U.S. Students Awful at Evaluating Reliability of Online Science Readings

Benjamin Herold (Digital Education) reports on research by Elena Forzani from the University of Connecticut.

In a study of 1,429 7th grade students from 40 districts across two northeastern states, Forzani found that fewer than 4 percent of students could correctly identify the author of an online information source, evaluate that author’s expertise and point of view, and make informed judgments about the overall reliability of the site they were reading.

The ability to evaluate online sources and their reliability is an essential skill nowadays, so this type of research should inform classroom instruction.

Half of Motivation is Genetic

Scienceblog reports on a study showing that a significant percentage of motivation is genetic: Don’t blame kids if they do not enjoy school, study suggests

A study of more than 13,000 twins from six countries found that 40 to 50 percent of the differences in children’s motivation to learn could be explained by their genetic inheritance from their parents.

Instead, genetics and nonshared environment factors had the largest effect on learning motivation, whereas the shared environment had negligible impact.

And the shared environment had only about a 3% effect. I’m not sure what this means for motivating students in the classroom, but it does make us rethink our approaches to motivation.

Arguing Intelligently

Daniel Dennett (via Maria Popova) in his book Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking writes that

How to compose a successful critical commentary:

  1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.

  2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).

  3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.

  4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.