Differences in the Relationship Between
Sensation Seeking, Trait Emotional Intelligence and Deliquent
Behavior". Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology,
25 (6), 673-683.
25, 2014: Presenting math practice problems in a variety
of formats can help students' computational fluency. A new
study compared teaching basic addition problems using 2
different workbooks. The traditional workbook had problems
presented in the traditional (2 +3 = __ ) format using a
random assortment of problems. The modified workbook had
some traditional presentations, some with the operation
on the right side (as in ___ = 2+3) and grouped similar
solution problems together. Children using the modified
format had a better understanding of the math and the postivie
results continued even 6 months after the learning. McNeil,
N. et al (2014) Arithmetic Practice Can Be Modified to Promote
Understanding of Mathematical Equivalence. Journal of Educational
Psychology. Aug issue preview, nps.
24, 2014: The large increase in daily caloric intake
seen in the US over the past half-century is due mostly
to an increase in saturated fates and refined carbohydrates.
New research shows a diet high in these two items (so called
High Energy Diets) has a negative effect on hippocampal
function which includes a decrease in synaptic platicity,
and neurogenesis. High Energy Diets also negate any postivie
effect of emotional arousal on learning. Ross, A.; Darling,
J; & Parent, M. (2013). "High Energy Diets Prevent
the Enhancing Effects of Emotional Arousal on Memory."
Behavioral Neuroscience, Vol 127(5), 771-779.
11, 2014: Thousands
of new neurons are made every day in your brain, mostly
in the hippocampus. But the vast majority of them die within
a few weeks time. Stress, opiates and alcohol all can reduce
the rate of production. Exercise, sexual activity and drugs
such as prozac increase the rate of cell production. If
learning occurs while the cells are newly formed, many will
not die, but carry on to perform function. However the learning
must be something that requires effort, yet do-able. So
effortful, but possible learning increases motivation and
keep new neurons alive. Shors, T. (2014) "Mental and
Physical Training Keeps New Neurons Alive" presented
August 7, 2014 at the American Psychological Association
Annual Conference, Washington, DC.
11, 2014: Learning a foreign language or taking music
lessons anytime during your childhood or teenage years helps
protect you from Cognitive Impairment later in life. New
research out this week shows that in a longitudinal study
of nearly 1000 older persons, those who had music instruction
and /or learned a foreign language before the age of 18,
not only scored higher on initial tests of cognitive function,
but were much less likely to suffer Mild Cognitive Impairment
in old age. While a 2nd language and music lessons won't
slow down your decline as you age, it does appear to give
you a cognitive boost and protects against impairment. Wilson,
R. et al (2014). " Early Life Instruction in Foreign
Language and Music and Incidence of Mild Cognitive Impairment.
Neuropsychology (Aug 11 preview).
6, 2014: Boredom is an important, yet often overlooked,
academic emotion. So says new research which measured the
relationship between boredom and academic achievement in
courses. They found that boredom had consistently negative
effects on academic performance, and then the poor performance
had consistently negative effects on subsequent boredom.
Pekrun, R. et al. (2014). "Boredom and academic achievement:
Testing a model of reciprocal causation."Journal of Educational
Psychology, Vol 106(3), 696-710.
21, 2014: Despite rumors to the contrary, the new school
meal standards are NOT leading to more food waste among
students. This according to new research released this summer.
Data was collected on food selection, consumption and plate
waste at several urban, low-income school districts. Turns
out that fruit selection increased by 23%. Entree and vegetable
consumption rates increased and plate waste decreased. Cohen,
J. et al. (2014). "Impact of the New US Department
of Agriculture School Meal Standards on Food Selection,
Consumption and Waast. Am Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Vol 46, 4. 388-394.
20, 2014: Nutrition plays a major role in academic success.
Students who eat a balanced and nutritious diet not only
maintain their weight, they are more alert, have better
cognition, memory and problem solving skills and higher
overall achievement. However, 7% of college students claim
to eat NO fruits or vegetables daily. University of Massachusetts,
Boston online at: http://www.umb.edu/healthservices/health_education_and_wellness/healthy_eating
27, 2014: Taking a walk, especially outside, boosts
creativity. Researchers have discovered that walking leads
to more creative and divergent thinking - both while walking
and right after walking. They had 4 groups of participants
either sit indoors, walk an indoor treadmill, walk outside
or be wheeled around outside, then tested them all using
a test for creative thinking and problem solving. Those
that walked scored higher and those that walked outside
had the biggest creative boost. Oppezzo, M. & Schwartz,
D. (2014). "Give your ideas some legs: The positive
effect of walking on creative thinking." Experimental
Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, Apr 21 preview,
21, 2014: A new study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical
Center shows that there appears to be a relationship between
low levels of Vitamin D and cognitive decline as we age.
The researchers measured Vitamin D levels in 3000 participants
between the age of 70 and 79. They also measured cognitive
function. Four years later they retested the participants
and found those with the lowest Vitamin D levels had the
greatest cognitive decline. Wilson, V. et al (2014). "
Relationship Between 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Cognitive Function
in Older Adults: The Health, Aging and Body Composition
Study." Journal of the American Geriatrics Society,
Vol 62 (4): 636
17, 2014: Student football players are subject to repeated
head impacts throughout the season. New research shows that
even without a concussion, these head impacts cause changes
in brain white matter and that these changes can be seen
even 6 months after the end of the sports season. Bazarian,
J et al. (2014) Persistent, Long-term Cerebral White Matter
Changes after Sports-Related Repetitive Head Impacts. PLoS
ONE 9(4): e94734.
6, 2014: Children with moderate to severe protein deficiencies
during the first year of life, can catch up in growth, if
their malnutrition is corrected during the first 12 years.
However, the early life malnutrition affects neurocognitive
function throughout their life. Even in adulthood, those
who had early malnutrition score lower on measures of cognitive
flexibility and concept formation, as well as initiation,
verbal fluency, working memory, processing speed, and visuospatial
integration. Waber, D., et al. (2014). "Neuropsychological
Outcomes at Midlife Following Moderate to Severe Malnutrition
in Infancy." Neuropsychology, Mar 17 preview, nps.
25, 2014: Text comprehension is especially important
in secondary education. The faster students can read a text,
the higher their comprehension. Researchers used eye tracking
data and comprehension tests to see how text layout and
the use of connective words such as "therefore"
and "futhermore" affect reading speed. Texts with
a continuous layout (as opposed to starting sentences on
new lines) allow students to read faster. Connective word
speed up student processing of the material. So texts which
use continuous layout and utilize connective words seem
to produce the best reading comprehension test scores. VanSilfout,
G et al (2014). "Connectives and Layout as Processing
Signals: How Textual Features Affect Students’ Processing
and Text Representation." Journal of Educational Psychology,
Mar 17 preview, nps.
