Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Dutch Adeptt Pilot

Date: 30th of May
Number of participants: 7
Venue: Albeda College Rotterdam

The Dutch Pilot course was organized with participants from different schools; secondary and vocational schools. The teachers wanted to learn and to practice entrepreneurial behavior. During the course they went from finding their talents, passion and dreams to the more practical side using the 5 steps of Effectuation. They all had to show the whole course that they had a story to tell. Pitching is very important to create self-confidence,creativity, innovation and motivation.
The theme for the whole course was “ You can’t predict the future but you
can create your future”. Below you can find some pictures from the worksheets we used this

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Disrupt Inc.: How young people are challenging the conventions of entrepreneurship

Despite the flurry of media commentary surrounding young enterprise, very little is actually known about how young people become entrepreneurs. As part of their Inspiring Enterprise partnership, the RSA and RBS sought to plug this gap by listening to and analysing the stories told by young people about their entrepreneurial journeys: from the emergence of their business idea, to the inception of their business, to where they are today.

Disrupt Inc. (PDF 1.2MB), reveals that the way in which some young people now start and run businesses is radically different to widely held assumptions. While some young people will live up to the conscious, meticulous and lone stereotypes that are so synonymous with entrepreneurship, many others will not. Rather, they will stumble into a business ‘accidentally’, start up on a shoestring budget and with an imperfect product, and rely on a whole host of other people to get them to where they want to be.

The report concludes that young enterprise support may be geared too heavily towards supporting one ‘journey’ of entrepreneurship at the expense of less conventional, but increasingly popular, routes to start-up. The level of debate around the availability of finance, for example, overlooks the large numbers of young people who are keen to bootstrap their way through the initial stages of their business. Similarly, the effort spent in establishing formal mentorship schemes belie the preference that many young people have for more informal support from personal contacts.

The report recommends a number of steps that government, support organisations and the corporate industry could take to rebalance support and help more young people become successful entrepreneurs. These include: 

Launching a myth-busting marketing campaign to challenge assumptions and change the culture surrounding enterprise.
Encouraging greater numbers of young people to access enterprise support by promoting a more inclusive definition of ‘entrepreneurialism’ that encompasses a broader range of activities and behaviours.
Establishing micro-loans that enable young people to build prototypes and test the viability of their business idea with real customers in the market.
Reengineering enterprise support services to cater for the lean, bootstrapping style of entrepreneurship increasingly witnessed among young people.
Stoking the demand for the products and services of young entrepreneurs by altering procurement exercises and connecting them with new clients.
Supporting co-founding initiatives that enable young people to link up with supportive business partners.
Encouraging well-established businesses to incubate young entrepreneurs and open up access to their expertise and connections.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Small Business Management journal - Special Issue: Measuring the Impact of Entrepreneurship Education

The purpose of this special issue  of the Small Business Management Journal the  is to describe, analyze, and improve the understanding of effective practices in engaging students in the entrepreneurship classroom. In this issue you can find conceptual and empirical (both qualitative and quantitative) contributions that consider the learning and educational implications of entrepreneurship for business and non-business educators, for-profit and non-profit businesses, and community organizations. 

More specifically, this issue of SMB Journal aims to address challenges and emerging solutions in the entrepreneurial classroom and beyond. In this vein, submissions that address entrepreneurship education in academic or non-academic settings were encouraged. 

1. diverse theoretical and empirical perspectives to explore the diverse means of 
delivering engaging learning experiences to entrepreneurship students 
2. measures of success in entrepreneurship education 

3. proven strategies and best practices for engaging students in the entrepreneurship 
classroom and for bridging the gap between educational experience and implementation 
of entrepreneurial behavior 
4.  institutional factors that foster a productive entrepreneurship learning 
5. new ideas for designing, implementing, and evaluating entrepreneurship 

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

ADEPTT project in Portugal

About 40 trainees of the secondary school Seomara da Costa Primo (Amadora, Portugal - near Lisbon), where training was carried out, registered in ADEPTT training program. The School Director selected 16 of them, of whom 15 completed the training program.

It was easy to engage our audience, since the teachers of this school are accustomed to new challenges and are part of our partner’s network in the Aga Kahn Foundation’s K’Cidade development program. The 15 teacher trainees were from different academic disciplines: Arts (4), English (4), Economics (3), Physics and Chemistry (3) and Geography (1).

