Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Is this the ultimate dumbing down of education?  Has educational success now become just a popularity contest?

If "niceness" gets you better grades than intelligence, it seems so.

A recent academic paper says personality is more important than IQ to educational success.  And since the criterion of academic success was GPA I can believe it.  GPAs these days are not a strong indicator of academic ability.  They could well be influenced by "niceness".  Teachers tend to give higher marks to  students whom they like.  And, as we know, GPAs are not a strong indicator of success in later years.  IQ was in the past by far the best predictor of academic success but most of those findings go back to an era where education had not yet been "dumbed down".

Another problem is that high IQ students often find schoolwork boring so treat it cursorily, which is not a good way to get high marks, meaning that GPA marks may not adequately represent ability.

Leftists have always derided IQ because it is one of those pesky inborn differences that obstruct their dream of making everybody equal.  It seems that they have now gone beyond derision and are actively making IQ irrelevant.  Below is a popular summary of the paper followed by the journal abstract.

According to a new review of the link between personality and academic achievement, personality is a better way to predict success at school than intelligence as it's usually measured, by traditional standardized tests. Arthur Poropat, of Griffith University in Australia, compared measurements of what psychologists call the "big five" personality traits — openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism — to academic scores, and found that the students who were rated higher in openness and conscientiousness tended to receive better grades.

"In practical terms, the amount of effort students are prepared to put in, and where that effort is focused, is at least as important as whether the students are smart,” Poropat said in the release accompanying the paper, which was published in Learning and Individual Differences. "And a student with the most helpful personality will score a full grade higher than an average student in this regard."

It makes intuitive sense that both conscientiousness and openness would result in higher grades; it doesn't really matter how smart you are if you can't manage to turn your homework in on time, for one. And another word for openness is curiosity, another obviously necessary factor in learning. Still, it's an interesting way to think about academic achievement for anyone who grew up believing they did well in school simply because they were "smart."



Other-rated personality and academic performance: Evidence and implications

By Arthur E. Poropat


Considerable gaps remain in teachers' and students' understanding of factors contributing to learning and educational outcomes, including personality. Consequently, current knowledge about personality within educational settings was reviewed, especially its relationships with learning activities and academic performance. Personality dimensions have previously been shown to be related to learning strategies and activities, and to be reliably correlated with academic performance. However, personality is typically self-rated, introducing methodological disadvantages associated with informational and social desirability biases. A meta-analysis of other-rated personality demonstrated substantially higher correlations of academic performance with all of the dimensions of the Five-Factor Model of personality, which were not accounted for by associations with intelligence. The combined association of academic performance with all of the Five-Factor Model dimensions was one of the largest so far reported in education. The findings have implications for personality measurement. Teachers are able to assess students' personalities to match educational activities to student dispositions, while students' development of learning capacities can be facilitated by feedback on how their personalities are linked with effective learning.



White racism has all but vanished from US politics...

...says Jeff Jacoby below.  But how does he know?  Only Leftists are allowed even to mention race these days.  I think Jeff is being a Pollyanna.  I think it is white flight that tells the true story

THE TEMPTATION to play the race card is one that President Obama and his surrogates have too often found irresistible. Think of Attorney General Eric Holder's claim last summer that criticism of the Obama administration is fueled by "racial animus," or Vice President Joe Biden's warning to a largely nonwhite audience in 2012 that Mitt Romney was "going to put y'all back in chains" if he won the White House. Recall Obama himself, predicting that Republicans would demonize him because "he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."

Yet there are also times when the president heeds the better angels of his nature, and declines to stoke racial resentments.

One such moment came during an interview last week, when NPR's Steve Inskeep asked Obama if the country is "more racially divided than it was when you took office six years ago." Without hesitating, the president answered candidly: "No, I actually think that it's probably in its day-to-day interactions less racially divided." There may be a perception to the contrary, he acknowledged, but that has more to do with the media-driven focus on particular events, "like Ferguson or the Garner case in New York."

Nor did he take the bait when Inskeep, raising "a couple of data points" that "suggest a broad gulf" between the races, contrasted Obama's overwhelming share of the black vote in his two presidential campaigns with the "rather dramatic" drop in the white Democratic vote. Instead of endorsing Inskeep's inference that "political division between [the] races" is widening, Obama responded mildly that data can be spun to suggest anything. In reality, he noted, "when I was elected in '08, I actually did better among white voters … than John Kerry did."

In fact, Obama's share of the white electorate in 2008 not only surpassed Kerry's four years earlier, but Al Gore's in 2000, Bill Clinton's in 1992, Michael Dukakis's in 1988, Walter Mondale's in 1984, and Jimmy Carter's in 1980. The nomination of a black presidential candidate didn't send white voters fleeing from the Democratic Party — quite the contrary. White racism, once such a powerful force in US politics, is now almost undetectable when Americans go to the polls. Good for the president, at least on this occasion, for not encouraging the myth that blacks don't get a fair shake on Election Day.

Indeed, for all the controversy over voter-ID requirements and other election-law reforms, black participation in the electoral process is more robust than ever. Accusations that such laws are motivated by a desire to suppress minority voting may be cynical or sincere, but if the proof of the pudding is in the turnout, the black franchise is perfectly sound.

"Voting rates for blacks were higher in 2012 than in any recent presidential election, the result of a steady increase in black voting rates since 1996," reported the US Census Bureau in 2013. What's more, with 66.2 percent of black voters casting ballots, turnout among blacks was the highest of any racial group, surpassing the voting rate among whites by 2.1 percentage points. If this is voter suppression, let's have more of it.

Black turnout has been rising everywhere, even in states dominated by Republicans. Jason Riley, author of the new book Please Stop Helping Us, observes that the trend "was most pronounced in red states like Alabama, Kentucky, and Mississippi," and that black voter turnout in 2012 surpassed white turnout by statistically significant margins … [even] in states with the strictest voter-ID laws." When skeptical researchers at PolitiFact dug into Riley's claim, they rated it True.