2, 2014: Are you a mono-lingual person envious of the
brain benefits that bi-lingual persons enjoy? Well, apparently
it's not too late to reap the benefits. New reserach shows
that late bilinguals share the the same cognitive effects
as early bilinguals. That means a stronger executive funciton
(but also the lexical access deficits - a small price to
pay.) Pelham, S. & Abrams, L. (2014, Mar). "Cognitive
advantages and disadvantages in early and late bilinguals."
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and
Cognition, Vol 40(2), 313-325.
27, 2014: Bored students do not do well in school. While
that seems an obvious statement to many of us, unfortunately
boredom is an often overlooked emotion in education. A new
study out shows the robust relationship between boredom
and academic achievement. They are strongly negatively correlated
and feed each other. Boredom leads to low academic achievement
which then leads to greater boredom. Pekrum, R. et al (2014).
"Boredom and Academic Achievement: Testing a Model
of Reciprocal Causation." Journal of Educational Psychology,
Feb 24 preview, no page specified.
25, 2014: Most of you are aware of the cautions given
parents about TV, video and other "screen time"
for young children. Need more research to show how baby
media products don't work, let alone do damage? A new study
out this month shows a trial using over 100 infants, from
9 months to 18 months and media purporting to teach babies
to read. Half were sent through the DVD, flashcard program
and half were in the control group who had no formal attempt
to teach reading. After 7 months, the children were measured
for precursor skills such as letter naming and print awareness
and vocabulary and comprehension along with eye-tracking
tasks. Results? Babies do not learn to read using baby media,
despite the claims made by the program manufacturers.
Neuman, S. et al. (2014, Feb 24). "Can Babies Learn
to Read? A Randomized Trial of Baby Media." Journal
of Educational Psychology, preview, nps.
27, 2014: Adolescents are more apt to engage in risky
behavior in the presence of peers, even when the risks of
the behavior are explicitly given. An interesting new research
study had adolescents engage in a gambling activity where
the risks of loss were clearly given in each task. Half
the teens were working the activity alone and half were
told that an unknown peer was observing them from another
room. Those that thought a peer was watching were far more
likely to take a gamble, especially when the risk of loss
Smith, A. et al. (2014) "Peers
Increase Adolescent Risk Taking Even When the Probabilities
of Negative Outcomes Are Known."
Developmental Psychology, Jan 20 preview, nps.
24, 2014: More reserach showing the effects of television
on preschool brain development. This time research shows
the definite relationship between television exposure in
young children and Executive Function. One more reason to
limit or ban television before the age of two. Nathanson,
A. et al (2014). "The Relation Between Television Exposure
and Executive Function Among Preschoolers." Developmental
Psychology, Jan 20 preview, nps.
15, 2014: Many have long suspected that there is a relationship
between physical fitness and cognitive fitness. We know
are seeing the research to support this. Researchers have
used neuroelectric and behavioral measures to examine various
brain region efficiency in a variety of preadolescent children.
What they found is that higher fit children have greater
task performance on cognitive tests and better attention.
So there does appear to be a relationship between aerobic
fitness and cognitive function in children. More support
for PE, recess, and extracurricular sports. Wu, C &
Hillman, C. (2013). "Aerobic fitness and the attentional
blink in preadolescent children." Neuropsychology,
Vol 27(6), 642-653.
13, 2013: Spanking children slows down their mental
development and lowers the probability of a child doing
well in school. So says a compilation of research done on
spanking over the past 4 decades. Children who are spanked,
have slower cognitive development and are at an increased
risk for antisocial and criminal behavior. An new
book by Murray Straus, leading researcher from the University
of New Hampshire, titled The
Primordial Violence: Spanking Children, Psychological Development,
Violence, and Crime, summarizes the research in the
field and promotes the United Nations recommendation to
ban spanking across the globe.
(Straus is also the author of Beating
the Devil Out of Them: Corporal Punishment in American Families
and Its Effects on Children )
19, 2013: Adolescents who have parents with substance
abuse disorders are more at risk for also developing substance
abuse disorders. A new study shows that 2 brain regions
can predict adolescents as risk. When exposed to situations
where they could anticipate money or enticing food, those
at-risk adolescents showed greater brain activation in the
brain areas responsible for reward. The study further supports
adolescents at risk of substance abuse tend to have highly
sensitive reward regions in the brain. Stice, E. & Yokum,
S. (2013). "Brain Reward Region Responsivity of Adolescents
With and Without Parental Substance Use Disorders." Psychology
of Addictive Behaviors, Oct 14 preview, nps.
5 , 2013: People who are bilingual tend to have better
memory function and better executive function than monolinguals.
However bilingualism does not appear to protect you against
dementia due to aging. A new longitudinal study tracked
both Spanish / English speaking persons and English only
speaking for 23 years. At the onset, those who were bilingual
scored higher on memory tests and tests for executive function,
but it did not have any effect on whether or not they developed
dementia. Zahodne, L. et al (2013). "Bilingualism Does Not
Alter Cognitive Decline or Dementia Risk Among Spanish-Speaking
Immigrants.". Neuropsychology, Nov 4 preview, no page specified.
1, 2013: : By 6th grade, there is already a significant
difference among students in how well they understand and
can use fraction in mathematics. But by grade 8, that achievement
gap has grown significantly. Low achieving math students
in grade 6, continue to score consistently low in grade
8, whereas the higher achieving students scores raise significantly,
causing a much wider gap in fraction knowledge and use.
Siegler, R. & Pyke, A. (2013, Oct). "Developmental
and individual differences in understanding of fractions."
Developmental Psychology, Vol 49(10), 1994-2004.
26, 2013: New Research out of The Ohio State University
may cause us to rethink some curriculum and behavioral issues
for children in early elementary. We used to think that
episodic memory (memory for personal history/events) was
developed by age 4, but we can now see that some of it doesn't
develop until after age 7. Young children between 4 and
7 can usually recall and remember events, but frequently
confuse the sequence or the "when". So chronological
history may be confusing, as will recalling interpersonal
events happening in the social setting of school. Sloutsky,
V. et al. (2013, Sept). "The Development of Episodic
Memory Items, Contexts, and Relations" Psychological
Science, online preview, nps.
20, 2013: People with autism, schizophrenia and various
intellectual disabilities all share a common brain abnormality
- problems with the structure of dendritic spines. Without
correct spine morphology, the neurons have problems communicating
with each other. New research mow pinpoints the problem
to a gene called CYFIP1. This gene is responsible for protein
translation and actin polymerization in neurons - and is
to blame for the dysfunctional spine formations. De Rubels,
S. et al (2013, Sept 18). "CYFIP1 Coordinates mRNA Translation
and Cytoskeleton Remodeling to Ensure Proper Dendritic Spine
Formation." Neuron, Vol 79(6), 1169-1182
19, 2013: Adaptive technology benefits math students.
However, boys and girls do not benefit equally from the
same technology / software. There is a definite gender difference
- so say a compilation study. Girls most often sought out
the help provided by the system, used hints and do best
when affective"learning companions" were part
of the on-screen experience. They are most productive and
get the most out of the programs when the helping companions
were female characters. Boys on the other hand learned best
when there are no learning companions in the program, especially
female characters - those caused the worst performance.