The training program involved the transmission of knowledge, readings, research and a substantial amount of interactivity between trainees and trainers, as well as numerous practical tasks.

The title of the training was “Entrepreneurial Pedagogy”.

Moodle platform ( was used for training (see next image), where all the information and considerations of the training was located, as well as the proposed bibliography and resources were used. The trainees’ tasks were also delivered through Moodle platforms.

The use of Moodle platform was a very enriching experience due to the sharing created between trainer and trainees.

The training proved to be very useful. The trainees made frequent positive comments during the training expressing their satisfaction with the themes approached and we could see their interest translated into the results that were obtained. They also referred to the training as a contribution to the improvement of the teaching-learning process and that the Portuguese curricula should be revised accordingly. They felt that Entrepreneurship should be mandatory at the most elementary levels.

The main positive aspects emphasized by the trainees:
• Content and information provided by the trainers;
• Resources available in Moodle;
• Trainers preparation and availability.

One of the main positive aspects highlighted by trainers was that the trainees’  attitude was always very positive (even though the time during which the training was given was a busy time period for the trainees).  Their collaborative work and discussions in various sessions contributed positively to the exchange of experiences and established contacts for future collaborations. 

Portugal urgently needs an entrepreneur boost that spreads through schools, adjusting curricula to an education that supports the creation of opportunities, taking calculated risks and the acceptance of failure. As such, there is a need to foster the entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and innovation in all forms of learning, regardless of education level. Teachers assume a crucial role in this mandatory mindset change. Therefore they should have access to basic and continuing training so that they can revisit and make strategic changes in their practices.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Spain: Use of virtual walls in ADEPTT teacher training

Padlet is a “virtual surface that has all the benefits of being digital and the simplicity of a notepad” according to its creators so we decided to give it a go in ADEPTT pilot course with a 2-fold purpose: Share relevant and media-rich resources and contents and stimulate the exchange of opinions and interactivity between participants and trainer. All boards were password protected allowing participant teachers to read, comment and upload new content. 

1. Resource boards. Including links to research papers, policy reports, snapshots of info, tools and videos on relevant topics. 

                Screenshot of Day 1 Resource board. Link:

2. Teachers’ opinion boards. Opinion was elicited from participants at the end of each training session. Teachers were asked to highlight 5 different aspects of the session: “Most interesting”, “Most shocking”, “Funniest” , “Most boring” and “Things they would change”. Comments were immediately uploaded and shared in the online boards. These real-time “in-flight” comments did not only provide high-quality feedback to the trainer but were also highly appreciated by participant teachers. Some of the suggestions were incorporated in the next sessions.  

Day 2 Teachers’ opinion board.

Some teachers’ opinions retrieved from the boards are found below: 

Most interesting moments:  Share experiences with colleagues working in different education levels, teamwork, research on creativity, 6-3-5 technique, the very use of Padlet, sequence Problem-Need-Insight-Ideas-Action
Most shocking: Training was completely different from what I expected. Provides a different vision of creativity in the classroom. Relaxed atmosphere.  Originality of some of the ideas we generated. Overload of useful information. Integration of partner comments to modify first ideas. 
Funniest: Practical exercises. Rapid prototyping a product from scratch. Provide feedback to other partners ideas. John Cleese views on neuroscience
Most boring: Rubric and self-evaluation. Waiting times between some activities. 
Things I’d change: Pace, sometime it felt like we were on a rush. More but shorter sessions. More real examples of practical application in the classroom. Some tasks require further clarification. 

3. Inspiration board.  A board was made available so that teachers could share inspirational stuff that could somehow influence project ideas.  To make things easier, all links were distributed in four different categories:  

Things I’m interested in (work-related or not) 
Things I’d like to change (at classroom, school or community level)
Things I’ve seen somewhere else (that I’d love make them happen here)  
Things I have in mind (but still haven´t found the time to put them into practice) 

Participant teachers do still have access to all boards. A summary board was created shortly after the training ended with links to boards for each session. 

Sessions summary board.

The use of online boards has been of great help to the trainer and much appreciated by teachers in the final evaluation. It’s a flexible and unexpensive tool that makes ridiculously easy sharing and updating information in a very interactive way with course participants.  Configuration is pretty straightforward and it is extremely user-friendly. A quick 5-min tutorial is more than enough to show participant teachers how it works.  In future editions we plan to make participant teachers create their own personal online board as a sort of project portfolio to showcase progress from problem to insight to idea to action in a very visual way. 

