Cheery Friday Greetings from Learning How to Learn! Aug 19, 2016

10th January 2017

Cheery Friday greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

A Sneak Peek Into Barb’s New Book

Barb was recently on Dave Goldberg’s radio show—she let slip some intriguing insights related to her forthcoming book Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential, (coming next April from Penguin!). Feel free to pre-order this science-based book of adventure—it’s essentially the sequel to our course Learning How to Learn. (All proceeds go towards the medical school debts of Barb’s older daughter Rosie (yes, she’s the young woman in the earphones here at minute marker 3:36. 🙂 ).

Contention in Memory

The New York Times has published an intriguing extract from the book Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness and Family Secrets, written by Luke Dittrich, the grandson of the neurosurgeon who halted H.M.’s seizures, but destroyed critical aspects of his memory. This is an intriguing, beautifully written book, but it’s aroused no end of consternation, as noted here. (And here is Dittrich’s rebuttal to his critics.) If you would like to discuss the book and its varying reactions, see the postings by Ajoy Bhatia and Cristián Gallardo in the discussion forums. (Hat tip, Linda Walker.)

Celebration with Testingbut Controversy with PISA

Here’s a fun tip on how to reframe testing and assessments in a positive way. Interestingly, the article concludes with the usual nod towards Finland’s high performance in math on the international PISA test. But there is actually much controversy about Finland’s stature in this area. Finland has scored high on PISA, but lower on other internationally recognized tests. In fact, while countries like Chile and Korea have increased by more than 20 points for their 8th grade students over the past decade on the 2011 TIMSS test, Finland’s performance has declined by an eye-opening 38 points.

Some see PISA as skewing their assessments to favor countries that conform to specific theories espoused by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which runs PISA. Professor Yong Zhao, author of Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon?: Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World (a book we hold in very high esteem), argues here that PISA results should be ignored entirely. He is not alone in his criticism. You might be surprised to learn, as Professor Zhao discusses in his book, that students in different countries can get quite different questions on the PISA—meaning that entire countries can vary markedly in their rankings due to behind-the-scenes decisions on which questions to score and include. If you have an interest in the testing controversy, check out our friend Manabu Watanabe’s series of intriguing articles and follow the links. Education is much like science as a discipline—in that sense, you may wish to read the perceptive article “Saving Science: Science isn’t self-correcting, it’s self-destructing.”

Are You a STEM Instructor?

As we’re heading back to the fall semester, we’d like to recommend the outstanding book: Teaching and Learning STEM: A Practical Guide, by Richard Felder and Rebecca Brent. Rich and Rebecca have had more influence than any other educators on Barb’s teaching abilities. If you want to learn more about teaching effectively and efficiently in STEM, you couldn’t do better than to buy this great book.

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

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