Arroyo, I. et al. (2013, Sept 16). "Gender Differences in
the Use and Benefit of Advanced Learning Technologies for
Mathematics." Journal of Educational Psychology, preview.
Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about
the Emerging Science of Sex Differences
17, 2013: Persons with ADHD often have difficulty estimating
elapsed time, which can lead to problems in day-to-day functioning.
The brain area thought to be responsible for accurate time
perception is the anterior cingulated and prefrontal cortex.
Researchers used MEG scans to compare the gamma activity
in these regions of persons with ADHD, both medicated and
unmedicated. The unmedicated persons were much less accurate
with time estimation and had weaker gamma activity in both
the anterior cingulated and left prefrontal cortex. After
medication the participants had a significant increase in
gamma and improved time estimation accuracy. Wilson, T.
et al. (2013, Sept 16). "Estimating the Passage of
Minutes: Deviant Oscillatory Frontal Activity in Medicated
and Unmedicated ADHD" Neuropsychology, preview nps.
Clinical Reading: Time
to see ADHD in a whole new light?: An examination of the
nature and basis of a time estimation deficit in Attention
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (Combined and Inattentive
16, 2013: Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder
(ASD) have trouble recalling past personal experiences
(episodic thinking). It has been unclear as to whether
or not they also have difficulty projecting future personal
eperience possibilities (episodic future thinking).
An interesting new study set out to discover whether
these two events, which share "scene construction"
may indicate a brain region of impairment in persons
with ASD. They had young adults with high functioning
ASD and peer controls describe past and future events,
both of persoanl involvement and not. They found persons
with ASD had trouble constructing scenes for both personal
and non-personal recall and projection events. This
seems to indicate that the poor episodic thinking associated
with ASD is the result of deficits in scene constrution.
Lind, S. et al (2013). "Episodic Memory and Episodic
Future Thinking Impairments in High-Functioning Autism
Spectrum Disorder: An Underlying Difficulty With Scene
Construction or Self-Projection?" Neuropsychology,
Sept 9. preview.
Soup for the Soul: Raising Kids on the Spectrum: 101
Inspirational Stories for Parents of Children with Autism
2, 2013: Which emotions give the most positive experiences
with art? Apparently fear. Researchers put participants
though five different emotional states (null, two levels
of physical stress, happy, scary) before exposing them
to art. Only the fear condition resulted in significantly
more positive judgements about art.Eskine, K. et al
(2012, Feb 6). "Stirring Images: Fear, not happiness
or arousal, makes art more sublime." Emotion. Feb
30, 2013: Scientist can now definitively say that
age-related memory loss and Alzheimer's disease are two
separate events. They have pinpointed the exact cause
and region for each. Age-related memory loss is due to
a functional change in the neurons found in the dentate
gyrus, a subregion of the hippocampus. Alzheimer's disease
is the actual loss of neurons in the entorhinal cortex,
which sends information directly to the hippocampus. In
promising news, scientists have found that some age-related
memory loss can be repaired - at least in mice. Pavlopoulos,
E. et al. (2013) "Molecular Mechanism for Age-Related
Memory Loss: The Histone-Binding Protein RbAp48".
Science Translational Medicine, Vol 5(200) Aug 28.
27, 2013: While ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
are very different diagnoses, there is overlap in behaviors.
Some children with ADHD (18%) do have a few behaviors that are
similar to ASD behaviors, particularly social skill impairments.
Researchers now say that it's important to screen for these
in children with ADHD so that the behaviors can be addressed.
Kotte, A et al (2013, Aug) "Autistic Traits in Children
with and without ADHD". Pediatrics.
25, 2013: Dr Rex Jung, from the University of New Mexico
Health Science Center presented a talk a few weeks ago on the
Brain Networks involved in Genius. Genius, as defined
by Jung is the interface between Intelligence and Creativity.
Intelligence is the ability to use deductive reasoning
to solve adaptive problems in our environment in a rapid but
Creativity, on the other hand, is the ability to use
abductive reasoning to solve adaptive problems in novel and
Genius is the interface of Intelligence and Creativity.
Creativity involves more of the parietal lobes and intelligence
makes use of the prefrontal cortex. But we ultimately depend
on the frontal lobes to pull the divergent ideas back for refinement.
R. (2013, August 2). Brain Networks of Genius = Intelligence
+ Creativity. Presented at the American Psychological Association
Annual Conference, Honolulu, HI.
If you are interested in reading the full report from this research
team, you can find it here Brain
imaging studies of intelligence and creativity: what is the
picture for education?
6, 2013: Clean, organized classrooms make more
obedient students, but messy classrooms make more
creative students.Vohs, K. et al. (2013, Aug 1)."
Physical order produces healthy choices, generosity,
and conventionality, whereas disorder produces creativity."
Journal Psychological Science.
30, 2013: More research, again by Blair: Chronic
exposure to poverty during a child's early years
affects a person's executive funtion. The researchers
tracked 1200 children from birth. They found that
the stress of financial hardship uniquely predicted
a child's score on tests of executive function.
Raver, C.; Blair, C. & Willoughby, M. (2013,
Feb). "Poverty as a predictor of 4-year-olds'
executive function: new perspectives on models of
differential susceptibility." Developmental
Psychology, Vol 49(2), 292-304.
research (above and below) is used quite extensively
in the book, How
Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden
Power of Character
25, 2013: A person's executive function is actually
quite malleable - especially between the ages of 3 and
5 years of age. Parenting quality is a big factor. Children
who have higher quality parenting during this time period
tend to have stronger Executive Function skills later
in life. Blair, C. et al (2013, July 8). "Two Approaches
to Estimating the Effect of Parenting on the Development
of Executive Function in Early Childhood." Developmental
Psychology, preview, nps.
17, 2013: Simply "thinking" about an answer seems
to improve later retrieval of the information as much
as overtly writing or speaking the answer. So says new
research that had students learn and study for tests by
either covertly or overtly retrieving the information
versus just rereading it. Those students who just reread
the information scored lowest on the test. But the 2 groups
that studied by retrieving the information, either covertly
or overtly scored similar. So students can improve information
retrieval (testing) just as much from covert practice
as overt. Smith, M. et al (2013, Jul 1). " Covert Retrieval
Practice Benefits Retention as Much as Overt Retrieval
Practice." Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning,
Memory, and Cognition, preview, nps.
7, 2013: Students who have positive emotions at school
have higher academic achievement, but only when those
positive emotions influence their self-regulated learning
C.; Ronconi, L.; & De Beni, R. (2013, Jul 1). "What Makes
a Good Student? How Emotions, Self-Regulated Learning,
and Motivation Contribute to Academic Achievement". Journal
of Educational Psychology, preview, nps.
1, 2013: Information that is emotionally negative
or positive tends to be stored in our memory easier than
emotionally neutral information. Researchers took this
a step further now and have coupled that notion with the
emotional effects elicited by of various colors. They
changed text colors of emotionally negative words and
positive words in learning passages. As they hypothesized,
red text (most people associate with warning) strongly
increased memory for negative words and green text (associated
with security) strongly increased memory for emotionally
positive words. So, both emotion and color can play a
significant role in memory. Kuhbandner, C. & Pekrun, R.