Wanna give it a go? Check it out at:


Such great heights: ADEPTT goes alpine in Spain.

This post summarises ADEPTT pilot experience in Asturias, a spanish region with a well-known reputation for Enterprise Education in all levels of the education system.   A regional action plan, “Off the shelf” solutions (mainly in the shape of mini-company programmes),  fantastic-looking teaching resources, a vision of the entrepreneurial “übermensch” with its  long wishlist of skills attached and specific teacher training to make this happen in schools are the main features of what’s become the well-trodden path of Enterprise Education in Asturias. Stepping out of it was our main motivation to participate in ADEPTT project and this is how we’ve done it.

Training proposal was built bearing in mind the four learning outcomes agreed by ADEPTT partnership in a previous meeting in Berlin in February 2013. Thus, upon the successful completion of this module we expected participants would be able to:

1.       Explore and understand creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship development in an educational context.
2.       Identify research and appraise an entrepreneurial opportunity for teaching a particular subject, and pitch the idea to peers and/or other stakeholders.
3.       Prototype (produce a novel and fully functional model) and test the idea engaging potential users and real stakeholders.
4.       Reflect upon and evaluate the application of the entrepreneurial opportunity.

A common assessment protocol was derived from this list of learning outcomes. A rubric was created to enable course participants rate their confidence on achieving these learning outcomes before and after the training took place. Previous work had led to the identification of the four basic building blocks of enterprising teaching: Creativity, Reflective Practice, Community Engagement and Learning Environment (CRCL) and course contents were designed accordingly in order to fit this model. All piloting partners agreed to stick to the Learning outcomes, CRCL model and assessment protocol as essential ingredients in all pilots. As long as these ingredients were present partners were given freedom to design and craft their own training proposals.  Back in Asturias, some decision-making was needed.

Preaching to the converted was the first thing we wanted to avoid. Thus a hazy title was deliberately chosen.  The pilot course was announced in the website of our partner in crime, CPR Nalón-Caudal, one of the branches of the Professional Development Service for teachers in Asturias  under the hazy title: “ADEPTT. A methodology for the design of innovative educational experiences.” The strategy bore fruit and a mixed group of 15 teachers and education professionals signed up (Primary (3), Secondary (6), VET (4), Career Counsellors (2).All of them taught non-economic subjects and  just one of them acknowledged previous experience in EE.

Learning outcomes 2 and 3, asking teachers to identify opportunities, pitch, prototype and test ideas with potential users and stakeholders was an absolute “must” in our list of priorities and fits neatly with the “turn ideas into action” imperative so dear to Enterprise Education experts and policymakers at European level. As it happens VALNALON has recently devoted some time to experiment with the use of Design Thinking to bring forward innovation in the classroom so the use of some of the strategies just came as natural coupled with elements of Project Based Learning that were also added to the mix.

While designing the activities we had a sort of Bovine Excrement Bingo in mind and we committed to do our best to avoid terms such as:  Entrepreneurial spirits and haunted houses, narrative fallacies in the shape of entrepreneurial success stories, wishlists and pseudoscientific tests of entrepreneurial skills, Zen quotes and creepy tales about the upcoming overtake of the world by the Chinese.  We were not brave enough to avoid the Post-It Imperative though (we did not want to offend the whole pantheon of entrepreneurial gods) but one thing we took great care in was providing some theoretical underpinning or evidence-based research AFTER any practical exercise (involving Post-Its or not)  included in the training.

