Tag Archives: University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota study: Study: High-stakes tests a likely factor in STEM performance gap

30 Dec

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

Science Daily reported in Study: High-stakes tests a likely factor in STEM performance gap:

Male students tend to do better on high-stakes tests in biology courses, but it’s not because they are better students. Gaps in performance change based on the stakes of the test. A new study published in PLOS ONE confirms this, finding that performance gaps between male and female students increased or decreased based on whether instructors emphasized or de-emphasized the value of exams.
Sehoya Cotner, associate professor in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota, and Cissy Ballen, a postdoctoral associate in Cotner’s lab, base their findings on a year-long study of students in nine introductory biology courses. They found that female students did not underperform in courses where exams count for less than half of the total course grade. In a separate study, instructors changed the curriculum in three different courses to place higher or lesser value on high-stakes exams (e.g., midterms and finals) and observed gender-biased patterns in performance.
“When the value of exams is changed, performance gaps increase or decrease accordingly,” says Cotner.
These findings build on recent research by Cotner and Ballen that showed that on average, women’s exam performance is adversely affected by test anxiety. By moving to a “mixed model” of student assessment — including lower-stakes exams, as well as quizzes and other assignments — instructors can decrease well established performance gaps between male and female students in science courses….
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171228170646.htm

Citation:

Study: High-stakes tests a likely factor in STEM performance gap
Findings suggest that changing how instructors assess students could help close the achievement gap in introductory STEM courses
Date: December 28, 2017
Source: University of Minnesota
Summary:
ale students tend to do better on high-stakes tests in biology courses, but it’s not because they are better students. Gaps in performance change based on the stakes of the test. A new study confirms this, finding that performance gaps between male and female students increased or decreased based on whether instructors emphasized or de-emphasized the value of exams.

Journal Reference:
1. Sehoya Cotner, Cissy J. Ballen. Can mixed assessment methods make biology classes more equitable? PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (12): e0189610 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0189610

Here is the press release from the University of Minnesota:

Study: High-stakes tests a likely factor in STEM performance gap
December 27, 2017
Contacts
Male students tend to do better on high-stakes tests in biology courses, but it’s not because they are better students. Gaps in performance change based on the stakes of the test. A new study published in PLOS ONE confirms this, finding that performance gaps between male and female students increased or decreased based on whether instructors emphasized or de-emphasized the value of exams.
Sehoya Cotner, associate professor in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota, and Cissy Ballen, a postdoctoral associate in Cotner’s lab, base their findings on a year-long study of students in nine introductory biology courses. They found that female students did not underperform in courses where exams count for less than half of the total course grade. In a separate study, instructors changed the curriculum in three different courses to place higher or lesser value on high-stakes exams (e.g., midterms and finals) and observed gender-biased patterns in performance.
“When the value of exams is changed, performance gaps increase or decrease accordingly,” says Cotner.
These findings build on recent research by Cotner and Ballen that showed that on average, women’s exam performance is adversely affected by test anxiety. By moving to a “mixed model” of student assessment — including lower-stakes exams, as well as quizzes and other assignments — instructors can decrease well established performance gaps between male and female students in science courses.
“This is not simply due to a ‘watering down’ of poor performance through the use of easy points,” says Cotner. “Rather, on the exams themselves, women perform on par with men when the stakes are not so high.”
The researchers point to these varied assessments as a potential reason why the active-learning approach, which shifts the focus away from lectures and lecture halls to more collaborative spaces and group-based work, appears to decrease the performance gap between students.
“As people transition to active learning, they tend to incorporate a diversity of low-stakes, formative assessments into their courses,” Cotner says. “We think that it is this use of mixed assessment that advantages students who are otherwise underserved in the large introductory science courses.”
Cotner and Ballen also see their findings as a potential to reframe gaps in student performance.
“Many barriers students face can be mitigated by instructional choices,” says Cotner. “We conclude by challenging the student deficit model, and suggest a course deficit model as explanatory of these performance gaps, whereby the microclimate of the classroom can either raise or lower barriers to success for underrepresented groups in STEM.”

The University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences seeks to improve human welfare and global conditions by advancing knowledge of the mechanisms of life and preparing students to create the biology of tomorrow. Learn more at cbs.umn.edu.

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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University of Minnesota study: Transit and training crucial to connecting unemployed with jobs

30 Jul

Among the barriers to employment cited by CAREERwise  Education is transportation:

Common Barriers to Employment

  • Age

  • Criminal record

  • Disabilities

  • Disadvantaged background

  • Domestic violence

  • Drug and/or alcohol abuse

  • Education

  • Employer biases

  • Has a child with special needs

  • Housing issues or homelessness

  • Job search skills

  • Lacks basic and employability skills

  • Limited English proficiency

  • Long-term welfare recipient

  • Mental illness

  • Needs training

  • Needs child care assistance

  • No high school diploma

  • No transportation

  • Gaps in employment                                                http://www.careerwise.mnscu.edu/jobs/barriers-employment.html

Dean Baker wrote in How to Fight Poverty Through Full Employment:

One of the most effective ways to combat poverty among current and future generations is to maintain a full employment economy. The point should be straightforward: when the labor market is strong, or “tight,” it offers increased employment opportunities for those at the bottom. Disadvantaged workers are not only more likely to find employment in a tight labor market, they are also in a better position to secure higher wages as employers are forced to compete for labor. This can allow millions of workers the opportunity to raise themselves and their families out of poverty…. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/35279-how-to-fight-poverty-through-full-employment

See, Transportation, Jobs, and Economic Growth   http://www.accessmagazine.org/articles/spring-2011/transportation-jobs-economic-growth/

Science Daily reported in Transit and training crucial to connecting unemployed with jobs:

According to a new University of Minnesota study, the mismatch between unemployed workers and job vacancies is a serious problem in the Twin Cities region and it appears to have worsened since the turn of the millennium. The biggest concentrations of unemployed workers lack fast or frequent transit service to some of the richest concentrations of job vacancies, particularly vacancies in the south and southwest metro.

