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robertogreco : conscientiousness   6

'Grit' adds little to prediction of academic achievement
"Personality characteristics - especially conscientiousness - have previously been shown to have a significant but moderate influence on academic achievement. However, a new study from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King's College London, suggests that 'grit', defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals, adds little to the prediction of school achievement.

The study authors point out that previous research, indicating small associations between grit and academic achievement, has relied on highly selected samples such as spelling competition finalists and teachers, which may have led to stronger associations between grit and achievement in later life.

This new study, which used a sample of 4,500 16-year-old twins, found that aspects of personality predict around six per cent of the differences between GCSE results and, after controlling for these characteristics, grit alone only predicted 0.5 per cent of the differences between GCSE results.

According to the researchers these findings, published today in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, warrant concern given the present emphasis placed by education policymakers on teaching grit to pupils, both in the UK and in the US.

This research is the first to investigate the genetic and environmental origins of grit, as well as its influence on academic achievement, within a large representative UK sample of 16-year-olds.

In the study, the 'Grit-S' questionnaire was used to measure perseverance of effort and consistency of interest at the age of 16. Twins rated the extent to which they agreed with statements such as 'Setbacks don't discourage me' (perseverance) and 'I have a difficulty maintaining my focus on projects that take more than a few months to complete' (consistency of interest). The 'Big Five' Personality questionnaire was used to assess personality traits, comprising those highlighted by psychologists as the most important: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness and neuroticism.

In addition to measuring the association between grit and academic achievement, the researchers also analysed the extent to which grit is 'heritable' (i.e. the extent to which genes contribute to differences between people in their levels of grit). Some scientists have previously suggested that grit may be more malleable than other predictors of academic achievement, such as socioeconomic status and intelligence, which has led to proposals for grit training programmes in schools.

This new study found that grit was about as heritable as other personality traits, with DNA differences explaining around a third of the differences between children in levels of grit.

The study's first author, Kaili Rimfeld from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King's College London, said: 'Until now there has been very little evidence about the origins of differences between children in grit and its influence on academic achievement, despite the fact that it plays an important role in UK and US education policies.

'Our study suggests that grit adds little to the prediction of academic achievement when other personality factors are taken into account.

'This does not mean that teaching children to be grittier cannot be done or that it is not beneficial. Clearly children will face challenges where qualities of perseverance are likely to be advantageous. However, more research into intervention and training programmes is warranted before concluding that such training increases educational achievement and life outcomes.'"
2016  grit  education  psychology  conscientiousness  teaching  learning  perseverance 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Orion Magazine | The Rules of the River
"At midnight on the Toklat River in the Alaska Range, the thermometer recorded ninety-three degrees. The sun, dragging anchor in the northwest sky, fired rounds of heat against the cabin. I was lying naked on the bunk, slapping mosquitos. Next to the wall, my husband lay completely covered by a white sheet, as still and dismayed as a corpse. He would rather be hot than bitten, and I would rather be bitten than hot.

I had come to the Toklat River to think about global warming, and it wasn’t going well. The week’s heat was breaking all-time records, drawing a new spike on the graph of jaggedly rising temperatures in Alaska. The average day is now four degrees warmer than just a few decades ago, and seven degrees warmer in winter. The Arctic is heating twice as fast as the rest of the world.

Furious and despairing, I had no chance of falling asleep that night. So I pulled on clothes and walked to the bank of the river.

The Toklat is a shallow river that braids across a good half mile of gravel beds, dried stream courses, and deep-dug channels. Sloshing with meltwater, it clatters along among islands and willow thickets. Banging rocks on cobblestones, surging into confused swells, the gray currents that night looked unpredictable and chaotic. But there were patterns.

A hydrologist once explained the rules of rivers to me as we walked a river-path. The dynamics of a river are manifestations of energy, he said. A fast, high-energy river will carry particles—the faster the river, the bigger the particle. But when it loses energy and slows, the river drops what it carries. So anything that slows a river can make a new landscape. It could be a stick lodged against a stone or the ribcage of a calf moose drowned at high water. Where the water piles against the obstacle, it drops its load, and an island begins to form. The island—in fact, any deposition—reshapes the current. As water curls around the obstacle, the current’s own force turns it upstream. Around one small change, the energy reorganizes itself entirely.

And here’s the point: no one pattern continues indefinitely; it always gives way to another. When there are so many obstacles and islands that a channel can no longer carry all its water and sediment, it crosses a stability threshold and the current carves a different direction. The change is usually sudden, often dramatic, the hydrologist said, a process called avulsion.

