Why Do Some People Learn Faster?
The physicist Niels Bohr once defined an expert as “a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.” Bohr’s quip summarizes one of the essential lessons of learning, which is that people learn how to get it right by getting it wrong again and again. Education isn’t magic. Education is the wisdom wrung from failure.
A new study, forthcoming in Psychological Science, and led by Jason Moser at Michigan State University, expands on this important concept. The question at the heart of the paper is simple: Why are some people so much more effective at learning from their mistakes? After all, everybody screws up. The important part is what happens next. Do we ignore the mistake, brushing it aside for the sake of our self-confidence? Or do we investigate the error, seeking to learn from the snafu?
The Moser experiment is premised on the fact that there are two distinct reactions to mistakes, both of which can be reliably detected using electroenchephalography, or EEG. The first reaction is called error-related negativity (ERN). It appears about 50 milliseconds after a screw-up and is believed to originate in the anterior cingulate cortex, a chunk of tissue that helps monitor behavior, anticipate rewards and regulate attention. This neural reaction is mostly involuntary, the inevitable response to any screw-up.
The second signal, which is known as error positivity (Pe), arrives anywhere between 100-500 milliseconds after the mistake and is associated with awareness. It occurs when we pay attention to the error, dwelling on the disappointing result. In recent years, numerous studies have shown that subjects learn more effectively when their brains demonstrate two properties: 1) a larger ERN signal, suggesting a bigger initial response to the mistake and 2) a more consistent Pe signal, which means that they are probably paying attention to the error, and thus trying to learn from it.
In this new paper, Moser et al. extends this research by looking at how beliefs about learning shape these mostly involuntary error-related signals in the brain, both of which appear in less than half a second. More specifically, the scientists applied a dichotomy first proposed by Carol Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford. In her influential research, Dweck distinguishes between people with a fixed mindset — they tend to agree with statements such as “You have a certain amount of intelligence and cannot do much to change it” — and those with a growth mindset, who believe that we can get better at almost anything, provided we invest the necessary time and energy. While people with a fixed mindset see mistakes as a dismal failure — a sign that we aren’t talented enough for the task in question — those with a growth mindset see mistakes as an essential precursor of knowledge, the engine of education.
The experiment began with a flanker task, a tedious assignment in which subjects are supposed to identify the middle letter of a five-letter series, such as “MMMMM” or “NNMNN.” Sometimes the middle letter is the same as the other four, and sometimes it’s different. This simple change induces frequent mistakes, as the boring task encourages people to zone out. Once they make a mistake, of course, they immediately regret it. There is no excuse for misidentifying a letter.
While performing the flanker task, subjects wore an EEG cap, a monitoring device filled with greased electrodes that records electrical activity in the brain. (Unlike fMRI, EEG gives researchers excellent temporal resolution, allowing them to precisely measure a sequence of neural events. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of spatial resolution, making it difficult to know where in the brain the signals are coming from.)
It turned out that those subjects with a growth mindset were significantly better at learning from their mistakes. As a result, they showed a spike in accuracy immediately following an error. Most interesting, though, was the EEG data, which demonstrated that those with a growth mindset generated a much larger Pe signal, indicating increased attention to their mistakes. (While those with an extremely fixed mindset generated a Pe amplitude around five, those with a growth mindset were closer to fifteen.) What’s more, this increased Pe signal was nicely correlated with improvement after error, implying that the extra awareness was paying dividends in performance. Because the subjects were thinking about what they got wrong, they learned how to get it right.
In her own research, Dweck has shown that these mindsets have important practical implications. Her most famous study, conducted in twelve different New York City schools along with Claudia Mueller, involved giving more than 400 fifth graders a relatively easy test consisting of nonverbal puzzles. After the children finished the test, the researchers told the students their score, and provided them with a single line of praise. Half of the kids were praised for their intelligence. “You must be smart at this,” the researcher said. The other students were praised for their effort: “You must have worked really hard.”