There wasn't much joy for Obama or his party in last November's midterm elections, but the evidence of democratic engagement among African Americans showed no signs of letup. Overall, black turnout accounted for a higher share of the vote in 2014 than it had in 2010. Once again, it was hard to find significant evidence that voter-ID laws stifled voting, even in GOP strongholds. Looking at seven states below the Mason-Dixon Line, Bloomberg writer Francis Barry found that "the states with a voter-ID requirement, including Louisiana and Florida, had the highest turnout rates; the two states where no ID is required — Maryland and North Carolina — had the lowest."

Racial tensions obviously haven't vanished entirely from American life, but for all intents and purposes, racism as a political factor has. As the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act approaches, Jim Crow is dead in its grave, while black electoral vitality in America is alive and well.



Microaggression: desperately seeking discrimination

Have you heard of ‘microaggression’? Apparently it is everywhere. According to Wikipedia, ‘Microaggression is a form of “unintended discrimination”... which, without the conscious choice of the user, has the same effect as conscious, intended discrimination.’ Wikipedia provides the pronoun ‘he’ as an example of microaggression: this pronoun apparently makes me, a ‘she’, feel excluded and therefore it is a micro act of aggression. For other ludicrous examples of this nonsense, visit the microaggression project’s website. There you will find posts that read like an embarrassing adolescent diary.

But this is no laughing matter. The idea of microaggression is now having a real effect. For instance, there was the fiasco at Harvard earlier this month, when stickers from SodaStream, an Israeli company, were removed from soda machines because they were seen as an act of microaggression against students of Palestinian origin. There was the case of Professor Val Rust at UCLA, who, in 2013, was fired over spurious allegations of microaggression towards his students. As far as I can tell, his only crime was to ask his students to use better grammar. And, judging by their subsequent manifesto and online petition, he was right to do so.

What is most striking about those waging war on microaggression is the extent to which they have taken leave of reality. They see discrimination and oppression everywhere. Of course, there are plenty of things that need to be challenged in society, and spiked does so on a daily basis. But long gone are the days when women were kept at home, when black people weren’t welcome in pubs, and when gay and lesbian couples had to keep their relationships secret. In education, at work and at home, the old discrimination simply doesn’t exist anymore. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped some people desperately looking for discrimination in innocent remarks and actions.

For believers in microaggression, the slightest hint of an insult becomes discriminatory, an example of oppression. Anything can potentially be a microaggression, it seems - a comment, an advert, or just a look. You just have to feel hurt or uncomfortable after reading, hearing or seeing something for the ‘offending behaviour’ to be labelled microaggression. It doesn’t matter about the context; it doesn’t matter what the person actually meant; it doesn’t matter if it was just a bad joke between friends. Thanks to the idea of microaggression, you can elevate the most mundane of exchanges into symbols of deep-rooted oppression.

The idea of microaggression encourages people to see everyday comments or behaviour as abusive or discriminatory. And as such, it encourages a socially corrosive form of victimhood. This is bad. Most of the time, people are civil and decent – if you give them a chance they can even be fun, clever and interesting. Yes, bumping into one another has its risks, but you know what – that’s what makes life worth living.



Contrary to Administration Claims, Only a Tiny Fraction of 'Surge' Border-Jumpers Deported

An investigative report by a Houston television station exposed that only a tiny fraction of the families and children who crossed in the border surge of 2012-14 are being returned to their home countries, despite Obama administration claims that the cases are a priority. According to immigration court records obtained by the station, only a few of the illegal family or child arrivals are qualified to stay in the United States, and the vast majority (91 percent) have simply absconded from their proceedings after release and joined the resident illegal population, where they are no longer a priority for enforcement under the new, expanded "prosecutorial discretion" policies.

The Houston reporters obtained statistics from the immigration courts on 30,467 cases of families and unaccompanied alien children (UACs) who arrived illegally between July 18 and October 28, 2014. Of these, only 22 percent (6,093) have been completed.

In total, 17,042 people were apprehended as family units; 13,425 were UACs.

On December 19, DHS released its year-end enforcement statistics, showing a continued steep drop in deportations. The statistics were accompanied by this statement from DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, which seems downright laughable in light of the above facts:

"DHS's 2014 year-end enforcement statistics demonstrate that our front line officers and agents continue to execute their critical mission in a smart and effective way, focusing our resources on convicted criminals and those attempting to illegally cross our nation's borders."

It's not clear to me what is smart or effective about a massive and costly catch-and-release scheme that has resulted in the illegal resettlement of tens of thousands of illegal aliens, with taxpayers now picking up the tab for schooling, health care, housing, public safety, and other expenses, and which has only increased the incentives for more people to try to enter illegally.

In the context of current catch-and-release policies, a focus on border apprehensions as a measure of the effectiveness of border security is meaningless, and deliberately misleading. Apprehensions are not a metric of enforcement when illegal aliens are apprehended and then routinely released under the guise of "deportation proceedings", "asylum applications", or even "budget constraints".

Further, any proposals that claim to want to enhance border security and enforcement by providing more resources, more personnel, more technology, and more infrastructure for immigration agencies without addressing the underlying policies that serve to undercut enforcement should be viewed with great skepticism.

The imperative now is true immigration and border enforcement: more deportations, not just apprehensions, of not only criminals, but recent and not-so-recent arrivals, at the border and in the interior; provisions to prevent illegal employment and access to welfare benefits; a more efficient deportation process without unnecessarily protracted due process; restoration of effective partnerships with local law enforcement; and use of soft detention as a deterrent. These should be among the top priorities for the new Congress.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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