Tag Archives: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign study: Many education experts lack expertise

23 Feb

Reporters, seminar sponsors, political town halls often rely on “experts” to give an opinion about a particular issue. Education is an area populated by “experts” from all over the pedagogical and political spectrum. What exactly is an expert? The Legal Information Institute provides the legal definition of expert:

Rule 702. Testimony by Expert Witnesses
A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if:
(a) the expert’s scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.
Notes (Pub. L. 93–595, §1, Jan. 2, 1975, 88 Stat. 1937; Apr. 17, 2000, eff. Dec. 1, 2000; Apr. 26, 2011, eff. Dec. 1, 2011.) https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/rule_702

The legal definition provides some guidance.

Science Daily reported in the article, Education ‘experts’ cited in news stories may lack expertise, study finds:

The people most often cited as “education experts” in blogs and news stories may have the backing of influential organizations — but have little background in education and education policy, a new study suggests.

The findings are cause for concern because some prominent interest groups are promoting reform agendas and striving to influence policymakers and public opinion using individuals who have substantial media relations skills but little or no expertise in education research, say the authors of the study, Joel R. Malin and Christopher Lubienski, both at the University of Illinois.

To examine possible links between individuals’ media presence and their levels of expertise, Malin and Lubienski compiled a diverse list of nearly 300 people who appeared on the lists of experts prepared by several major education advocacy and policy organizations, including the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the liberal National Education Policy Center.
Malin and Lubienski also added to their sample a handful of scholars not on those lists but who are prominent and influential in the field of education.

Each person’s level of expertise was then scored using a formula that included their number of Google Scholar citations; their years of experience, calculated by subtracting the year they attained their highest degree from 2014; and whether or not the person had earned a doctoral or equivalent degree.

Each person’s level of media influence was calculated based upon the number of times they were quoted or mentioned in education press, U.S. newspapers or blogs during 2013; whether they had a Twitter profile; and their Klout score, which is a proxy for social media influence.
Experts were more likely to be quoted or mentioned in newspapers and blogs if they had higher scores on Google Scholar, Malin and Lubienski found. Every 1-point increase in an expert’s Google Scholar score was associated with a 1-percent increase in blog mentions.
Accordingly, each 1-point increase in years of experience corresponded with an increase of about 1 percent in newspaper citations, the researchers found.

However, affiliation with a policy or advocacy organization also substantially increased an expert’s media presence. People associated with the American Enterprise Institute were nearly 2.5 times more likely to be cited in education media.

Likewise, experts were 1.78 and 1.5 times more likely to be mentioned in blogs if they were affiliated with Cato or the American Enterprise Institute, respectively.

Although the initial list included 287 experts, Malin and Lubienski could not find the necessary information to estimate 52 of these individuals’ years of experience. More than half of these people were connected to organizations such as Cato and Heritage.

While the three people in the sample who were affiliated with Cato each received the maximum number of points for blog mentions, these individuals’ average estimated expertise score was 4.67 — substantially lower than the average score for the full sample, which was greater than 20. Perhaps the most troubling finding was that possession of a doctoral degree was associated with 67 percent fewer blog citations and 60 percent fewer newspaper mentions, and fewer Klout points, which indicates that academic researchers with empirical expertise in education are often far removed from popular and policy conversations, Malin and Lubienski said…. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150220133338.htm

Citation:

Education ‘experts’ cited in news stories may lack expertise, study finds
Date: February 20, 2015

Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
A study of education experts cited in news stories and blogs during 2013 finds that some lack background in education policy and research.
Educational Expertise, Advocacy, and Media Influence
Joel R. Malin, Christopher Lubienski

Abstract
The efforts of many advocacy organizations to advance their preferred policies despite conflicting evidence of the effectiveness of these policies raise questions about factors that shape successful policy promotion. While many may like to think that expertise on an issue in question is an essential prerequisite for influence in public policy discussions, there is a traditional disconnect between research evidence and policymaking in many fields, including education. Moreover, the efforts of many policy advocates suggest that they see advantages in other factors besides research expertise in advancing their interpretation of evidence for use in policymaking processes. We hypothesize that some of the most influential education-focused organizations are advancing their agendas by engaging media and drawing on individuals who possess substantial media acumen, yet may not possess traditionally defined educational expertise. Thus, we hypothesize that media impact is loosely coupled with educational expertise. In fact, in analyzing various indicators of expertise and media penetration, we find a weak relationship between expertise and media impact, but find significantly elevated media penetration for individuals working at a sub-sample of organizations promoting what we term “incentivist” education reforms, in spite of their generally lower levels of expertise. We find these organizations are particularly effective in engaging new media forms by going directly to their audience. We consider the policy implications in the concluding discussion.
Keywords
agenda setting; decision making; educational policy; expertise; information dissemination; political influences; politics
Full Text:
PDF http://epaa.asu.edu/ojs/article/view/1706/1456
Related Articles
Jabbar, H., Goldie, D., Linick, M., & Lubienski, C. (2014). Using bibliometric and social media analyses to explore the “echo chamber” hypothesis. Educational Policy, 28(2), 281-305. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0895904813515330