The students were then allowed to choose between two different subsequent tests. The first choice was described as a more difficult set of puzzles, but the kids were told that they’d learn a lot from attempting it. The other option was an easy test, similar to the test they’d just taken.
When Dweck was designing the experiment, she expected the different forms of praise to have a rather modest effect. After all, it was just one sentence. But it soon became clear that the type of compliment given to the fifth graders dramatically affected their choice of tests. When kids were praised for their effort, nearly 90 percent chose the harder set of puzzles. However, when kids were praised for their intelligence, most of them went for the easier test. What explains this difference? According to Dweck, praising kids for intelligence encourages them to “look” smart, which means that they shouldn’t risk making a mistake.
Dweck’s next set of experiments showed how this fear of failure can actually inhibit learning. She gave the same fifth graders yet another test. This test was designed to be extremely difficult — it was originally written for eighth graders — but Dweck wanted to see how the kids would respond to the challenge. The students who were initially praised for their effort worked hard at figuring out the puzzles. Kids praised for their smarts, on the other hand, were easily discouraged. Their inevitable mistakes were seen as a sign of failure: Perhaps they really weren’t so smart. After taking this difficult test, the two groups of students were then given the option of looking either at the exams of kids who did worse or those who did better. Students praised for their intelligence almost always chose to bolster their self-esteem by comparing themselves with students who had performed worse on the test. In contrast, kids praised for their hard work were more interested in the higher-scoring exams. They wanted to understand their mistakes, to learn from their errors, to figure out how to do better.
The final round of tests was the same difficulty level as the initial test. Nevertheless, students who were praised for their effort exhibited significant improvement, raising their average score by 30 percent. Because these kids were willing to challenge themselves, even if it meant failing at first, they ended up performing at a much higher level. This result was even more impressive when compared to students randomly assigned to the smart group, who saw their scores drop by nearly 20 percent. The experience of failure had been so discouraging for the “smart” kids that they actually regressed.
The problem with praising kids for their innate intelligence — the “smart” compliment — is that it misrepresents the psychological reality of education. It encourages kids to avoid the most useful kind of learning activities, which is when we learn from our mistakes. Because unless we experience the unpleasant symptoms of being wrong — that surge of Pe activity a few hundred milliseconds after the error, directing our attention to the very thing we’d like to ignore — the mind will never revise its models. We’ll keep on making the same mistakes, forsaking self-improvement for the sake of self-confidence. Samuel Beckett had the right attitude: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
HEC assures AAUR students to resolve recognition issue
The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has assured the students of B Sc (Veterinary Sciences) of the Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi (AAUR) to resolve the issue of their degrees recognition from Pakistan Veterinary Medical Council (PVMC).
A delegation of the students came to HEC Secretariat on Tuesday and held a meeting with Dr. Riaz Hussain Qureshi, Adviser (Human Resource Development) HEC, Dr. Khwaja Azam Ali, Managing Director (Quality Assurance Agency), Mr. Fida Hussain, Director General (Quality Assurance) and Mr. Anees Sadozai, Director General (Services).
The students vehemently voiced their concern for recognition of their B Sc degrees from PVMC. They told HEC officials that now they are in the ninth year of their study but are still unclear about their academic future. Even degrees of those students who have graduated have no recognition.
Dr. Qureshi assured the students that HEC was fully cognizant of their problem and it will be resolved on priority basis. “We shall hold a meeting in which representatives of PVMC and your University will be invited to discuss the reservations of the Council so that deficiency, if any, may be removed and your degrees are duly recognised,” he said.
He said that this will also pave the way for veterinary students of other four universities to get their degrees recognised. These include Islamia University, Bahawalpur, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, Lasbela University of Agriculture, Water and Marine
Basic problems (Education) and Government
Respect of Civil government is responsibility of every citizen of country, before one week I was read research about one political since student he has describe in his views “problem of political parties in state and attitude before power and after then completely opposite, we can learn through example :”Social responsibility of politician will be change in self intrastate ofter getting power”.
