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Seizing On Life’s Turning Points

In a talk at Yale University yesterday, Stanford psychology professor Geoffrey Cohen quoted a passage from Tobias Wolff’s novel Old School, in which the narrator explains his decision not to reveal to his prep-school classmates that he is Jewish: “There was no obvious reason for being cagey. In my short time at the school I’d seen no bullying or manifest
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Empathy Makes a Difference

How much does the environment in which a student learns matter? Consider this story: “Jason Okonofua spent his early years attending public school in Memphis, Tennessee. In 10th grade, his good grades landed him a spot at a prep school in Rhode Island. When he arrived, Okonofua was struck by how differently the teachers responded to their students—if a student felt
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Leverage the “Fresh Start Effect” To Generate Motivation

Here are a couple of things you already know about resolutions: One: We customarily make them around New Year’s. Two: These resolutions often fail. And here’s something about resolutions that you probably didn’t know: You can use them in conjunction what psychologists call “the fresh start effect” to effectively generate motivation throughout the year. Fascinating research conducted by Wharton professor
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The Common Experience of “Math Trauma”

A note to Brilliant readers: I’m continuing my confessional streak here (last week I wrote about my experiences of belonging in college). In the piece below, I’ve chosen to share a memory from my own life because I think it is likely to be similar to memories you have as well. In writing about “math trauma,” I don’t in any
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A Sense of Belonging Is Essential to Learning

Note to Brilliant readers: The following essay, which appears today on the website of Time magazine, addresses the recent controversy at my alma mater, Yale University, regarding racial sensitivity and free speech. It’s more personal than what I usually write; I’d be very interested to hear your feedback.—Annie The chandeliers were blazing with light. The long tables were set with
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Apps That Actually Help Kids Learn

Last week, I moderated a panel discussion at Sesame Street Workshop (yes, there were Muppets everywhere!)—an event that was part of the launch of a wonderful new book called Tap, Click, Read. Written by Michael Levine of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center (Cooney is the person who created Sesame Street) and Lisa Guernsey of the think tank New America, Tap,
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Affirmative Testing Blog: Nate Kornell’s Surprising Insights On Learning

Nate Kornell of Williams College is one of my favorite researchers in cognitive psychology; he’s done incredibly interesting work on study techniques that enhance memory, many of which I highlight in my “Turn Testing Into Learning” e-course. His comments are featured in a piece by Laura Entis on the website of Entrepreneur magazine, which lays out “three fundamental principles to
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Affirmative Testing Blog: A Prof Who Tests Differently Encounters Pushback

Alexander Coward, a full-time lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley, caused a stir this week when he revealed on this blog that the Berkeley mathematics department would not renew his contract to teach multiple sections of introductory calculus courses. As Josh Logue of InsideHigherEd writes: “Students immediately flocked to his support on social media. Some used the hashtag
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Affirmative Testing Blog: The Power of Full Feedback

Really interesting article here by Fabienne van der Kleij, a research fellow in assessment, evaluation and student learning at Australian Catholic University. In Lesson Eight of “Turn Testing Into Learning,” I present research showing that elaborated feedback on tests is a great way to promote student learning. In her essay, van der Kleij offers more evidence on this point: “Research
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Turn Testing Into Learning: Sample Lesson on Exam Wrappers

This week I’ve launched an e-course that’s intended to show parents, teachers, and school leaders how to implement affirmative testing: tests as occasions for student learning and growth. The course includes more than 20 practical, research-based techniques that you can start using today (many include templates for exercises that you can print out and give directly to students).  I thought
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