(2013, June). "Joint effects of emotion and color on memory."
Emotion, Vol 13(3), 375-379.
19, 2013: Ever teach a topic that you know many students
will misunderstand? If so, try using texts that are refutational.
Interesting study out of the J of Ed Psych - researchers
tested learners on a particular science topic and divided
them into groups based on whether they had accurate knowledge
of the topic or misconceptions. Then they re-taught the
subject. Some groups used text that simply re-taught the
correct scientific concept. Some groups used texts that
presented common misconceptions and compared them to the
accurate description. The use of refutation of misconceptions
is very important for knowledge revisions when students
have an inaccurate concept of the topic. Braasch, J.;
Goldman, S. & Wiley, J. (2013) "The Influences of Text
and Reader Characteristics on Learning From Refutations
in Science Texts." Journal of Educational Psychology,
Jun 17 preview, nps.
13, 2013: Most students wisely spend a greater
amount of study time on subject matter which they
deem as having "higher point" value. (more test points).
Students tend to make these decisions through testing
experience. In other words, they learn from test-taking
which types of items the instructor tends to include
or emphasize. However, research shows that students
with low working memory spans are unable to make this
type of association, and do not regulate study time
accordingly. So teachers can help all students, particularly
those with poor working memory by giving cues or instruction
as how best to allocate study time to prepare for
exams. Ariel, R. ( 2013, Jun 10) "Learning What to
Learn: The Effects of Task Experience on Strategy
Shifts in the Allocation of Study Time. Journal of
Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition,
11, 2013: Walking and talking have a stronger
relationship in child development than once thought.
New research shows that as soon as a child moves from
crawling to walking, there is a significant increase
in both their receptive and expressive language -
regardless of their age. Further language development
in young children can be predicted from variety of
factors in their social environment, but only for
those children who are walking. Walle, E. & Campos,
J. (2013, June 10). " Infant Language Development
Is Related to the Acquisition of Walking." Developmental
Psychology, preview, nps.
If you're interested in young language development,
you may want to read, My
Toddler Talks: Strategies and Activities to Promote
Your Child's Language Development
4, 2013: Does watching educational TV shows help or
hinder young children's vocabulary? The answer greatly depends
upon the Socio-economic status of the child. Low SES children
improve and acquire more vocabulary words from watching
educational programming, particularly those that are absent
of any onscreen printed words. The more often they watch
the program, the more gains they make. On the other hand,
Working Class SES children make slight improvements in vocabulary,
especially from programs which include on-screen printed
words. However, they make no additional gains from additional
watching, and in fact, vocabulary scores decrease from repeated
exposure to those shows that use no on-screen printed words.
Linebarger, D. et al. (2013). "Learning Vocabulary From
Television: Does Onscreen Print Have a Role?" Journal of
Educational Psychology, Jun 3 preview, nps.
29, 2013: The COMPASS program (Collaborative Model for
Promoting Competence and Success) for autism shows promise
with good results in improving social, communication and
independence skills. What is particularly interesting is
that whether the program is followed by face-to-face interaction
with a teacher/therapist or videoconference via internet,
results were similar. So this new study indicates promise
in bringing good autism training and follow-up via internet
delivery to areas which may be lacking in good autism therapists
and support programs. Ruble, L et al. (2013) "A randomized
controlled trial of COMPASS web-based and face-to-face teacher
coaching in autism." Journal of Consulting and Clinical
Psychology, Vol 81(3), Jun 2013, 566-572.
15, 2013: Children who show signs of depression in early
adolescence (middle school) are at a much higher risk of
later dropping out of high school. Researchers have found
that depression leads to a decrease in self-perception of
competence, which leads to low academic performance, which
then leads to early school leaving. Quiroga, C. et al (2013).
"Early adolescent depression symptoms and school dropout:
Mediating processes involving self-reported academic competence
and achievement." Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol
10, 2013 Teaching materials - especially those for young
learners, often contains extraneous "cute" graphics which
can actually slow down or distract the learning process.
A study showed that young students learned math concepts
faster when presented with plain, one-colored illustrations
(such as a black & white bar graph). When illustrations
contained extraneous visuals (such as colorful stacks of
flower or animals to represent the bar graph) learning took
longer. Kaminski, J. & Sloutsky, V. (2013). "Extraneous
perceptual information interferes with children's acquisition
of mathematical knowledge.". Journal of Educational Psychology,
Vol 105(2), 351-363.
7, 2013: Do you have students who struggle with working
memory? You might want to have them use a computer to
transcribe lectures while listening to them. A new study
out this month sought to compare various ways of taking
lecture notes and that relationship to later testing.
In the first study, the researcher found the best test
scores came from students who used a computer for note
taking versus those who hand wrote their notes. The second
portion of the study compared taking "organized notes"
versus simply attempting to transcribe the lecture. Students
with good working memory scored highest on tests after
taking "organized notes" (and had the greatest quantity
of notes). But students with poor working memory scored
highest on later testing when they tried to simply transcribe
the lecture. So their suggestion is that students who
struggle with working memory be encouraged to use a note-taking
strategy that transcripes the lecture using a computer.
Bui, D.; Myerson, J; Hale, S. (2013). "Note-taking with
computers: Exploring alternative strategies for improved
recall." Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 105(2),
April 2013: In
Metacognition, or thinking about your thinking can be
beneficial in the learning process. Researchers had high
school students write learning journals for math and science
classes. The students were to reflect upon their learning
strategies over during the course of several weeks. Those
students who wrote the learning journals improved their
academic performance when compared to the control group
of students who did not write learning journals. Glogger,
I. et al. (2012). " Learning strategies assessed
by journal writing: Prediction of learning outcomes by
quantity, quality, and combinations of learning strategies."
Journal of Educational Psychology, preview, nps.
April 2013: In
working out problems between people, the effect of emotions
expressed depends a great deal on the culture of the participants.
East Asians who use anger in negotiations are perceived
as tougher and more threatening than European Americans.
This is most likely due to the stereotype that East Asians
tend to be emotionally inexpressive and European Americans
emotionally expressive, So angry East Asian negotiators
received a higher level of cooperation. So, one's culture
can play a significant role in interpersonal negotiation.
Adam, H. & Shirako, A. (2013). "Not All Anger
Is Created Equal: The Impact of the Expresser's Culture
on the Social Effects of Anger in Negotiations."
Journal of Applied Psychology, Apr 1 , 2013, preview,
no page specified.
April 2013: Improve the school adjustment for an elementary
student today and you may be helping future generations.
So says new research out this month, which tracked achievement
and school adjustment in boys starting in the 4th grade
and continued throughout the school years and into parenthood.