Lubienski, C., Scott, J., & DeBray, E. (2014). The politics of research use in education policymaking. Educational Policy, 28(2), 131-144. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0895904813515329

Henig, J. (2009). Politicization of evidence: Lessons for an informed democracy. Educational Policy, 23, 137-160. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0895904808328525

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v23.1706

Here is the press release from the University of Illinois:

Education ‘experts’ may lack expertise, study finds
2/20/2015 | Sharita Forrest, Education and Social Work Editor | 217-244-1072; slforres@illinois.edu

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The people most often cited as “education experts” in blogs and news stories may have the backing of influential organizations – but have little background in education and education policy, a new study suggests.

The findings are cause for concern because some prominent interest groups are promoting reform agendas and striving to influence policymakers and public opinion using individuals who have substantial media relations skills but little or no expertise in education research, say the authors of the study, Joel R. Malin and Christopher Lubienski, both at the University of Illinois.

To examine possible links between individuals’ media presence and their levels of expertise, Malin and Lubienski compiled a diverse list of nearly 300 people who appeared on the lists of experts prepared by several major education advocacy and policy organizations, including the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the liberal National Education Policy Center.

Malin and Lubienski also added to their sample a handful of scholars not on those lists but who are prominent and influential in the field of education.
Each person’s level of expertise was then scored using a formula that included their number of Google Scholar citations; their years of experience, calculated by subtracting the year they attained their highest degree from 2014; and whether or not the person had earned a doctoral or equivalent degree.
Each person’s level of media influence was calculated based upon the number of times they were quoted or mentioned in education press, U.S. newspapers or blogs during 2013; whether they had a Twitter profile; and their Klout score, which is a proxy for social media influence.

Experts were more likely to be quoted or mentioned in newspapers and blogs if they had higher scores on Google Scholar, Malin and Lubienski found. Every 1-point increase in an expert’s Google Scholar score was associated with a 1-percent increase in blog mentions.

Accordingly, each 1-point increase in years of experience corresponded with an increase of about 1 percent in newspaper citations, the researchers found.
However, affiliation with a policy or advocacy organization also substantially increased an expert’s media presence. People associated with the American Enterprise Institute were nearly 2.5 times more likely to be cited in education media.

Likewise, experts were 1.78 and 1.5 times more likely to be mentioned in blogs if they were affiliated with Cato or the American Enterprise Institute, respectively.
Although the initial list included 287 experts, Malin and Lubienski could not find the necessary information to estimate 52 of these individuals’ years of experience. More than half of these people were connected to organizations such as Cato and Heritage.

While the three people in the sample who were affiliated with Cato each received the maximum number of points for blog mentions, these individuals’ average estimated expertise score was 4.67 – substantially lower than the average score for the full sample, which was greater than 20.
Perhaps the most troubling finding was that possession of a doctoral degree was associated with 67 percent fewer blog citations and 60 percent fewer newspaper mentions, and fewer Klout points, which indicates that academic researchers with empirical expertise in education are often far removed from popular and policy conversations, Malin and Lubienski said.

“Our findings suggest that individuals with less expertise can often have greater success in media penetration,” said Malin, a curriculum specialist with the Pathways Resource Center and a doctoral candidate in educational administration and leadership at the university. “Although some individuals might not have formal training in research methods for analyzing the issues about which they are speaking, they possess skills and orientations that make them accessible and appealing to the media. And when these people are affiliated with organizations that have strong media arms or outreach efforts, they have the support and the incentive to engage broader and policy audiences.“
“Newer forms of media offer particularly useful opportunities for directly engaging audiences, while bypassing traditional forms of quality checks on expertise,” said Lubienski, a professor of education policy and director of the Forum on the Future of Public Education at the university. “We believe caution and consideration of individuals’ expertise are warranted when reporters and bloggers are researching topics and seeking insights – and when policymakers and laypersons are consuming media.”

Researchers who want to see their work have impact beyond the academic community must become more adept at communicating via traditional and new media. Otherwise, policy changes in education will be guided more by ideology and agendas than by research, Malin and Lubienski said.
The study was published in a recent issue of the journal Education Policy Analysis Archives.

