Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts

8 April 2021

Student Feature – Advice on Using Theory in Academic Work

Michael Livesey

‘Theory’ is what sets academic research apart from simple journalism, and yet variation in its meaning and uses continue to cause confusion. In particular, for undergraduate students new to the social sciences. Recent experience teaching first-year undergraduates in political science has given me a brief insight into the difficulties many students face making the transition from sixth form to higher education. Foremost amongst these difficulties is that of understanding ‘theory’, and its relation to ‘method’: both in students’ own work, and when they are evaluating the work of others. In this piece, I try to clear up some of the confusion around ‘theory’ and ‘method’ in social science. I present one view of what theory is, and what theory does. This piece is directed at first-year undergraduates, and those who teach them. It is designed to be as straightforward an introduction to ‘theory’ as possible. Inevitably, this means much of the nuance around the use of theory is overlooked – and left to wider reading for those inclined to do so.

There is a long-standing pedagogical tradition in the social sciences, which employs analogies and metaphors to help explain complicated ideas. I see no reason not to make use of this tradition when explaining the idea of theory. So, let’s simplify ‘theory’ by analogising it against a familiar example. Academics are interested, above all, in finding answers to research questions. The research question which I will use as an analogy in this essay is one many readers will have heard before. It is a question you will overhear in most British pubs on any given weekend: ‘who is the best footballer in the world?’. Like all research questions, it’s a difficult one to answer. And, like all research questions, it is the theoretical choices the responder makes that shape the type of answer they provide…

One answer to the question ‘who is the best footballer in the world?’ would be to think in terms of market value. In theory, the best footballer in the world should also be the most valuable: because, in theory, people will pay the most for what they think is the best. So, we can find out who is the most valuable as a means of approximating who is the best.

24 March 2021

The executive’s guide to better listening

By Bernard T. Ferrari

Asenior executive of a large consumer goods company had spotted a bold partnership opportunity in an important developing market and wanted to pull the trigger quickly to stay ahead of competitors. In meetings on the topic with the leadership team, the CEO noted that this trusted colleague was animated, adamant, and very persuasive about the move’s game-changing potential for the company. The facts behind the deal were solid.

The CEO also observed something troubling, however: his colleague wasn’t listening. During conversations about the pros and cons of the deal and its strategic rationale, for example, the senior executive wasn’t open to avenues of conversation that challenged the move or entertained other possibilities. What’s more, the tenor of these conversations appeared to make some colleagues uncomfortable. The senior executive’s poor listening skills were short-circuiting what should have been a healthy strategic debate.

Eventually, the CEO was able to use a combination of diplomacy, tactful private conversation, and the bureaucratic rigor of the company’s strategic-planning processes to convince the executive of the need to listen more closely to his peers and engage with them more productively about the proposal. The resulting conversations determined that the original deal was sound but that a much better one was available—a partnership in the same country. The new partnership presented slightly less risk to the company than the original deal but had an upside potential exceeding it by a factor of ten.

23 March 2021

These are the world's best universities in 2021

Sean Fleming

MIT stays at the top for the ninth consecutive year in the QS World University Rankings.

The top 10 is made up of universities from the UK, the US and one from Switzerland.

The National University of Singapore, which is ranked 11th, is the highest placed institution outside of Europe or North America.

More Asian universities than ever before feature in the world’s top 1,000 universities, but the top 10 is dominated by US institutions, according to the latest QS World University Rankings.

From the 10 highest placed, five are from the US – including all of the top three. Of the remaining five, four are in the UK and one is in Switzerland. The highest placed outside of Europe or North America is the National University of Singapore, which was ranked 11th.

QS evaluates 5,500 universities for inclusion in its list of 1,029 of the most prestigious universities in the world - and there are 47 new entrants this year.

The “most impressive gains” were made by Asian universities this year, according to QS, with 26 institutions from the continent now featuring in the rankings.

The methodology assesses each institution on six metrics: reputation amongst academics and employers, international student ratio, international faculty ratio, faculty student ratio and citations per faculty.

19 January 2021

Why our fast-paced society loves yoga

BY FRAN SMITH

Judge Eleni Derke cuts an imposing figure, shrouded in her black robe and seated behind the elevated wood-paneled bench in the county courthouse in Jacksonville, Florida. From the jury box and lawyers’ tables, you can’t see what else she’s wearing: wildly patterned yoga pants.

