Are K-12 Students Hurt by Computers in Schools?

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found in a recent world wide study that heavy use of computers in K-12 schools does not necessarily improve student results. In fact, the study found that students who spend above-average amounts of time using computers in class perform worse on written and digital reading tests than those who use computers for below-average amounts of time.

Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s education director, stated: “School systems need to find more effective ways to integrate technology into teaching and learning to provide educators with learning environments that support 21st century pedagogies and provide children with the 21st century skills they need to succeed in tomorrow’s world. Technology is the only way to dramatically expand access to knowledge.”

Among the chief complaints in the OECD report is that students tend to get “lost” online when completing reading and writing assignments.

This is where Merit comes in.

Merit reading and writing programs control the navigation experience. In Merit writing programs, for example, students are guided step-by-step while they work. Progress at various stages of development is automatically tracked in an easy-to-use tool for students and instructors.

Read the OECD report: Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection

Merit’s Writing Programs with free trial links:

Helping Students Adapt to New World Realities

Students need opportunities to succeed in a rapidly changing world. The impact of current turmoil in China on the world economy is only one example of how quickly things can change, and the need to adapt. Deeper learning is a term for skills and knowledge that will help students succeed in the classroom and on the job in twenty-first century life.

A recent survey of Fortune 500 companies shows the most valuable skills an employee can have in the twenty-first century are skills that are the focal points of deeper learning: teamwork, problem solving, and communication. Students who have mastered the full deeper learning skill set can set their own goals and adapt to new circumstances. The core of deeper learning is a group of six competencies summarized below.

  1. Mastery of core academics, such as reading, writing, math, and science.
  2. Learning to solve complex problems.
  3. Learning teamwork
  4. Learning to communicate effectively.
  5. Learning how to learn, which includes working well independently but asking for help when needed.
  6. Developing academic mindsets, which includes students seeing work through to completion and understanding the relevance of school work to their lives and interests.

This is where Merit fits in.

Merit programs provide detailed coverage of the core competencies students need to succeed.

Concepts in reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary are covered from the basics to higher levels. Built-in hints and tips support students while they work,

Progress automatically tracked in an easy-to-use tracking tool for students and instructors.

Learn more at www.meritsoftware.com

Improving Employability and Academic Skills How Merit Can Help

A recent survey of Kentucky Chamber of Commerce members bemoans the lack of “soft skills” or employability skills among prospective employees. In fact, 27% of employers surveyed report a need for improvement of these skills. Such skills include communication, teamwork, motivation, and the like.

Among the reasons students struggle in college and later in the workplace are lack of motivation or persistence and inadequate preparation, say the authors of a new report from Achieve.org.

Merit’s personalized learning software has built-in scaffolds and supports. The programs motivate students while they work. This enhances both academic and employability skills.

Learn more at www.meritsoftware.com

 

Are Chinese Students Faltering in American Universities?

There have been a number of recent news articles about the changing relationship between Chinese students and American universities. In the past, such students tended to be well-qualified graduate students sponsored by the Chinese government and living on tight budgets.

More recently, the resources of a burgeoning Chinese middle class have given parents the ability to send their children abroad to study. Unlike their predecessors, many of the students are less prepared and are entering undergraduate rather than graduate programs. At this time, they seem to care more about the reputation of the school than finding programs that fit their capabilities. As a consequence, according to an estimate by a U.S. education company, some 8,000 Chinese students were expelled from American universities last year alone—owing primarily to poor grades and cheating.

This issue is not just confined to Chinese students. Some Montana Tech students from Saudi Arabia who were caught in a cheating scandal back in 2012 were reportedly offered flights home to avoid arrest according to a local report.

This is where Merit Software comes in. By using Merit programs, the English language skills of Chinese and other international students can be improved to make study abroad more accessible and beneficial. Several Chinese students in U.S. schools have benefited from the Merit’s Grammar Fitness and Confused Word Fix-Up products.

Read more:

California’s Acceptance of Common Core State Standards

Merit Software helps the common coreA recent report issued by Children Now, a national think tank and advocate on children’s issues, states that 93 percent of California voters want schools to teach skills mandated in the Common Core Standards—that is, greater daily use of analysis, critical thinking, and real-world skills.

The strong acceptance in California of the Common Core is in contrast with overwhelming resistance to it in many states. Teachers and parents in some states are trying to repeal its use by urging students to refuse to take the test.

However, Californians are on board with the program and in favor of “measuring students on reading and writing skills across all subjects, including math and science.” They believe the program will prepare students for the competitive job market and make them more competitive with their peers from other countries.

Click here to read more.

The High Price of Colleges’ Failures

Happy businessman with laptop smilingRecent college graduates who are struggling to start careers are being hurt by their lack of learning, according to Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, authors of the groundbreaking book, “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses.”

In the original study, the authors had a sample of four-year undergraduates take the Collegiate Learning Assessment during their freshman year. The same students then took the CLA again during their senior year, and their scores saw very little change. The test includes essay-based critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and communication skills questions.

A recently published follow-up study of the same students,tracking them for two years following graduation, found skills measured by high-scoring CLA students had made a significant difference to finding and keeping a first job.

Students who had higher CLA scores had spent more time studying alone and took classes where teachers enforced high expectations, such as writing long papers.

Low CLA scoring students were twice as likely to lose their jobs as high CLA students, implying employers can tell who got a good college education and who did not. Low CLA scoring graduates were also 50 percent more likely to end up in an unskilled occupation, and were less likely to be satisfied with their jobs.

Articles about the follow-up study are here, here, and here.

Merit Software helps build the skills that are highly correlated with high CLA scores, including critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and communications skills.

Merit programs provide detailed coverage of the core competencies students require to succeed. Concepts in reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary are covered from the basics to higher levels.

Built-in hints and tips support students while they work. Progress is automatically monitored in an easy-to-use tracking tool for instructors. The software is adaptive and adjusts to a suitable level of challenge with minimal teacher intervention.

Recommended resources:

New Research Says Grades, Not SATs, Predict College Success

login-imageA recent study involving 33 private colleges and universities and the records of 123,000  students and alumni indicates that students who have low or modest SAT-type test scores but good high school grades do better in college than those with good scores but modest grades.

Merit products are known for improving academic performance in schools. The programs develop critical thinking and academic skills.

Merit’s Punch writing programs help students write clear, descriptive sentences, organize ideas, and develop paragraphs and essays.

Grammar Fitness helps students with tenses, usage, irregular noun plurals, correcting split constructions, and the like.

In Merit reading programs students acquire vocabulary through context, draw conclusions based on relevant information, and learn to find the main idea in a text.

Learn more about Merit:

Simple Truths about the Common Core

AA053438The transition to the Common Core has been controversial and poorly handled, particularly when it comes to teacher evaluations and new standardized tests.

However, the harsh reality is that reading scores in the U.S. have not improved in 20 years.

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College Readiness Concerns

College Readiness ConcernsConcerns about the ability of today’s  U.S. high school graduates to fill skilled jobs and compete in the global marketplace have been raised again due to the 2013 results on the country’s most widely used college entrance exams.

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