The Friday Five: Do Gifted And Talented Programs Affect Learning?
January 3, 2014

A new study has shown that gifted and talented programs have no effect on student learning. While gifted and talented programs operate on the premise that learning with more advanced peers will elevate student potential, the study of fifth graders showed otherwise. When 14,000 students- half of whom barely passed the threshold for placement in gifted programs and the other half who were barely under the threshold- were tested, no differences were seen in test scores.When we read books, our brains actually respond to stimuli in the book leading to discernible biological changes the brain. Researchers at Emory University tracked participants’ brain activity after reading a story and found heightened connectivity in various parts of the brain associated with physical sensation and movement. The findings suggest that a good novel can transport readers to the protagonist's body and thereby induce corresponding brain changes.

In an effort to diversify their student population, a leading academic institution investigated what factors besides GRE scores make a successful science PhD candidate, changed their admissions criteria accordingly and, in turn, began accepting their most diverse class of candidates. Fisk-Vanderbilt’s efforts to make diversity a priority have paid off; the program has a 92% retention rate and a 100% job placement rate. Fisk’s success has not gone unnoticed by top universities looking to follow suit in the continued effort to increase STEM diversity.

Teachers today still live with the effects of the recession as many districts have not replaced some of the personnel laid off at the height of the recession. The personnel shortage has led to overcrowded classes and lack of individual attention for students who need it most. In addition to teachers, psychologists and reading and math specialists who worked regularly with needy students were cut and have not been replaced.

Oftentimes, teachers and other adults heap praises on students in hopes that positive recognition will encourage students to believe in their own abilities. However, the results of a new study show that such well-intentioned commendation has the opposite effect. In an experiment of students deemed to have low self-esteem, researchers found that students with who were given inflated praise after an initial task were less willing to take on challenges in subsequent tasks than students who were not given inflated praise.

Category: The Friday Five

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