More than 25 years ago, Derke discovered yoga. She was suffering from the searing abdominal pain of Crohn’s disease. Her doctor recommended surgery. Hoping to avoid it, she went to see a cousin who was a yoga master. He taught her the upside-down poses known as inversions. They are said to clear the body of toxins, though there’s no scientific evidence to support the claim. Derke’s symptoms quickly subsided. “Yoga saved my life.”

In the West, yoga often focuses on the asanas, or postures, of hatha yoga, one of its many branches. In India, where the discipline began more than 4,000 years ago, followers of Krishna perform bhakti, or devotional, yoga, by moving 108 stones the length of their body during repeated prostrations on a 13-mile circuit of Govardhan Hill.

She trained as a yoga instructor, and if it’s not too hot, she holds free monthly classes on the courthouse lawn. When lawyers drone on at trial, she will order a break and lead jurors in standing stretches and breathing exercises. But she’s best known in legal circles as the judge who sentences offenders to take yoga behind bars.

13 October 2020

These are the world’s best universities right now

Douglas Broom

Oxford has been named the world’s best university for the fifth consecutive year. But the latest rankings show that it’s China's universities that are the rising stars of global higher education.

Tsinghua University enters the coveted top 20 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings this year, a distinction previously only bestowed on European and US institutions.

Six of the world’s top 100 global universities are from China – double the number in the previous year – while all but one of the country’s top 20 institutions have either bettered or maintained  their 2020 rankings.

27 July 2020

Building a better world through education: 6 big ideas

Christopher J. Thomas

Indeed, education has helped to build a better world. Most people are generally more prosperous and secure than at any time in history. This is thanks in part to educational institutions that have fostered skills, research capabilities, and social and civic attitudes that underpin rapid progress in recent decades on issues from food security to communications, transport, and health care.

Young people around the world are now bringing a new set of challenges into sharp relief. They are negotiating tough issues including climate change, inequality, exclusion, governance, job instability, and technology. They are redefining what it means to be a global citizen, and to live sustainably.

Will educational institutions help them build the world they want? Will they prepare all children and young people to meaningfully participate in the journey?

The Yidan Prize Foundation searches for groundbreaking education research and practice every year. Nominations for the prize are sourced openly and globally, and judged by an eminent panel of educators. Here are six big ideas from all of the prize winners to date that help us reimagine what education systems can and should do to help young people realize their potential:

Optimizing Assessment for All: Assessment as a stimulus for scaling 21st century skills in education systems

Esther Care

This paper marks the final installment in a series of five reports detailing the work of the Optimizing Assessment for All project at Brookings to strengthen education systems' capacity to integrate 21st century skills into teaching and learning, using assessment as a lever for changing classroom practices.

Assessment has been identified as a driver in education in several ways. Often seen negatively affecting teaching and learning through the “teaching to the test” notion, it also has more positive effects: One of these is through the use of results from large-scale assessment for change in policy and consequent education reform. Another is through the implementation of formative assessment approaches (Black & Wiliam, 2009) to inform teaching strategies and practice in the classroom. For both functions, assessments that generate information that is reliable and valid for purpose are required. International large-scale assessment programs—such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS, of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement [IEA]) or the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA, of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD])—commit a great deal of effort to ensuring that their assessments target the constructs (knowledge, skills, or competencies) of interest and sample the populations of interest, to ensure that the information derived from the programs truly represents the realities of student achievement and in turn reflects the goals and effectiveness of national education systems.

5 June 2020

It’s Time to Listen to the Doomsday Planners

BY MARC AMBINDER
Source Link

For a moment earlier this month, the West Wing seemed like a vector of disease. First came the news that Donald Trump’s personal valet had tested positive for the coronavirus. Then the vice president’s spokeswoman, who is married to another senior White House staffer, fell ill with COVID-19. Through it all, the president downplayed the risk of his exposure, openly flouting his top health agencies’ social-distancing guidelines. Trump is fine, but these brushes with the virus raise the question: What’s the plan if the whole White House becomes infected?

The answer typically lies with the government’s so-called doomsday planners—the officials at every major agency who are tasked with preparing and rehearsing the nation’s classified continuity-of-government plans. For decades, doomsday planners’ presence has been tolerated, their recommendations have been stashed in policy documents, and their warnings about dark tidings have been for the most part unheeded. The Trump administration has taken an actively hostile approach, though, decimating the institutional engines of catastrophe planning, including at the National Security Council. As a consequence, the U.S. government was not only ill-prepared for the pandemic, but willfully blinded to its potential size and shape, leaving federal agencies in the position of having to confront a fast-moving hurricane without radar to determine where it was headed or a plan to quickly restore essential functions.

