Posted by Ming Ling on February 23, 2013
In an interview with Paul Solman at PBS, Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman discusses the achievement gap, IQ testing, early childhood education, and parenting, framing the issues from the perspective of incentives and investment.
Let me give you a startling finding about achievement gaps. Suppose you pay children in the 5th and 6th grades, right when you think of the achievement gap opening up between blacks and whites, to take an IQ test.
Say you have unmotivated black kids living in the middle of the ghetto and white kids from Scarsdale or some other upper-class neighborhood. You give each kid who gets a successful answer one M&M — just give them an M&M — and you say for each point extra on the IQ test, each correct answer, I’ll give you one more M&M. It turns out that the gap between the black and white student in the IQ test scores vanishes — vanishes completely.
The interventions in the “enriched parenting” programs include the usual: reading regularly to kids, providing encouragement, and simply giving the kids time to formulate and act upon a plan.
We need to think about these factors as social investments which the children eventually internalize, so that they are better positioned to succeed later in life.
Posted in Parenting | Tagged: Motivation, Rewards and punishment, Self-regulation | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Ming Ling on November 10, 2012
Once again, “we would all benefit from more meaningful interaction and less labeling… along any dimension by which we divide humanity.”
From Tom Jacob’s “America’s Increasingly Tribal Electorate“, describing political scientist Lilliana Mason’s research:
“behavioral polarization”—anger at the other side, activism for one’s own side, and a tendency to look at political arguments through a biased lens—is driven much more strongly by that sense of team spirit, as opposed to one’s views on public policy.
According to her:
the only way to reduce the anger and bias would be “to reduce the strength or alignment of political identities.”
Yet I remain hopeful that, in spite of the dangers of the backfire effect, we can find ways to separate ideas from identities, and share knowledge both dispassionately and compassionately at the same time. As before: “Most of all, we should put wrongness back in its place– linked to the idea, not the person,” or the identity.
Posted in Reasoning | Tagged: Backfire effect, Conflicting beliefs, Perspective-taking | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Ming Ling on October 14, 2011
In Why Do Some People Learn Faster?, Jonah Lehrer reports on Moser et al.’s EEG study documenting different brain responses to error depending on people’s beliefs about success reflecting innate ability vs. effort. Following an error, those who believed intelligence was malleable produced a much stronger brain signal in attending to that error and also were more successful in correcting their error afterward. In particular, after the initial “Oh $#*%!” response (or error-related negativity, probably arising from the infamous anterior cingulate cortex), they showed a stronger “Now what?” response (or error positivity, suggesting greater attention).
Coupled with Dweck’s research showing that people can learn to develop a growth mindset (i.e., a belief that intelligence is malleable and that success comes from effort), this implies that verbal feedback may be able to change people’s involuntary brain response to error. (The follow-up research to this ought to include a longitudinal study confirming this and documenting the extent and time course of that change after receiving such messages.)
Now that would be a very good habit of mind to develop.
Moser, J. S., Schroder, H. S., Heeter, C., Moran, T. P., & Lee, Y-H. (2011). Mind your errors: Evidence for a neural mechanism linking growth mindset to adaptive post-error adjustments. Psychological Science.
Posted in Reasoning, Teaching & learning | Tagged: Beliefs about intelligence, Feedback, Learning from errors | Leave a Comment »