Editor’s note: To reach Joel Malin, call 217-244-9390; email jrmalin2@illinois.edu.
To reach Christopher Lubienski, call 217-333-4382; email club@illinois.edu

The paper, “Educational Expertise, Advocacy, and Media Influence,” is available online or from the News Bureau. http://news.illinois.edu/news/15/0220expertise_JoelMalin_ChristopherLubienski.html

The point of this study is that critical thinking cannot be stressed enough when evaluating the validity or worth of any opinion.

“Incestuous, homogeneous fiefdoms of self-proclaimed expertise are always rank-closing and mutually self-defending, above all else.”

Glenn Greenwald

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University of Illinois and Princeton University study: Stereotypes that women are not as brilliant as men result in gender inequity in academia

15 Jan

Many girls and women who have the math and science aptitude for a science career don’t enter scientific fields. Cheryl B. Schrader wrote 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…
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….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

Stephanie Castillo reported in the Medical Daily article, Gender Inequality In Academia Stems From Assumption Women Aren’t As Brilliant As Men:

A new study published in the journal Science continues to support the idea gender inequality exists in academia.

According to researchers from the University of Illinois and Princeton University, women are underrepresented in academic fields, such as the sciences, the humanities, social sciences, and math, because of stereotypes. Namely, the idea is that women’s intellectual abilities are inferior to those of men. Cue the eye rolling.

The study surveyed more than 1,800 graduate students, post-doctoral researchers and faculty members across 30 academic disciplines, asking them the qualities required for success in their fields. When it came to the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), as well as the humanities and social sciences, women were underrepresented because of the premium practitioners put on brilliance.

“We’re not saying brilliance — or valuing brilliance — is a bad thing. And we’re not saying women are not brilliant or that being brilliant isn’t helpful to one’s academic career. Our data don’t address that,” Andrei Cimpian, lead study author and psychology professor at Illinois, explained in a press release. “What they suggest is that conveying to your students a belief that brilliance is required for success may have a differential effect on males and females that are looking to pursue careers in your field.”

Cimpian’s explanation held up after he and his team tested for three additional hypotheses regarding female underrepresentation: one, women avoid working long hours; two, it’s harder for women to break into these highly selective fields; and three, men simply outnumber women “in fields that require analytical, systematical reasoning.” Neither of these was able to predict women’s representation in academia as well as brilliance.

But, just because Cimpian’s study didn’t address the idea “women aren’t brilliant” or “being brilliant isn’t helpful” doesn’t mean it’s not a thing. Because if it were true no one is saying or making these assumptions, there would be more women in academia. Cimpian himself said there’s no convincing evidence men and women differ intellectually in ways that would be relevant to their success working in science — it’s mainly the perceived or presumed differences between women and men.

The idea women are “inferior” to men started somewhere, so where should we be looking in order to come up with the solution? One study published in the journal Life Science Education suggested the classroom…http://www.medicaldaily.com/gender-inequality-academia-stems-assumption-women-arent-brilliant-men-317984

Citation:

Science 16 January 2015:
Vol. 347 no. 6219 pp. 262-265
DOI: 10.1126/science.1261375

  • Report

Expectations of brilliance underlie gender distributions across academic disciplines

  1. Sarah-Jane Leslie1,*,,
  2. Andrei Cimpian2,*,,
  3. Meredith Meyer3,
  4. Edward Freeland4

+ Author Affiliations

  1. 1Department of Philosophy, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.
  2. 2Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL 61820, USA.
  3. 3Department of Psychology, Otterbein University, Westerville, OH 43081, USA.
  4. 4Survey Research Center, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.
  1. *These authors contributed equally to the work.

The gender imbalance in STEM subjects dominates current debates about women’s underrepresentation in academia. However, women are well represented at the Ph.D. level in some sciences and poorly represented in some humanities (e.g., in 2011, 54% of U.S. Ph.D.’s in molecular biology were women versus only 31% in philosophy). We hypothesize that, across the academic spectrum, women are underrepresented in fields whose practitioners believe that raw, innate talent is the main requirement for success, because women are stereotyped as not possessing such talent. This hypothesis extends to African Americans’ underrepresentation as well, as this group is subject to similar stereotypes. Results from a nationwide survey of academics support our hypothesis (termed the field-specific ability beliefs hypothesis) over three competing hypotheses.

  • Received for publication 17 September 2014.
  • Accepted for publication 25 November 2014.

Related Web Sites

Read the Full Text

The editors suggest the following Related Resources on Science sites

In Science Magazine

  • Perspective Social Science Gender inequality in science
    • Andrew M. Penner

Science 16 January 2015: 234-235.

