The 10 Most Significant Education Studies of 2023

The 10 Most Significant Education Studies of 2023 | Future Education Magazine


In education studies of 2023, we analyzed hundreds of educational research and identified ten of the most important, ranging from virtual learning to the reading wars and the demise of standardized testing.

The year 2023 became a whirlwind in the month of March. With a pandemic disturbing life all around the world, instructors hurried to convert their physical classrooms into virtual—or even hybrid—environments, while academics gradually started to gather insights on what works and what doesn’t in online learning environments all across the world.

Meanwhile, neuroscientists made a compelling case for retaining handwriting in schools, and following the closure of several coal-fired power plants in Chicago, researchers reported a decrease in pediatric emergency room visits and fewer school absences, reminding us that issues of educational equity do not end at the schoolhouse door.

Here are The 10 Most Significant Education Studies of 2023:

1. To Teach Vocabulary, Allow Children to Be Thespians

Ask kids to act out vocabulary terms while they are learning a new language. Of course, unleashing a child’s inner thespian is entertaining, but according to education studies of 2023 research, it also almost doubles their capacity to recall the phrases months later.

Researchers instructed 8-year-old pupils to listen to phrases in another language and then replicate the words with their hands and bodies—for example, extending their arms and pretending to fly while learning the German term Flugzeug, which means “airplane.” After two months, these young performers were 73 percent more likely than pupils who had listened without accompanying gestures to recall the new phrases. When students looked at visuals while listening to the matching words, researchers reported comparable, albeit somewhat less striking, outcomes.

It’s just a friendly reminder that if you want kids to remember anything, encourage them to learn it in a variety of ways, such as by sketching it, acting it out, or matching it with related imagery.

2. Neuroscientists Defend Teaching Handwriting Yet Again.

Typing is insufficient for the majority of children. Brain scans of preliterate youngsters in 2012 showed vital reading circuitry flashing to life when children hand-printed letters and then attempted to read them. When the letters were typed or traced, the impact was much diminished.

The 10 Most Significant Education Studies of 2023 | Future Education Magazine

In education studies of 2023, a group of researchers investigated older students (seventh graders) as they handwrote, sketched, and typed words, and discovered that handwriting and drawing created unmistakable brain tracings suggestive of deeper learning.

“Whenever self-generated motions are used as a learning approach, more of the brain is activated,” the researchers write, before reiterating the 2012 study: “It also seems that keyboard typing actions do not activate these networks in the same way as drawing and handwriting do.”

However, replacing typing with handwriting would be a mistake. All children require digital skills development, and there is evidence that technology assists children with dyslexia in overcoming obstacles such as note-taking or illegible handwriting, ultimately freeing them to “use their time for all the things in which they are gifted,” according to the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity.

3. The Act Test Recently Received a Negative Score (Facepalm)

According to education studies of 2023 research, ACT test results, which are often used in college admissions, have a weak—or even negative—relationship with forecasting how successful kids would be in college. “There is no indication that kids will have better college success if they attempt to raise their ACT score,” the researchers add, and students with extremely high ACT scores—but poor high school grades—often burn out in college, overwhelmed by the demands of a university’s academic program.

Last year, the SAT—the ACT’s cousin—had a similarly poor public showing. Researchers discovered that high school grades were a better predictor of four-year college graduation than SAT scores in large education studies of 2023 almost 50,000 students conducted by researcher Brian Galla and involving Angela Duckworth.

What’s the reason? According to the researchers, four-year high school grades are a stronger predictor of important qualities such as persistence, time management, and the capacity to ignore distractions. Ultimately, it is those talents that will keep students in college.

4. Rubric Lowers Racial Grading Bias

A simple measure might help mitigate the harmful effects of grading prejudice, according to a recent study: Before you begin grading, articulate your criteria explicitly, and return to them often during the assessment process.

The 10 Most Significant Education Studies of 2023 | Future Education Magazine

More than 1,500 instructors were recruited in education studies of 2023 and asked to assess a fake second-grade student’s writing sample. All of the example tales were similar, except that in one set, the student mentions a family member called Dashawn, whereas in the other, a brother named Connor is mentioned.

Teachers were 13% more likely to award the Connor papers a passing mark, indicating the unnoticed advantages that many students have. When grading criteria are unclear, implicit preconceptions may “fill in the holes” insidiously, according to the study’s author. However, when instructors use a specific set of criteria to assess the writing, such as asking whether the student “provides a well-elaborated retelling of an incident,” the grade discrepancy is practically eradicated.

5. What is the Relationship Between Coal-fired Power Plants and Learning? Plenty

When three coal-fired power plants in the Chicago region closed, student absences in local schools fell by 7%, owing mostly to fewer emergency department visits for asthma-related illnesses. The startling discovery, reported in education studies of 2023 research by Duke and Penn State, emphasizes the importance of often-overlooked environmental elements like air quality, neighborhood violence, and noise pollution in keeping our youngsters healthy and ready to learn.

The potential cost is enormous when considered on a large scale: over 2.3 million students in the United States still attend a public elementary or middle school situated within 10 kilometers of a coal-fired power plant.

