Research News

(iStock Photo)

Common Core math should include ‘pattern abstraction’

Identifying a pattern of colors or shapes and replicating it with different colors or shapes—also known as pattern abstraction—should be included in Common Core—according to a study by Bethany Rittle-Johnson, associate professor of psychology. This seemingly simple learning activity is actually an important exercise in relational thinking, and a foundational skill for learning early mathematics. Rittle-Johnson’s study supports the idea that teachers and parents should emphasize more sophisticated patterning activities and encourage children to talk about the part of the pattern that repeats. In a related study she conducted with graduate research fellow and lead investigator Emily Fyfe, they found that the language a parent or teacher uses to describe a pattern to the child may make a difference in the child’s patterning skills. Learn more.

Move over value-added: make room for observational data

Data culled from classroom observations is what is driving principals’ human capital decision-making, and may be more reliable than value-added, according to a new study by Ellen Goldring, Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Education Policy and Leadership and chair, and Jason Grissom, assistant professor of public policy and education. Goldring and Grissom interviewed principals and central office personnel in six urban school districts in five states and found that 41 percent of the principals used teacher observation data twice a month to daily, while just 18 percent reported using teacher growth measures twice a month to daily. Learn more.

Study looks at mobility in TN Achievement School District

Student mobility has been an issue at the schools in Tennessee’s Achievement School District but those elevated rates have improved since the ASD takeover, according to a new study by Gary Henry, Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Public Policy and Education; and Ron Zimmer, associate professor of public policy and education. Students moving from district to district, though still markedly high relative to higher-achieving schools, improved from 46 percent to 37 percent the first year after the ASD takeover. The study also looked at teacher mobility in the ASD. Learn more.

Certain groups more likely to be ‘loan averse’

While many would-be college students view student loans as a necessary part of achieving their educational goals, a significant subset of the population is “loan averse,” meaning they would rather work their way through school or forego college altogether than take out student loans. A two-year study led by Angela Boatman and Brent Evans, both assistant professors of public policy and higher education, seeks to better understand students’ potential aversion to borrowing for college and to test an intervention designed to reduce it. Learn more.

Pay incentives for teachers can improve students’ grades

Bonuses for teachers in struggling schools can be effective for improving student outcomes, according to a new study of REACH schools in Austin, Texas, by Ryan Balch, adjunct professor in the Department of Leadership Policy and Organizations, and Matthew G. Springer, director of the National Center on Performance Incentives and assistant professor of public policy and education. Study results show that student achievement on standardized testing in REACH schools was significantly higher during the first year of implementation than in non-REACH schools, and those gains were maintained the following year. Learn more.