On the Toklat that night, the physics of the river played out right in front of me. A chunk of dirt and roots toppled from the bank, tumbled past me, and jammed against a mid-river stone. The current, dividing itself around the rootball, wrinkled sideways and turned upstream. It curled into pocket-eddies behind the roots. Even as I watched, the pockets filled with gravel and sand. A willow could grow there, and its roots could divide and slow the river further, gathering more gravel, creating a place where new life could take root.

I shoved a rock into the river. The sudden curl of current made me grin. Yes, we are caught up in a river rushing toward a hot, stormy, and dangerous planet. The river is powered by huge amounts of money invested in mistakes that are dug into the very structure of the land, a tangled braid of fearful politicians, preoccupied consumers, reckless corporations, and bewildered children—everyone, in some odd way, feeling helpless. Of course, we despair. How will we ever dam this flood?

But we don’t have to stop the river. Our work and the work of every person who loves this world—this one—is to make one small deflection in complacency, a small obstruction to profits, a blockage to business-as-usual, then another, and another, to change the energy of the flood. As it swirls around these snags and subversions, the current will slow, lose power, eddy in new directions, and create new systems and structures that change its course forever. On these small islands, new ideas will grow, creating thickets of living things and life-ways we haven’t yet imagined.

This is the work of disruption. This is the work of radical imagination. This is the work of witness. This is the steadfast, conscientious refusal to let a hell-bent economy force us to row its boat. This is much better than stewing in the night."
kathleendeanmoore  2014  via:anne  disruption  imagination  radicalism  witness  witnessing  conscientiousness  economics  work  complacency  globalwarming  alaska  arctic  toklatriver  rivers  patterns  continuity  change  avulsion 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Should Schools Teach Personality? -
"The focus on character, however, has encountered criticism. The education writer and speaker Alfie Kohn, for instance, argues that grit isn’t always helpful. In a Washington Post essay adapted from his new book, “The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom About Children and Parenting,” he writes that dogged persistence isn’t the best approach to every situation: “Even if you don’t crash and burn by staying the course, you may not fare nearly as well as if you had stopped, reassessed and tried something else.”

And, he said in an interview, an emphasis on children’s personalities could take attention away from problems with their schools. “Social psychologists for decades have identified a tendency to overestimate how important personality characteristics, motivation, individual values and the like tend to be relative to the importance of the structural characteristics of a situation,” he said. “We tend to think people just need to try harder, or have a better attitude,” but “this tends to miss the boat. What really matters is various aspects of the system itself.”

Truly improving education in America will require “asking about the environment in which kids are placed, what kids are being asked to learn, how they’re being taught, what voice they have, if any, in the experience,” he said. “Every time we focus on personality variables, we are distracted again from addressing the systemic questions that matter.”

And in an essay at The New Republic, Jeffrey Aaron Snyder, an educational studies professor at Carleton College, contends that as currently espoused by KIPP, “character-based education is untethered from any conception of morality.” And, he says in an interview, he questions the value of looking at character traits outside a larger moral framework: “What’s the importance of teaching grit if you’re not teaching it in the context of civic education, the public good, social responsibility?” Teaching it without such context “becomes kind of a looking-out-for-number-one-type approach to education.”

As an example of a better way, he points to a school he came across in his research whose students started a community garden during World War I (gardening is also part of the curriculum at some schools today). Planting, growing and distributing food taught many of the same traits that character-education programs hope to instill, he said, “but it’s all richly integrated into a task that has genuine purpose and that makes the students think beyond themselves.”"
education  schools  personality  grit  angeladuckworth  annanorth  arthurporopat  kipp  character  teaching  learning  curriculum  psychology  motivationjeffreyaaronsnyder  morality  civics  socialresponsibility  publicgood  obedience  individualism  conscientiousness  diligence  duty  creativity  curiosity  schooling  schooliness  howweteach  alfiekohn  tomaschamorro-premuzic  2015 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The Conscientiousness of Kidspeak - The New Yorker
"Often enough, something we propose as a serious idea turns out to be more or less a joke. It’s much rarer that something proposed as a joke—or, at least, proposed as a semi-serious conceit, offered in the spirit of what’s often called, grimly, “tongue in cheek”—turns out to be, or to have the germ of, a serious idea. So I was startled and delighted the other morning to find out that a small joke I made a few years ago turns out to be true (or true-ish, anyway) and can be shown to be so by a recent scientific (or scientific-ish) paper. It started when, in 2011, I was writing about attempts to computerize the translation of natural language. I touched on the omnipresence of “like” and similar verbal tics in Kidspeak—the language of twelve- to fourteen-year-olds, particularly girls—a dialect about which I have what social scientists refer to as “a strong informant” right here at home. The ubiquitous qualifiers in this dialect—the constant “um”s, the continual “you know”s, and, above all, the unending stream of “like”s—are, it’s usually said, a barrier in the way of lucidity, brevity, and making a point.

