Archive for ‘Education’

June 3, 2015

Grit

how children succeed

Grit in psychology is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or endstate, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective. This perseverance of effort promotes the overcoming of obstacles or challenges that lie within a gritty individual’s path to accomplishment, and serves as a driving force in achievement realization. Commonly associated concepts within the field of psychology include ‘perseverance,’ ‘hardiness,’ ‘resilience,’ ‘ambition,’ ‘need for achievement,’ and ‘conscientiousness.’ These constructs can be conceptualized as individual differences related to the accomplishment of work rather than latent ability.

This distinction was brought into focus in 1907 when American psychologist William James challenged the field to further investigate how certain individuals are capable of accessing richer trait reservoirs enabling them to accomplish more than the average person, but the construct dates back at least to Victorian polymath Francis Galton, and the ideals of persistence and tenacity have been understood as a virtue at least since Aristotle. Although the last decade has seen a noticeable increase in research focused on achievement-oriented traits, there continues to be difficulty in aligning specific traits and outcomes.

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June 1, 2015

NeuroRacer

neuroracer

NeuroRacer is a video game designed by a team of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco led by cognitive neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley as a way to help with mental cognition.

It was designed as an intervention for ‘top-down modulation deficits in older adults.’ A study on 60-85 year olds showed that the multitasking nature of the game caused improvements in tasks outside of the game involving working memory and sustained attention.

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May 30, 2015

The Magic of Reality

what is an earthquake

The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True’ is a 2011 book by British biologist Richard Dawkins, with illustrations by Dave McKean. It is a science book aimed primarily at children and young adults. He addresses topics that range from his most familiar territory, evolutionary biology and speciation (how the tree of life creates new branches), to physical phenomena such as atomic theory, optics, planetary motion, gravitation, stellar evolution (the life cycle of stars), spectroscopy (the study of the interactions of matter and electromagnetic radiation), and plate tectonics, as well as speculation on exobiology (alien life).

Most chapters begin with quick retellings of historical creation myths that emerged as attempts to explain the origin of particular observed phenomena. These myths are chosen from all across the world including Babylonian, Judeo-Christian, Aztec, Maori, Ancient Egyptian, Australian Aboriginal, Nordic, Hellenic, Chinese, Japanese, and other traditions, including contemporary alien abduction mythology.

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April 1, 2015

Perceptual Learning

ultimeyes

Perceptual learning is the process of learning improved skills of perception from simple sensory discriminations (e.g., distinguishing two musical tones from one another) to complex categorizations of spatial and temporal patterns relevant to real-world expertise (e.g., reading, seeing relations among chess pieces, knowing whether or not an X-ray image shows a tumor). Perceptual learning forms important foundations of complex cognitive processes (i.e., language).

In visual Vernier acuity tasks, observers judge whether one line is displaced above or below a second line. Untrained observers are often already very good with this task, but after training, observers’ threshold has been shown to improve as much as six fold. Similar improvements have been found for visual motion discrimination and orientation sensitivity.

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March 17, 2015

Information Explosion

as we may think

The information explosion is the rapid increase in the amount of published information or data and the effects of this abundance. As the amount of available data grows, the problem of managing the information becomes more difficult, which can lead to information overload. The earliest use of the phrase seems to have been in an IBM advertising supplement to the ‘New York Times’ published on April 30, 1961, and by Frank Fremont-Smith, Director of the American Institute of Biological Sciences Interdisciplinary Conference Program. Techniques to gather knowledge from an overabundance of electronic information (e.g., data fusion may help in data mining) have existed since the 1970s.

Since ‘information’ in electronic media is often used synonymously with ‘data,’ the term ‘information explosion’ is closely related to the concept of ‘data flood’ (also dubbed ‘data deluge’), the ever-increasing amount of electronic data exchanged per time unit. The awareness about non-manageable amounts of data grew along with the advent of ever more powerful data processing since the mid-1960s. By August 2005, there were over 70 million web servers. Two years later there were over 135 million web servers. According to ‘Technorati,’ the number of blogs doubles about every 6 months with a total of 35.3 million blogs as of April 2006. This is an example of the early stages of logistic growth, where growth is approximately exponential, since blogs are a recent innovation. As the number of blogs approaches the number of possible producers (humans), saturation occurs, growth declines, and the number of blogs eventually stabilizes.

December 8, 2014

Overchoice

too many choices by carl richards

jam experiment

Overchoice, also referred to as ‘choice overload,’ is a term describing a problem facing consumers in the postindustrial society: too many choices. The term was first introduced by futurist Alvin Toffler in his 1970 book, ‘Future Shock.’ Overchoice is the result of technological progress. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, each year, more and more products are being offered. Consumers have more disposable income to spend, and producers can more easily and cheaply introduce product variations.

Having more choices, on the surface, appears to be a positive development; however it hides an underlying problem: faced with too many choices, consumers have trouble making optimal choices, and thus as a result can be indecisive. When confronted with a plethora of choices without perfect information, many people prefer to make no choice at all, even if making a choice would lead to a better outcome. Toffler noted that as the choice turns to overchoice, ‘freedom of more choices’ ironically becomes the opposite—the ‘unfreedom.’

