America the Average: Study Finds U.S. has Below Average Intelligence

A fancy new study claims that the United States isn’t a super power when it comes to smarts. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has found that Americans are either average or below average in literacy, mathematics and problem solving. In terms of people with high-level literacy, the U.S. has some respectable numbers, but a large swath of our population are below average, read: “…even highly literate nations have significant liabilities in their talent pool.”

i am dum

In numerical terms, 10 percent of Americans are at or below the lowest standard of the three Rs (reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic). The good news: we’re smarter than Ireland, France, Spain and Italy. The noodle-brained Italians are apparently the dumbest people on earth—in the developed world at least.

To quote the report: “In Italy and Spain, for example, only 1 in 20 adults is proficient at the highest level of literacy (Level 4 or 5). Nearly 3 out of 10 adults in these countries performs at or below the lowest level of proficiency (Level 1) in both numeracy and literacy.”

Another arresting statistic championed in the study was the fact that some countries’ citizens with college degrees tested worse than citizens of other nations without them. Shout out to the Japanese and Dutch! Per the report: “…Japanese and Dutch 25-34 year-olds who have only completed high school easily outperform Italian or Spaniard university graduates of the same age.” Too much pasta, too much wine. Read the rest of this entry »

Want to Live a Long Life? Stay in School

Stay in school. Get an education. Knowledge is power. All of these phrases are instilled in children from preschool on. It’s great advice and can definitely lead to some smart choices in life. But now it’s been found that getting more education can not only improve your life, but make it last a little longer.

A study published in the August issue of Health Affairs shows that the life expectancy of those who are poor and less educated has increased only slightly over the past several decades. The research also shows that in some cases, the life expectancy for those who don’t finish high school is getting shorter. Within this study, the researchers examined the trends in life expectancy from 1990 through 2008 paying special attention to how someone’s age, sex, race and education affected their longevity.

Lead author of the study Jay Olshansky stated in a news release, “There are essentially two Americas. The most highly educated white men live about 14 years longer than the least-educated black men. The least-educated black women live about 10 years less than the most-educated white women.” Read the rest of this entry »

Millennials Care Most About Money, Self-Image, Study Says

Young people don’t seem to care about anyone but themselves, a new study reports.

Millennials, also known as the generation born after 1982, tend to favor money, fame and self-image over innate values like self-acceptance, affiliation, and community, according to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

“The results generally support the ‘Generation Me’ view of generational differences rather than the ‘Generation We,'” the study writes.

The study is called “Generational Differences in Young Adults’ Life Goals, Concern for Others, and Civic Orientation.” It compares the traits of baby boomers and Gen Xers when they were younger to the traits of those young people currently in high school or entering college.

In 1971, college students ranked being rich as No. 8 among their life goals; however, since 1989, they have placed it as their first objective. Read the rest of this entry »

Exercise to Avoid the Common Cold

Don’t want to get sick during exams? Try hitting your school’s gym. A new research study suggests that you can ward off the common cold by exercising regularly. Researchers at Appalachian State University in North Carolina collated data from 1,002 people and tracked the number of upper respiratory infections they contracted during the winter of 2008. The participants rated their physical fitness and reported how often they exercised.

People who exercised five or more times per week were found to be 46 percent less likely than people who were more sedentary to get a cold. Additionally, those who exercised more were found to suffer from less severe symptoms for fewer days.

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Twitter Increases Class Participation

twitter-diet-logoAn experiment conducted at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania showed that students who were asked to use Twitter as a means of discussing assignments were more engaged in their classwork than those using more conventional means. Two groups of students in pre-health professional programs were asked to share their experiences during a day spent job shadowing and to comment on reading assignments. The first group served as a control group, while the second group was asked to use Twitter to complete the assignments.

The study used a 19-question survey based on the National Survey of Student Engagement, to measure student participation once at the beginning of the semester and once at the end. All the students were first-years enrolled in seminar-style courses. Not only did the students engaged in Twitter discussions show more engagement, it also improved their grades. The Twitter group on average earned a GPA of .5 higher for the semester than the control group.