But, as I wrote then, we’re all naturally quite good at compressed, or telegraphic, speech, where what is omitted is implicitly understood by the listener. For the sake of economy, we have to leave a lot of information out of everything we say, and one of our special human abilities is to make that economy itself eloquent and informative. Kidspeak is a classic instance of compression in balance with concision. What sounds limited and repetitive to the outsider is, to the knowing listener, as nuanced as a Henry James passage.

If, for instance, a fourteen-year-old girl says, “So we, like, um, went to the pizza place, but the, uh, you know—the guy?—said, like, no, so we were, like, O.K., so we, uh, decided that we’d go to, like, a coffee shop, but, uh, Colette can’t—she has, like, a gluten thing. You know what I mean? So that’s, like, why we came home, and, um, you know, would you, like, make us eggs?” To a sensitized listener, who recognizes the meaning of the circumlocutions, the nuanced space between language and event, the sentence really means: “So we tried, as it were, to go and enjoy a pizza, but the, so to speak, maître d’ of the establishment claimed—a statement that we were in no social position to dispute—that there was, so to speak, ‘no room for us at the inn.’ And then Colette insisted—and far be it for me either to contest or endorse her self-diagnosis—that she could not eat wheat-based food, so, knowing full well that it is likely to be irksome and ill-timed, could you feed us with scrambled eggs?” The point of the “likes”s and other tics is to supply the information that there is a lot more information not being offered, and that the whole thing is held at a certain circumspect remove. It didn’t happen exactly this way, and, of course, one might quibble with a detail here or there, but this is the gist of what happened. Each “like” is a Jamesian “as it were.”

It turns out that three sociolinguists at the University of Texas at Austin have been studying these things systematically. The paper they produced, published in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology, has the beautiful title “Um … Who Like Says You Know: Filler Word Use as a Function of Age, Gender and Personality.” The study they conducted “aimed to investigate how the frequency of filled pauses and discourse markers used in the English language varies with two basic demographic variables (gender and age) and personality traits.” The researchers explain that, to do this, they “focused on three common discourse markers … (I mean, you know, and like) and two filled pauses (uh and um).”

They recorded and transcribed interviews with the speakers, noted how often the speakers used so-called “discourse markers,” and concluded that these markers are, indeed, used most frequently by women and girls. More important, the study also shows that the use of the discourse markers is particularly common among speakers who score on a personality test as “conscientious”—“people who are more thoughtful and aware of themselves and their surroundings.” Discourse markers, far from being opaque, automatic, or zombie-like, show that the speaker has “a desire to share or rephrase opinions to recipients.” In other words, those “like”s are being used to register that what’s being narrated may not be utterly faithful to each detail—that it may not be, as a fourteen-year-old might say, “literally” true—but that it is essentially true, and, what’s more, that an innate sense of conscientiousness and empathy with the listener forbids the speaker from pretending to a more closely tuned accuracy than she in fact possesses. As one commenter on the paper writes,
The researchers believe the explanation is that “conscientious people are generally more thoughtful and aware of themselves and their surroundings,” and their use of discourse markers shows they have a “desire to share or rephrase opinions to recipients.” Stated slightly differently, discourse fillers are a sign of more considered speech, and so it makes sense that conscientious people use them more often.

So it seems that the conscientiousness of “like” is what makes it appear so often. All of the circumlocutions of Kidspeak underline not sloppy indifference but undue scrupulousness. We should admire, not belittle, kids who use it. Far from being banished from polite or public dialogue, their discourse markers should mark our own—they should be imported as a sign of a meticulous grasp of the truth that there is no settled truth, that all narration is subjective, that every account must always be qualified. A headline in the Times, to be so, might read: “SCALIA, LIKE, SAYS THAT OBAMA, IS, YOU KNOW? LIKE, NOT COOL, BUT, O.K., DO IT. WHATEVER.” If the people at the Times wanted to run a truly conscientious newspaper, anyway, they would.""
language  conscientiousness  adamgopnik  2014  kidspeak  awareness  discourse  empathy  thoughtfulness  fillerwords  communication  like  research  linguistics  brevity  lucidity  compression  concision  henryjames 
july 2014 by robertogreco
10 Years On, High-school Social Skills Predict Better Earnings Than Test Scores
"Ten years after graduation, high-school students who had been rated as conscientious and cooperative by their teachers were earning more than classmates who had similar test scores but fewer social skills, said a new University of Illinois study. The study's findings challenge the idea that racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic gaps in educational attainment and earnings can be narrowed solely by emphasizing cognitive skills, said Christy Lleras, a University of Illinois assistant professor of human and community development."
education  schools  psychology  research  curriculum  socialskills  cooperation  conscientiousness  success 
march 2009 by robertogreco

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