The training took place in April and May 2013 and consisted of 12 contact hours distributed in 3 different sessions plus 8 hours of homework.  A lapse of time was deliberately introduced in between sessions (a week between session 1 and 2, 4 weeks between session 2 and 3) We did this in order to avoid “premature articulation” and jumping to conclusions too quickly.  To guide project participants through the process we tapped into the “School as Basecamp” concept first coined by Learning Futures and kind of extended it into a sort of climbing expedition metaphor divided in 4 stages:

April, 23rd (4 hours)

Basecamp:  Firstly  participants were asked to share stories about their perceptions and experience in teaching, work context, most memorable moments, things they are interested in. This is all about Reflective Practice, one of the elements of the CRCL model. At this stage participants realise their backpack is not empty at all. It’s got some interesting gear that will be of great use during the climb.  With this information basecamp was set up and it was time to start identifying opportunities or summits worth to be climbed. This was an individual task although some participants with shared interests worked in teams. At this particular stage he role of creativity in education (another element of the CRCL model), divergent and convergent thinking strategies and basic principles and stages of design thinking were presented to teachers.  Day 1 comes to an end and participants are asked to observe and engage with people in order to build empathy and spot an adequate opportunity that could be transformed into a project idea.   They were given a week to interview at least 5 different users and/or stakeholders.

May, 7th (4 hours)

Possible climbing routes.  Interviews and observation during the previous week led to the framing of the challenge they wanted to tackle, or metaphorically speaking, the peak they wanted to climb. Participants were asked to switch to divergent mode and produce at least a basic draft of 3 different ideas, 3 possible climbing routes to reach the summit. These 3 ideas were further enriched with comments from the rest of course participants using the 6-3-5 technique. This exercise worked as a fantastic introduction to a research paper on the benefits of parallel prototyping in the generation of creative and disruptive ideas and the need to avoid premature articulation.  Convergent thinking led to idea selection using a dot-sticking technique where teachers were asked to consider the impact of different criteria such as desirability, feasibility and viability in the “innovativeness” of the ideas selected.

Attempt to summit .  At this stage participants were expected to prototype selected ideas and pitch them to their peers.  Four key questions are introduced in order to help teachers scaffold their ideas: “What needs to be done next?”,  “What do we already have?”, “ How are your going to engage your users?” and “Who can help us?” Community engagement was introduced through a stakeholder mapping exercise and the question “How Might We Connect students Personal Interests with  Academic  Contents?” sparked a discussion about the changing landscape and blurring boundaries of Learning Environments.  In the session wrap-up teachers were reminded they had four weeks to venture into the wild and make an attempt to the summit no matter how high they reach.

June, 4th (2 hours)

Back to the basecamp. Four weeks later we sat around the fireplace and the bruises and the ragged clothes were shown, enthralling tales of avalanches and storms, sleepless nights out in the cold were told and in some cases proofs of summit were provided.  Projects devised by teachers covered a wide range of topics.  To give you a flavour Nieves, a primary school teacher came up with the project idea “Fuera de…/Out of…) which aims at developing primary school kids mathematical competence using real contexts. Carlos, a secondary school PE teacher combined coaching and technology to craft a emotional education project for year11-year12 called “Emotional Zombies” and Andoni, a VET teacher in the Basque Country managed to design and carry out KUDEA-TU, a P2P teaching project where a group of VET students organised a creativity workshop for Secondary Schools. But above all, this was an opportunity to discuss and evaluate the whole ADEPTT learning experience.

ADEPTT is not a shining path for enterprising teaching, not even a success in the making. It’s just a prototype from which we have derived some useful lessons on how to expand the battlefield of enterprise education in close collaboration with teacher participants in the training to whom we will be always grateful.  Training will be done again in Autumn 2013. In the meantime some changes in structure and content will be introduced so as to make sure teachers have enough time to put into practice their project ideas throughout the course.

Friday, 19 July 2013

The Flemish ADEPTT Pilot

Date: 4th of June, 2013
Number of participants: 20
Venue: Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel, Brussels

The Flemish Pilot course was developed in collaboration with Vlajo, an organization trying to get youngsters acquainted with entrepreneurship by building bridges between education and the trade industry. 
During the one-day course, all participants were actively involved. They actually had to leave their own comfort zone.The Flemish course alternated theoretical and practical input. Participants worked both individually and in groups during the day.  Through cooperative methods like smart-games and the presentation of a good practice, the participants learned about the different aspects of entrepreneurship (self regulation, creativity, innovation, motivation). They  were invited to link these elements with the content, organization, evaluation and their teaching style of their classes.

We received the following feedback from one of the participants: “It was an inspiring training to think about active teaching methods and activating the students in your classes”. This quote represents the focus of Flanders’ pilot.


After a short introduction of ADEPTT, the participants got acquainted with each other and they found out (in little groups) what entrepreneurship actually means. Besides a theoretical approach of entrepreneurship, the participants learned how they could integrate this in their lessons and/or classroom. A good practice was also presented.