Attractive sentence foe political since student student is that “public and political parties both are irresponsible in performing his duty ,lack of relation between them create lot of problem’s. An other hand public not use his civic sense for solve his own matter unfortunately youth,mail,fem-ail,children they completely neglect city problem due to they change his priority in other unnecessary work.
In our country we are facing challenges in our social field’s like education,health,transportation,and cultural and daily we are living in to discussing problems with out solution personally I know my friends they are in same situation but till to day they are feeling insure his life with these problems.
Know we discuss our basic problem which are depend our whole live is EDUCATION,environment of education in our collages,killing of Ma-rite,absence of new research in education,budget issue, etc
Behavior of student’s with education depend on his/her mood and study of non-stander book in our education system as our financial and technology invention main barrios for using book’s. Second aspect of our education very weak from starting to end when in our society divided in green,red school ,Madrsa,private,government system it’s the main key of confusion for student’s and parent’s.
Commercialization of school’s in our society with out competition and produce any thing are damage our education process.
Coaching education environment same situation in our country, my brother every read new address of coaching commercials and demand my parent’s for admission.
Teaching profession requirement are uncompleted in our country we see in our daily life more student’s claim that teacher are not able for teaching this subject and his schoology not Mach with student’s, education expert in west are reach his research that maching of teacher,student,and environment is most important for education we have no completely requirement in our education system.
Second issue in our collage and university life which are depend are student future is that killing of
Ma-rite, really son of bureaucrat,Colonial achieve highest markiss without reading and presence in class .Student pressure and dealing of teachers in his profession with personal relation .
Third and most important problems for student’s which is continues process for coming generation is research method how our generation be help and remember work . Library and reading room will change in visiting place and time pass it’s real situation with library hall’s.
In 21century advance of technology and other tool’s of communication not take replace of book every daily listing s enema hall’s and lawn be decorate but our school’s, collage are the real face of jun-gals , student point out girls and ad-mint just for happy mood.
Object of total describe is that we are weak and back county in education,we compromise in education not another work,how we improve our abilities in economic”s and technology field with out education. So just need collectively to unite for education with out westing time and make opportunity for new generation to survive our country day night in education field. Our political parties have no time for social activity they prepay for succeed opposite party not to change education reform;s.
Mazhar Ahmed Qureshi
e-mail for recommendation:
Family system in co-education have damage in our society when couples meet in education area’s or an other event they talking each other like member of same family. In the past were when man and women meet alone they felled shame but in modern education system couples closely meet when they like through technology or without. No doubt in this education system we loss by plan our generation with own hand’s, if i share with you my self experience in this system very bad…..
what is your experience?
And sexual thinking of student during study and collage life, in last they cross the line?
STRENGTHENING BENEFIT-COST ANALYSIS for Early Childhood Interventions
Alexandra Beatty, Rapporteur
Committee on Strengthening Benefit-Cost Methodology for the Evaluation of Early Childhood Interventions
Board on Children, Youth, and Families
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL AND INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
What happens to children during infancy and early childhood has a profound influence on their experiences once they enter school and throughout life. The deficiencies that many children experience from birth to school age—in health care, nutrition, emotional support, and intellectual stimulation, for example—play a major role in academic achievement gaps that persist for years, as well as in behavior and other problems (Karoly, Kilburn, and Cannon, 2005; Kilburn and Karoly, 2008; National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2000, 2009). Findings from neuroscience, developmental psychology, and other fields have supported the development of many interventions designed to strengthen families, provide disadvantaged children with the critical elements of healthy development, and prevent adverse experiences that can have lasting negative effects. Early childhood interventions may focus on educational experiences in preschool classrooms, home visits, parenting education, health and wellness support, or some combination of these approaches. They may identify short- and long-term goals, such as reducing health problems, improving cognitive development and school readiness, or preventing negative behaviors like child abuse or juvenile crime.
