Developing engineering identity may be key to student success
A team of SDSU researchers will assess how professional development activities, including leadership training, in engineering can impact student retention, degree completion and academic success. The goal is to increase the diversity of engineering students. Credit: South Dakota State University

Students who identify themselves as engineers early in their educational careers are more likely to complete their college degrees. That's the premise behind a new research project aimed at increasing the diversity of engineering students at South Dakota State University.

"When you personally buy into becoming an engineer, your chances of success go up," said civil and environmental engineering professor Suzette Burckhard. However, how students develop that identity may vary. "Women may develop identity differently compared to men and there may be differences among individual engineering disciplines," she said.

An increase in either the discipline gap or the academic achievement gap between black and white students in the United States predicts a jump in the other, according to a new study published today in AERA Open, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association. This is the first published peer-reviewed nationwide study of this topic.

According to the study—conducted by Francis Pearman (Stanford University), F. Chris Curran (University of Florida), Benjamin Fisher (University of Louisville), and Joseph Gardella (Drexel University)—a 10 percentage point increase in the black-white gap in a school district predicts an gap that is 17 percent larger than the average black-white achievement gap. The researchers also found that an increase in the between black and predicts a larger than average discipline gap.

The study also confirmed previous research that has documented that black and Hispanic students are more likely to face suspension or expulsion for discipline infractions than their white peers, and that black and Hispanic students perform worse on average than White students on standardized assessments.

For the AERA Open study, the scholars analyzed disciplinary and achievement data for grades 3 through 8 in across the United States for the 2011-12 and 2013-14 school years. Disciplinary data came from the U.S.

Read to kids in Spanish; it
A mother enjoying reading time with her infant. Credit: University of Delaware

A new study has found that children who had strong early reading skills in their native Spanish language when they entered kindergarten experienced greater growth in their ability to read English from kindergarten through fourth grade.

Importantly, when the researchers factored in how well the students spoke English, it turned out that native reading skills mattered more—even at kindergarten entry—to the students' growth across time. Plainly stated: who had stronger Spanish reading skills upon entering kindergarten did better across time, even than their Spanish-speaking peers who were more fluent in speaking English but less proficient in reading Spanish.

In teasing apart the data, the University of Delaware's Steven Amendum and his fellow researchers discovered a telling detail when they compared students who had strong Spanish reading skills but spoke less English to their bilingual peers who had fewer Spanish reading skills but spoke more English. The data showed that the students who entered kindergarten with weaker Spanish reading skills increasingly lagged behind their peers in their ability to read English.

children school
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Human are incredible learners, in part because they are also accomplished teachers. Even at a very early age, people are adept at instructing others. But while there has been a lot of research into how people teach, there has been much less research on how they decide what to teach in the first place—a critical piece of the educational puzzle.

Now, new research from Stanford scientists reveals that even young children consider what their students will find most useful or rewarding when deciding what to teach. A team led by Hyowon Gweon, assistant professor of psychology, showed that 5- to 7-year-olds decide to teach things that will not only be rewarding but also challenging for their students to learn on their own, maximizing what the student gets out of the interaction.

"People have to be choosy about what they teach, because it is impossible to teach everything; our results suggest that even young children are able to reason about the expected reward and the cost of learning from the learner's perspective to determine what is best to teach," Gweon said. The study, published Oct. 14 in Nature Human Behavior, shows that even young children know what is useful to the learner.

children science
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

For years, one of the highest-rated comedy series on television was The Big Bang Theory, a show whose central characters portray "old, tired images of the science community, sending a resounding message about who belongs in science," says Bryan A. Brown, an associate professor of science education at Stanford Graduate School of Education. "These stereotypes have been reinforced for generations. We can't ignore the barriers these expectations impose."

Brown's research examines why cultural stereotypes and language about matter, especially for students in multilingual and multicultural communities who might not fit the images they see or relate to the words they hear in popular culture and in the classroom.

Brown, a former high school science , has studied science education in urban communities for more than two decades, exploring the relationship between identity, classroom culture and academic achievement. For the past eight summers, Brown has brought fifth- and sixth-graders from inner-city schools to the Stanford campus for a weeklong science camp, where the students get excited about biology, physics, chemistry and engineering—and learn from teachers of color, who provide critical role models in the field.

In his new book, Science in the City, Brown looks at the role that language and culture play in teaching science and technology.

In a world of growing educational and professional mobility, there is an urgent need, from an individual nation's perspective to reduce the potentially harmful effects of what is commonly referred to as the "brain drain". The brain drain refers to the loss of one's intellectuals and talented students and workers to another nation where they may benefit their adopted state, often never to return home to their place of birth.

Writing in the International Journal of Education Economics and Development, Akira Shimada of the Faculty of Economics at Nagasaki University, Japan, discusses the policy challenges facing education in attempting to plug the brain drain. His findings suggest that among the developed nations, subsidizing salary can often reduce the loss of talent to foreign shores. But, this is generally not an option for cash-strapped establishments in a developing nation where the disparity between available home salary and the remuneration potential of working in a developed nation is enormous.

One possible way to reduce the brain drain from developing nations and so retain the very talent that might allow the country to thrive is not to attempt to offer better working salaries but to improve education and the subsidizing thereof. Rewarding students for staying in their home nation to work could be implemented effectively whereas attempting to tax those who flow with the drain is largely untenable.

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EET 131 F19 - IT Essentials I - A+ Certification (5316, 5317, 5318)

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