After the lunch, the participants zoomed in on active and co-operative learning and how this could be linked to entrepreneurship. They experienced this through different assignments, which are relevant for their teaching. During the afternoon, the topics concerning evaluation and teaching styles in an entrepreneurial learning environment were extensively explored.

Some images of the Flanders’ training in Brussels

Participants brainstorming in order to solve some challenging problems

Participants also had to work together to solve some assignments (here: building a high and solid construction only with marchmellows and unboiled spaghetti)

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Pasi Sahlberg: 'Global Educational Reform Movement is here!'

Global Educational Reform Movement is here!

In FINNISH LESSONS: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland? I conclude that rather than introducing sequential educational revolutions, Finnish education policy has been built upon periodic change and systemic leadership led by commonly accepted values and shared social vision that resonate closely with contemporary ideas of sustainable educational change. Importantly, the main features for developing a equitable, high-performing education system are similar to those underlying the social and economic transformation of Finland into a welfare state and a competitive knowledge society. It is, therefore, difficult to identify particular reforms or innovations per se that served as driving forces in raising the level and quality of Finnish education.

It is necessary to identify broader policies – and especially how different public sector policies are interconnected with the education system. It is also essential to emphasize that although Finland has been called ‘a model pupil’ in listening to the policy advice from the international organizations, especially the OECD and the European Union, the Finnish education system has remained quite uninfected to viruses of what is often called the global education reform movement or GERM. And the reason for that is clear: professional strength and moral health of Finnish schools.

GERM has emerged since the 1980s and has increasingly become adopted as a educational reform orthodoxy within many education systems throughout the world, including in the U.S., England, Australia and some transition countries. Tellingly, GERM is often promoted through the interests of international development agencies and private enterprises through their interventions in national education reforms and policy formulation.

Since the 1980s, at least five globally common features of education policies and reform principles have been employed to try to improve the quality of education and fix the apparent problems in public education systems.

First is standardization of education. Outcomes-based education reform became popular in the 1980s, followed by standards-based education policies in the 1990s, initially within Anglo-Saxon countries. These reforms, quite correctly, shifted the focus of attention to educational outcomes, i.e. student learning and school performance. Consequently, a widely accepted – and generally unquestioned – belief among policy-makers and education reformers is that setting clear and sufficiently high performance standards for schools, teachers, and students will necessarily improve the quality of expected outcomes. Enforcement of external testing and evaluation systems to assess how well these standards have been attained emerged originally from standards-oriented education policies. Since the late 1980s centrally prescribed curricula, with detailed and often ambitious performance targets, frequent testing of students and teachers, and test-based accountability have characterized a homogenization of education policies worldwide, promising standardized solutions at increasingly lower cost for those desiring to improve school quality and effectiveness.

A second common feature of GERM is focus on core subjects in school, in other words, on literacy and numeracy, and in same case science. Basic student knowledge and skills in reading, writing and mathematics are elevated as prime targets and indices of education reforms. As a consequence of accepting international student assessment surveys, such as PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS, as criteria of good educational performance, reading, mathematical and scientific literacy have now become the main determinants of perceived success or failure of pupils, teachers, schools, and entire education systems. This is happening on the expense of social studies, arts, music and physical education that re diminishing in many school curricula.

The third characteristic that is easily identifiable in global education reforms is the search for low-risk ways to reach learning goals. This minimizes experimentation, reduces use of alternative pedagogical approaches, and limits risk-taking in schools and classrooms. Research on education systems that have adopted policies emphasizing achievement of predetermined standards and prioritized core subjects, suggests that teaching and learning are narrower and teachers focus on ‘guaranteed content’ to best prepare their students for tests. The higher the test-result stakes, the lower the degree of freedom in experimentation and risk-taking in classroom learning.

The fourth globally observable trend in educational reform is use of corporate management models as a main driver of improvement. This process where educational policies and ideas are lent and borrowed from business world is often motivated by national hegemony and economic profit, rather than by moral goals of human development. Faith in educational change through innovations brought and sold from outside the system undermines two important elements of successful educational change: First, it often limits the role of national policy development and enhancement of an education system’s own capabilities to maintain renewal, and perhaps more important. Second, it paralyzes teachers’ and schools’ attempts to learn from the past and also to learn from each other.

