Tag Archives: Scientific American

University of Miami Miller School of Medicine study: Links between neighborhood greenness and reduction in chronic diseases

24 Apr

Cheryl Katz wrote the 2012 Scientific American article, People in Poor Neighborhoods Breathe More Hazardous Particles:

Tiny particles of air pollution contain more hazardous ingredients in non-white and low-income communities than in affluent white ones, a new study shows.

The greater the concentration of Hispanics, Asians, African Americans or poor residents in an area, the more likely that potentially dangerous compounds such as vanadium, nitrates and zinc are in the mix of fine particles they breathe.

Latinos had the highest exposures to the largest number of these ingredients, while whites generally had the lowest.

The findings of the Yale University research add to evidence of a widening racial and economic gap when it comes to air pollution. Communities of color and those with low education and high poverty and unemployment face greater health risks even if their air quality meets federal health standards, according to the article published online in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Fresno are among the metropolitan areas with unhealthful levels of fine particles and large concentrations of poor minorities. More than 50 counties could exceed a new tighter health standard for particulates proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Communities of color and those with low education and high poverty and unemployment may face greater health risks even if their air quality meets federal health standards. A pervasive air pollutant, the fine particulate matter known as PM2.5 is a mixture of emissions from diesel engines, power plants, refineries and other sources of combustion. Often called soot, the microscopic particles penetrate deep into the lungs.

The new study is the first to reveal major racial and economic differences in exposures to specific particle ingredients, some of which are linked to asthma, cardiovascular problems and cancer….                                                                   http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/people-poor-neighborhoods-breate-more-hazardous-particles/

A University of Miami Miller School of Medicine expands upon the link between neighborhood greenness and disease.

Science Daily reported in Study links neighborhood greenness to reduction in chronic diseases:

A new study of a quarter-million Miami-Dade County Medicare beneficiaries showed that higher levels of neighborhood greenness, including trees, grass and other vegetation, were linked to a significant reduction in the rate of chronic illnesses, particularly in low-to-middle income neighborhoods. Led by researchers at the University of Miami Department of Public Health Sciences at the Miller School of Medicine, and the School of Architecture, the study showed that higher greenness was linked to significantly lower rates of diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, as well as fewer chronic health conditions.

The findings, published online April 6 by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, are based on 2010 — 2011 health data reported for approximately 250,000 Miami-Dade Medicare beneficiaries over age 65, and a measure of vegetative presence based on NASA satellite imagery. The study was the first of its kind to examine block-level greenness and its relationship to health outcomes in older adults, and the first to measure the impact of greenness on specific cardio-metabolic diseases.

“This study builds on our research group’s earlier analyses showing block level impacts of mixed-use and supportive building features on adults and children,” said lead study author Scott Brown, Ph.D., research assistant professor of public health sciences. Brown was a co-principal investigator on the study with Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, M.Arch., a Malcolm Matheson Distinguished Professor in Architecture. Plater-Zyberk, who was responsible for the rewrite of the City of Miami’s zoning code in 2010, said the study results “give impetus to public agencies and property owners to plant and maintain a verdant public landscape.”

Study findings revealed that higher levels of greenness on the blocks where the study’s Medicare recipients reside, is associated with a significantly lower chronic disease risk for the residents of high greenness blocks, including a 14 percent risk reduction for diabetes, a 13 percent reduction for hypertension and a 10 percent reduction for lipid disorders…..                                                   https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160421171345.htm

Citation:

Study links neighborhood greenness to reduction in chronic diseases

Date:       April 21, 2016

Source:   University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

Summary:

Higher levels of greenness (trees, park space and other vegetation) in neighborhoods is linked with significantly lower chronic illnesses, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, public health researchers has shown. The findings were based on 250,000 Medicare recipients age 65 and vegetation presence measured by NASA satellite imagery.

