Category: Educational

Students with Dark Triad traits don’t feel responsible for their own learning, making them more likely to cheat

By Emma Young

Plagiarism and cheating are persistent problems in higher education, note the authors of a new paper in Personality and Individual Differences. Better ways of combatting academic misconduct are clearly needed. And in their paper, Guy J. Curtis at the University of Western Australia and colleagues report that they’ve found one: encouraging students to take personal responsibility for their own learning.

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When the school day starts later, teens get better sleep and feel more motivated

By guest blogger Emma L. Barratt

Getting out of bed is the first major hurdle of most teens’ weekdays. Often assumed to be the product of laziness or moodiness, this difficulty rising in the morning is actually due to adolescent sleep patterns. During teenage years, circadian rhythms are relatively delayed, causing teenagers to both go to sleep and wake up later in the day.

Even so, schools in the UK still demand that teens attend lessons from 9am or earlier, while high schoolers in Germany or the USA may start as early as 7:30am. This holds students to early rise times that are more suited to those in other age groups.

In an attempt to compensate for lost sleep during the week, teens often oversleep on weekends and reduce their sleep overall. As poor sleep routines are associated with cardiovascular issues, mood disorders, substance abuse and more, it’s easy to see why improving sleep in teens is an appealing target.

But what if school starting times worked with, rather than against, teenage sleep requirements? Research studies from years gone by indicate that such a change could be beneficial, but many lacked appropriate methods to measure potential effects of sleep interventions over longer periods of time.

This is precisely the gap that Anna Biller and colleagues in Germany endeavoured to fill with a recent study in Scientific Reports.

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Highlighting refugees’ resilience can boost their confidence and engagement at university

By Emma Young

Refugees face all kinds of obstacles to settling well into a new country. One is the “stigmatised identity” of refugees as being weak, unskilled victims, write Christina Bauer at the Free University of Berlin and colleagues in a new paper in Psychological Science. So the team designed a simple intervention to reframe that identity as one characterised instead by perseverance and the ability to cope with adversity. When they tested it with refugees who were studying online, they found that it increased their engagement with their course — which in theory could make for greater future university and career success.

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Children’s books still feature more male than female protagonists

By Emily Reynolds

There are many fields in which women are underrepresented: in certain areas of education and academia, in politics, and in senior leadership roles. Efforts have been made across sectors to improve this representation, as we’ve particularly covered in the case of STEM.

Unequal representation may start before the workplace or university, however — even before school. Exploring children’s literature, a new study in PLOS One from researchers at Princeton and Emory universities finds an overrepresentation of male protagonists in children’s books, potentially reinforcing damaging societal expectations for those of all genders.

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Watching A Lecture Twice At Double Speed Can Benefit Learning Better Than Watching It Once At Normal Speed

By Emma Young

Watching lecture videos is now a major part of many students’ university experience. Some say they prefer them to live lectures, as they can choose when to study. And, according to a survey of students at the University of California Los Angeles, at least, many students also take advantage of the fact that video playback can be sped up, so cutting the amount of time they spend on lectures. But what impact does sped-up viewing have on learning? The answer, according to a new paper in Applied Cognitive Psychology, is, within some limits, none. In fact, if used strategically, it can actually improve learning. However, what students think is going to be the best strategy isn’t actually what’s most beneficial, Dillon Murphy at UCLA and colleagues also report.

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Hand Gestures Help Students Mentally Organise New Information

By Emma L. Barratt

Retaining new information can be tricky, especially with topics far outside of what we’re familiar with. A good teacher can make a huge difference, but effective teaching techniques can add new dimensions to our ability to really take on what we’re being told.

A new study by academics from the University of California and University of Georgia identifies one such technique, and it turns out to be incredibly simple: hand gestures.

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Diversity Grants Can Discourage Diverse Candidates From Applying For More Lucrative Scholarships

By Emma L. Barratt

It’s no secret that marginalised groups face barriers in educational settings that the able-bodied, male, and racially privileged largely do not. Issues pertaining to access, sense of belonging, potential discrimination, and financial difficulties can add often insurmountable layers of complexity to applying for further education.

Efforts to address this in recent years have crystallised into a number of measures, including the wide adoption of diversity and inclusion grants. These provide financial support specifically for selected individuals from marginalised groups, in order to give them a more equal footing with applicants from privileged backgrounds.

However, recent research from Adriana L. Germano and colleagues at The University of Washington has illustrated some unintended flaws with this approach. In stark contrast with the ethos behind diversity and inclusion initiatives, these grants may be serving to make applications to prestigious scholarships even less diverse than before.

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Women And Early Career Academics Experience Imposter Syndrome In Fields That Emphasise Natural Brilliance

By Emily Reynolds

Imposter syndrome — the feeling that you don’t belong or aren’t capable at work or in education — can affect anybody. But people from underrepresented backgrounds are more likely to experience imposter syndrome: first generation university students, for example, or people of colour.

Imposter syndrome can be particularly acute in academia, where intellectual flair is prized. In fact, a new study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology finds that in fields in which intellectual “brilliance” is perceived to be a prerequisite to success, imposter syndrome is more likely to strike women and early-career academics.

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Let The Children Play: Research On The Importance Of Play, Digested

By Emma Young

As children head back to school, teachers and parents will of course be concerned about kids catching up on their education after the Covid-19 lockdowns. But, as many psychologists have pointed out, they need to catch up on play, too. So what does the research tell us about the need for and the importance of play?

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Preschool Children Choose To Learn About Topics Where There Are Gaps In Their Knowledge They Want To Fill

By Emily Reynolds

The world is full of fascinating opportunities to learn. But with so many different topics for children to explore, why do they pick certain paths? In a new paper in Psychological Science, a team from Rutgers University looks closely at what drives children’s curiosity. They find that children are motivated to learn more about a topic when there is a gap in their knowledge that they want to fill. The results suggest that for young children there is a sweet spot for learning, when they already know enough to find a topic interesting, but not so much that it becomes boring.

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