Research News

Self-explanations don’t always enhance math learning

Prompting students to provide self-explanation as a learning tool when doing math may not be as effective as previously thought, according to a study by Bethany Rittle-Johnson, professor of psychology and human development, and graduate student Abbey M. Loehr. They found that in certain situations, self-explanation served to reinforce the student’s pre-existing theories, which were often incorrect. Results were published by Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

Homebuyer course attendees less likely to face foreclosure

First-time homebuyers who attended the Tennessee Housing Development Agency’s homebuyer education course were much less likely to lose their home to foreclosure, according to a study by Scott Brown, a doctoral student in community, research and action. He analyzed and compared two groups of 2002 homebuyers: those who took the THDA’s homebuyer education class and those who did not.

Pre-K programs must be properly designed and receive support to thrive

Children are not well-served by unrealistic expectations of poorly defined state-run pre-K programs, according to a new paper by Dale Farran, Antonio M. and Anita S. Gotto Professor of Teaching and Learning, and research professor Mark Lipsey. Results were published by Behavioral Science and Policy Association. Farran also was a featured panelist at a symposium on the topic at Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., in October.

IES-funded research improves quality of math education

Research funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences from 2002 to 2013 has contributed to K-12 math education in 28 distinct areas, according to a study by Bethany Rittle-Johnson, professor of psychology and human development. She evaluated more than 200 peer-reviewed IES-funded studies by 69 authors. Results were published by the IES National Center for Education Research.

Gay-straight alliances have positive impact on students

LGBTQ teens feel safer when their high school offers a support group for gender-nonconforming teens and their allies, according to a study by Robert Marx and Heather Hensman Kettrey at Vanderbilt’s Peabody Research Institute. Results were published by Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Research on interactive media must be timely to meet teachers’ needs

The next decade will bring exciting advances in children’s interactive media, but researchers must stay abreast of ever-changing technology trends if the advances are to be beneficial to children, according to a new study by Georgene Troseth, associate professor of psychology; and doctoral student Colleen Russo Smith. Results were published in Journal of Children and Media.

Brain processes words and passages differently

Word and passage reading recruit activation in overlapping regions of the brain, but these areas form task-specific networks within and beyond the language network, according to a new study by Laurie Cutting, Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Special Education. Shared regional activity is not necessarily indicative of shared functions, even within the same cognitive domain. Results were published by Developmental Science.

Asian students suffer under the ‘model minority’ stereotype

Asian students, often presumed to be model students, struggle under the burden of the challenges and stereotypes associated with being nonwhite, according to a study by Ebony McGee, assistant professor of diversity and STEM education. Results were published by American Psychological Journal and Journal of Diversity in Higher Education.

Geography affects earning potential and civic engagement

Geography could have a strong impact on future earnings and civic engagement, according to a study by William R. Doyle, associate professor of public policy and higher education, and graduate fellow Benjamin Skinner. Would-be students who live in states with a high concentration of two- and four-year colleges are more likely to pursue higher education, reap higher earnings and vote. Results were published by Economics of Education Review and Social Science Research Network. 

New tool kit for math teachers designed to make algebra easier

An innovative tool kit for teaching algebra—the Comparison and Explanation of Multiple Strategies—is being tested in a Massachusetts public school system over the next three years, led by Bethany Rittle-Johnson, professor of psychology and human development, and Kelley Durkin of the Peabody Research Institute.

Alternatively certified teachers more likely to leave

Alternatively certified teachers, such as those who enter the field through Teach For America and other programs, bring quality and much-needed diversity to the classroom but are more likely to leave the profession than traditionally certified teachers, according to a study by Christopher Redding, doctoral candidate in the Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations. Results were published by the American Educational Research Journal.

Pyramid Model could reduce high preschool expulsion rate

There are solutions to America’s high preschool expulsion rate, according at a study by Mary Louise Hemmeter, professor of special education and a Vanderbilt Kennedy Center investigator. She is one of the developers of the nationally recognized Pyramid Model, a positive behavior support approach for developing young children’s social-emotional competence in the classroom. Results were published by Topics in Early Childhood Special Education.

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