Journal Reference:

  1. Scott C. Brown, Joanna Lombard, Kefeng Wang, Margaret M. Byrne, Matthew Toro, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Daniel J. Feaster, Jack Kardys, Maria I. Nardi, Gianna Perez-Gomez, Hilda M. Pantin, José Szapocznik. Neighborhood Greenness and Chronic Health Conditions in Medicare Beneficiaries. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2016.02.008

Am J Prev Med. 2016 Mar 31. pii: S0749-3797(16)00065-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2016.02.008. [Epub ahead of print]

Neighborhood Greenness and Chronic Health Conditions in Medicare Beneficiaries.

Brown SC1, Lombard J2, Wang K3, Byrne MM3, Toro M3, Plater-Zyberk E2, Feaster DJ3, Kardys J4, Nardi MI4, Perez-Gomez G3, Pantin HM3, Szapocznik J2.

Author information

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Prior studies suggest that exposure to the natural environment may impact health. The present study examines the association between objective measures of block-level greenness (vegetative presence) and chronic medical conditions, including cardiometabolic conditions, in a large population-based sample of Medicare beneficiaries in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

METHODS:

The sample included 249,405 Medicare beneficiaries aged ≥65 years whose location (ZIP+4) within Miami-Dade County, Florida, did not change, from 2010 to 2011. Data were obtained in 2013 and multilevel analyses conducted in 2014 to examine relationships between greenness, measured by mean Normalized Difference Vegetation Index from satellite imagery at the Census block level, and chronic health conditions in 2011, adjusting for neighborhood median household income, individual age, gender, race, and ethnicity.

RESULTS:

Higher greenness was significantly associated with better health, adjusting for covariates: An increase in mean block-level Normalized Difference Vegetation Index from 1 SD less to 1 SD more than the mean was associated with 49 fewer chronic conditions per 1,000 individuals, which is approximately similar to a reduction in age of the overall study population by 3 years. This same level of increase in mean Normalized Difference Vegetation Index was associated with a reduced risk of diabetes by 14%, hypertension by 13%, and hyperlipidemia by 10%. Planned post-hoc analyses revealed stronger and more consistently positive relationships between greenness and health in lower- than higher-income neighborhoods.

CONCLUSIONS:

Greenness or vegetative presence may be effective in promoting health in older populations, particularly in poor neighborhoods, possibly due to increased time outdoors, physical activity, or stress mitigation.

Copyright © 2016 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:

27061891

[PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Here is the press release from the University of Miami:

UM Study Links Neighborhood Greenness to Reduction in Chronic Diseases

Published: April 22, 2016.
Released by University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

A new study of a quarter-million Miami-Dade County Medicare beneficiaries showed that higher levels of neighborhood greenness, including trees, grass and other vegetation, were linked to a significant reduction in the rate of chronic illnesses, particularly in low-to-middle income neighborhoods. Led by researchers at the University of Miami Department of Public Health Sciences at the Miller School of Medicine, and the School of Architecture, the study showed that higher greenness was linked to significantly lower rates of diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, as well as fewer chronic health conditions.

The findings, published online April 6 by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, are based on 2010 – 2011 health data reported for approximately 250,000 Miami-Dade Medicare beneficiaries over age 65, and a measure of vegetative presence based on NASA satellite imagery. The study was the first of its kind to examine block-level greenness and its relationship to health outcomes in older adults, and the first to measure the impact of greenness on specific cardio-metabolic diseases.

“This study builds on our research group’s earlier analyses showing block level impacts of mixed-use and supportive building features on adults and children,” said lead study author Scott Brown, Ph.D., research assistant professor of public health sciences. Brown was a co-principal investigator on the study with Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, M.Arch., a Malcolm Matheson Distinguished Professor in Architecture. Plater-Zyberk, who was responsible for the rewrite of the City of Miami’s zoning code in 2010, said the study results “give impetus to public agencies and property owners to plant and maintain a verdant public landscape.”

Study findings revealed that higher levels of greenness on the blocks where the study’s Medicare recipients reside, is associated with a significantly lower chronic disease risk for the residents of high greenness blocks, including a 14 percent risk reduction for diabetes, a 13 percent reduction for hypertension and a 10 percent reduction for lipid disorders.

