October 27 - November 3, 2019

An extraordinary week of research syntheses.

On grading and commenting, on types of knowledge, on testing, on sleep, and more -- this week offers helpful distillations of what we know about certain essential components of teaching & learning:

The first feature article on grades and comments offers an excellent summary of the research on assessment feedback.  Note that the conclusions of the article are more than simply what is mentioned in the blurb -- look also at the how the nature of the feedback helps, including a summary of what goals comments ought to accomplish.  Missing from the article, unfortunately, is the effect of comments alone -- it explores grades and comments together, and arrives at some surprising conclusions.  

And the second feature offers what I think is a critical reminder that "research-backed" has limited application in education (not zero, but limited).  Every classroom is different, so randomized-controlled trials can't account for the variability of each classroom.  Because of this, practitioner research -- practitioner knowledge -- helps fill out an understanding of what works, and why.  Building research models not only around standard scientific methods, but also around improvement science honors both traditional research formats and practitioner expertise.

Enjoy these and other articles this week, including insight into "cancel culture" among adolescents, which is not what I thought it was at first.

Peter Nilsson
King's Academy


Grades And Comments: What Actually Helps Learning? Kappan
“Page concluded that grades can have a beneficial effect on student learning only when accompanied by standard or individualized comments from the teacher. Studies conducted in later years confirmed these results.”

On The Wisdom Of Teachers: Scientific Vs. Craft Vs. Moral Knowledge EdWeek
“Scientific evidence is not the only source of knowledge nor is it the source of knowledge that always holds high ground in decision-making. Two other important kinds of knowledge are what might best be labeled craft knowledge and moral knowledge. Craft knowledge stems from the understanding gathered over time by practitioners, including through stories, ad hoc observations, and intuition. It is the evidence that usually legitimizes professional judgment in our field, in part because scientific knowledge is not available or cannot be generalized to the thousands of different situations educators face daily.”



On Recruiting Internationally: Understanding Current And Emerging Markets NAIS

Groups Threaten To Sue Universities For Using SAT/ACT In Admission AP News


“Tales From The Teenage Cancel Culture” (What Is Cancel Culture?) New York Times


“What Does The Research Say About Testing?” Edutopia

On Moving From Timed Tests To Competency-Based Tests MultiBriefs


On The Importance Of Circadian Rhythms Quartz

Sleep Deficits Linked To Cognitive Decline Quartz

iNACOL: “Aligning Education Policy With The Science Of Learning” iNACOL


“Teachers Who Promote Creativity See Educational Results” Gallup
“Teachers' use of creativity in learning was determined by the frequency with which they report allowing students to do each of the following: 1) choose what to learn in class; 2) try different ways of doing things, even if they might not work; 3) come up with their own ways to solve a problem; 4) discuss topics with no right or wrong answer; 5) create a project to express what they've learned; 6) work on a multidisciplinary project; 7) work on a project with real-world applications; and 8) publish or share projects with people outside the classroom.”


The Knowledge Gap: How What We Know Affects How We Read KQED

What Is The Role Of Social Emotional Learning In Schools? Hechinger Report


Some Students Who See Themselves In The Curriculum Drop Out Less Hechinger Report


Does The “Word Gap” Shape Later Cognitive Growth? The 74 Million
“A study last year raised questions about the extent of the gap, but the science is clear that children’s first three years are the most critical time for brain development."


On Constructed Languages Slate


“If We Are Not Struggling, We Are Not Learning” EdSurge


Against The Surveillance Of Students Medium


“Scientists Demonstrate Direct Brain-To-Brain Communication” Scientific American


“Grooming Students For A Lifetime Of Surveillance” Model View Culture

A.I. Robots Are Writing Novels Now. Publishers Weekly


On The Benefits Of Having Some Alone Time New York Times