Menu

STEM Literacy

Science Achievement Gaps Begin Very Early, Persist, and Are Largely Explained by Modifiable Factors

Morgan, P.L., Farkas, G., Hillemeier, M.M., and Maczuga, S. Science Achievement Gaps Begin Very Early, Persist, and Are Largely Explained by Modifiable Factors. Educational Researcher (February 23, 2016), American Educational Research Association.

The study tracked 7,757 children from the start of kindergarten to the end of eighth grade, providing a rare glimpse into the state of science knowledge of America’s youngest students. When children start kindergarten, sizable gaps in science knowledge already exist between whites and minorities — as well as between youngsters from upper-income and low-income families. And those disparities often deepen into significant achievement gaps by the end of eighth grade if they aren’t addressed during elementary school. The findings suggest that, in order for the United States to maintain long-term scientific and economic competitiveness in the world, policymakers need to renew efforts to ensure access to high-quality, early learning experiences in childcare settings, pre-schools, and elementary schools. Waiting to address science achievement gaps in middle or high school may be too late.

Fact or Fiction? Children’s Preferences for Real Versus Make-Believe Stories

Barnes, J.L., Bernstein, E., and Bloom, P. Fact or Fiction? Children’s Preferences for Real Versus Make-Believe Stories, Imagination, Cognition and Personality March 2015, vol. 34 no. 3, 243-258.

Some children and adults are more drawn to the imaginary than others. In this study, researchers examined whether developmental differences also play a role in the degree to which individuals are drawn to make-believe stories over real ones (or vice versa). Experiment 1 explored the influence of the factuality of stories — whether or not stories reflect events that had actually happened — on children’s story preferences. Experiment 2 explored the effect of magical versus realistic content on participants’ story preferences. The results suggest that despite the surplus of imaginary activity associated with childhood, young children are not more prone to liking “un-real” stories than adults and may in fact like them less.

3.6 Minutes Per Day: The Scarcity of Informational Texts in First Grade

Duke, N.K. (2000). 3.6 minutes per day: The scarcity of informational texts in first grade. Reading Research Quarterly, 35, 202-224.

This study provides basic, descriptive information about informational text experiences offered to children in 20 first-grade classrooms selected from very low- and very high-SES school districts. Results show a scarcity of informational texts in these classroom print environments and activities – there were relatively few informational texts included in classroom libraries, little informational text on classroom walls and other surfaces, and a mean of only 3.6 minutes per day spent with informational texts during classroom written language activities. This scarcity was particularly acute for children in the low-SES school districts, where informational texts comprised a much smaller proportion of already-smaller classroom libraries, where informational texts were even less likely to be found on classroom walls and other surfaces, and where the mean time per day spent with informational texts was 1.9 minutes, with half the low-SES classrooms spending no time at all with informational texts during any of the four days each was observed. Strategies for increasing attention to informational texts in the early grades are presented.

K-W-L: A Teaching Model That Develops Active Reading of Expository Text

Ogle, D. (1986). K-W-L: A teaching model that develops active reading of expository text. The Reading Teacher, 39, 564-570.

This simple procedure helps teachers become more responsive to students' knowledge and interests when reading expository material, and it models for students the active thinking involved in reading for information.

Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners

Institute of Museum and Library Services (2012). Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners. Developed in partnership with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

This report calls upon policymakers, practitioners, and parents to make full use of libraries and museums, and the skills and talents of those who work in them, to close knowledge and opportunity gaps and give all children a strong start in learning. The type of learning that occurs in these institutions — self-directed, experiential, content-rich — promotes executive function skills that can shape a child’s success in school and life.

"A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." — Chinese Proverb