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Dr Kathie Nunley
___connecting current psychological and neurological research to education

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Articles to Read Now
(for Teachers, Parents & Policy Makers)

Asperger's and PDD Gone! Now What? The new Autism Spectrum Disorder

If the Thought of Flipping Your Classroom Makes You Dizzy, Tip It Sideways Instead

America's Absolutely Wonderful Education System

Multiple Intelligences - 25 Years In

Adolescent depression and self-esteem.

Why Punishment-Based Systems Don't Work

Money as a Reward


Brain Biology: it's basic gardening


Drug Effects on the Brain


Stress and Memory


The Caffeine Craze of Youth


Your Brain on Drugs


How the adolescent brain challenges the adult brain


You're Feeling Very Sleepy


Keeping Pace with Today's Quick Brains


The Advantages of Bilingualism

READ MORE


Video Lessons, Tips & Hot Topics in Research
Attention Deficit Disorder


The importance of PE and Recess


Asperger's vs High Functioning Autism

View ALL our videos at:
help4teachers.com/videos.htm

Research Making News RIGHT NOW

March 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.

February 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.

January 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

December 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.

November 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.

September 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, preview, nps.

May 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.

May 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.

March 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.

February 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

February 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, preview, nps

January 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), 124-135.

December 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.

December 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.

November 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.

November 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, nps.

October 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.

 

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