SALAS SILVA, Raúl. ¿LA EDUCACION NECESITA REALMENTE DE LA NEUROCIENCIA?. Estud. pedagóg.,  Valdivia,  n. 29,   2003 .

Daniel Willingham’s Science and Education Blog

Yep, School Makes You SmarterPosted: 24 Oct 2012 02:42 AM PDT

Does going to school actually make you smarter (at least, as measured by standard cognitive ability tests)? Answering this question is harder than it would first appear because schooling is confounded with many other variables.Yes, kids cognitive abilities improve the longer they have been in school, but it’s certainly plausible that better cognitive abilities make it more probable that you’ll stay in school longer. And schooling is also confounded with age–kids who have been in school longer are also older and therefore have had more life experiences, and perhaps those have prompted the increases in intelligence.

One strategy is to test everyone on their birthday. That way, everyone should have had the same opportunity for life experiences, but the student with a birthday in May has had four months more schooling than the child with the January birthday.

That solves some problems, but it entails other assumptions. For example, older children within a grade might experience fewer social problems, for example.


A new paper (Carlsson, Dahl, & Rooth, 2012) takes a different approach to addressing this difficult problem.The authors capitalized on the fact that every male in Sweden must take a battery of cognitive tests for military service. The testing occurs near his 18th birthday, but the precise date is assigned more or less randomly (constrained by logistical factors for the military testers). So the authors could statistically control for the time-of-year effect of the birthday and in addition investigate the effects of just a few days more (or less) of schooling. The researchers were able to access a database of all the males tested between 1980 and 1994.

Students took four tests. Two tests (one of word meanings and one of reading technical prose) tap crystallized intelligence (i.e. what you know). Two others (spatial reasoning, and logic) tap fluid intelligence (i.e., reasoning that is not dependent on particular knowledge).The authors found that older students scored better on all four tests–no surprise there. What about students who were the same age, but who, because of the vagaries of the testing, happened to have had a few days more or fewer of schooling?

More schooling was associated with better performance, but only on the crystallized intelligence tests: an extra 10 days in school improved by about 1% of a standard deviation. Extra non-school days had no effect.

There was no measurable effect of school days on the fluid intelligence tests. This result might mean that these cognitive skills are unaffected by schooling, but it might also mean that the “dose” of schooling was too small to have an impact, or that the measure was insensitive to the effect that schooling has on fluid intelligence.

Carlsson, M. Dahl, G. B. & Rooth, D-O. (2012). The Effect of Schooling on Cognitive Skills. NBER Working Paper No. 18484 October 2012

leer artículo completo leer comentario del Dr. Daniel Willingham sobre memorización, repetición y práctica.


Encouraging Mindful Use of Prior Knowledge: Attempting to Construct Explanatory Answers Facilitates Learning

La cita del libro que podéis consultar en el enlace del título en inglés muestra algunos hallazgos interesantes y que deberíamos aplicar a nuestras metodologías para mejorar los rendimientos de nuestro alumnado en las evaluaciones:

“…learning is increased when students attempt to construct explanatory answers to questions about to-be-learned content (i.e., answers requiring inferential transformation of questioned material). The lines of evidence are as follows: (a) When students generate explanatory answers to questions as part of learning in a group, better learning occurs for students doing the explaining. (b) Manipulations that increase student generation of explanations to questions during group interaction increase learning. (e) Attempting: to predict the content of upcoming text by responding to prequestions (including explanatory justifications for predicted answers) increases learning of prequestioned content. (d) Attempting to explain the significance of to-be-learned facts increases learning of those facts. Requiring learners to construct explanatory answers about new content probably improves learning because students do not spontaneously attempt to explain to themselves the significance of to-be-learned content. We hypothesize that attempting an explanation induces the learner to relate the new material to prior knowledge. Potential directions for future research are emphasized”.

Otros consejos para mejorar en situaciones de estrés como son los tests: 

“One technique for stress relief is meditative breathing. Sit comfortably and then concentrate on breathing slowly and deeply, making sure the abdomen is moving, and not only the chest. Count slowly to 3 or 4 as you inhale, and then the same for the exhale. Try to focus all thoughts on breathing–the feel and the sound of it. When other thoughts enter your mind, try to let them float out again like a balloon. This technique helps to relax, and relieves stress and anxiety from the body and mind.

