Jill Barshay

Here's Why Poorer Students Tend to Perform Worse in Math

Abstract, pure math — solving disembodied equations filled with x’s and y’s —  can often seem boring. Creative math teachers commonly try to come up with concrete, real-world examples to motivate students and make math relevant to adolescents.

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Does Education Software Actually Help Students Learn More?

Even proponents of educational technology admit that a lot of software sold to schools isn’t very good. But they often highlight the promise of so-called “adaptive learning” software, in which complex algorithms react to how a student answers questions, and tailor instruction to each student. The computer recommends different lessons to different students, based upon what they already know and what they still need to work on.

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New Study Finds Benefits of School Desegregation Last for Generations

It was 62 years ago this month that the United States Supreme Court issued its landmark decision that separate schools for whites and blacks were “inherently unequal,” thus setting in motion more than 800 school desegregation court orders around the country. A Berkeley economist, Rucker C. Johnson, has been tracking thousands of the children of that era into adulthood, as they had children of their own. And he’s concluded that integration has been a powerfully effective tool for raising the educational levels and living standards for at least two generations of black families.

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Data Show Segregation by Income (Not Race) is What’s Getting Worse in Schools

There’s a new narrative that U.S. schools are “resegregating” along racial lines. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights used the word “resegregation” on the headline of a recent press release and scheduled a briefing on the subject for May 20. And the word “resegregation” gets bandied about frequently at education conferences and in the press.

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No Psychological Harm to Children Who Play Lots of Video Games, Study Says

This is the kind of research every kid trying to convince his parents to let him play video games dreams about: “Time spent playing video games may have positive effects on young children.” That was the headline on a March 2016 press release from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, promoting a new study co-authored by three members of its faculty.

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The Biggest Hole in the STEM Pipeline Starts Before Kindergarten

It’s a well-established problem that too few blacks and Hispanics, and too few women of all colors, pursue degrees and careers in the sciences. And much research has gone into why minority students aren’t taking as many science classes in high school, and later in college, as their white counterparts do. Wonks call it the “leaky STEM pipeline,” referring to all the students who leave science, technology, engineering and math as they progress through their educational careers.

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Using Computers Widens the Achievement Gap in Writing, Federal Study Finds

Can elementary-school children show off their best writing on a computer? The research arm of the U.S. Department of Education was curious to learn just that. In 2012 it handed out laptop computers to more than 10,000 fourth-graders and asked them to complete two 30-minute writing assignments.

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Immigrant Children in Europe Seem to Learn Best When Assimilated in Schools, Study Claims

More than one million asylum seekers have flooded into Europe this calendar year, 2015, and almost half of them could be granted refugee status and stay. It’s the largest refugee crisis since World War II.

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Do We Actually Learn Anything from Lecture Courses?

Earlier this fall, Molly Worthen, a history professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, wrote a persuasive defense of the lecture as an instructional form. Particularly in the humanities, Worthen argued, students need to absorb long, complex arguments. It’s admittedly not easy, but worthwhile for students to learn to concentrate, and synthesize, organize and react as they listen to a professor. Her New York Times opinion column made its way around social media. On my own Facebook feed, friends posted memories of their favorite lecturing professors. Personally, I am a big fan of lectures and am grateful when someone takes the time to explain something to me.

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Does Preschool Matter?

Does preschool education help youngsters do better in school as they get older, or not?  Two new studies, both released in the final days of September 2015, make the answer seem as elusive as ever.

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