Archive | June, 2015

Penn State study: Ethnic students and students of color underrepresented in special education classes

24 Jun

The University of Michigan Health System has a great guide, Learning Disabilities:

What are learning disabilities (LD)? 

If your child is not doing as well in school as they have the potential to, they may have a learning disability. Having a learning disability means having a normal intelligence but a problem in one or more areas of learning.

A learning disability is a neurobiological disorder; people with LD have brains that learn differently because of differences in brain structure and/or function.  If a person learns differently due to visual, hearing or physical handicaps, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, or environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage, we do not call it a learning disability.

Some people with LD also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder orADHD.

LDs can affect many different areas:

  • Spoken language—problems in listening and speaking
  • Reading—difficulties decoding or recognizing words or understanding them
  • Written language—problems with writing, spelling, organizing ideas
  • Math—trouble doing arithmetic or understanding basic concepts
  • Reasoning—problems organizing and putting together thoughts
  • Memory—problems remembering facts and instructions
  • Social behavior—difficulties with social judgment, tolerating frustration and making friends
  • Physical coordination—problems with handwriting, manipulating small objects, running and jumping
  • Organization—trouble with managing time and belongings, carrying out a plan
  • Metacognition (thinking about thinking)—problems with knowing, using and monitoring the use of thinking and learning strategies, and learning from mistakes

Why is early diagnosis and treatment so important?

When LDs are not found and treated early on, they tend to snowball.  As kids get more and more behind in school, they may become more and more frustrated, feeling like a failure. Often, self-esteem problems lead to bad behavior and other problems.  High school dropout rates are much higher for students with LDs than for those without [1].   These educational differences, in turn, affect the job and earnings prospects for people with LDs.  When LD is not noticed or not treated, it can cause adult literacy problems.   By identifying LDs early, your child will get the help they need to reach their potential.

How common are learning disabilities?

Educators estimate that between 5 and 10 percent of kids between ages 6 and 17 have learning disabilities [2]. More than half of the kids receiving special education in the United States have LDs [3]Dyslexia is the most common LD; 80 percent of students with LDs have dyslexia [4].

What causes learning disabilities? 

Because there are lots of kinds of learning disabilities, it is hard to diagnose them and pinpoint the causes. LDs seem to be caused by the brain, but the exact causes are not known. Some risk factors are:

         Heredity

         Low birth weight, prematurity, birth trauma or distress

         Stress before or after birth

         Treatment for cancer or leukemia

         Central nervous system infections

         Severe head injuries

          Chronic medical illnesses, like diabetes or asthma

          Poor nutrition

 LDs are not caused by environmental factors, like cultural differences, or bad teaching.

When your child is diagnosed with a LD, the most important thing is not to look back and try to figure out if something went wrong. Instead, think about moving forward and finding help .http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/ld.htm

Once a learning disability has been diagnosed there are steps parents can take to advocate for their child. Scholastic has great advice for parents in the article, Falling Behind With a Learning Disability.http://www.scholastic.com/resources/article/learning-disability/

Schools often test children to determine whether a child has a learning disability. Often parents may want to have an independent evaluation for their child. https://drwilda.com/2012/09/02/survey-most-people-dont-know-what-a-learning-disability-is/

Joy Resmovits reported in the Huffington Post article, More Minority Students Should Be In Special Ed, Study Says:

study released Wednesday, led by Penn State education professor Paul Morgan, suggests that’s the case. Schools have been identifying too few minority students for placement in special education, he claims — in some cases, by a margin as large as 60 percent.

According to a U.S. Education Department study, in fall 2012, 1.08 million black students and 1.24 million Hispanic students ages 6 to 21 were receiving special education services. Of the 5.7 million total special education students, black students comprised 19 percent and Hispanic students 21.8 percent. That same year, 11.3 percent of black students and 8.2 percent of Hispanic students were placed in special education, compared with 8.2 percent of white students.

Morgan bases his conclusion on the assertion that civil rights activists and educators who say too many minority students are in special education have been relying on simple comparisons.

“If general school age population is 14 percent black, you would expect 14 percent of students who are black would be represented in special education,” Morgan said. “But 19 percent of the special ed population is black. That’s been taken as a disparity.”

