Dr Kathie Nunley
___connecting current psychological and neurological research to education

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Articles to Read Now
(for Teachers, Parents & Policy Makers)

Asperger's and PDD Gone! Now What? The new Autism Spectrum Disorder

If the Thought of Flipping Your Classroom Makes You Dizzy, Tip It Sideways Instead

America's Absolutely Wonderful Education System

Multiple Intelligences - 25 Years In

Adolescent depression and self-esteem.

Why Punishment-Based Systems Don't Work

Money as a Reward

Brain Biology: it's basic gardening

Drug Effects on the Brain

Stress and Memory

The Caffeine Craze of Youth

Your Brain on Drugs

How the adolescent brain challenges the adult brain

You're Feeling Very Sleepy

Keeping Pace with Today's Quick Brains

The Advantages of Bilingualism


Video Lessons, Tips & Hot Topics in Research
Attention Deficit Disorder

The importance of PE and Recess

Asperger's vs High Functioning Autism

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Research Making News RIGHT NOW

March 20, 2015: Helping students with metacognitive skills improves motivation, learning and future learning - So says new research out this month. The study involved a 6 hour training session with middle school students, teaching them the process skills of planning, monitoring and evaluation. When compared later to a control group, the students taught metacognitive strategies performed better on tests and had higher levels of motivation. Zepeda, C. et al. (2015). "Direct Instruction of Metacognition Benefits Adolescent Science Learning, Transfer, and Motivation: An In Vivo Study.", Journal of Educational Psychology, Mar 16 preview, nps.

February 16, 2015: Teachers, use your big words! New research out compars reading comprehension progress with middle-schoolers. They compared beginning of year scores to end of year, from a variety of classrooms. They then recorded and analyzed teacher's speech in those same classrooms. Students whose teachers used the more sophisticated vocabulary in class, significantly improved their reading comprehension as the year progressed. Gamez, P. & Lesaux, N. (2015) "Early-Adolescents' Reading Comprehension and the Stability of the Middle School Classroom-Language Environment." Developmental Psychology, Feb 16 preview, nps

February 4, 2015: Children who experience close teacher-child relationships during their early elementary years have stronger receptive language development. Spilt, J. et al (2014, Dec). " Language Development in the Early School Years: The Importance of Close Relationships With Teachers." Developmental Psychology, preview, nps

January 9, 2015: Perceived control (your belief that your actions can actually make a difference) changed throughout young adulthood. For most, it increased between the age of 18 and 25, then decreases slowly through your thirties into your early 40's. However, having at least one parent with a college degree changes your perceived control and it continues throughout most of your mid-adult life, peaking around age 43. Whether or not you earned a degree seems to have no or little effect on perceived control, but simply having higher perceived control by age 18 does make it more likely that you will go on to a university program. Vargas, L. et al (2015, Jan) "Growth in perceived control across 25 years from the late teens to midlife: The role of personal and parents' education. Developmental Psychology, Vol 51(1), 124-135.

December 30, 2014:Children with dyslexia can write at the same speed as children without dyslexia. However, on writing tasks, they write less overall and pause more frequently while writing. In particular they pause within words due to poor spelling ability. The majority of writing deficits in children with dyslexia result from non-automated spelling and within word pausing. Sumner, E.; Connelly, V.; Barnett, A. (2014, Sept). "The influence of spelling ability on handwriting production: Children with and without dyslexia." Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, Vol 40(5), 1441-1447.

December 2, 2014: Does having a grandparent in the house during your preschool years make a difference in school readiness? That may depend on your culture and ethnicity. A longitudinal study looked at children raised in 3-generation households (grandparent, parent, child) versus parent only households. Researchers found that 3-generation households were associated with lower levels of expressive language for White, Asian, and Black children but more expressive language for Hispanic children. Pilkauskas, N. (2014, Dec) "Living with a grandparent and parent in early childhood: Associations with school readiness and differences by demographic characteristics." Developmental Psychology, Vol 50(12), 2587-2599.