Then this longitudinal study watched their children through
preschool and elementary. The father's academic achievement
and school adjustment were directly related to the same
factors in their children. Pears, K et al. (2013). "Father-child
transmission of school adjustment: A prospective intergenerational
study." Developmental Psychology, Vol 49(4), Apr 2013, 792-803
April 2013: Poor self control and parent-child conflict
puts adolescents at risk for depression and school behavior
problems. However, new research out this month shows that
a positive teacher-student relationship can protect adolescents
from this risk. It appears that a good relationship with
a teacher can undo some of the risk factors of poor self
control and parent - adolescent conflict. Wang, M.; Brikworth,
M. & Eccles, J. (2013). "Moderating effects of teacher-student
relationship in adolescent trajectories of emotional and
behavioral adjustment." Developmental Psychology, Vol 49(4),
March 2013: Obesity is not only bad for your physical
health, it causes problems with your cognitive function
as well. There is a relationship between body mass index
(BMI) and frontal-subcortical pathology, especially as we
age. Higher BMI effects motor and attention speed as well
as processing speed. Stanek, K. et al (2013) "Body
mass index and neurocognitive functioning across the adult
lifespan." Neuropsychology, Vol 27(2), 141-151.
March 2013: While
there are many valid reasons to promote all boys or all girls
schools, academic achievement may not be one of them. Traditional
research on same-gendered schooling here in the US has been
hampered by the fact that there is parental bias in sending
their child to an all-boy or all-girl school. Since the assigning
of students to these schools is not random, research results
do not generalize well to the population at large. However,
we can now look at reserch which has come out of Korea - where
they do randomly assign students to same-gendered schools.
A new study which measured science and math achievement scores
finds no difference for students in mixed gendered versus
same-gendered schools. Scores were similar. Pahlke, E. et
al (2013) The Effects of Single-Sex Compared With Coeducational
Schooling on Mathematics and Science Achievement: Data From
Korea. Journal of Educational Psychology, Mar 18 preview,
on this topic, you may want to look at
Different, Equal: Rethinking Single-Sex Schooling
Lost a little sleep last night? Probably no great harm. Lost
a little sleep every night? Now it's a danger. Researchers
everywhere are becoming concerned with the so called "social
jet lag" that is plaguing our nation. Chronic sleep deprivation
and the hapbit of our society to shift sleep patterns on weekends
several hours later than during the week.
sleep loss causes metabolic changes in the body. This means
you no longer regulate appetite correctly. Your glucose metabolism
and blood pressure control go out the window. People with
chronic sleep deprivation tend to take in more calories during
the day - especially from fats. The effect is very strong
in children and adolescents. Not only do you take in more
calories, your body loses its ability to respond to insulin.
Teens who added one more hour of sleep to their day improved
their insulin resistance nearly 10%. Carpenter, S. (2013).
"Awakening to Sleep." Monitor on Psychology, Vol 44(1), 40-45.
Looking for more on this topic? You may be interested inThe
Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night's Sleep
A Virginia study involving hundreds of high schools has found
found that bullying does indeed increase a student's risk
of dropping out of school. They tracked 9th graders' self
reported and teacher reported bullying and teasing. Even controlling
for other issues such as poverty, minority status, communit
crime rates, etc., the incidence of bullying was a predictive
of high school drop out as any other known predictive factor.
Students who were teased or bullied were at about a 15% greater
risk of not completing all 4 years. - the correlation exceeds
one full standard deviation. Lead researcher Dr Dewey Cornell
is author of School
Violence: Fears Versus Facts. Cornell, D.; Gregory, A.;
Huang, F. & Fan, X. (2013, Feb). " Perceived prevalence
of teasing and bullying predicts high school dropout rates."
Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 105(1), 138 - 149.
February 2013: Those of you looking for research to support
the use of manipulatives to teach math will want to look at
a study out in December which compiled 55 different research
studies on the topic using students from kindergarten to college.
In teaching math with manipulatives versus math with abstract
symbols only, the manipulatives won out in terms of student
learning, retention, problem solving and knowledge transfer.
Carbonneau, K.; Marley, S. & Selig, J. (2012). "A Meta-Analysis
of the Efficacy of Teaching Mathematics With Concrete Manipulatives,"
Journal of Educational Psychology, Dec 17 issue, preview nps.
February 2013: It appears that while there are a lot of
working memory training programs out there, they do not seem
to be effective in treating working memory issues with ADHD
or as a tool to improve cognitive ability or academic achievement
in typical children either. A recent review of the data on
over 25 treatment studies, shows that while some working memory
treatment programs may result in some short term improvements
in specific working memory skills. But the effects are short-lived,
and more importantly do not generalize to other skills such
as nonverbal ability, inhibition, attention, word decoding
or math. Melby-Lervåg, M & Hulme, C. (2013) "Is working memory
training effective? A meta-analytic review." Developmental
Psychology, Vol 49(2), 270-29.
February 2013: Mothers who praise a child's process rather
than the person may increase motivation. A new study tracked
mothers' conversations and praise with their children. Mother's
who praised the person (eg: "you are smart") rather
than the process (eg: "you worked really hard on that")
tended to have children who had a fixed theory of intellegence
(thought their intelligence was fixed or predetermined and
would not be changed through experience, practice and learning)
and were less motivated to try new and more difficult tasks.
E. & Kempner, S. (2013) "Mothers' Daily Person and
Process Praise: Implications for Children's Theory of Intelligence
and Motivation." Developmental Psychology, Feb 11 preview
The work in "fixed vs growth theories of intelligence"
is attributed to researcher Carol Dweck. More information
in this can be found in her book, Mindset:
The New Psychology of Success.
January 2013: When correcting tests, don't just give
the correct answer, explain the correct answer. This helps
students transfer the new learning to different situations.
A research study tested students, then one group received
the correct answer, another group received explanations
of the correct answer and one group got no feedback. Students
were later retested with a mix of same and new questions.
Both feedback groups did better on the retest questions,
but the explanation feedback group scored much higher
on the new questions. Butler A., et al. (2012). "Explanation
Feedback Is Better Than Correct Answer Feedback for Promoting
Transfer of Learning." Journal of Educational Psychology,
Dec 17 preview, nps.
January 2013: As children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
(ASD) get older, their Executive Function problems appear
to worsen. When compared to typically developing children,
children with ASD at all ages struggle with Executive
Function. However older adolescents variance is greater,
indicating more problems for high functioning ASD individuals
as they try to enter work and social environments. Rosenthal,
M. et al (2013, Jan). "Impairments in real-world
executive function increase from childhood to adolescence
in autism spectrum disorders." Neuropsychology, Vol
27(1), 13-18. Researcher, Lauren Kenworthy, is author
and on Target!: An Executive Function Curriculum to Improve
Flexibility for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders.
January 2013: Spanking children makes them more aggressive.
So says new research out this month by researchers Elizabeth
Gershoff (author of Understanding
Mother-Adolescent Conflict Discussions: Concurrent and Across-time
Prediction from Youths' Dispositions on Parenting) and
Inna Altschul (author of Parental
involvement and the academic achievement of Mexican American
youths: what kinds of involvement in youths' education matter
most? ). In a large study of thousands of mothers and
children, they gathered information regarding incidence
of spanking at age 1, 3 and 5 and children's levels of aggression.
