Learning and testing

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Category archives for Learning and testing

This is a guest post by Laura Younger, one of Greta’s top student writers from Spring 2007 Everyone has heard of the concept of reinforcement. You reinforce your child with dessert after finishing his or her vegetables; you praise your dog with ear scratches for not barking at the mailman; or you give yourself a…

The setting was an integrated suburban middle school: nearly evenly divided between black and white students. As is the case in many schools, white students outperformed black students both in grades and test scores. But how much of this difference is attributable to real differences in ability? After all, black kids grow up “knowing” that…

Take a look at these two images. Do they belong in the same category or different categories? You say the same? Wrong — they’re different! The one on the right is a little blurrier. What about these two? These are in the same category. Sure, the one on the right is still blurrier, but now…

More on “tone-deafness”

There was some doubt as to whether the “tone-deafness” test I linked to Monday really tests for amusia. The defining trait of amusia is the inability to discern the difference between different musical pitches. So here’s a test that might generate a more clear-cut result. The following track plays five sequences of five notes. In…

Different ways of finding your way

Learning to navigate through an unfamiliar environment can be a difficult challenge. Could you find your way through the crowded, narrow streets of the city depicted at left — especially if the signs were in a foreign language (bonus points if you can identify the city in the comments section!)? If you do have to…

When Jim and Nora talk about the social groups in their school, they matter-of-factly categorize almost every fellow student into stereotyped pigeonholes. There are the nerds, the rockers, the cools, the goths, and of course, the jocks. The assumption, naturally, is that none of these groups intersect. Jocks are dumb, nerds are smart, and cools…

Americans, as any ScienceBlogger will tell you, have a woefully poor understanding of math and science. For the most part, even the most ignorant among us are able to stumble through life, but what happens when we’re confronted with a genuine scientific question with a real impact on our lives? Consider the typical doctor’s office…

Family lore has it that my uncle was influential in instituting what is now a fixture in college education: student evaluation of college instructors. He was class president at the University of Washington in the 1960s, when tensions between students and the school administrators were high, and he suggested implementing one of the first student…

Yesterday’s post brings up an interesting question: How can you be unaware of having even seen an image, and yet be able to make reliable judgments about that image? That article is just one example of a variety of situations in which people can be unaware of seeing something, even immediately after being given a…

How does the visual system learn?

Can you tell the difference between the images below? At first, they just look like fuzzy diagonal lines — there doesn’t appear to be a significant difference between them. But if you look at them closely, you begin to notice that the images at the top of the picture (category A) tend to have single…