Saturday, June 11, 2016

Kids who climb Mt. Everest do better at math in school. Really?

If you tell me that, "Students who are involved in Program X (insert anything you want from underwater basketweaving to band to robotics) tend to achieve at higher levels than students who are not," your claim means little.

You are missing the key ingredients for having the right to make this or any related claim, such as:

  • What level were those students achieving at before they started Program X?
  • What was their growth in learning (choose whatever content area or 21C skill you want) during their involvement in Program X?
  • If they left Program X, was their learning growth sustained or not?
  • Was the learning growth consistent across ethnographic differences in the group of students (if indeed there were any)?
  • Was there a control group of non-Program X students with similar characteristics and how did they perform (before, during and after the study)?
The number of claims made for this or that and their impact on learning gets a little tiring because most are based on shoddy studies, subjective observation or just plain wishful thinking.

Educators should do better than this.