3 June 2020

What It Takes to Give a Great Presentation

Carmine Gallo
I was sitting across the table from a Silicon Valley CEO who had pioneered a technology that touches many of our lives — the flash memory that stores data on smartphones, digital cameras, and computers. He was a frequent guest on CNBC and had been delivering business presentations for at least 20 years before we met. And yet, the CEO wanted to sharpen his public speaking skills.

“You’re very successful. You’re considered a good speaker. Why do you feel as though you need to improve?” I asked.

“I can always get better,” he responded. “Every point up or down in our share price means billions of dollars in our company’s valuation. How well I communicate makes a big difference.”

This is just one example of the many CEOs and entrepreneurs I have coached on their communication skills over the past two decades, but he serves as a valuable case in point. Often, the people who most want my help are already established and admired for their skills. Psychologists say this can be explained by a phenomenon called the Dunning-Kruger effect. Simply put, people who are mediocre at certain things often think they are better than they actually are, and therefore, fail to grow and improve. Great leaders, on the other hand, are great for a reason — they recognize their weaknesses and seek to get better.

28 May 2020

Getting the next phase of remote learning right in higher education

By Christine Heitz, Martha Laboissiere, Saurabh Sanghvi, and Jimmy Sarakatsannis
For higher-education institutions, the first frantic rush of transitioning from in-person to remote learning is behind them—not that the process is complete. Most faculty members have managed to establish new routines. Others are still working out how to teach courses designed for a physical classroom through online platforms that they may still be learning to master.

Students are also having to adjust, expected to learn as much without the ready social connection and energy of a residential and in-person learning environment. It didn’t help that until the COVID-19 crisis, online learning comprised a relatively small share of higher education. Fewer than one in five (18 percent) of US tertiary-level students learned online exclusively; as of fall 2018, about a third had taken at least one course online.1

Now that the first phase has passed, what comes next? This article details five specific actions universities could take in the next few months to help improve student learning, engagement, and experience while operating remotely. Whether students are able to return to campus for the fall term or remain remote for longer, these moves may inspire institutions to pilot new initiatives, learn what works, iterate, and position themselves to create capabilities that will enhance instruction permanently.

Focus on access and equity. Moving from on-campus to remote learning raises issues related to access and equity. There are the immediate logistical challenges of ensuring students have the basic technology they need to learn remotely. One response has been for institutions to offer stipends for internet access and laptop rentals or purchases. Others have loaned equipment and procured additional laptops and hot spots for under-resourced students; this may get equipment to them faster and at an accessible cost. The University of Washington-Bothell, for example, has increased its equipment loan service and bought laptops and hot spots for students who need them.

29 April 2020

Getting the next phase of remote learning right in higher education April 2020 | Article

By Christine Heitz, Martha Laboissiere, Saurabh Sanghvi, and Jimmy Sarakatsannis

For higher-education institutions, the first frantic rush of transitioning from in-person to remote learning is behind them—not that the process is complete. Most faculty members have managed to establish new routines. Others are still working out how to teach courses designed for a physical classroom through online platforms that they may still be learning to master.

Students are also having to adjust, expected to learn as much without the ready social connection and energy of a residential and in-person learning environment. It didn’t help that until the COVID-19 crisis, online learning comprised a relatively small share of higher education. Fewer than one in five (18 percent) of US tertiary-level students learned online exclusively; as of fall 2018, about a third had taken at least one course online.1

Now that the first phase has passed, what comes next? This article details five specific actions universities could take in the next few months to help improve student learning, engagement, and experience while operating remotely. Whether students are able to return to campus for the fall term or remain remote for longer, these moves may inspire institutions to pilot new initiatives, learn what works, iterate, and position themselves to create capabilities that will enhance instruction permanently.

15 April 2020

When School Is Online, the Digital Divide Grows Greater


LIKE MANY STUDENTS around the world, Nora Medina is adapting to online learning. But Medina, a high school senior in Quincy, Washington, who also takes classes at a local community college, faces an additional challenge: She doesn't have reliable internet service at home. She lives 7 miles outside of town where she says neither cable nor DSL internet is available.

