Thursday, December 5, 2013

Frequent Tests, Learning, and the Achievement Gap

Recent research suggests that there is value to be had in replacing large-scale exams (midterms and finals) with several short-form quizzes. The study published at PLOS ONE argues that daily online quizzing in class improves performance overall, but especially for students from lower-income households who may have thrived at poor-quality schools. Dr. Samuel Goslin, one of the co-authors of the study suggests “(Those students) get here (to college) and, when they fail the first midterm, they think it’s a fluke. By the time they’ve failed the second one, it’s too late. The hole’s too deep. The quizzes make it impossible to maintain that state of denial.” According to the study, this system of daily quizzes resulted in a 50% reduction in the achievement gap as measured by grades among students of different social classes.

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Read the study

What MOOCs deliver...and what they don't

Recent revelations that MOOCs are not quite the education revolution they promised to be have opened up serious questions about what the purpose of open online education is and whom it serves best. A new profile of Sebastian Thrun, the founder of Udacity, reveals that the completion rate for MOOCs is painfully low, especially for underprivileged students – the very demographic that was supposed to benefit the most from online education. As recent research from the University of Pennsylvania points out, “The individuals the MOOC revolution is supposed to help the most—those without access to higher education in developing countries—are underrepresented among the early adopters.” But before celebrating the demise of the MOOC revolution, “traditionalists” in education need to come to terms with the factors – such as affordability and access - that have put MOOCs on the map in the first place.

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Read Thrun article