“Going from a low to a high level of greenness at the block level is associated with 49 fewer chronic health conditions per 1,000 residents, which is approximately equivalent to a reduction in the biomedical aging of the study population by three years,” said Brown.

Jack Kardys, Director of the Miami-Dade County Department of Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces, participated in data interpretation along with Miami-Dade County Parks’ Chief of Planning, Research, and Design Excellence, Maria Nardi. Kardys said the study findings “illuminate the vital role of parks and greens to health and well-being, and point to the critical need for a holistic approach in planning that draws on research.”

The study findings suggest extensive potential for park, open space, and streetscape design in South Florida and the United States to consider health impacts in strategic planning. Funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Policy Development and Research and the Health Foundation of South Florida, the research adds to a growing body of evidence that exposure to higher levels of greenness is associated with better health outcomes, by reducing stress, air pollution, humidity and heat island impacts, and encouraging physical activity, social interaction and community cohesion.

From a design standpoint, study co-author Joanna Lombard, M.Arch., professor of architecture, noted that the goals of the County’s Parks and Open Spaces Masterplan already call for residents to have access to greenspace from the minute they walk outside of their homes, through tree-lined streets, as well as greens, parks, and open spaces within a 5 to 10 minute walk of their home, all of which have been shown to be linked to better health outcomes. “There’s so much suffering involved in the time, money and energy spent on disease burden in the U.S., which we realize that we can, to some extent, ameliorate through healthy community design,” said Lombard. “We collectively need to be attentive to the health impacts of the built environment. The associated harms are evident, and most importantly going forward, the potential benefits are significant.”

In examining the results by income level and by race, the research showed that the health benefits of greenness were proportionately stronger among all racial and ethnic groups in lower income neighborhoods. Brown said this aspect of the findings suggests that incorporating more green — trees, parks and open spaces — in low income neighborhoods could also address issues of health disparities, which have been recently highlighted in research journals and the national media.

José Szapocznik, Ph.D., professor and chair of public health sciences, and founder of the University of Miami Built Environment, Behavior, and Health Research Group, pointed out that augmenting greenness, particularly in warm climates, potentially contributes to the effectiveness of other aspects of walkability. “Providing a green feature,” said Szapocznik, “has been associated with safety, increased time outdoors, physical activity, and social interaction, and may potentially reduce disease burdens at the population level and enhance residents’ quality of life.”

This society will not have healthy children without having healthy home and school environments.

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

Resources:

What are Key Urban Environmental Problems?                                                                     http://web.mit.edu/urbanupgrading/urbanenvironment/issues/key-UE-issues.html

Understanding Neighborhood Effects of Concentrated Poverty                                                   https://www.huduser.gov/portal/periodicals/em/winter11/highlight2.html

Where We Live Matters for Our Health: Neighborhoods and Health                                      http://www.commissiononhealth.org/PDF/888f4a18-eb90-45be-a2f8-159e84a55a4c/Issue%20Brief%203%20Sept%2008%20-%20Neighborhoods%20and%20Health.pdf

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Dr. Wilda.com

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University of Michigan study: How video games affect classroom teaching

18 Dec

Jordan Shapiro reported in the PJ Tech article, Study Shows Video Games’ Impact On Face-to-face Teaching:

In the past, I have covered many studies that look at the efficacy of game based learning. But a recent study from A-GAMES, a collaboration between New York University and the University of Michigan, is significant because it looks at the way games impact the learning experience and the relationship between teacher and student. It does this by considering how digital games support ‘formative assessment’ — a term educators and researchers use to describe “the techniques used by teachers to monitor, measure, and support student progress and learning during instruction.” It may sound fancy but “formative assessment” really just refers to the ongoing attention that all good teachers have always provided their students, monitoring student learning and offering ongoing and specific feedback.