Do these programs pay off economically? Many studies have documented benefits to children and their families, and many different models are being implemented in the United States. Policy makers are increasingly recognizing the importance of this phase of life and the potential value of early childhood interventions, and they are increasingly willing
Approaches for accurately evaluating programs and drawing valid causal inferences about them are the heart of the challenge of assessing the costs and benefits of early childhood interventions. Jens Ludwig and David Deming examined two aspects of the methodological challenges of designing evaluations: (1) drawing causal inferences from studies whose designs deviate from the ideal and (2) identifying individual or group effects in analyses that include multiple outcomes and multiple groups.
MAKING CAUSAL INFERENCES
Before one can assign dollar values to a program’s benefits and costs, one must first make sound estimates of those benefits and costs in the natural units with which they are normally measured, Ludwig explained. Doing so requires evidence of causal relationships, ideally collected through randomized experiments—although, as Karoly had already noted, this is not always possible. Ludwig discussed some of the methodological challenges that arise when randomized experiments deviate from the ideal design, as they often do in the real world. He also discussed alternative options for estimating causal relationships that can be used when strictly randomized experiments are not feasible.
An example of some of these real-world challenges can be observed in a recent experimental study of 383 oversubscribed Head Start centers, which began in 2002 (Puma et al., 2005; see Box 2-1 for information about
It is tempting to think that assessing the costs of an intervention is the easy part, committee member David Weimer observed, but calculating costs beyond the expenditures listed in a program budget can be difficult. Henry Levin and Clive Belfield, respectively, provided an overview of what is required and illustrated some of the issues.
RESOURCES AND COSTS OF REPLICATION
Levin indicated that studies of early childhood education rarely measure the associated costs thoroughly or accurately. First, many studies rely on budget figures, which are usually developed prior to actual expenditures, are not necessarily corrected after the fact, and rarely account for the true costs of the resources involved. Although there is fairly broad consensus among economists about how costs should be measured to obtain accurate results, that standard is seldom met in the early childhood context.
Ideally, Levin explained, there are five steps to measuring cost accurately:
1.Specify dimensions of quality.
2.Identify resource requirements to meet goals for each dimension.
3.Assess market and shadow costs for each resource.
4.Aggregate for total and obtain average and marginal cost.
Analyzing costs accurately is complex, although the established procedures for doing so apply relatively easily to the early childhood context. To assess the outcomes of early childhood interventions, however, requires careful thought about ways of measuring indirect and long-term effects. Policy makers want to base decisions about investments in early childhood programs on analysis of what can be expected in return for this investment. Advocates of these investments look for ways to demonstrate their enduring value. Ideally, accurate assessments of the potential benefits of early childhood programs would rest on common definitions of outcomes and programs and common approaches to measuring both short- and long-term outcomes. But these tools are not yet firmly in place, and researchers have been exploring a range of approaches; presenters explored their strengths and limitations and pointed to promising directions for future research.
RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND METHODS
Many studies have examined both the outcomes that are evident during or shortly after an intervention as well as the duration of these effects. W. Steven Barnett and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn described the results of several studies.
A Closer Look at the Problem of Valuation
The questions that arise in assessing benefits and costs for early childhood interventions have emerged in other contexts, and the workshop was designed to consider relevant insights and examples. David Weimer provided a detailed look at the development of shadow prices in general. Myrick Freeman, Philip Cook, and Donald Kenkel discussed the ways monetary values are assigned to outcomes in three sectors, respectively: (1) environmental economics, (2) criminal justice, and (3) health.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SHADOW PRICES
Shadow prices are a means of (1) converting projected program impacts into social benefits (which can be measured in terms of society’s willingness to pay for them) and (2) converting program resources into social costs (measured as opportunity costs). Many plausible, but imperfect, shadow prices are available in the early childhood context, mostly based on data from long-term experiments, such as the Perry Preschool Project. These are extremely useful, Weimer suggested, but they cannot be “the answer to all our problems because we’re just never going to have enough resources to do enough of them.” Moreover, he stressed, studies of a single program by definition can answer only a constrained set of questions, from the point of view of decision makers. More “wholesale” experiments are necessary to provide the basis for useful shadow prices—which are key to benefit-cost analysis.