Children who were spanked by mothers, as early as 1 year
of age, were more aggressive by age 3. Spanking anytime
during early childhood, was correlated with aggressive behavior.
Levels of maternal warmth otherwise, had no moderating effect.
So even warm, caring mothers who spank will see more aggression
in their children.Lee, S., Altschul, I. & Gershoff,
E. (2013) "Does Warmth Moderate Longitudinal Associations
Between Maternal Spanking and Child Aggression in Early
Childhood?" . Developmental Psychology, Jan 21 preview,
January 2013: Reasons for adolescent substance use falls
into 2 categories - enhancing a positive state or relieiving/coping
with a negative state. Those who use to relieve a negative
state have higher / more involved substance use and more
psychological distress, but respond better to treatment.
Dow, S. & Kelly, J. (2012) "Listening to Youth:
Adolescents' Reasons for Substance Use as a Unique Predictor
of Treatment Response and Outcome." Psychology of Addictive
Behaviors, Dec 31 preview, nps.
January 2013: High school students who work long hours
at a paying job tend to have lower grades and are at higher
risk for substance use. For white and asian students, the
risk increases with more educated parents. So the more advantaged
the student, apparently the more severe the cost of a job
while in high school. Bachman, J.; Staff, J.; O'Malley, P
& Freedman-Doan, P. (2013). "Adolescent Work Intensity,
School Performance, and Substance Use: Links Vary by Race/Ethnicity
and Socioeconomic Status." Developmental Psychology,
(Jan 14 preview, nps).
2013: A new study out this week suggests there may be
some relationship between aggression and anxiety in children
and mothers who work night shifts. Comparing aggression, deprression
and anxiety in 2500 children, researchers found higher incidence
of aggression linked to mothers with night shift work as compared
to children of mothers who either did not work or worked standard
shfts. Dunifon, R. et al (2013). "Mothers'
Night Work and Children's Behavior Problems." Jan 7 issue
December 2012: Children who struggle with division of
whole numbers and understanding the magnitude of various fractions
tend to be the ones who struggle with fraction arithmetic
in middle grades. And as the children move through middle
school math, the struggles intensify. The difference between
low and high achieving 6th graders in math is much greater
by 8th grade. Siegler, R.& Pyke, A.(2012). "Developmental
and Individual Differences in Understanding of Fractions."
Developmental Psychology, Dec 17 preview, nps.
[Robert Siegler is author of Children's
December 2012: Quality of housing affects children's and
adolescent's behavioral functioning, emotional function and
cogvitive skills. While housing cost and type does not seem
to have an effect on cognitive skills, quality does. Coley,
R. et al (2012). "Relations Between Housing Characteristics
and the Well-Being of Low-Income Children and Adolescents."
Developmental Psychology, Dec 17 preview, nps.
December 2012: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may be
predicted by examining communications in children as young
as 13 months. Researchers observed infants spontaneously initiated
word and word - gesture combinations in 13 month infants.
They observed them again at 18 months and then tracked them
for 3 years. Those children who were at the bottom scoring
on communication at 13 months and especially at 18 months
were most likely to receive an ASD diagnosis at 36 months.
Winder, B. et al (2012). "Spontaneous Initiation of Communication
in Infants at Low and Heightened Risk for Autism Spectrum
Disorders."Developmental Psychology, Dec 10 preview,
November: In men, a moderate amount of stress during testing,
can increase not only test performance, but memory recall
of the material at a later time. The effect is much more mild
for women. Hupbach, A. & Almut, F. (2012). "Moderate
stress enhances immediate and delayed retrieval of educationally
relevant material in healthy young men." Behavioral Neuroscience,
Vol 126(6), 819-825.
November: Adolescents with ADHD have more conflicts with
the parents and over more issues than adolescents without
ADHD. Mothers however, do not tend to attribute the conflict
to the ADHD, whereas Fathers do. Markel, G. & Wiener,
J. (2012). "Attribution Processes in Parent–Adolescent
Conflict in Families of Adolescents With and Without ADHD".
Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science. Nov 12. preview,
[Geraldine Markel is author of Performance
Breakthroughs for Adolescents With Learning Disabilities or
Add: How to Help Students Succeed in the Regular Education
High quality childcare during the infant to toddler period
appears to create better memory skills in children as they
begin school. High quality childcare during the preschool
years leads to better language skills. Cognitive skills were
highest in children who experienced high quality childcare
during both the infant to toddler and preschool periods. Li,
W. et al (2012, Nov 5) "Timing of High-Quality Child
Care and Cognitive, Language, and Preacademic Development."
Developmental Psychology, preview, nps.
October: While many adolescents experiment with substances,
most of them do not incur long term psychological problems
as a result. A new longitudinal study indicates that the level
of anxiety experienced by the adolescent prior to substance
use can predict who sustains long-term psychological problems
in the future. Those with high levels of anxiety who use stiumulants
and hallucinogens tend to have long terms problems. Interestingly
though, the use of cannibis (marijuana) by those with high
levels of anxiety tends to reduce the risk of long term problems.
Fallu, J. et al (2012). "Substance use among adolescents:
Moderating effects of anxiety." Canadian Journal of Behavioural
Science. Vol 44(4), 319-329.
October: For male students, a little bit of stress can
be a good thing - at least for increasing memory on studied
material. Researcher taught new material to students on day
1, exposed them to stress on day 2, and tested them on day
3. Males who incurred the stress on day 2, did better on the
test. Hupbach, A. & Fierman, R. (2012). "Moderate
Stress Enhances Immediate and Delayed Retrieval of Educationally
Relevant Material in Healthy Young Men." Behavioral Neuroscience,
Oct 15 preview, nps.
Adolescent substance use can be divided into (1)abstainers
(2) experimenters (3) at-risk users (4) abusers. When tracked
into adulthood, at age 26 the "experimenters" group
were more likely to have a high school diploma and higher
education, regular involvement in long-term intimate relationships,
and better work ethic, when compared to the other groups.
Englund, M. et al. (2012). "The Developmental Significance
of Late Adolescent Substance Use for Early Adult Functioning."
Developmental Psychology, Oct 1 issue, preview, nps.
Over the long term, children who do not get adequate sleep
tend to have higher rates of depression, anxiety and emotional
adjustment problems. Researchers tracked children through
upper elementary grades and found the relationship more pronounced
in girls, African American children and children from lower
SES homes. El-Sheikh, M. et al (2012). "Children's Sleep
and Adjustment: A Residualized Change Analysis." Developmental
Psychology, Oct 1 issue. Preview, nps.
Who is most likely to be retained in kindergarten? Boys,
native English speakers, and children who attended daycare
at age 4 rather than public pre-K programs. Winsler, A. et
al. (2012, Sep). "Child, family, and childcare predictors
of delayed school entry and kindergarten retention among linguistically
and ethnically diverse children." Developmental Psychology,
Vol 48(5), 1299-1314.