The new study analyzes such employment mismatches in the Twin Cities seven-county metropolitan area and examines the potential of a new approach that integrates transit planning and workforce development.

“Transit plays a crucial role in connecting the unemployed with job opportunities, but it could be even more effective if efforts to get the unemployed to those job vacancies were better coordinated with efforts to give them the skills they need for those job vacancies,” said principal investigator Yingling Fan, who conducted the study with research fellow Andrew Guthrie. “Our research lays out an approach to reconcile those mismatches by coordinating transit planning, job training and job placement services.”

Disadvantaged job seekers often may be qualified for many entry-level jobs but have no way of reaching employment centers, which frequently are in the suburbs. What’s more, these job seekers may be able to reach many nearby jobs easily but lack needed qualifications….              https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160729111302.htm

Citation:

Transit and training crucial to connecting unemployed with jobs

Date:         July 29, 2016

Source:     University of Minnesota

Summary:

The mismatch between unemployed workers and job vacancies is a serious problem in the Twin Cities region and it appears to have worsened since the turn of the millennium, new research indicates. The biggest concentrations of unemployed workers lack fast or frequent transit service to some of the richest concentrations of job vacancies, particularly vacancies in the south and southwest metro.

Here is the press release from the University of Minnesota:

Transit and training crucial to connecting unemployed with jobs

June 27, 2016

Contacts

Transit and training crucial to connecting Twin Cities unemployed with job opportunities. Disadvantaged job seekers often may be qualified for many entry-level jobs but have no way of reaching employment centers, which frequently are in the suburbs. What’s more, these job seekers may be able to reach many nearby jobs easily but lack needed qualifications.

According to a new University of Minnesota study, the mismatch between unemployed workers and job vacancies is a serious problem in the Twin Cities region and it appears to have worsened since the turn of the millennium. The biggest concentrations of unemployed workers lack fast or frequent transit service to some of the richest concentrations of job vacancies, particularly vacancies in the south and southwest metro.

The new study analyzes such employment mismatches in the Twin Cities seven-county metropolitan area and examines the potential of a new approach that integrates transit planning and workforce development.

“Transit plays a crucial role in connecting the unemployed with job opportunities, but it could be even more effective if efforts to get the unemployed to those job vacancies were better coordinated with efforts to give them the skills they need for those job vacancies,” said principal investigator Yingling Fan, who conducted the study with research fellow Andrew Guthrie. “Our research lays out an approach to reconcile those mismatches by coordinating transit planning, job training and job placement services.”

Disadvantaged job seekers often may be qualified for many entry-level jobs but have no way of reaching employment centers, which frequently are in the suburbs. What’s more, these job seekers may be able to reach many nearby jobs easily but lack needed qualifications.

Efforts to address these mismatches often focus on transportation—such as improved or specialized public transit services—and skill-building and occupational training programs. Policymakers have generally separated the two.

“The Twin Cities region is in the midst of major expansion of the transit system and it will have consequences in terms of travel patterns and development patterns for decades,” Fan said. “That allows coordinated job training and transit planning efforts to make a big, long-lasting impact.”

The research team’s policy recommendations center on finding “sweet spots” for coordinated transit planning and workforce development and creating a future transit system to serve the needs of disadvantaged workers.

A key element of the study involves GIS maps developed by the researchers showing the concentrations of the unemployed, overlaid with patterns of job vacancies, for the entire region, between 2001 and 2013. They compared transit-accessible job vacancies for specific occupations to determine mismatch patterns.

For example, a band of cities with the highest job vacancies in manufacturing—jobs that have comparatively lower educational requirements—surround Minneapolis to the west and north. The highest concentrations of unemployment, however, are in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The team then developed multiple transit planning, job creation, and workforce development policy scenarios, generating similar maps for each.

The study was sponsored by Hennepin County, the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota, and the McKnight Foundation.

“McKnight Foundation focuses on our low-income people and places that have been left out of the picture previously. Dr. Fan’s research pulls these areas together so policy-makers can see how policy can connect, reinforce, support, and provide benefit to the people that we care about,” said Eric Muschler, program director with the McKnight Foundation.

Fan, an associate professor with the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, collaborates with the Center for Transportation Studies as a faculty scholar. CTS is nationally renown for developing, fostering, and spreading innovation in transportation.

More about this research, including a two-page research brief and the full research report, is available at cts.umn.edu/research/featured/transitandworkforce.

To visit the research website, click here   http://www.cts.umn.edu/research/featured/transitandworkforce

The Atlantic article Stranded: How America’s Failing Public Transportation Increases Inequality:

That means America’s inadequate public transit leaves many Americans hoping to better themselves stuck—both metaphorically and quite literally.

There is no silver bullet. Kanter says that creating rapid bus service could help increase efficiency and could be completed fairly quickly and require fewer funds than, say, laying rails. And as my colleague Alana Semuels wrote in a recent piece, more public-private partnership may be a solution that helps cash-strapped public systems increase their reach. According to Kanter, the problem has to be addressed, and quickly, especially in the face of growing economic disparity. “We need to think about how important forms of transportation are to the economy and quality of life. And we have to reinvest.”                                                                                            http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/05/stranded-how-americas-failing-public-transportation-increases-inequality/393419/

Without affordable housing and practical and affordable transportation choices, many will remain stuck in poverty.

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