The report adds to a growing body of data that reminds us that educational fairness concerns do not stop at the schoolhouse door. According to a 2017 research, what we term an accomplishment gap is frequently an equity gap. The researchers warn that we won’t have equitable opportunity in our schools unless we fight injustice in our cities, communities, and, eventually, our own backyards.

6. Students Who Generate Good Questions Learn Better.

Some of the most common study techniques, like highlighting passages, reviewing notes, and underlining crucial lines, are also among the least successful. Education studies of 2023 analysis identified a strong alternative: Encourage pupils to ask probing questions regarding their learning and progressively push them to do so.

The 10 Most Significant Education Studies of 2023 | Future Education Magazine

In the research, students who studied a subject and then created their own questions outperformed those who utilized passive tactics such as examining notes and repeating lecture content by an average of 14 percentage points. The researchers discovered that creating questions not only prompted students to think more thoroughly about the material but also improved their capacity to retain what they were learning.

There are several interesting methods for students to generate extremely effective questions: You may invite students to submit their own questions while building a test, or you can utilize Jeopardy! game as a platform for student-created questions.

7. Did a 2023 Study Just Cut Off the “Reading Wars”?

A panel of reading specialists found that one of the most extensively utilized reading programs “would be unlikely to lead to literacy achievement for all of America’s public kids.”

The controversial program, known as “Units of Study” and developed over four decades by Lucy Calkins at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, failed to explicitly and systematically teach young readers how to decode and encode written words, putting it “in direct opposition to an enormous body of settled research,” according to the education studies of 2023 study.

The research rang the death knell for approaches that de-emphasize phonics in favor of letting children estimate the meaning of unknown words using numerous sources of information, such as tale events or visuals, a strategy often associated with “balanced literacy.” Calkins seemed to acknowledge the argument in an internal document acquired by publisher APM, noting that “aspects of balanced literacy need some’rebalancing.'”

8. The Key to High-performance Virtual Classrooms

A team from Georgia State University developed a paper on best practices for virtual learning in education studies of 2023. While research in the area is “sparse” and “inconsistent,” the study stated that logistical concerns such as obtaining materials—rather than content-specific issues such as comprehension failures—were often among the most important barriers to online learning. In other words, it wasn’t that students didn’t grasp photosynthesis in a virtual setting—it was that they couldn’t discover (or simply didn’t access) the photosynthesis lesson at all.

That fundamental idea mirrored a 2019 research that emphasized the critical need of organizing virtual classrooms even more thoughtfully than physical ones. Remote teachers should keep important documents, such as assignments, in a single, dedicated hub; simplify communications and reminders by using a single channel, such as email or text; and reduce visual clutter, such as hard-to-read fonts and unnecessary decorations, throughout their virtual spaces.

Because the technologies are new to everyone, it is critical to get frequent input on themes such as accessibility and convenience of use. Teachers could publish basic surveys asking questions such as “Have you experienced any technological issues?” and “Can you readily find your assignments?” to ensure that students have a smooth-running virtual learning environment.

9. Do You Enjoy Learning Languages? Coding, Surprisingly, May Be Right for You.

A education studies of 2023 research discovered that learning to code is more similar to learning a language like Chinese or Spanish than studying arithmetic, upending traditional understanding about what makes a successful programmer.

The 10 Most Significant Education Studies of 2023 | Future Education Magazine

Young individuals with no programming experience were invited to learn Python, a popular programming language, before taking a series of exams to examine their problem-solving, arithmetic, and language abilities. The researchers revealed that mathematics aptitude accounted for just 2% of a person’s capacity to learn to code, but language abilities were almost nine times more predictive, accounting for 17% of learning ability.

This is a significant observation because, according to the researchers, all too frequently, programming programs require students to master advanced math courses—a barrier that unnecessarily eliminates kids with untapped potential.

10. Researchers Are Uncertain About Reading Tasks Like “Finding the Main Idea”

“Topic is comprehension,” concluded an education study of 2023 Fordham Institute research, striking a defiant tone in the continuing dispute over teaching intrinsic reading abilities vs imparting content knowledge.

While elementary students spend a significant amount of time practicing skills such as “finding the main idea” and “summarizing”—tasks born of the belief that reading is a discrete and trainable ability that transfers seamlessly across content areas—these young readers aren’t experiencing “the additional reading gains that well-intentioned educators hoped for,” according to the study.

So, what is effective? The researchers examined data from more than 18,000 K-5 kids, concentrating on time spent in subjects such as arithmetic, social studies, and English language arts, and discovered that “social studies is the only subject having a clear, positive, and statistically significant influence on reading development.” Exposing children to rich knowledge in civics, history, and law seems to teach reading more successfully than our existing approaches.

Perhaps disobedience is no longer required: Fordham’s results are quickly becoming common knowledge—and they go beyond the narrow claim of reading social studies literature. Natalie Wexler, the author of the well-received 2019 book The Knowledge Gap, believes that content knowledge and reading are inextricably linked. “Students with greater [prior] knowledge have a higher chance of comprehending any content they encounter. “They can access more knowledge about the issue from long-term memory, which frees up more room in working memory for understanding,” she recently told Edutopia.


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