2012: Chronic stress has now been shown to change the
chemical and physical struction of the prefrontal cortex and
affects both working memory and impulse control. Mika, A.
et al. (2012, Aug 20). "Chronic Stress Impairs Prefrontal
Cortex-Dependent Response Inhibition and Spatial Working Memory."Bhavioral
Neuroscience, preview, nps.
August 2012: Obviously mind wandering affects reading
comprehension. Researchers have studied influences on this
relationship. Individual differences in mind wandering can
be attributed to working memory capacity, interest in the
topic, motivation to do well on the task and experince with
the topic. Unsworth, N. & McMillan, B. (2012), "Mind
Wandering and Reading Comprehension: Examining the Roles of
Working Memory Capacity, Interest, Motivation, and Topic Experience,"
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition.
Aug 20, preview, nps.
August 2012: Children who have been through trauma have
more trouble negotiating relationships in classrooms and within
their peer groups. Trauma in childhood leads to more severe
interpersonal struggles as adults. Moreso than people traumatized
as adults. Marylene Cloitre, PhD, National Center for PTSD,
Menlo Park, CA. "Trauma Recovery: The Art and Science
of Treating the Whole Person". Invited Address, Aug 4,
2012. APA National Conference, Orlando, FL.
2012: People with PTSD have problems with learning in
addition to problems with anxiety. New research shows that
individuals with PTSD also have hippocampus dysfunction, including
decreased volume and problems in the medial temporal lobe
associated with learning impairment. Levy-Gigi, E. et al.
(2012). Individuals With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Show
a Selective Deficit in Generalization of Associative Learning.
Neuropsychology, Jul 30, preview, nps.
2012: New longitudinal research tracked Non Suicidal Self
Injury reports(NSSI) in 9th graders to later actual suicidal
attempts in later adolescence. Results show that NSSI, in
addition to factors such as depressionn can help predict suicide
risk for adolescents. Guan, K. et al (2012). "Nonsuicidal
Self-Injury as a Time-Invariant Predictor of Adolescent Suicide
Ideation and Attempts in a Diverse Community Sample,",
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Jul 30, preview
July 2012: While bilingual children tend to have lower
math scores when entering school, by 5th grade they are caught
up to their native English speaking peers. However due to
a variety of factors, non-English Dominant Bilingual students
and non English speaking students continue to score lower
on reading and math assessments. Wen-Jui, H. (2012). "Bilingualism
and Academic Achievement". Child Development, Vol 83(1),
July 2012: Young adolescents who have trouble sustaining
attention are more likely to begin smoking at an early age.
However the researchers caution there are significant other
factors which influence adolesents to begin and continue smoking.
Z. et al. (2012). "The Association Between Neurocognitive
Functioning and Smoking in Adolescence: The TRAILS Study."
Neuropsychology, Jul 9, preview, nps.
July 2012: How far you go in your schooling has been linked
to heridity to some extent. However, now researchers have
actually found the genes that correlate to educational attainment.
Variations in 3 dopaminergic genes, DAT1, DRD2, & DRD4,
have been found to be linked to dopamine levels associated
with the highest levels of education. Of course, so many other
factors play into a person's education achievement, but genetics
are a player. Beaver, K. et al (2012). "Dopaminergic
polymorphisms and educational achievement: Results from a
longitudinal sample of Americans". Developmental Psychology,
Vol 48(4), 932-938.
July 2012: Air pollution is not only bad for the body,
it is bad for the brain. Researchers at the Univ or Michigan
and the Ohio State University are conducting research which
now shows that exposure to smog damages children's cognitive
ability, changes the neuronal structure in the hippocampus,
increases brain declines due to age, and increases depression.
Weir, K. (2012). "Smog in our brsin." Monitor on Psychology,
Vol 43(7), pg 32 - 37.
More support for getting children up and moving in current
study out this month. Preadolescent children who engaged in
more sedentary behavior and had lower cardiorespiratory fitness,
scored lower on cognitive tests. They showed less cognitive
control, more errors of omission and lower response accuracy.
Chidren with higher aerobic fitness do better with cognitive
tasks. Pontifex, M. et al. (2012, July). "Fit and vigilant:
The relationship between poorer aerobic fitness and failures
in sustained attention during preadolescence." Neuropsychology,
Vol 26(4), 407-413.
The likelihood of a child becoming an entrereneur as an adult
is based on socioeconomic background and role model of parents.
For boys, having a self-employed father was biggest predictor.
For girls, it is SES background and resources. Most entrepreneurs
should good social skill development and intent by the age
of 16. Schoon, I. & Duckwork, K. (2012, July 2). "Who
Becomes and Entrepreneur? Early Life Experiences as Predictors
fo Entrepreneurship." Developmental Psychology, preview,
Playing board games, which involve linear numbers, in the
classroom can help preschool children with number ine estimation,
magnitude comparison and counting. Ramani, G.; Siegler, R,;
& Hitti, A. (2012, June 18) "Taking it to the Classroom:
Number Board Games as a Small group Learning Activity."
Journal of Educational Psychology, preview, nps.
While standardized tests may be somewhat valid instruments
for measuing IQ, they don't measure self-control. Self control
helps students study, complete homework and other learning
tasks and participate positively in the classroom - all equally
important to later success. Report card grades are better
at measuring self-control. Duckwork, A. et al. (2012). "What
No Child Left Behind leaves behind: The roles of IQ and self-control
in predicting standardized achievement test scores and report
card grades." Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol
May 2012: New
longitudinal results out on English Language Learners (ELLs)
in the US as they progress through high school. Statistics
show that an amazing 60% of high school ELLs were born in
the United States - meaning they have spent at least 9 years
in the US without developing enough English language to function
academically in the school system. This would seem to imply
more emphasis is needed in our public schools for English
language development. On a good note, while foreign-born ELLs
begin high school functioning significantly lower in language
profieciency than their US-born ELL peers, by the end of high
school, they have caught up. Slama, R. (2012) "A longitudinal
analysis of academic English proficiency outcomes for adolescent
English language learners in the United States."
Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 104(2), 265-285
May 2012: Before
you or your school spends money on programs designed to improve
working memory (in both children with ADHD and just a general
improvement in typically developing children and adults),
you may want to look at a meta-analysis realized this month
which looked at the top 30 programs aimed at doing that. Researchers
found that any benefit is short-lived for the most part, with
little generalization. Some long term benefit remains for
visuospatial working memory but non for verbal working memory.Melby-Lervåg,
M. & Hulme, C. (2012). "Is Working Memory Training
Effective? A Meta-Analytic Review." Developmental Psychology,
May 21 issue, preview, nps.
May 2012: The
post-high school picture is a bleak one for young adults with
Autism. More than 1/2 of young adults with autism, tracked
2 years after high school had no paid job experience, nor
post high school education. The statistics shed light on the
need for public schools to focus more attention on helping
young people assimilate into being community participants
after graduation. Shattuck, P. et al. (2012) "Postsecondary
Education and Employment Among Youth With an Autism Spectrum
Disorder" Pediatrics May 14th preview, nps.