The fifth global trend is adoption of test-based accountability policies for schools. In doing so school performance – especially raising student achievement – is closely tied to processes of accrediting, promoting, inspecting, and, ultimately, rewarding or punishing schools and teachers. Success or failure of schools and teachers is often determined by standardized tests and external teacher evaluations that devote attention to limited aspects of schooling, such as student achievement in mathematical and reading literacy, exit examination results, or intended teacher classroom behavior.

None of these elements of GERM have been adopted in Finland in the ways that they have within education policies of many other nations, for instance, in the United States and England. This, of course, does not imply that education standards, focus on basic knowledge and skills, or accountability should be avoided in seeking better educational performance. Nor does it suggest that these ideas were completely absent in education development in Finland. But, perhaps, it does imply that a good education system can be created using alternative approaches and policies orthogonal to those commonly found and promoted in global education policy markets. This is why I wrote Finnish Lessons.

By contrast, typical features of teaching and learning in Finland are:

    high confidence in teachers and principals as high professionals;
    encouraging teachers and students to try new ideas and approaches, in other words, to put curiosity, imagination and creativity at the heart of learning; and
    purpose of teaching and learning is to pursue happiness of learning and cultivating development of whole child.

The best way avoid infections of GERM is to prepare teachers and leaders well. In Finland all teachers must have masters degree in education or in the field of their subject. This ensures that they are good in what they do in classrooms and also understand how teaching and learning in their schools can be improved. School principals are also experts of educational change and can therefore protect their schools and school system from harmful germs.

Lessons from Finland help you to kill 99.9% of GERMs.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Study Finds Spatial Skill Is Early Sign of Creativity

A gift for spatial reasoning — the kind that may inspire an imaginative child to dismantle a clock or the family refrigerator — may be a greater predictor of future creativity or innovation than math or verbal skills, particularly in math, science and related fields, according to a study published Monday in the journal Psychological Science. 

The study looked at the professional success of people who, as 13-year-olds, had taken both the SAT, because they had been flagged as particularly gifted, as well as the Differential Aptitude Test. That exam measures spatial relations skills, the ability to visualize and manipulate two-and three-dimensional objects. While math and verbal scores proved to be an accurate predictor of the students’ later accomplishments, adding spatial ability scores significantly increased the accuracy. 

The researchers, from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, said their findings make a strong case for rewriting standardized tests like the SAT and ACT to focus more on spatial ability, to help identify children who excel in this area and foster their talents. 

“Evidence has been mounting over several decades that spatial ability gives us something that we don’t capture with traditional measures used in educational selection,” said David Lubinski, the lead author of the study and a psychologist at Vanderbilt. “We could be losing some modern-day Edisons and Fords.” 

Following up on a study from the 1970s, Dr. Lubinski and his colleagues tracked the professional progress of 563 students who had scored in the top 0.5 percent on the SAT 30 years ago, when they were 13. At the time, the students had also taken the Differential Aptitude Test. 

Years later, the children who had scored exceptionally high on the SAT also tended to be high achievers — not surprisingly — measured in terms of the scholarly papers they had published and patents that they held. But there was an even higher correlation with success among those who had also scored highest on the spatial relations test, which the researchers judged to be a critical diagnostic for achievement in technology, engineering, math and science. 

Cognitive psychologists have long suspected that spatial ability — sometimes referred to as the “orphan ability” for its tendency to go undetected — is key to success in technical fields. Earlier studies have shown that students with a high spatial aptitude are not only overrepresented in those fields, but may receive little guidance in high school and underachieve as a result. (Note to parents: Legos and chemistry sets are considered good gifts for the spatial relations set.) 

The correlation has “been suspected, but not as well researched” as the predictive power of math skills, said David Geary, a psychologist at the University of Missouri, who was not involved in the study, which was funded by the John Templeton Foundation. The new research is significant, he said, for showing that “high levels of performance in STEM fields” — science, technology, engineering and math — “are not simply related to math abilities.” 

Testing spatial aptitude is not particularly difficult, Dr. Geary added, but is simply not part of standardized testing because it is considered a cognitive function — the realm of I.Q. and intelligence tests — and is not typically a skill taught in school. 

“It’s not like math or English, it’s not part of an academic curriculum,” he said. “It’s more of a basic competence. For that reason it just wasn’t on people’s minds when developing these tests.” 