A-GAMES stands for Analyzing Games for Assessment in Math, ELA/Social Studies, and Science. The project is one among many games and learning research projects funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The study, entitled “Empowering Educators: Supporting Student Progress in the Classroom with Digital Games,” was undertaken by Jan Plass at NYU and Barry Fishman at University of Michigan. Surveying 488 K-12 teachers from across the U.S., they found that “more than half of teachers (57 percent) use digital games weekly or more often in teaching, with 18 percent using games for teaching on a daily basis. A higher percentage of elementary school teachers (66 percent for grade K-2 teachers and 79 percent for grade 3-5 teachers) use games weekly or more often for teaching, compared with middle school (47 percent) and high school (40 percent) teachers.”

These numbers are more or less consistent with previous studies. particularly the Level-up Learning study that the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop issued this past fall. That study focused on teachers and how their thinking about digital games in the classroom impacts actual implementation. This A-GAMES study, alternatively, is looking in more detail at the way games impact the teacher’s ability to provide personalized attention, assessment, and feedback to individual students.

The NYU/University of Michigan study found that on a weekly basis, 34 percent of teachers use games to conduct formative assessment. What are they assessing? Facts and knowledge; concepts and big ideas; mastery of specific skills. And they are doing formative assessment with games in the same way they do it with other classroom activities: observing students in class; asking probing questions; looking over their shoulders. All of this suggests that “using digital games may enable teachers to conduct formative assessment more frequently and effectively.” Game based learning seems to be aiding and supporting existing strategies rather than radically transforming the practice of teaching…

http://pjtec.info/study-shows-video-games-impact-on-face-to-face-teaching/

The University of Michigan reports the key findings:                                                                                             Key Findings

If digital games are to play a key role in classroom instruction, they must support core instructional activities. Formative assessment — techniques used by teachers to monitor, measure, and support student progress and learning during instruction — is a core practice of successful classrooms. The A-GAMES project (Analyzing Games for Assessment in Math, ELA/ Social Studies, and Science) studied how teachers actually use digital games in their teaching to support formative assessment.

In Fall 2013, 488 K-12 teachers across the United States were surveyed about their digital game use and formative assessment practices to gain insight into their relationship to one another. The survey explored three areas:

Our results reveal that the way teachers use digital games for formative assessment is related to their overall formative assessment practices. Using digital games as part of instruction may enable teachers to conduct formative assessment more frequently and more effectively.                                                 http://gamesandlearning.umich.edu/a-games/key-findings/

This study is interesting because it looks at how video games allow personalized interaction in the classroom.

Elena Malykhina of Scientific American wrote in Fact or Fiction?: Video Games Are the Future of Education:

If educational video games are well executed, they can provide a strong framework for inquiry and project-based learning, says Alan Gershenfeld, co-founder and president of E-Line Media, a publisher of computer and video games and a Founding Industry Fellow at Arizona State University’s Center for Games and Impact. “Games are also uniquely suited to fostering the skills necessary for navigating a complex, interconnected, rapidly changing 21st century,” he adds.

Digital literacy and understanding how systems (computer and otherwise) work will become increasingly important in a world where many of today’s students will pursue jobs that do not currently exist, says Gershenfeld, who wrote about video games’ potential to transform education in the February Scientific American. Tomorrow’s workers will also likely change jobs many times throughout their careers and “will almost certainly have jobs that require some level of mastery of digital media and technology,” he adds….

Perhaps the biggest impact of video games will be on students who have not responded as well to traditional teaching methods. Nearly half of the teachers surveyed say it is the low-performing students who generally benefit from the use of games, and more than half believe games have the ability to motivate struggling and special education students.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-video-games-are-the-future-of-education/

See, Teachers Surveyed on Using Digital Games in Class       http://www.gamesandlearning.org/2014/06/09/teachers-on-using-games-in-class/

As with any instructional technique, there are pros and cons.

