"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

I Am Good at Math but Poor in English

We hear this quite often from so many people, claiming that they are good in one area but quite lacking in another. In conversations regarding education that are not based on evidence, we often encounter myths and the statements, "I am good at Math but poor in English", or "I am good at English but poor in Math", are examples. Such claim is unlikely since according to data, most people either excel or struggle in both subjects.

Above copied from LiveScience

Alright, either 5 or 154 out of 1.5 million are much more than 1 in a million. Still, the likelihood that an individual does well in one area and poorly in another is very small. 154 out of 1500000 is only 0.01 percent. The fact that academic competencies are closely related is important to keep in mind. Students who are proficient in math are also the students who do well in reading and science. This is also supported by evidence from a study that examines the performance in reading, math and science tests of 75000 students from 17 European countries. The study scheduled to be published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, is able to categorize these students into seven different profiles.

Above graph drawn from data provided by
Academic Competencies: Their Interrelatedness and Gender Differences at Their High End. Bergold, Sebastian; Wendt, Heike; Kasper, Daniel; Steinmayr, Ricarda
Journal of Educational Psychology, Jul 18 , 2016.
The percentage of students belonging to each profile is shown in the above graph. The profiles are determined by taking into account the scores of students in the international standard exam, PISA, for math, reading and science, and grouping the students according to their scores. The grouping becomes self-evident if one looks at the average scores of the students in each profile.

Above graph drawn from data provided by
Academic Competencies: Their Interrelatedness and Gender Differences at Their High End. Bergold, Sebastian; Wendt, Heike; Kasper, Daniel; Steinmayr, Ricarda
Journal of Educational Psychology, Jul 18 , 2016.
It is crystal clear from this graph that students who do poorly in reading, likewise obtain low scores in math and science. The green bars (reading scores) rise with each profile, so do the blue (math) and red (science) bars.

Educational systems should not isolate subjects so rigidly since academic competencies are interrelated. A math professor at Ohio University Chillicothe, Dywayne Nicely, takes advantage of this fact in his practice. By providing interventions in reading comprehension, he is able to raise students' scores in algebra II by 15 percent and in pre-calculus by 5 percent.



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