She can access the internet on her phone, and her family has a wireless hot spot, but she says the service isn’t up to the task of doing homework online. "It's hit and miss," she says. "Sometimes I can watch a video, but sometimes I can't even refresh a page, or it will take minutes to load something on a page."

Washington governor Jay Inslee this week said the state’s schools will be closed for the rest of the school year. Quincy High School is still planning how best to help students finish the year. But Medina’s classes at Big Bend Community College have shifted online. "I'm just going to hope the hot spot works and wish for the best for my final quarter," she says. "If that doesn't work, I'll do my work from my car in the parking lot at the library to access their Wi-Fi."

10 April 2020

Are Books Essential?

By Robert Zaretsky

In his book The Burning House: What Would You Take?, Foster Huntington interviewed people across the United States, asking what they would grab if their homes were ablaze. His heartbreaking series of photos reveals objects all of us would think are essential—passports, money, pets, spouses—but also objects all of us, except that individual, would think are nonessential: a parent’s ashes or a Lego helicopter, a fountain pen or a shell necklace.

As the world confronts the fire of the novel coronavirus, not just people but entire nations are drawing different lines between the essential and the nonessential. On this side of the Atlantic, Americans are up in arms over whether gun stores should qualify as essential businesses, remaining open even though most other stores are shuttered. On the other side of the pond, however, the French are mounting the (virtual) barricades over the status of a different kind of business—the sort that sells not bullets but books. 

On March 16, the French government released its list of “commerces de premières nécessité,” or essential businesses that would stay open during the national lockdown. Predictably, banks and pharmacies, supermarkets and gas stations made the cut. No less predictably, boulangeries (butcher shops) and tabacs (tobacconists) also made the list.

8 April 2020

The Brilliant Plodder

David Quammen

Charles Darwin is ever with us. A month seldom passes without new books about the man, his life, his work, and his influence—books by scholars for scholars, by scholars for ordinary readers, and by the many unwashed rest of us nonfiction authors who presume to enter the fray, convinced that there’s one more new way to tell the story of who Darwin was, what he actually said or wrote, why he mattered. This flood of books, accompanied by a constant outpouring of related papers in history journals and other academic outlets, is called the Darwin Industry. 

There’s a parallel to this in publishing: the Lincoln Industry, which by one authoritative count had yielded 15,000 books—a towering number—as of 2012, when an actual tower of Lincoln books was constructed in the lobby of the renovated Ford’s Theatre, the site of his assassination, in Washington, D.C. It rose thirty-four feet, measured eight feet around, yet contained less than half the total Lincoln library. You could think of the Darwin library as a similar tower of books three stories high, big around as an oak, festooned with biographies and philosophical treatises and evolutionary textbooks and Creationist tracts and the latest sarcastic volume of The Darwin Awards for suicidal stupidity and books with subtitles such as “Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity.” Janet Browne’s magisterial two-volume life would be included; so would David Dobbs’s Reef Madness, about Darwin’s theory of the formation of coral atolls, and a handful of books on the Scopes trial. Lincoln and Darwin were born on the very same date, February 12, 1809: a good day for the publishing business. 

20 February 2020

How do science and policy intersect? Harvard professor explains


Sheila Jasanoff, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, speaks to TNM about the need for Science and Technology Studies, policy playing catch-up with the progress of science, data collection in democracies and more.

It’s widely accepted in India that humanities and social sciences isn’t given the same due as sciences. But the two still are linked, and the implications of humanities on the sciences are rarely studied. Here’s where Science and Technology Studies comes in. 

An academic field that sits at the intersection of these fields, it looks at how science and technology emerged from society, how it shapes society, what the risks are, etc. In a nutshell, it looks at understanding the relationship between science, politics, societal challenges and law and policy. A pioneer of the field, Sheila Jasanoff, a Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School, speaks to TNM about the origins of the field and the need for one, policy playing catch-up with the progress of science, data collection in democracies and more. 

Sheila, who is originally from India, says that human values are at the centre of science. “In the US, STS has grown hand in hand with engineering, which hasn’t been the case in India,” she says. 

23 January 2020

Why doing a PhD is often a waste of time


On the evening before All Saints’ Day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg. In those days a thesis was simply a position one wanted to argue. Luther, an Augustinian friar, asserted that Christians could not buy their way to heaven. Today a doctoral thesis is both an idea and an account of a period of original research. Writing one is the aim of the hundreds of thousands of students who embark on a doctorate of philosophy (PhD) every year.