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November 14, 2014

Curse of Knowledge

jargon

curse of knowledge by Igor Kopelnitsky

The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias that leads better-informed parties to find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed parties. It is related to public policy engineer Baruch Fischhoff’s work on the hindsight bias (the knew-it-all-along effect). In economics the bias is studied to understand why the assumption that better informed agents can accurately anticipate the judgments of lesser informed agents is not inherently true, as well as to support the finding that sales agents who are better informed about their products may, in fact, be at a disadvantage against other, less-informed agents. It is believed that better informed agents fail to ignore the privileged knowledge that they possess, thus ‘cursed’ and unable to sell their products at a value that more naïve agents would deem acceptable.

In one experiment, one group of subjects ‘tapped’ a well-known song on a table while another listened and tried to identify the song. Some ‘tappers’ described a rich sensory experience in their minds as they tapped out the melody. Tappers on average estimated that 50% of listeners would identify the specific tune; in reality only 2.5% of listeners could. Related to this finding is the phenomenon experienced by players of charades: The actor may find it frustratingly hard to believe that his or her teammates keep failing to guess the secret phrase, known only to the actor, conveyed by pantomime.

September 18, 2014

Mental Rotation

Mental Rotation

Mental rotation is the ability to rotate mental representations of two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects. The ability is somewhat localized to the right cerebral hemisphere, largely in the same areas as perception, and is associated with spatial processing and general intelligence but not verbal skills.

Mental rotation is the brain moving objects in order to understand what they are and where they belong. It has been studied to try to figure out how the mind recognizes objects in the environment. Researchers call these objects stimuli. A stimulus then would be any object or image seen in the person’s environment that has been altered in some way. Mental rotation then takes place for the person to figure out what the altered object is.

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June 25, 2014

Reinventing the Wheel

square wheel

antipatterns

To reinvent the wheel is to duplicate a basic method that has already previously been created or optimized by others. The inspiration for this idiomatic metaphor lies in the fact that the wheel is the archetype of human ingenuity, both by virtue of the added power and flexibility it affords its users, and also in the ancient origins which allow it to underlie much, if not all, of modern technology. As it has already been invented, and is not considered to have any operational flaws, an attempt to reinvent it would be pointless and add no value to the object, diverting the investigator’s resources from possibly more worthy goals which his skills could advance more substantially.

‘Reinventing the wheel’ may itself be an ironic cliche—-it is not clear when the wheel itself was actually invented. The modern ‘invention’ of the wheel might actually be a ‘re-invention’ of an age-old invention. Additionally, many different wheels featuring enhancements on existing wheels (such as the many types of available tires) are regularly developed and marketed. The metaphor emphasizes understanding existing solutions, but not necessarily settling for them.

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June 16, 2014

Tactical Ignoring

dont feed the trolls

Tactical ignoring, also known as planned ignoring, is a behavioral management strategy used in response to challenging behavior that seeks to receive attention or to gain a reaction from others. It is a commonly used strategy when the person displaying the attention seeking behavior would feel rewarded even by a negative response. An example of this is a cough or noise that is excessively loud in order to gain sympathy from work colleagues, loved ones, and friends, which is still seen as desirable attention by the person.

Tactical ignoring can be one element of a behavior management plan when there are a variety of challenging behaviors being addressed. As such, it is a method of responding to a behavior, complemented by a positive reinforcement schedule and skill development in learning a more appropriate method of seeking attention.

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May 8, 2014

Soteriology

Salvation Army

Soteriology [suh-teer-ee-ol-uh-jee] is the branch of theology dealing with Salvation. Buddhist salvation (called nirvana) is liberation from suffering, ignorance, and rebirth. Hindu salvation (called moksha) is similarly characterized by emancipation from the cycle of reincarnation. Mainstream Christian soteriology is the study of how God reconciles the separation between man and God due to sin. Christians believe individuals are miraculously saved by divine grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and reconciled to God.

Islamic soteriology focuses on how humans can repent of and atone for their sins so as not to occupy a state of loss. In Islam, it is believed that everyone is responsible for his own action. So even though Muslims believe that their father of humanity, Adam, committed a sin by eating from the forbidden tree and thus disobeying his Lord, they believe that humankind is not responsible for such an action. The major Jewish denominations emphasize prayer and morality in this life over concern with the afterlife.

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April 16, 2014

Mindset

mindset

In decision theory and general systems theory, a mindset is a set of assumptions, methods, or notations held by one or more people or groups of people that is so established that it creates a powerful incentive within these people or groups to continue to adopt or accept prior behaviors, choices, or tools. This phenomenon is also sometimes described as mental inertia, ‘groupthink,’ or a ‘paradigm,’ and it is often difficult to counteract its effects upon analysis and decision making processes.

A mindset can also be seen as incident of a person’s Weltanschauung or philosophy of life. For example there has been quite some interest in the typical mindset of both individual entrepreneurs and their organizations. An institution with an entrepreneurial philosophy will set entrepreneurial goals and strategies as a whole, but maybe even more importantly, it will foster an entrepreneurial milieu, allowing each entity to pursue emergent opportunities. In short, a philosophical stance codified in the mind, hence as mindset, lead to a climate that in turn causes values that lead to practice.

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