This reported disparity led the federal government to mandate monitoring of the percentages of minority students placed in special education. School districts found exceeding expected percentages “due to inappropriate identification” are required to allocate 15 percent of a specific funding stream to reducing that number through early intervention, a program to help kids when they’re younger, instead of putting them in separate educational programs for their entire academic lives.

“Children who are minorities are more likely to be exposed to the risk factors that contribute to having a disability: more likely to be exposed to lead, born into poverty, fetal alcohol syndrome,” Morgan said. “You have to take that into account in terms of understanding who is under- or over-represented in special education. Research has not done that — it has relied on simple unadjusted contrasts….”                                             http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/24/special-education-minorities_n_7649330.html

See, Minority students are underrepresented in special education        http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150624100331.htm

Citation:

Minority students are underrepresented in special education

Date:               June 24, 2015

Source:           American Educational Research Association (AERA)

Summary:

A new federally funded study finds that racial, ethnic, and language minority elementary- and middle-school students are less likely than otherwise similar white, English-speaking children to be identified as having disabilities and, as a result, are disproportionately underrepresented in special education. These findings differ from most prior education research and contrast with current federal legislation and policies.

Journal Reference:

  1. L. Morgan, G. Farkas, M. M. Hillemeier, R. Mattison, S. Maczuga, H. Li, M. Cook. Minorities Are Disproportionately Underrepresented in Special Education: Longitudinal Evidence Across Five Disability ConditionsEducational Researcher, 2015; DOI:10.3102/0013189X15591157

Here is the press release from the American Educational Research Association:

For Immediate Release:
June 24, 2015

Contact:
Tony Pals, tpals@aera.net
office: (202) 238-3235
cell: (202) 288-9333
Bridget Jameson, bjameson@aera.net
office: (202) 238-3233

Study Finds Minority Students Are Underrepresented in Special Education
Finding Conflicts with Current Federal Legislation and Policy

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 24, 2015—A new federally funded study finds that racial, ethnic, and language minority elementary- and middle-school students are less likely than otherwise similar white, English-speaking children to be identified as having disabilities and, as a result, are disproportionately underrepresented in special education. These findings differ from most prior education research and contrast with current federal legislation and policies. The study was published online today in Educational Researcher, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.

Authors Paul L. Morgan of the Pennsylvania State University, George Farkas of University of California, Irvine, and Marianne M. Hillemeier, Richard Mattison, Steve Maczuga, Hui Li, and Michael Cook, all of the Pennsylvania State University, found that racial and ethnic minority children are less likely than otherwise similar white, English-speaking children to be identified as disabled across all five of the surveyed disability conditions—learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, intellectual disabilities, other health impairments, or emotional disturbances—and, so, are less likely to receive potentially beneficial special education services. Language minority children are less likely than otherwise similar children from English-speaking homes to be identified as having learning disabilities or speech or language impairments.

Long-standing and ongoing federal legislation and policymaking has attempted to reduce what has been repeatedly reported to be minority overrepresentation in special education. The U.S. Department of Education is currently considering issuing further compliance monitoring guidelines regarding minority overrepresentation.

“Our findings indicate that federal legislation and policies currently designed to reduce minority over-representation in special education may be misdirected,” said Morgan. “These well-intentioned policies instead may be exacerbating the nation’s education inequities by limiting minority children’s access to potentially beneficial special education and related services to which they may be legally entitled.”

The authors analyzed multiyear longitudinal and nationally representative data from the U.S. Department of Education. The analyses extensively controlled for child-, family-, and state-level variables. These included children’s own academic achievement and behavior, whether they were born with low birth weight, family socioeconomic status and access to health insurance, and their state of residence, among other factors.

“Prior studies have mostly looked at simple, unadjusted comparisons between the general population and the special education population, or differences among minority and non-minority students with controls only at the district or school level,” said Morgan. “Yet these studies have often not accounted for minority children’s greater exposure to factors that increase the risk for disabling conditions. In contrast, our study corrects at the child- and family-levels for minority children’s greater exposure to these risk factors, including the strong predictors of academic achievement or behavior for a school-based disability diagnosis.”

The study’s findings indicated that the underrepresentation of minority children was evident throughout elementary and middle school.