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/347/6219/262.short

Here is the press release from the University of Illinois:

Public Release: 15-Jan-2015 Study supports new explanation of gender gaps in academia

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — It isn’t that women don’t want to work long hours or can’t compete in highly selective fields, and it isn’t that they are less analytical than men, researchers report in a study of gender gaps in academia. It appears instead that women are underrepresented in academic fields whose practitioners put a lot of emphasis on the importance of being brilliant – a quality many people assume women lack.

The new findings are reported in the journal Science.

The research, led by University of Illinois psychology professor Andrei Cimpian and Princeton University philosophy professor Sarah-Jane Leslie , focused on a broad swath of academic disciplines, including those in the sciences, the humanities, social sciences and math.

The researchers focused on the culture of different fields, reasoning that stereotypes of women’s inferior intellectual abilities might help explain why women are underrepresented in fields – such as physics or philosophy – that idolize geniuses.

The team surveyed more than 1,800 graduate students, post-doctoral researchers and faculty members in 30 academic disciplines and, among other things, asked them what qualities were required for success in their fields. Across the board, in the sciences, technology, engineering and math (the so-called STEM fields), as well as in the humanities and social sciences, women were found to be underrepresented in those disciplines whose practitioners put a premium on brilliance.

“We’re not saying brilliance – or valuing brilliance – is a bad thing,” Cimpian said. “And we’re not saying women are not brilliant or that being brilliant isn’t helpful to one’s academic career. Our data don’t address that. What they suggest is that conveying to your students a belief that brilliance is required for success may have a differential effect on males and females that are looking to pursue careers in your field.”

The team also tested three other hypotheses that might help explain women’s underrepresentation in some fields: one, that women avoid careers that require them to work long hours; two, that women are less able than men to get into highly selective fields; and three, that women are outnumbered by men in fields that require analytical, systematical reasoning.

“We found that none of these three alternative hypotheses was able to predict women’s representation across the academic spectrum,” Leslie said. “A strong emphasis on brilliance among practitioners of particular fields was the best predictor of women’s underrepresentation in those fields.”

The researchers are still investigating whether women are actively avoiding fields that focus on cultivating brilliant individuals, or if practitioners in those fields are discriminating against women based on their beliefs about women’s aptitudes. A combination of the two is certainly plausible, Cimpian said.

“There is no convincing evidence in the literature that men and women differ intellectually in ways that would be relevant to their success across the entire range of fields we surveyed,” Cimpian said. “So it is most likely that female underrepresentation is not the result of actual differences in intellectual ability – but rather the result of perceived or presumed differences between women and men.”

###

Editor’s notes:

To reach Andrei Cimpian, call 217-333-0852; email acimpian@illinois.edu.

The paper, “Expectations of brilliance underlie gender distributions across academic disciplines” is available to members of the media from scipak@aaas.org.

How classes are taught and how girls and woman are encouraged makes a huge difference in the fields women choose for their education and work.

Phoebe Parke of CNN wrote in the article, Ask the experts: How do we get girls into STEM?

  1. “The toys and games that young girls play with mold their educational and career interests; they create dreams of future careers.” says Andrea Guendelman, co-founder of Developher

  2. “Introduce girls early to role models of other women In STEM” suggests Regina Agyare, founder of Soronko Solutions….

  3. “It’s important to engage girls in STEM at an early age and keep them interested.” adds Patty L. Fagin, PhD, Head of School at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart.

  4. “There’s no magic recipe for getting girls into STEM, but we know early and positive exposure makes an impact.” Karen Horting, CEO and Executive Director at the Society of Women Engineers told CNN….

  5. “Start them young.” is Michelle Sun, Founder and CEO of First Code Academy‘s advice….

  6. “I believe one on one mentoring programs with accomplished female STEM professionals will help bring girls in to the STEM field.” says Adeola Shasanya who recently co-founded Afro-Tech Girls and works at the Lagos State Electricity Board as an Electrical Engineering and Renewables Consultant….

  7. Haiyan Zhang, Innovation Director at Lift London, Microsoft Studios believes confidence is key; “Insatiable curiosity and the self confidence to make change in the world — two qualities that are key to instil in the female innovators of the future….

  8. “Women are the future of technology and today’s technology is fun and cool.” says Weili Dai, President and Co-founder of Marvell Technology Group

  9. “Time and again, I hear from women who chose their STEM career because they were inspired by a successful woman who proved it could be done.” adds Suw Charman-Anderson, Founder of Ada Lovelace Day….

  10. “To get more girls in STEM let’s go for collective action…” says Julie Kantor, Chief Partnership Officer at Million Women Mentors

http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/27/world/europe/how-to-get-girls/

It is going to take a variety of strategies which include mentoring, exposure to what is now considered nontraditional fields and encouragement of girls and women not only entering nontraditional fields, but staying the course.

Related:

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/

Girls and math phobia

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

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/

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

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