It is also a competence more associated with men than women. In the current study, boys greatly outnumbered girls, 393 to 170, reflecting the original scores of the students in the ’70s. But the study found no difference in the levels of adult achievement, said Dr. Lubinski, though the women were more likely than the men to work in medicine and the social sciences. 


Monday, 15 July 2013

Staff wellbeing is the key to raising student satisfaction

Investing in staff pays dividends in satisfying students and engaging them in learning, argue 

Smiley face
Staff satisfaction is the key to raising student satisfaction and helping to engage students in their learning. 

With more and more information available to prospective applicants, the growing importance of league tables, and competition between universities for a decreasing pool of applicants becoming ever more cut-throat, it seems like there is an ever increasing pressure on universities and their academics to keep students happy.
There is nothing wrong with this. Providers should be offering a quality experience responsive to student expectations, respectful of their feedback, their understanding, and of their own needs as learners. Universities should also work more closely with students, and the commitment across the sector to the student engagement agenda is heartening.
But with this focus on students, staff in our universities can feel demoralised and disempowered. A 2012 survey on occupational stress carried out by the University and College Union found that staff in British universities are more stressed now than in 2008, and experience considerably higher average levels of stress relating to the demands made on them at work than the British working population as a whole.
Has the balance of power shifted from staff to students? Do academics increasingly feel under scrutiny from managers and under pressure to perform in the National Student Survey? Students rate in detail their satisfaction with their lecturers – the quality of teaching, their ability to explain the subject and make it interesting, their assessment and feedback on students' work, and their availability to students.
Today's students often have as much to balance as the academics who teach them: paid work, career prospects, social and family lives as well as their academic study. But students' understanding of what constitutes good teaching may sometimes not be in their own best interests, and their expectations for support from staff may often not be realistic.
Contact hours in particular can be a minefield of mismatched expectations. They may not always have a picture of what they need from higher education which can or should be met, and the lecturer face to face with student discontent can be in a difficult position. The difference between a complaint and feedback to lecturers can easily get confused, and staff on the receiving end can find this stressful.
What we need to recognise in all of this is that there is a fundamental link between staff wellbeing and student satisfaction: engaged, committed staff will be those whose enthusiasm for their subject and their job shines through and rubs off on students. A balance needs to be struck. Student satisfaction and staff satisfaction are likely to improve together if providers recognise that balance and don't seek to widen what can be a toxic dichotomy between staff and student needs.
A reduction in absenteeism and staff turnover are in themselves in the student interest. Besides, a lecturer able to concentrate happily on teaching without fearing complaint and reprisal is more likely to engage students and convey that love of learning which is the long-term legacy of successful higher education.
Investment in staff wellbeing will pay dividends not just in satisfying students but in genuinely engaging them in their learning, in creating a partnership and dialogue between staff and students.
What we should be aspiring to is not only reacting to student feedback, but proactively engaging them with shared decision making, shared attention to quality, and shared learning. A contentious assertion, perhaps, but one which the sector would be wise to heed: staff satisfaction is the key to raising student satisfaction.
Joy Carter is vice-chancellor of the University of Winchester and Gill Evans is professor Emeritus of medieval theology and intellectual history at the University of Cambridge

The Guardian

Friday, 5 July 2013

The future of Stuff

 The Future of Stuff is a prototype for challenge-based hybrid learning. This Breaker Challenge runs from June 19 to July - 2th July 2013.
What do we mean The Future of Stuff?

It’s Maker Movement meets Manufacturing 2.0.

In a fictional world it’s the moment when the shipping lines from China are closed down and you still need a cup to drink water from at your next BBQ. Seriously. What would you do? And then zoom out… What IS the future of the making and distribution of stuff?

Whether we’re looking for a new pair of jeans or ten thousand microprocessors, the way we go about making and getting objects is changing fast. Current and developing technologies present exciting opportunities to democratize production and personalize the manufacturing process making it hyper-local with tools like 3D printing and facilities like TechShop. We’re entering an age of mass customization and pushing in new directions with products that bridge the digital/physical divide. How might we build an economic base of producers not just consumers? What products, services, communities, platforms, and learning engagements will facilitate entry, advancement, innovation, and continued growth of the manufacturing base in the US?

Follow the action at #makerbreaker.