Justin Marquis Ph.D. writes in the Classroom Aid article, Debates about Gamification and   Game-Based Learning(#GBL) in Education:

The Negatives

Those who have both feet firmly in the anti-gamification camp most often argue that there are no empirical studies that demonstrate real learning from games or that the skills learned in game play do not translate to the real world. That said, however, there are real negatives that can be associated with the introduction of gamification into education:

  • Cost – A fully game-based curriculum, or even one that relies heavily on games, represents a substantial increase in cost over standard book/paper/pencil education. For starters, there is the cost of the equipment, the cost of the software, and the additional expense of training teachers in the most effective pedagogical use of the medium.
  • Distraction from other objectives – The idea that playing games pulls learners from other more valuable skills must also be addressed. The underlying premise here is that games are fairly limited in their content and the context that they present for learning. This is true….
  • Social isolation – One of the biggest ongoing criticisms of games, and technology in general, is that it promotes anti-social behavior and isolates individuals. While some of this may have been true prior to the explosion of Web 2.0 technologies, it certainly is not any longer.  The focus of most new games is in social play. While players may not be interacting face-to-face they are interacting nonetheless. In fact, these technologically mediated interactions mirror much of the real-world communication that drives our personal lives and business. The process and social norms taught by these interactions represent very real and useful skills that translate perfectly outside of games.
  • Shortened attention span – This is the criticism of all modern media, and probably was a criticism of books when Guttenberg first started mass producing them. New technologies necessitate new ways of viewing the world and the nature of knowledge. Computer games are no different. The often rapid pace of action and the immediate feedback can make people expect the same kinds of fast-paced, instantaneous response of all things….

The Positives

While the limitations above are daunting and require significant shifting of educational and societal priorities in order to be overcome, they are worth addressing, particularly if weighed against the positive effects of gamification.

  • Technological literacy – Game play promotes literacy at many different levels, from technological to socio-emotional. At the very minimum, game play supports the development of skills necessary to run a computer, but it really goes far beyond that, as the installation, upkeep, and networking required for much game play also promotes high-level literacy skills in students (Marquis, 2009).
  • Multitasking mentality – The reality of our world is that we all multitask to a certain extent, splitting our attention between multiple screen, devices, and stimuli constantly. Games enhance this ability by forcing players to balance multiple kinds of inputs simultaneously in order to be successful. Try the fun multitasking game at the end of this post to see how well you can focus on multiple inputs.
  • Teamwork – While the isolationist tendencies of gamers have long been a popular stereotype, many current games are built on a social networking paradigm that not only allows for teamwork and collaborative play, but often requires it to be successful. This is one of the key skills required for working in a hyper-connected global economy.
  • Long-range planning – While the critique of games is that they shorten players’ ability to concentrate for extended periods of time, the opposite is actually true. Game designer and researcher Jane McGonigal refers to the hyper-intense and prolonged focus that gamers can experience in well-designed games and sees importance in the concept of “blissful productivity,” where players become so absorbed in the game that they lose track of time while working hard to achieve goals….
  • Individualized instruction – Because GBL focuses on each student playing and learning for themselves, individualized instruction is a natural part of the equation. This means two things; each student can work towards mastery, and each student can work at their own pace.

Many successful educators try to appeal to their students’ interest in order to engage them. With so many children and adults currently playing video games, games represent a natural way for teachers to reach a larger audience and have fun at the same time….                                                                   http://classroom-aid.com/2013/04/07/debates-about-gamification-and-game-based-learninggbl-in-education/

There should not be a one size fits all education system. For some children, video games are an appropriate education strategy.

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Reducing gender differences in STEM education

21 Apr

Many girls and women who have the math and science aptitude for a science career don’t enter scientific fields. Cheryl B. Schrader writes in the St Louis Post-Dispatch article, STEM education: Where the girls are not:

Compounding this issue, the gender gap in these fields is widening.

The Jan. 30 report from STEMconnector and My College Options — titled “Where Are the STEM Students?” — underscores the importance of these fields for our nation’s future economic well-being. It also presents a challenge for all of us in education, from kindergarten through college, to increase interest levels in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — the so-called STEM fields — for all types of students.

While the majority of U.S. college students today are female, they remain a minority in many science and engineering fields. If universities are to meet the future demands of our economy, we can’t leave half of the college-bound population on the sidelines.

How can we change that? The STEMconnector report offers some hints.

Female high school students who are interested in these fields often gravitate toward biology, chemistry, marine biology and science — areas often associated with a desire to make the world a better place. Women tend to be drawn to these service-oriented professions.