Additional results include:

  • African American children have odds of learning disability identification that are 58 percent lower than those of otherwise similar white children. African American children’s odds of identification for speech or language impairments, intellectual disabilities, health impairments, and emotional disturbances are, respectively, 63 percent, 57 percent, 77 percent, and 64 percent lower than otherwise similar white children.
  • Hispanic children have odds of learning disability, speech or language impairments, or other health impairments that are, respectively, 29 percent, 33 percent, and 73 percent lower than otherwise similar white children.
  • Children from non-English-speaking households have odds of learning disabilities as well as speech or language impairment identification that are, respectively, 28 percent and 40 percent lower than otherwise similar children from English-speaking households.
  • Children from families without health insurance are less likely to be identified as having speech or language impairments.
  • Children from families with lower levels of education and income are less likely to be identified as having other health impairments.

“This underrepresentation may result from teachers, school psychologists, and other education professionals responding differently to white, English-speaking children and their parents,” said Morgan. “Education professionals should be attentive to cultural and language barriers that may keep minority children with disabilities from being appropriately identified and treated.”

“Untreated disabilities increase children’s risk for many adversities, including persistent academic and behavioral difficulties in school,” Morgan said. “As a matter of social justice, we should work to ensure that all children with disabilities, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or language use, receive the care they need.”

Funding Note
Funding for this study was provided by the National Center for Special Education Research, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Infrastructure support was provided by Penn State’s Population Research Institute through funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health.

About AERA
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is the largest national professional organization devoted to the scientific study of education. Founded in 1916, AERA advances knowledge about education, encourages scholarly inquiry related to education, and promotes the use of research to improve education and serve the public good. Find AERA on Facebook and Twitter.

http://www.aera.net/Newsroom/NewsReleasesandStatements/StudyFindsMinorityStudentsAreUnderrepresentedinSpecialEducation/tabid/16001/Default.aspx

All Children Have A Right to A Good Basic Education.

Resources:

Early warning signs of a learning disability

http://www.babycenter.com/0_early-warning-signs-of-a-learning-disability_67978.bc

How to know if your child has a learning disability

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/advice/how-to-know-if-your-child-has-a-learning-disability/2012/05/08/gIQAvzLvAU_story.html

If You Suspect a Child Has a Learning Disability

http://www.ncld.org/parents-child-disabilities/ld-testing/if-you-suspect-child-has-learning-disability

Learning Disabilities in Children

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/learning_disabilities.htm

Learning Disabilities (LD)

http://nichcy.org/disability/specific/ld

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART ©

http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©

http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©

https://drwilda.com/

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Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center study: Exposure to pesticide linked to ADHD in boys

17 Jun

Many parents will be presented with a diagnosis of ADHD regarding their child. Yahoo medical reported in the article, Top 10 Myths About ADHD:

Myth #1: Only kids have ADHD.
Although about 10% of kids 5 to 17 years old have been diagnosed with ADHD, at least 4% of adults have it, too — and probably many more, since adult ADHD is often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. That’s partly because people think only kids get it.

Myth #2: All kids “outgrow” ADHD.
Not nearly always. Up to 70% of children with ADHD continue to have trouble with it in adulthood, which can create relationship problems, money troubles, work strife, and a rocky family life.

Myth #3: Medication is the only treatment for ADHD.
Medication can be useful in managing ADHD symptoms, but it’s not a cure. And it’s not the only treatment. Lifestyle changes, counseling, and behavior modification can significantly improve symptoms as well. Several studies suggest that a combination of ADHD treatments works best.

Myth #4: People who have ADHD are lazy and lack intelligence and willpower.
This is totally not true. In fact, ADHD has nothing to do with intelligence or determination. It’s a neurobehavioral disorder caused by changes in brain chemicals and the way the brain works. It presents unique challenges, but they can be overcome — which many successful people have done. Even Albert Einstein is said to have had symptoms of ADHD.

Myth #5: ADHD isn’t a real disorder.
Not so. Doctors and mental-health professionals agree that ADHD is a biological disorder that can significantly impair functioning. An imbalance in brain chemicals affects brain areas that regulate behavior and emotion. This is what produces ADHD symptoms.

