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5 Education Studies You Should Know About from 2020

These insightful education studies are a reason (or 5) we all can be hopeful about the future of today's educators and tomorrow's problem solvers. As schools, classrooms, educators and students continue to adapt and persist through the turbulence, we all should take a moment to appreciate and then support their efforts to educate and learn. Education research work such as this is vital to continuing to improve the educational experience for all.  

2020 was a year few of us expected and one not easily forgotten... #thanksCOVID! It was a year that challenged all to think about our lives and society differently, K12 educators even more so. K12 education was flipped on its head, twirled around a few times and then flipped back around.

Unlike Humpty Dumpty, K12 education is bouncing back - with a few bumps and bruises, but the knowledge and capabilities gained over the past year give way to optimism for tomorrow's problem solvers. These studies and 2020 broadly demonstrate the growing need for STEAM education. 

Without further ado - here is the latest and greatest education research!


5 Education Studies You Should Know About:

1. Are Power Plant Closures a Breath of Fresh Air?

What do Coal-fired power plants have to do with learning? Turns out, the answer might be bigger than you think, much bigger...

This study from Duke and Penn State produced seriously powerful findings (pun intended). When three coal-fired plants closed in the Chicago area, student absences in nearby schools dropped by 7 percent, illuminating the role that environmental factors - such as air quality, neighborhood crime, and noise pollution - have in keeping our children well and ready to learn.

Taken out to scale, about 2.3 million children in the United States attend a public elementary or middle school located within 10 kilometers of a coal-fired plant. This is a salient reminder solutions to educational equity don't start and stop in the classroom. 

2. Students who can generate incisive questions are better learners

Inquiry based learning, project based learning and STEAM! Sure, this study does point out the efficacy of tools and pedagogy like ours (think we're bluffing? Check it out!) - but the research suggests we are onto something...

This study turns the tables on some more well established studying strategies and suggest there is another powerful learning strategy waiting to be unfurled by teachers; get students to generate questions about their learning, and gradually help them add layers through probing questions.

In the study, students who studied a topic and then generated their own questions scored an average of 14 percentage points higher on a test than students who used passive strategies like studying their notes and rereading classroom material. 

 

Master Yoda, right he was...

 

 

3. Efficacy of Virtual Instruction in K-12 Education

The question of the year! This research is almost brand new subject matter for education and this study goes to show the right answer is in fact often the most simple one. 

The report found logistical issues such as accessing materials, not content-specific problems such as failures of comprehension, were often the most significant obstacles to online learning. In other words, it wasn’t that students didn’t understand your ecosystems lesson, it was that they didn’t find or access the ecosystems lesson at all.

The tools are new to nearly everyone and regular feedback on them is crucial to a successful learning environment. Teachers can post simple surveys, “Have you encountered any technical issues?”, “Can you easily locate your assignments?”, to ensure students are able to engage with the material as prescribed.

 

 

4. Language aficionado? Learning to code might be right for you

What makes a good programmer might be different than what conventional wisdom says...

The research says learning to code closely resembles learning a language. Young adults with no programming experience were directed to learn Python. Subjects then took a series of tests assessing their problem-solving, math, and language abilities. The researchers found mathematical abilities accounted for 2% of a person’s ability to learn how to code, while language abilities accounted for 17% of learning ability - that's around nine times more predictive!

In the future, we wonder if learning coding languages will satisfy secondary and higher education foreign language requirements. Afterall, what is a language anyways? If a language is just a system of communication used by a particular community, it is a short leap to categorize learning a computer language as learning a language. 

 

5. Having rubrics reduces racial bias in grading

Who doesn't want to reduce bias in grading? There are straight forward mechanisms that do just that such as using rubrics.

The study found teachers should articulate your standards clearly before you begin grading, and refer to the standards regularly during the assessment process. In the research, teachers were recruited and asked to grade the same writing sample from a fictional second-grade student. In one cohort, the student mentioned a sibling named Dashawn, while the other referenced a sibling named Connor.

Teachers were 13 percent more likely to give the Connor papers a passing grade, revealing the invisible advantages that many students unknowingly benefit from. However, when teachers have an explicit set of criteria to evaluate the writing the difference in grades was nearly eliminated. 

 

Like articles like this? Don't stop here!

With STEAM, there are so many ways you can inspire and challenge your students. Your classroom can become a place of thought-provoking conversation, design, creativity and learning.