But thanks to the rise of cloud computing, information systems and the app economy, 71 percent of the new STEM jobs in 2018 are projected to be in the computing fields. Getting girls interested in these fields at a young age will be critical if we are to meet the coming demand for talented and well-educated computer scientists, computer engineers and game designers.

With this in mind, it’s important to convey to young women computing’s role in serving society. We should show a young woman how a computer science degree could equip her to design a new app to diagnose illness. That may appeal more to her desire to help others than, say, showing her how to write code for yet another online game.

Programs like Project Lead the Way, which introduces middle school and high school students to engineering and science, help students learn more about these fields at an early age. In Missouri, 165 high schools and middle schools are using PLTW’s engineering and biomedical sciences materials to generate more interest in those areas. http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/stem-education-where-the-girls-are-not/article_ae33c7b7-6a7b-5011-8d2a-138bc1538357.html

See, STEM Connector http://store.stemconnector.org/Where-Are-the-STEM-Students_p_9.html

Jonathan Olsen and Sarah Gross, teachers at High Technology High School in Lincroft, New Jersey guest post in the Scientific American article, To Attract More Girls to STEM, Bring More Storytelling to Science:

Perhaps girls with high verbal scores choose careers other than STEM because their passion hasn’t been kindled in those classes. We know it is not the fault of their teachers but a problem of process.  For many schools, arts and sciences are rarely ever integrated.  Teachers are kept apart with little time to collaborate.

If integration does happen, it is usually the humanities teacher looking to include aspects of STEM in their courses.  The recent adoption of the Common Core Standards by forty-five states calls for more integration between subjects.  However, ask most humanities teachers and they will tell you that they are being told to integrate STEM content into their classes, removing literature for nonfiction, rather than being given the opportunity to collaborate with their STEM counterparts.  Integration is wonderfully effective and certainly the future of education but it is a two-way street.  We think schools should use reciprocal integration between the arts and sciences to capture the imagination of these top female students.

How many engineering teachers include a fiction book like Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano in their syllabi?  Do many math teachers analyze the intricacies of M. C. Escher’s artwork with their students or read Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo? How many science teachers read aloud the poetic observations of Dr. David George Haskell?  Do many biology teachers share the story of the HeLa cells?  We think ideas like these should be a part of all STEM curricula.  And experts agree. The NextGeneration Science Standards, released for public discussion last week, ask teachers to show students how insights from many disciplines fit together into a coherent picture of the world.  And we believe that incorporating more storytelling into science can help do this.

Research has shown that storytelling activates the brain beyond mere word recognition.  In 2006, researchers in Spain discovered that stories stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life. Last year, a team of researchers from Emory University reported in Brain & Language that similes and metaphors can activate sensory portions of the brain, and the Laboratory of Language Dynamics in France discovered that action words can stimulate the motor cortex.  So if, as the recent study in Psychological Science shows, female students with high ability in both math and verbal areas tend to steer away from STEM careers, maybe it’s time to bring more of those verbal skills into the STEM classes for the benefit of these students. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/budding-scientist/2013/04/16/to-attract-more-girls-to-stem-bring-storytelling-to-science/?WT.mc_id=SA_emailfriend

Here is the press release from the University of Pittsburgh:

March 19, 2013

Women With Both High Math and Verbal Ability Appear Less Likely to Choose Science Careers Because Their Dual Skills Confer More Career Options

Pitt-Michigan study finds that more women than men have combination of high math and high verbal skills, recommends new focus on tapping potential of women with that combination for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)

Study also finds that women with high math skills and only moderate verbal ability are the ones who appear more likely to choose STEM careers

PITTSBURGH—There has been ongoing public discussion about the need to educate and recruit more young Americans for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Now a just-published study by the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan offers one potential solution to this perennial problem: more concentrated efforts to encourage women who already possess the necessary skills. 

It turns out that there is a pre-existing pool of women with both high math and high verbal ability; it’s just that they seem to be more likely to choose careers outside of science because their combination of skills provides them with more career options, according to the Pitt study, published March 19 in Psychological Science. 

