Test Scores & The Time of Day

Pacific Standard: “As it turns out, each hour that passes before starting a test drags scores down by a little bit, meaning students who take a test late in the day will perform noticeably worse.” A study by economists Hans Henrik Sievertsen, Francesca Gino, and Marco Piovesan “analyzed scores from every student who took the Danish National Tests between the 2009–10 and the 2012–13 school years … Tests were given in three parts, presented to each student in random order, and lasted throughout the day, with breaks around 10 a.m. and noon.”

“Percentile rankings, which show where students rank on a 100-point scale, declined by about two-tenths of a point per hour on average, though how much scores dropped—and whether they dropped at all—changed throughout the day. Students who took a test at 9 a.m., for example, ranked 1.35 points lower than those who were tested on the same material at 8 a.m. Ranks increased 0.37 points after a 10 a.m. break, but dropped again by 0.58 points for tests taken at 11 a.m.”

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High Schools Address The Stress of College Admissions

The Wall Street Journal: “With growing evidence that students are suffering from the intense competition for college admission, schools around the country are rethinking everything from tests to classes to start times.” For example, superintendent David Aderhold of the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District in central New Jersey “abolished midterms and final exams and instituted a no-homework policy during breaks and some weekends.”

As Mr. Aderhold put it: “We’re not producing widgets. We’re producing citizens of the world.”

“To deal with the problem of sleep deprivation, some schools have adopted later start times. In 2014, researchers at the University of Minnesota examined data collected from more than 9,000 students at eight high schools in Minnesota, Colorado and Wyoming that had made this shift. The study found that when schools started at 8:30 a.m. or later, teenagers reported lower rates of depression and substance use, fewer car crashes, less absenteeism and tardiness, and higher test scores.”

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Rutgers Gives Students The Tools to Tinker

The New York Times: “At Rutgers, a bustling maker space can be found in a moldering wood-frame structure on the Livingston campus in Piscataway, N.J. … On any given day, as many as 20 students could be working on the array of equipment that the center offers training on and time to use.”

“There are 3-D printers, which can be programmed to create wildly inventive shapes out of plastic or resin … There is a laser cutter to etch materials like fabric, marble or wood and cut through plastic. Next door is an electronics shop, with racks upon racks of parts. Close by are drill presses, a router and a key cutter … a piece of equipment neophytes can use to produce something they really need. A common space with couches and a television gives students a place to talk, show off their projects or just hang out.”

“Students love it. Alexandra Garey, who graduated from Rutgers in May, credits tinkering with changing the course of her studies, and life: ‘I went from somebody who was majoring in Italian and European studies to someone who was designing and prototyping products and realizing any product that came into my head.'”

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Open Syllabus: Which Books Will You Read in College?

Quartz: “The leaders of tomorrow will be well versed in dead philosophers, according to a new database of college syllabi. The Open Syllabus Project, a collection of over 1 million curricula from English-language colleges and universities over the past 15 years, released its data on Friday (Jan. 22). Plato, Hobbes, Machiavelli, and Aristotle overwhelmingly dominate lists in the US, particularly at the top schools.”

“See the texts taught at 10 of the top US colleges and how often they appeared over the last 15 years here.”

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What Your Major Might Say About You

The Atlantic: “According to a new meta-analysis, there are significant personality differences between students in different academic majors. For the review paper, Anna Vedel, a psychologist from Aarhus University in Denmark, analyzed 12 studies examining the correlation between personality traits and college majors. Eleven of them found significant differences between majors. The review examined the so-called “Big Five” traits: neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.”

“Arts and humanities majors, Vedel found, are in the unenviable position of being anxious, but not very organized. They were less conscientious than students in fields like science, law, or engineering. They also tended to score higher on neuroticism … Economics and business students rated consistently lower in neuroticism than other groups. Along with law students, business and economics students were also less agreeable than students in the other majors. Economics, law, political-science, and medicine students were more extroverted than students in the arts, humanities, and the sciences.”

“Vedel writes that she hopes her findings can help college counselors guide students into the best majors for their personalities. That, she thinks, might help reduce drop-out rates.”

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