Myth #6: Bad parenting causes ADHD.
Absolutely not! ADHD symptoms are caused by brain-chemical imbalances (see #4 and #5) that make it hard to pay attention and control impulses. Good parenting skills help children deal with their symptoms.

Myth #7: Kids with ADHD are always hyper.
Not always. ADHD comes in three “flavors”: predominantly inattentive; predominantly hyperactive-impulsive; and combined, which is a mix of inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms. Although kids with hyperactive-impulsive or combined ADHD may be fidgety and restless, kids with inattentive ADHD are not hyper.

Myth #8: Too much TV time causes ADHD.
Not really. But spending excessive amounts of time watching TV or playing video games could trigger the condition in susceptible individuals. And in kids and teens who already have ADHD, spending hours staring at electronic screens may make symptoms worse.

Myth #9: If you can focus on certain things, you don’t have ADHD.
It’s not that simple. Although it’s true that people with ADHD have trouble focusing on things that don’t interest them, there’s a flip side to the disorder. Some people with ADHD get overly absorbed in activities they enjoy. This symptom is called hyperfocus. It can help you be more productive in activities that you like, but you can become so focused that you ignore responsibilities you don’t like.

Myth #10: ADHD is overdiagnosed.
Nope. If anything, ADHD is underdiagnosed and undertreated. Many children with ADHD grow up to be adults with ADHD. The pressures and responsibilities of adulthood often exacerbate ADHD symptoms, leading adults to seek evaluation and help for the first time. Also, parents who have children with ADHD may seek treatment only after recognizing similar symptoms in themselves.
http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/top-10-myths-about-adhd-2528710.html

 Whether drug or behavior therapy is chosen to treat ADHD depends upon the goals of the parents.

Science Daily reported in Study links exposure to common pesticide with ADHD in boys:

A new study links a commonly used household pesticide with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and young teens.

The study found an association between pyrethroid pesticide exposure and ADHD, particularly in terms of hyperactivity and impulsivity, rather than inattentiveness. The association was stronger in boys than in girls.

The study, led by researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, is published online in the journal Environmental Health.

“Given the growing use of pyrethroid pesticides and the perception that they may represent a safe alternative, our findings may be of considerable public health importance,” says Tanya Froehlich, MD, a developmental pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s and the study’s corresponding author.

Due to concerns about adverse health consequences, the United States Environmental Protection Agency banned the two most commonly used organophosphate (organic compounds containing phosphorus) pesticides from residential use in 2000-2001. The ban led to the increased use of pyrethroid pesticides, which are now the most commonly used pesticides for residential pest control and public health purposes. They also are used increasingly in agriculture.

Pyrethroids have often been considered a safer choice because they are not as acutely toxic as the banned organophosphates. Animal studies, on the other hand, suggested a heightened vulnerability to the effects of pyrethroid exposure on hyperactivity, impulsivity and abnormalities in the dopamine system in male mice. Dopamine is a neurochemical in the brain thought to be involved in many activities, including those that govern ADHD.

The researchers studied data on 687 children between the ages of 8 and 15. The data came from the 2000-2001 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which is a nationally representative sample of the United States population designed to collect information about health.

The 2000-2001 cycle of NHANES was the only cycle of the study that included a diagnostic interview of children’s ADHD symptoms and pyrethroid pesticide biomarkers. Pesticide exposure measurements were collected in a random sample of the urine of half the 8-11 year olds and a third of the 12-15 year olds.

ADHD was determined by meeting criteria on the Diagnosic Interview Schedule for Children, a diagnostic instrument that assesses 34 common psychiatric diagnoses of children and adolescents, or by caregiver report of a prior diagnosis. The DISC is administered by an interviewer…

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150601122535.htm

Citation:

Study links exposure to common pesticide with ADHD in boys

Date:              June 1, 2015

Source:           Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Summary:

A new study links a commonly used household pesticide with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and young teens. The study found an association between pyrethroid pesticide exposure and ADHD, particularly in terms of hyperactivity and impulsivity, rather than inattentiveness. The association was stronger in boys than in girls.