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Half of Med Students Experience Burnout

med-studentA new study finds that more than half of med students experience burnout, which in turn leads them to engage in unprofessional behaviors when working with patients. The study was conducted by the Mayo Clinic and published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study found that stressed-out med students were unlikely to engage in academic dishonesty, but were prone to take short-cuts in patient care. “Although students recognize cheating and dishonest clinical behaviors as unprofessional, feel guilty about engaging in these behaviors and believe that the behaviors make them a less trustworthy physician, a relatively high prevalence of unprofessional conduct related to patient care was reported by students in this study,” wrote the authors.

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Is Good Teaching Quantifiable? Bill Gates Thinks So

Bill-Gates-in-ClassroomEvery aspect of a student’s academic production is assigned a number. Tests get a percentage, papers and essays get letter grades. These letter grades are in turn averaged and become GPAs. Standardized tests place students in percentiles. These numbers become the foremost measure of a student’s abilities.

But how do we quantify a teacher’s abilities? Is the performance of their students enough?

It’s been shown that quality of teaching makes one of the biggest impacts on student performance. That’s why the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is launching a three-year study to determine the components of effective teaching. “Do they work longer hours? Do they break the classroom down more?” Asks Microsoft founder Bill Gates. The study is called Measures of Effective Teaching, and will evaluate 3,000 teachers from across the nation. The project will cost half a billion dollars.

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New Research Ditches Common Wisdom About Studying

study-habitsAre you a left-brain thinker or a right-brain thinker? Are you an auditory learner or a visual learner? New research says that we should forget these categories entirely. An article published in The New York Times reveals that researchers have discovered much of the advice about learning and studying that’s been handed down to us is unsupported at best even flat-out wrong.

Take the idea that you should stay in the same place when you study, and that it should be a clean, quiet space. Psychologists found that students who studied the same material in different places, one of which was not quiet, did better than students studying the same subject in the same room. “What we think is happening here is that, when the outside context is varied, the information is enriched, and this slows down forgetting,” said Dr. Bjork, author of the experiment and psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. Whenever you study something, your surroundings also get registered along with the information that you’re explicitly trying to remember. It seems that the more surroundings that get attached to that information, the more likely you will be to remember it because it will have “more neural scaffolding.”

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Potential Employers Think Less of Drinking Candidates

wine-interviewWhen it comes to interviews, there’s a generally held belief that emulating your future boss is a good idea. For example, stay standing until they sit. If your interview is in a cafe or restaurant setting, order something comparable to what your interviewer orders. But there’s one big exception to this rule: alcohol. Even if your potential employer orders an alcoholic beverage first.

New research conducted by Scott Rick from University of Michigan and Maurice E. Schweitzer University of Pennsylvania shows that people perceive you as less intelligent when you drink, even if they are drinking also. Their finding are published in a paper titled “The Imbibing Idiot Bias: Merely Holding an Alcoholic Beverage Can be Hazardous to Your (Perceived) Intelligence.” They simulated interviews and then asked observers to comment on them. Even with the dialogue unchanged, observers found anyone holding an alcoholic beverage less intelligent. If the conversation was a job interview, they found drinkers to seem less hirable. They found that the bias applied to drinkers of both beer and wine, and was unchanged by the gender of the drinker.

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Studies Disagree: Are Bigger Classes Bad for Students?

class-sizeIt’s conventional wisdom that smaller classes are better for students, who will receive more individualized attention. Smaller classes, particularly of younger students, are also easier for teachers to manage. But as budget cuts get passed in response to lower tax-revenue, schools are asking how much worse bigger classes will be.

Various studies that have been conducted on the issue disagree. A landmark study conducted in Tennessee, called The Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio project, or STAR project, found that kindergarten and first-graders did significantly better academically in classes of 13 to 17 students, compared with classes of 22 to 25 students. However, these findings apply to a student population consisting of low-income families.

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