November 22, 2014: What makes a good, supportive parent? Apparently it all starts way back to the early years of that person's life. New longitudinal research out now shows that people who have a sensitive, caregiving mother during the first 3 years of their life, do better with friendships and peer relationships in school, partner relationships in young adulthood, and parenting their own children. Raby, K. et al. (2014). "The Interpersonal Antecedents of Supportive Parenting: A Prospective, Longitudinal Study From Infancy to Adulthood." Developmental Psychology, Nov 24 preview, no page specified.

November 10, 2014: Gender gaps continue for math and science literacy in the US. The latest data analysis from the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows that in terms of math / science achievement, boys are still favored over girls right through 12th grade. And when we compare high achievers in math and science, the statistics are quite a wide margin. High achieving males outnumber females two to one. Reilly, D.; Neumann, D.; Andrews, G. (2014). " Sex Differences in Mathematics and Science Achievement: A Meta-Analysis of National Assessment of Educational Progress Assessments. Journal of Educational Psychology, Nov 10 preview, nps.

October 20, 2014: We generally think of someone with high levels of Emotional Intelligence (EI) in a positive way. EI is associated with empathy, understanding and positive responses. But some new research shows that female adolescents and young adults who score high for EI also can have greater sensation seeking needs and thus delinquency. In fact, high EI scores directly correlated to higher self-reports of truancy from school, taking drugs and violence. Bacon, A et al (2014). Sex Differences in the Relationship Between Sensation Seeking, Trait Emotional Intelligence and Deliquent Behavior". Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 25 (6), 673-683.

September 25, 2014: Presenting math practice problems in a variety of formats can help students' computational fluency. A new study compared teaching basic addition problems using 2 different workbooks. The traditional workbook had problems presented in the traditional (2 +3 = __ ) format using a random assortment of problems. The modified workbook had some traditional presentations, some with the operation on the right side (as in ___ = 2+3) and grouped similar solution problems together. Children using the modified format had a better understanding of the math and the postivie results continued even 6 months after the learning. McNeil, N. et al (2014) Arithmetic Practice Can Be Modified to Promote Understanding of Mathematical Equivalence. Journal of Educational Psychology. Aug issue preview, nps.

September 24, 2014: The large increase in daily caloric intake seen in the US over the past half-century is due mostly to an increase in saturated fates and refined carbohydrates. New research shows a diet high in these two items (so called High Energy Diets) has a negative effect on hippocampal function which includes a decrease in synaptic platicity, and neurogenesis. High Energy Diets also negate any postivie effect of emotional arousal on learning. Ross, A.; Darling, J; & Parent, M. (2013). "High Energy Diets Prevent the Enhancing Effects of Emotional Arousal on Memory." Behavioral Neuroscience, Vol 127(5), 771-779.

September 11, 2014: Thousands of new neurons are made every day in your brain, mostly in the hippocampus. But the vast majority of them die within a few weeks time. Stress, opiates and alcohol all can reduce the rate of production. Exercise, sexual activity and drugs such as prozac increase the rate of cell production. If learning occurs while the cells are newly formed, many will not die, but carry on to perform function. However the learning must be something that requires effort, yet do-able. So effortful, but possible learning increases motivation and keep new neurons alive. Shors, T. (2014) "Mental and Physical Training Keeps New Neurons Alive" presented August 7, 2014 at the American Psychological Association Annual Conference, Washington, DC.

August 11, 2014: Learning a foreign language or taking music lessons anytime during your childhood or teenage years helps protect you from Cognitive Impairment later in life. New research out this week shows that in a longitudinal study of nearly 1000 older persons, those who had music instruction and /or learned a foreign language before the age of 18, not only scored higher on initial tests of cognitive function, but were much less likely to suffer Mild Cognitive Impairment in old age. While a 2nd language and music lessons won't slow down your decline as you age, it does appear to give you a cognitive boost and protects against impairment. Wilson, R. et al (2014). " Early Life Instruction in Foreign Language and Music and Incidence of Mild Cognitive Impairment. Neuropsychology (Aug 11 preview).


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