Journal Reference:

  1. Melissa Wagner-Schuman, Jason R Richardson, Peggy Auinger, Joseph M Braun, Bruce P Lanphear, Jeffery N Epstein, Kimberly Yolton, Tanya E Froehlich.Association of pyrethroid pesticide exposure with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in a nationally representative sample of U.S. childrenEnvironmental Health, 2015; 14 (1) DOI: 1186/s12940-015-0030-y

Here is the press release from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center:

Study Links Exposure to Common Pesticide With ADHD in Boys

Monday, June 01, 2015

A new study links a commonly used household pesticide with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and young teens.

The study found an association between pyrethroid pesticide exposure and ADHD, particularly in terms of hyperactivity and impulsivity, rather than inattentiveness. The association was stronger in boys than in girls.

The study, led by researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, is published online in the journal Environmental Health.

“Given the growing use of pyrethroid pesticides and the perception that they may represent a safe alternative, our findings may be of considerable public health importance,” says Tanya Froehlich, MD, a developmental pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s and the study’s corresponding author.

Due to concerns about adverse health consequences, the United States Environmental Protection Agency banned the two most commonly used organophosphate (organic compounds containing phosphorus) pesticides from residential use in 2000-2001. The ban led to the increased use of pyrethroid pesticides, which are now the most commonly used pesticides for residential pest control and public health purposes. They also are used increasingly in agriculture.

Pyrethroids have often been considered a safer choice because they are not as acutely toxic as the banned organophosphates. Animal studies, on the other hand, suggested a heightened vulnerability to the effects of pyrethroid exposure on hyperactivity, impulsivity and abnormalities in the dopamine system in male mice. Dopamine is a neurochemical in the brain thought to be involved in many activities, including those that govern ADHD.

The researchers studied data on 687 children between the ages of 8 and 15. The data came from the 2000-2001 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which is a nationally representative sample of the United States population designed to collect information about health.

The 2000-2001 cycle of NHANES was the only cycle of the study that included a diagnostic interview of children’s ADHD symptoms and pyrethroid pesticide biomarkers. Pesticide exposure measurements were collected in a random sample of the urine of half the 8-11 year olds and a third of the 12-15 year olds.

ADHD was determined by meeting criteria on the Diagnosic Interview Schedule for Children, a diagnostic instrument that assesses 34 common psychiatric diagnoses of children and adolescents, or by caregiver report of a prior diagnosis. The DISC is administered by an interviewer.

Boys with detectable urinary 3-PBA, a biomarker of exposure to pyrethroids, were three times as likely to have ADHD compared with those without detectable 3-PBA. Hyperactivity and impulsivity increased by 50 percent for every 10-fold increase in 3-PBA levels in boys. Biomarkers were not associated with increased odds of ADHD diagnosis or symptoms in girls.

“Our study assessed pyrethroid exposure using 3-PBA concentrations in a single urine sample,” says Dr. Froehlich. “Given that pyrethroids are non-persistent and rapidly metabolized, measurements over time would provide a more accurate assessment of typical exposure and are recommended in future studies before we can say definitively whether our results have public health ramifications.”

This study was supported by National Institutes of Health grants R01ES015991, R01ES015991-04S1, P30ES005022, K23 MH083881, K24 MH064478, R00 ES020346, and R01ES015517-01A1.

About Cincinnati Children’s

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center ranks third in the nation among all Honor Roll hospitals in U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 Best Children’s Hospitals. It is also ranked in the top 10 for all 10 pediatric specialties. Cincinnati Children’s, a non-profit organization, is one of the top three recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health, and a research and teaching affiliate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The medical center is internationally recognized for improving child health and transforming delivery of care through fully integrated, globally recognized research, education and innovation. Additional information can be found at www.cincinnatichildrens.org. Connect on the Cincinnati Children’s blog, via Facebookand on Twitter.

Contact Information

Jim Feuer, 513-636-4656, Jim.Feuer@cchmc.org

http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/news/release/2015/study-links-pesticide-ADHD-in-boys-06-01-2015/

If you suspect that your child might have ADHD, you should seek an evaluation from a competent professional who has knowledge of this specialized area of medical practice.