Principal Investigator and Pitt Assistant Professor of Psychology in Education Ming-Te Wang and collaborators at the University of Michigan found that the mean SAT math score of a group of men and women with the combination of high math and high verbal scores was 720, while the mean SAT verbal score was 696, both out of a possible 800. This group of math and verbal high achievers included a significantly higher proportion of women (63 percent) than men (37 percent).

Additionally, the researchers found that women in the group of men and women with high math scores and only moderate verbal scores were the ones more likely to choose STEM careers. The mean math SAT score for this group was 721, while the mean verbal SAT score was 655. 

Our study suggests that it’s not lack of ability or difference in ability that orients females to pursue non-STEM careers but the fact that they can consider a wider range of occupations because of their combination of excellent math and verbal skills,” said Wang. “This highlights the need for educators and policy makers to shift the focus away from trying to strengthen girls’ STEM-related abilities and instead tap the potential of these girls who are highly skilled in both the math and verbal domains to go into STEM fields.”

Wang and his collaborators examined data on 1,490 college-bound U.S. students, with the information drawn from the University of Michigan’s Longitudinal Study of American Youth. The subjects in the Michigan Longitudinal Study were surveyed by Michigan in two waves: once in the 12th grade (1992) and again at age 33 (2007). The subjects completed telephone interviews, which required them to update their educational and occupational histories from high school through the time of the second-wave survey. Only subjects who participated in both waves were included in Wang’s study; all had received a four-year college degree by the time of the second-wave survey. The participants were 49 percent female and 51 percent male.  

The survey evaluated such factors as participants’ SAT scores, family needs, whether they liked working with people or things, their devotion to a career, and, ultimately, the occupations they chose by age 33. 

The researchers found, from their analysis of the Michigan Longitudinal Study data, that men and women who felt more successful in mathematics than in verbal-related disciplines were more likely to work in STEM fields by the time they had reached the age of 33. Mathematics, said Wang, played a role in these individuals’ identities because they excelled within the discipline, driving them to pursue STEM-related jobs. 

We need to make sure girls and women—especially those with the combination of high math and high verbal skills—are well informed regarding the full diversity of options available in STEM careers,” said Wang. “We want them to see the value in these disciplines so they won’t shy away from science- or math-related careers because of lack of information, misinformation, or stereotypes.”

Wang’s coauthors include the University of Michigan’s Jacquelynne Eccles and Sarah Kenny. 

The paper is titled “Not Lack of Ability but More Choice: Individual and Gender Differences in Choice of Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.” 

A PDF of the study is available upon request. 

###

3/19/13/mab/cjhm

In Study: Elementary school teachers have an impact on girls math learning moi wrote:

Moi has written about the importance of motivation in student learning. In Research papers: Student Motivation: An Overlooked Piece of School Reform, moi wrote:

Moi often says education is a partnership between the student, the teacher(s) and parent(s). All parties in the partnership must share the load. The student has to arrive at school ready to learn. The parent has to set boundaries, encourage, and provide support. Teachers must be knowledgeable in their subject area and proficient in transmitting that knowledge to students. All must participate and fulfill their role in the education process. A series of papers about student motivation by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) follows the Council on Foreign Relations report by Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein.                                                                                      https://drwilda.com/2012/05/30/research-papers-student-motivation-an-overlooked-piece-of-school-reform/

https://drwilda.com/2013/01/31/study-elementary-school-teachers-have-an-impact-on-girls-math-learning/

Related:

Girls and math phobia                                                                       https://drwilda.com/2012/01/20/girls-and-math-phobia/

Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls                                                                                  https://drwilda.com/2013/01/07/study-gender-behavior-differences-lead-to-higher-grades-for-girls/

University of Missouri study: Counting ability predicts future math ability of preschoolers                                                                 https://drwilda.com/2012/11/15/university-of-missouri-study-counting-ability-predicts-future-math-ability-of-preschoolers/

Is an individualized program more effective in math learning? https://drwilda.com/2012/10/10/is-an-individualized-program-more-effective-in-math-learning/

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