Generalizability of Benefit-Cost Analyses
Although methods for estimating costs and valuing outcomes raise many important conceptual issues, they are of less interest to policy makers than accurate general conclusions that can be drawn from a body of research. As the methodological discussions suggest, generalizing from studies of the benefits and costs of early childhood interventions poses its own complexities. Mark Lipsey discussed the potential value of meta-analysis for this purpose, and Howard Bloom examined some broad design and analysis considerations.
Lipsey began by suggesting that, when research findings can be generalized, it means that the same intervention will produce the same or nearly the same effect despite variation on some dimensions, such as the characteristics of the providers or recipients of the intervention, the setting, and perhaps certain nonessential features of the intervention itself. Ideally, a generalization is based on a relatively large sample of research studies of effectiveness; the studies will have used representative probability samples of the population of interest and random assignment in order to provide both internal and external validity in the same study. That ideal is hard to attain, Lipsey noted. Studies that have evidence of internal but not external validity and that use samples that are “not-too-unrepresentative” are more common.
Meta-analysis across such studies provides a next-best approach to
Benefit-Cost Analysis in a Policy Context
These methodological and conceptual questions can have a profound influence on policies that affect children and families every day. Rigorous benefit-cost analysis is relatively new in the early childhood context, but available analyses generally point to benefits that significantly outweigh costs. Still, the message to policy makers is not crisp; differences among programs, settings, populations served, goals, available data, and measurement approaches all affect outcomes, costs, and overall conclusions about the value of early childhood programs.
The field faces a double challenge: improving research methods while providing policy makers with accurate information to guide social policy and public investments for children and families. In the final session of the workshop, several views of the tension between research and policy were presented, followed by discussion about future goals and directions.
Rudy Penner, Jon Baron, and Steve Aos provided three perspectives on the relationship between research and decision making for policy makers.
Keep It Simple
Penner, who offered the perspective of a political veteran, began the discussion with a look at the challenge of using program evalua-
Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences
Committee on Education on Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences
Board on Life Sciences
Division on Earth and Life Studies
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
In cooperation with
IAP: The Global Network of Science Academies
International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
International Union of Microbiological Societies
Polish Academy of Sciences
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
A workshop at the Polish Academy of Sciences in November 2009 was the latest in a series of activities organized by national and international scientific organizations to address concerns that continuing advances in the life sciences, while offering great current and potential benefits, could also yield knowledge, tools, and techniques that could be misused for biological weapons or for bioterrorism. This workshop addressed the question of how education about these “dual use” issues might form part of a much broader response to the security risks that would also enable scientific progress to continue and its benefits to be available to all.
The workshop was the result of a request by the U.S. Department of State to the IAP, the Global Network of Science Academies. Funding was provided through the Department’s Biosecurity Engagement Program, which is committed to developing cooperative international programs that promote the safe, secure and responsible use of biological materials that are at risk of accidental release or intentional misuse. The IAP also provided funding for travel by participants from developing countries.
The IAP carries out its work through groups of member academies; in this case, its Biosecurity Working Group, which was created in 2004 and includes the academies of China, Cuba, the Netherlands (chair), Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Polish Academy of Sciences served as the host for the workshop,1 and the National Research.
In mid-November 2009, more than sixty people from almost thirty countries gathered at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw for a workshop devoted to expanding education about so-called “dual use” research among the life sciences community. (As used here and throughout this report, the term refers to the possible beneficial or malevolent use of reagents, organisms, technologies, or information.) The workshop resulted from a request by the U.S. Department of State to the IAP, the Global Network of Science Academies, which is committed to making the voice of science heard on issues of crucial importance to the future of humankind.1 The State Department provided funding through its Biosecurity Engagement Program, which is committed to developing cooperative international programs that promote the safe, secure and responsible use of biological materials that are at risk of accidental release or intentional misuse. The IAP also provided funding to support travel by participants from developing counties.
