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Research Center

Motivation is often cited as an important factor in students' becoming proficient readers. How does student motivation affect the development of reading skills? And what can teachers do to tap into students' motivation to read? The research on reading motivation is not robust enough to fully answer these questions, but recent studies offer intriguing insights.

How can teachers help students learn, remember, and apply academic skills and concepts? To answer this question, a panel of experts convened by the U.S. Department of Education recently examined research in cognitive science, experimental psychology, education, and educational technology. The focus was on instructional procedures and timing for increasing learning and memory.

The word dyslexia is rooted in the Greek language and means "difficulty with words." Although dyslexia is known as a problem related to reading, it can also interfere with a student's ability to write, spell and pronounce words correctly. It does not signal a lack of intelligence, talent or effort (famous dyslexics include Thomas Edison, Nelson Rockefeller and Henry Winkler). However, it is defined as a specific learning disability by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

In Great Britain, the times for Educational Supplement reported this year that four out of five primary schools plan to replace traditional subject teaching with interdisciplinary, themebased lessons, as recommended by the Royal Society of Arts' "Opening Minds" project. The objective of the project will sound familiar to U.S. educators-to prepare students for success in a global economy that demands sophisticated skills in handling information, people and situations.

Asking questions is one of the most commonly used instructional strategies in K12 classrooms. Researchers have identified effective questioning as a tool for building students' basic and higher-level skills. Here is what is known and what's new about using questions.

In summarizing research on effective schooling, researcher Kathleen Cotton (1999) identified several ways teachers can ask questions to promote learning:

1. Use questions to engage students and monitor their understanding.

2. Structure questions to focus students' attention on key ideas.

Which of the following statements about gifted education are true? (1) The term gifted means various things to various people. (2) K12 teachers generally express negative attitudes toward gifted students. (3) Among the high school dropouts in your district, some are likely to be gifted. (4) Students with learning disabilities can also be gifted. (5) White and Asian students are overrepresented in gifted programs.

The Secret, a recent movie, promotes the law of attraction, the notion that we attract what we think about. Can district leaders attract great teachers by simply thinking about what their schools would be like if all positions were filled with highly qualified individuals? It might be a good exercise for vision setting, but research suggests that schools need to match recruitment and retention efforts to the characteristics and motivations of teachers and teaching candidates.