May 2012: Sexual
harrassment in early adolescense can lead to eating disorders
during teenage years. Researchers tracked 5th grade students
through 9th grade and found that those who experienced sexual
harrassment, tended to try to modify their own body image
and were more likely to have eating disorders by 9th grade.
Girls were more suseptable than boys. Petersen, J. (2012,
Apr 30). "Peer Sexual Harassment and Disordered Eating
in Early Adolescence." Developmental Psychology, preview,
May 2012: A
mind shift is taking place which views autism not as a deficit,
needing a cure, but simply a different, but valid pathway
within human diversity. This "neurodiversity movement"
challenges our traditional medical model which sees autism
as a separate entity from the person and something needing
a cure Kapp, S. et al. (2012, Apr 30). "Deficit, Difference,
or Both? Autism and Neurodiversity." Developmental Psychology,
2012: Substance use increases in African American teens
as a result of feelings of racial discrimination. However,
the effect is only seen in youth who endorse substance use
as a coping mechanism. Gerrard, M. (2012, April 30). "Coping
With Racial Discrimination: The Role of Substance Use."
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, preview, nps.
2012: Diets high is saturated fats are not only bad for
your physical health, they cause impairment of cognitive function
and now researchers also link it to learning and relearning
of tasks. Asem, J. et al. (2012). "The Effect of High-Fat
Diet on Extinction and Renewal." Behavioral Neuroscience,
(Apr 30), preview nps.
2012: The positive feedback bias refers to previous studies
showing that white teachers give more positive feeback to
minority students. New research indicates this may be tempered
by stronger support systems from colleagues and administration.
In the new study, white teachers were less prone to the positive
feedback bias in high-support schools. The support system
though tempered the effect only on the feedback given to Black
students. White teachers show the bias toward Hispanic students,
regardless of school support network.
Harber, K. et al. (2012). "Students'
Race and Teachers' Social Support Affect the Positive Feedback
Bias in Public Schools." Journal of Educational Psychology,
Apr 30., preview, nps.
April 2012: Preschool / elementary students who come
from harsh home environments with punitive discipline practices,
and/or exposure to violence show declines in academic performance
and function. This decline is greatly exacerbated if the students
also experience victimization. Schwartz, D. et al. (2012,
Apr 16). The Link Between Harsh Home Environments and Negative
Academic Trajectories Is Exacerbated by "Victimization
in the Elementary School Peer Group." Developmental Psychology,
April 2012: Adding traditional paper-based study aids
(especially those prompting key ideas) does increase learning
via computer and game-based applications. Providing a list
of main ideas to look for seemed to benefit all learners,
whereas have a paper the students had to fill out as they
went along only favored some learners. Fiorella, L. &
Mayer, R. (2012, Apr 9). "Paper-Based Aids for Learning
With a Computer-Based Game." Journal of Educational Psychology,
April 2012: Adolescents who use fitness supplements are
at greater risk of later using illicit perfomance enhancing
substances such as anabolic-androgenic steroids. Other risk
indicators include body image disturbance, compulsive exercise,
and perfectionism.Hildebrandt, T, Harty, S.; Langenbucher,
J. (2012, Apr 9). "Fitness Supplements as a Gateway Substance
for Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Use". Psychology of Addictive
Behaviors, preview, nps.
2012: Pre-adolescent girls with ADHD were measured for
Executive Function (planning, organization, attention, working
memory, etc) and then tracked for 10 years into adulthood.
Regardless of whether or not the ADHD symptoms continued,
the girls continued to show problems with Exectuve Function
into adulthood compared to the control group of girls without
ADHD. Miller, M.; Ho, J.; Hinshaw S. (2012, April 2) "Executive
Functions in Girls With ADHD Followed Prospectively Into Young
Adulthood." Neuropsychology, preview nps.
Mar 2012: There is a reciprocal relationship between
math interest and math ability that begins before school even
starts. Researchers have found that preschooler's interest
in math predict their math performance later and preschoolers
math skills also predict interest in math later. Fisher, P.
et al. (2012, March 26). "Early Math Interest and the
Development of Math Skills.". Journal of Educational
Psychology, preview, nps.
Mar 2012: Research on rats shows that stress during adolescence
causes an increase in depression and anxiety in adulthood.
New research shows that WHERE in adolescence the stress occurs
has an effect too. Stress in early adolescence causes an increase
in both depression and anxiety problems in adulthood, whereas
stress in mid-adolescence did not cause an increase in axiety
related issues but did tend to increase risk-taking behavior.
Wilkin, M., et al. (2012, April). "Intermittent physical
stress during early- and mid-adolescence differentially alters
rats' anxiety- and depression-like behaviors in adulthood."
Behavioral Neuroscience, Vol 126(2), 344-360.
Mar 2012: Researchers used a large pool of elementary
children from diverse ethnic backgrounds who were below average
in both literacy and math at the end of first grade. Half
the students were retained a year and half were promoted onto
the next grade. They then tracked the students through elementary
grades using the Woodcock Johnson test annually. The retained
students received a one year boost in achievement early on,
however that boost had completely disappeared by the end of
the elementary grades. Moser, S.;West, S.;Hughes, J. (2012).
" Trajectories of Math and Reading Achievement in Low-Achieving
Children in Elementary School: Effects of Early and Later
Retention in Grade. Journal of Educational Psychology, Mar
19 preview, nps. .
Mar 2012: If you work with traditionally gifted, or high
achieving students, you may be aware of the "Big Fish
Little Pond" effect which suggests students may suffer
a decline in their academic self concept if put in groups
with higher achieving students. New reserach indicates that
may not be the case - often times it just depends on the educational
environment. When high achieving students were pulled out
to attend supplemental summer programs, not only did their
self concept not deminsh, many of them had a higher academic
self concept upon completion. Makel, M. et al (2012). "Changing
the Pond, Not the Fish: Following High-Ability Students Across
Different Educational Environments." Journal of Educational
Psychology, Mar 19 preview, nps.
Mar 2012: People of all ages who suffer from social anxiety
are much more likely to use marijuana to cope in social situations.
In fact, they are more likely to avoid any social situation
if marijuana is unavailable. Heimberg, J. et al. (2012). "Marijuana-related
problems and social anxiety: The role of marijuana behaviors
in social situations".Psychology of Addictive Behaviors,
Vol 26(1), 151-156 .
Mar 2012: Are you an "owl" or a "lark"?
It may make a difference in your mood and health. While most
adolescents are "owls" the fewer "larks"
or morning-type adolescents have more positive overall affect
and better subjective health. The greater the "morningness"
of an inidividual, the greater the positive affect. This may
be the reason older people in general report being happier.
Biss, R. & Hasher, L. (2012, Feb 6). "Happy as a
lark: Morning-type younger and older adults are higher in
positive affect." Emotion, preview nps.
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Dr. Kathie F. Nunley.