Another useful technique is mindfulness.

With the practice of mindfulness, Addison parents and children will be able to elicit a relaxed and open response even in the most stressful situations. Mindfulness involves becoming completely aware of every aspect of any experience. Practice in non-stressful situations first–you can even do it while eating dinner. Notice every detail of your food–the feel, the color, the sound, the taste.

Such healthy mindfulness practice can translate this way in a stressful situation: say your child is at his Addison school and is experiencing anxiety during a test. Practicing mindfulness, your child will notice the anxious feelings (cold and sweaty palms, shallow breathing, etc.), the feel of the paper in his hands, the students around him, etc. As your child notices and acknowledges these things, rather than fearing and avoiding them, they won’t be as frightening. Your child will learn that these things are part of life in Addison and that they are okay.”

Think faster focus better!!

Daniel Willingham’s Science and Education Blog

New data cast doubt on dominant theory of vocab. learningPosted: 20 Sep 2012 04:57 AM PDT

This is a negative finding, so I’ll keep it brief.How do kids acquire new vocabulary? This process is poorly understood.An influential theory has been that the phonological loop in working memory provides essential support. The phonological loop is like a little tape loop lasting perhaps two seconds; it allows you to keep active a sound you hear.

The idea is that a new unfamiliar word can be placed on the loop for practice and to keep it around while the surrounding context helps you figure out the meaning.

If so, you’d predict that the larger the capacity of the phonological loop and the greater the fidelity with which it “records” the better children will be able to learn new vocabulary.

The efficacy of the phonological loop is measured by having kids repeat nonsense words. Initially they are short–tozzy–but they increase in length to pose greater challenge to the phonological loop–liddynappish.

Several studies have shown correlations between phonological loop capacity and vocabulary size in children (for a review, see Melby-Lervag & Lervag, 2012).

The problem: it could be that having a big vocabulary makes the phonological loop test easier, because it makes it more likely that some of the nonsense words remind you of a word you already know. (And so you have the semantics of that word helping you remember the to-be-remembered word.) Indeed, even proponents of the hypothesis argue that’s what happens when kids get older.

What you really need is a study that measures phonological loop capacity at time 1, and finds that it predicts vocabulary size at time 2. There is one such study (Gathercole et al, 1992) but it used a statistical analysis (cross-lagged correlation) that is now considered less than ideal.

A new study (Melby-Lervag et al, 2012) used probably the best methodology of any used to date. It was a longitudinal study that tested nonword repetition ability and vocabulary once each year between the ages of 3 and 7.

They used a different statistical technique–simplex models–to assess causal relationships. They found that both nonword repetition and vocabulary show growth, both show stability across children, and both are moderately correlated, but there was no evidence that one influenced the growth of the other over time.

The group then reanalyzed the Gathercole et al (1992) data and found the same pattern.

This is one depressing paper. Something we thought we knew–the phonological loop contributes to vocabulary learning–may well be wrong.

If anyone is working on a remediation program for young children that centers on improving the working of the phonological loop, it’s probably time to rethink that idea.

Gathercole, S. E., Willis, C., Emslie, H., & Baddeley, A. (1992). Phonological memory and vocabulary development during the early school years: A longitudinal study. Developmental Psychology, 28, 887–898.

Melby-Lervåg, M., & Lervåg, A. (2012). Oral language skills mod-erate nonword repetition skills in children with dyslexia: A meta-analysis of the role of nonword repetition skills in dyslexia. Scientific Studies of Reading, 16, 1–34.

Melby-Lervåg, M., & Lervåg, A., Lyster, S-A H., Klem, M., Hagtvet, B., & Hulme, C. (in press). Nonword-repetition ability does not appear to be a causal influence on children’s vocabulary development. Psychological Science.



  1. Este artículo es muy interesante porque da mucha información y referencias bibliográficas para investigar autores…

  2. He añadido un par de citas de libros y páginas que nos dan buenos consejos metodológicos.


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