Reference Links:

Edge Foundation ADHD Coaching Study Executive Summary

http://edgefoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Edge-Foundation-ADHD-Coaching-Research-Report.pdf

Edge Foundation ADHD Coaching Study Full Report

http://edgefoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Edge-Foundation-ADHD-Coaching-Research-Report.pdf

ADHD and College Success: A free guide

http://www.edgefoundation.org/howedgehelps/add-2.html

ADHD and Executive Functioning

http://edgefoundation.org/blog/2010/10/08/the-role-of-adhd-and-your-brains-executive-functions/

Executive Function, ADHD and Academic Outcomes

http://www.helpforld.com/efacoutcomes.pdf

Related:

Louisiana study: Fit children score higher on standardized tests

https://drwilda.com/2012/05/08/louisiana-study-fit-children-score-higher-on-standardized-tests/

Studies: ADHD drugs don’t necessarily improve academic performance

https://drwilda.com/2013/07/14/studies-adhd-drugs-dont-necessarily-improve-academic-performance/

ADHD coaching to improve a child’s education outcome

https://drwilda.com/2012/03/31/adhd-coaching-to-improve-a-childs-education-outcome/

An ADHD related disorder: ‘Sluggish Cognitive Tempo’

https://drwilda.com/2014/04/12/an-adhd-related-disorder-sluggish-cognitive-tempo/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

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Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©

http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©

http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©

https://drwilda.com/

Yale study: Internet makes folks feel smarter than they are

7 Jun

Sarah D. Sparks wrote good synopsis of the report, Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century in the Education Week article, Study: ’21st-Century Learning’ Demands Mix of Abilities:

The committee found these skills generally fall into three categories:

  • Cognitive skills, such as critical thinking and analytic reasoning;
  • Interpersonal skills, such as teamwork and complex communication; and
  • Intrapersonal skills, such as resiliency and conscientiousness (the latter of which has also been strongly associated with good career earnings and healthy lifestyles).

Stanford University education professor Linda Darling-Hammond, who was not part of the report committee, said developing common definitions of 21st-century skills is critical to current education policy discussions, such as around Common Core State Standards.

“Unless we want to have just a lot of hand-waving on 21st-century skills,” Ms. Darling-Hammond said, “we need to get focused and purposeful on how to learn to teach and measure these skills, both in terms of research investments and in terms of the policies and practice that would allow us to develop and measure these skills.”

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/study_deeper_learning_needs_st_1.html

The National Research Council published the report, Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century  Technology does not replace the need for critical thinking skills.

Moi wrote in In Critical thinking is an essential trait of an educated person:

The key is developing the idea that facts should be used to support an opinion.

The Critical Thinking Community has several great articles about critical thinking at their site. In the section, Defining Critical Thinking:

A Definition
Critical thinking is that mode of thinking – about any subject, content, or problem – in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them.

The Result

A well cultivated critical thinker:

  • raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and
    precisely;
  • gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to
    interpret it effectively comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;
  • thinks openmindedly within alternative systems of thought,
    recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and
  • communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems.

Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism. (Taken from Richard Paul and Linda Elder, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, Foundation for Critical Thinking Press, 2008). http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/defining-critical-thinking/766 https://drwilda.com/2012/01/22/critical-thinking-is-an-essential-trait-of-an-educated-person/

Cruising the Internet is not critical thinking.

Poncie Rutsch of NPR reported in Searching Online May Make You Think You’re Smarter Than You Are:

Using the Internet is an easy way to feel omniscient. Enter a search term and the answers appear before your eyes.

But at any moment you’re also just a few taps away from becoming an insufferable know-it-all. Searching for answers online gives people an inflated sense of their own knowledge, according to a study. It makes people think they know more than they actually do.

“We think the information is leaking into our head, but really the information is stored somewhere else entirely,” Matthew Fisher, a doctoral student in cognitive psychology at Yale University, tells Shots. Fisher surveyed hundreds of people to get a sense of how searching the Internet affected how they rate their knowledge. His study was published Tuesday in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General…. http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/xge/

The results kept coming back the same: searching online led to knowledge inflation.

There are practical consequences to this little exercise. If we can’t accurately judge what we know, then who’s to say whether any of the decisions we make are well-informed?

“People are unlikely to be able to explain their own shortcomings,” says Fisher. “People aren’t aware of the quality of explanation or the quality of arguments they can produce, and they don’t realize it until they encounter the gaps.”