The IAP carries out its work through groups of member academies; in this case its Biosecurity Working Group, which was created in 2004
A Primer on the Science of Learning
This chapter provides an overview of efforts to change the emphases and direction of education in the life sciences. The intent is to provide both a context in which to place efforts at education about dual use issues and to summarize what is known about effective teaching and learning strategies in service of developing effective education strategies for dual use issues. While the preponderance of learning science evidence comes from studies on K-12 and undergraduate populations, the fundamentals of how people learn can be applied to graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, faculty, other instructional staff, and technical staff (NRC 2000). The United States played a leading role in the early research and implementation and this is reflected in the literature and examples cited. A number of examples also demonstrate the growing international interest in making fundamental changes in life sciences education.
The New Biology and Education
A collective vision for an integrated and synthetic approach to the life sciences is emerging that offers a rich context for education about dual use issues. A New Biology for the 21st Century, a report of the National Research Council (NRC) of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, calls for a problem-based approach to the life sciences that addresses societal issues ranging from human and environmental health to sustainable energy and food production (NRC 2009b; Figure 2-1). The focus on
Current Conditions: Establishing a Baseline About Education on Dual Use Issues
As part of its charge, the committee sought to develop an understanding of:
The extent to which dual use issues are currently being included in postsecondary education (undergraduate and postgraduate) in the life sciences;
In what contexts that education is occurring (e.g., in formal coursework, informal settings, as stand-alone subjects or part of more general training, and in what fields); and
What educational materials addressing dual use research in the life sciences already exist.
The committee’s primary information gathering took place during an international workshop, held over two-and-a-half days in November 2009 at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw; the agenda and participants list for the workshop may be found in Appendix B. Two background papers commissioned for the meeting provided an indication of the types and frequency of biosecurity-related courses or modules at a selection of higher education institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, Japan, and Israel (Revill et al. 2009), as well as examples of currently available online educational materials (Vos 2009). These background papers, distributed to all of the participants before the workshop, several other reports made available on the project website (American
Gaps, Needs, and Potential Remedies
The remainder of the committee’s charge was to:
Identify gaps [based on its review of currently available courses and materials];
Consider ideas for filling the gaps, and
Discuss approaches for including education on dual use issues in the training of life scientists.
This chapter addresses these elements of the charge, drawing heavily on the information gathered and suggestions made during the workshop in Warsaw, supplemented by the growing number of other projects, reports, and meetings that have addressed education about dual use issues. Much of the discussion in Warsaw took place in breakout sessions, with additional information provided in plenary presentations and subsequent discussions. One of the plenary sessions on the first day and the first breakout session focused on providing additional information about the current state of education and the availability of online materials to supplement the background papers commissioned for the workshop; the results of these discussions were presented in the previous chapter. The remaining breakout sessions focused on specific topics, with the first four groups listed below addressing one set of common questions and the other four groups addressing a second common set. (The list of questions for all the sessions may be found in
Questions for Session #1
1.What is the current extent of dual use education and “values education” in the life sciences internationally? In general are researchers aware of the concept of dual use research and “dual use research of concern”?
2.Where is dual use education for life scientists being introduced? Likely candidates include bioethics, responsible conduct of research training, and biosafety. What are the advantages (and disadvantages) of including dual use in each? What successes and failures have come as these programs have been carried out?
3.What is the range of resources currently available to support dual use education and what gaps currently exist?
Questions for Session #2
1.What can we learn from research on education and from experience in developing approaches and educational materials? Which pedagogical approaches, strategies and types of materials are likely to be most effective at enhancing awareness? At generating and sustaining interest and attention?
2.What types of educational models and approaches have been used and why were these approaches selected over others? How were these approaches developed? What methodology are they based