In most countries a PhD is a basic requirement for a career in academia. It is an introduction to the world of independent research — a kind of intellectual masterpiece, created by an apprentice in close collaboration with a supervisor. The requirements to complete one vary enormously between countries, universities and even subjects. Some students will first have to spend two years working on a master’s degree or diploma. Some will receive a stipend; others will pay their own way. Some PhDs involve only research, some require classes and examinations and some require the student to teach undergraduates. A thesis can be dozens of pages in mathematics, or many hundreds in history. As a result, newly minted PhDs can be as young as their early 20s or world-weary forty-somethings.

16 December 2019

The best students in the world, ranked by country

Jenny Anderson, Amanda Shendruk
Source Link

The results are in for the OECD’s latest global test of 15-year-olds in math, science, and reading. The test, known as PISA (for Programme for International Student Assessment), is administered every three years and used—by some—to measure which countries are best preparing their students for the future.

Once again, Asian countries came out on top. In the latest test, China and Singapore ranked first and second, respectively, in math, science, and reading. Elsewhere, Estonia is noteworthy for its performance, ranking highly in all three subjects.

15 December 2019

Building the tech talent pipeline

By Davis Carlin, Nora Gardner, Bryan Hancock, and Brooke Weddle

Amazon’s search for its HQ2 location sparked fierce competition among US metropolitan areas, as their leaders viewed the headquarters as a game changer for economic development. However, the bidding process also shone a spotlight on the issues of talent development and retention—common challenges for metropolitan areas around the world.

While low interest rates have given companies easy access to money, a reliable pool of qualified workers has become the scarcer capital. And if technology is now the growth engine for business, tech talent and the institutions that produce it are the fuel. Regions recognize that tech workers such as data analysts, web developers, engineers, and the like are a prerequisite for economic development. Yet few metropolitan areas understand the dynamic talent ecosystem—including skills, diversity, and mobility—and how to take coordinated action to move the needle.

When the HQ2 bid was announced, the Capital Region (which encompasses Baltimore; Richmond and northern Virginia; and Washington, DC) had already begun to implement programs to deepen its talent pool. The goal of these efforts was to ensure the region had enough workers with the right skills to satisfy the demand for tech talent across the private and public sectors. To better understand the talent landscape, McKinsey partnered with the Greater Washington Partnership to conduct in-depth research into the Capital Region and other top US metro areas (see sidebar, “About the research”). The result was unprecedented visibility into talent imbalances and common trends as well as new insights into how civic leaders can deal with them effectively.

14 December 2019

Why Don't More Women Win Science Nobels?

by Mary K. Feeney

All of the 2019 Nobel Prizes in science were awarded to men.

That’s a return to business as usual, after biochemical engineer Frances Arnold won in 2018, for chemistry, and Donna Strickland received the 2018 Nobel Prize in physics.

Strickland was only the third female physicist to get a Nobel, following Marie Curie in 1903 and Maria Goeppert-Mayer 60 years later. When asked how that felt, she noted that at first it was surprising to realize so few women had won the award: “But, I mean, I do live in a world of mostly men, so seeing mostly men doesn’t really ever surprise me either."

10 December 2019

Redefining the role of the leader in the reskilling era


Continuous learning in the workplace must become the new norm if individuals and organizations want to stay ahead. This places more demand than ever on leaders to take on a new role they might initially find unfamiliar—that of learning facilitator-in-chief.

Since 2016, the Consortium for Advancing Adult Learning & Development (CAALD) has sought not only to illuminate the big-picture challenges that the reskilling era poses but also to explore the implications for individual leaders. CAALD—a group of learning authorities whose members include researchers, corporate and not-for-profit leaders, and McKinsey experts—recently held its fourth annual meeting in Norwalk, Connecticut.

At one of the meeting’s sessions, four CAALD members—Lynda Gratton, professor of management practice at the London Business School; David Rock, director of the NeuroLeadership Institute; Joe Voelker, chief human-resources officer at Stanley Black & Decker; and Tim Welsh, vice chairman of consumer and business banking at US Bank—discussed the mind-sets and behaviors that leaders must learn (and unlearn) in order to meet the needs of their people and their organizations in the age of reskilling.