The more we rely on the Internet, Fisher says, the harder it will be to draw a line between where our knowledge ends and the web begins. And unlike poring through books or debating peers, asking the Internet is unique because it’s so effortless….http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/04/02/396810355/searching-online-may-make-you-think-youre-smarter-than-you-are

Here is the press release:

Internet Searches Create Illusion of Personal Knowledge, Research Finds

Inflated sense of personal knowledge may have negative effects, study concludes

Read the journal article

WASHINGTON — Searching the Internet for information may make people feel smarter than they actually are, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

“The Internet is such a powerful environment, where you can enter any question, and you basically have access to the world’s knowledge at your fingertips,” said lead researcher Matthew Fisher, a fourth-year doctoral candidate in psychology at Yale University. “It becomes easier to confuse your own knowledge with this external source. When people are truly on their own, they may be wildly inaccurate about how much they know and how dependent they are on the Internet.”

In a series of experiments, participants who searched for information on the Internet believed they were more knowledgeable than a control group about topics unrelated to the online searches. In a result that surprised the researchers, participants had an inflated sense of their own knowledge after searching the Internet even when they couldn’t find the information they were looking for. After conducting Internet searches, participants also believed their brains were more active than the control group did. The research was published online in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General®.

For nine experiments, a range of 152 to 302 participants were recruited online, with different participants taking part in each experiment. In one experiment, the Internet group used online searches to research four questions (e.g., “How does a zipper work?”) and provided a website link with the best answer. The control group was given the exact text from the most common website used by the Internet group to answer the questions. Both groups then rated their ability to answer other questions (e.g., “Why are cloudy nights warmer?”) on topics unrelated to the Internet searches, although they didn’t have to answer those questions. The Internet group members consistently rated themselves as more knowledgeable than the control group about those unrelated topics.

The Internet group reported an inflated sense of personal knowledge after Internet searches even when its members could not find complete answers to very difficult questions (e.g., “Why is ancient Kushite history more peaceful than Greek history?”) or when they found no answers at all because of Google filters that were used. The cognitive effects of “being in search mode” on the Internet may be so powerful that people still feel smarter even when their online searches reveal nothing, said study co-author Frank Keil, PhD, a psychology professor at Yale.

In another experiment, participants who did online searches thought their brains would be more active than the control group, and they chose magnetic resonance images of a brain with more active areas highlighted as representative of their own brains. This result suggests that the participants searching the Internet believed they had more knowledge in their heads, rather than simply thinking they knew more because they had access to the Internet, Fisher said.

The use of Internet searches, not just access to the Internet, appeared to inflate participants’ sense of personal knowledge. When the Internet group members were given a particular website link to answer questions, they didn’t report higher levels of personal knowledge on the unrelated topics than the control group.

People must be actively engaged in research when they read a book or talk to an expert rather than searching the Internet, Fisher said. “If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s very apparent to you that you don’t know, and it takes time and effort to find the answer,” he said. “With the Internet, the lines become blurry between what you know and what you think you know.”

The growing use of smartphones may exacerbate this problem because an Internet search is always within reach, Keil said, and the effects may be more pronounced when children who are immersed in the Internet from an early age grow up to be adults.

An inflated sense of personal knowledge also could be dangerous in the political realm or other areas involving high-stakes decisions, Fisher said.

“In cases where decisions have big consequences, it could be important for people to distinguish their own knowledge and not assume they know something when they actually don’t,” he said. “The Internet is an enormous benefit in countless ways, but there may be some tradeoffs that aren’t immediately obvious and this may be one of them. Accurate personal knowledge is difficult to achieve, and the Internet may be making that task even harder.”

Article: “Searching for Explanations: How the Internet Inflates Estimates of Internal Knowledge;” Matthew Fisher, MA, Mariel K. Goddu, BA, and Frank C. Keil, PhD; Yale University; Journal of Experimental Psychology: General; online March 31, 2015.

Matthew Fisher can be contacted by email or by phone at (260) 519-1736.

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA’s membership includes more than 122,500 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.

See, Online illusion: Unplugged, we really aren’t that smart  http://news.yale.edu/2015/03/31/online-illusion-unplugged-we-really-aren-t-smart

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