Early Intervention Can Improve Low-Income Children’s Cognitive Skills and Academic Achievement

National Head Start program conceptualized while psychologists were beginning to study preventive intervention for young children living in poverty.
Findings
As a group, children who live in poverty tend to perform worse in school than do children from more privileged backgrounds. For the first half of the 20th century, researchers attributed this difference to inherent cognitive deficits. At the time, the prevailing belief was that the course of child development was dictated by biology and maturation. By the early 1960s, this position gave way to the notion popularized by psychologists such as J. McVicker Hunt and Benjamin Bloom that intelligence could rather easily be shaped by the environment. There was very little research at the time to support these speculations but a few psychologists had begun to study whether environmental manipulation could prevent poor cognitive outcomes. Results of studies by psychologists Susan Gray and Rupert Klaus (1965), Martin Deutsch (1965) and Bettye Caldwell and former U.S. Surgeon General Julius Richmond (1968) supported the notion that early attention to physical and psychological development could improve cognitive ability.
Significance

These preliminary results caught the attention of Sargent Shriver, President Lyndon Johnson’s chief strategist in implementing an arsenal of antipoverty programs as part of the War on Poverty. His idea for a school readiness program for children of the poor focused on breaking the cycle of poverty. Shriver reasoned that if poor children could begin school on an equal footing with wealthier classmates, they would have a better of chance of succeeding in school and avoiding poverty in adulthood. He appointed a planning committee of 13 professionals in physical and mental health, early education, social work, and developmental psychology. Their work helped shape what is now known as the federal Head Start program.

The three developmental psychologists in the group were Urie Bronfenbrenner, Mamie Clark, and Edward Zigler. Bronfenbrenner convinced the other members that intervention would be most effective if it involved not just the child but the family and community that comprise the child-rearing environment. Parent involvement in school operations and administration were unheard of at the time, but it became a cornerstone of Head Start and proved to be a major contributor to its success. Zigler had been trained as a scientist and was distressed that the new program was not going to be field-tested before its nationwide launch. Arguing that it was not wise to base such a massive, innovative program on good ideas and concepts but little empirical evidence, he insisted that research and evaluation be part of Head Start. When he later became the federal official responsible for administering the program, Zigler (often referred to as the “father of Head Start”) worked to cast Head Start as a national laboratory for the design of effective early childhood services.

Although it is difficult to summarize the hundreds of empirical studies of Head Start outcomes, Head Start does seem to produce a variety of benefits for most children who participate. Although some studies have suggested that the intellectual advantages gained from participation in Head Start gradually disappear as children progress through elementary school, some of these same studies have shown more lasting benefits in the areas of school achievement and adjustment.
Practical Application

Head Start began as a great experiment that over the years has yielded prolific results. Some 20 million children and families have participated in Head Start since the summer of 1965; current enrollment approaches one million annually, including those in the new Early Head Start that serves families with children from birth to age 3. Psychological research on early intervention has proliferated, creating an expansive literature and sound knowledge base. Many research ideas designed and tested in the Head Start laboratory have been adapted in a variety of service delivery programs. These include family support services, home visiting, a credentialing process for early childhood workers, and education for parenthood. Head Start’s efforts in preschool education spotlighted the value of school readiness and helped spur today’s movement toward universal preschool.

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Family-Like Environment Better for Troubled Children and Teens

The Teaching-Family Model changes bad behavior through straight talk and loving relationships.
Findings

In the late 1960′s, psychologists Elaine Phillips, Elery Phillips, Dean Fixsen, and Montrose Wolf developed an empirically tested treatment program to help troubled children and juvenile offenders who had been assigned to residential group homes. These researchers combined the successful components of their studies into the Teaching-Family Model, which offers a structured treatment regimen in a family-like environment. The model is built around a married couple (teaching-parents) that lives with children in a group home and teaches them essential interpersonal and living skills. Not only have teaching parents’ behaviors and techniques been assessed for their effectiveness, but they have also been empirically tested for whether children like them. Teaching-parents also work with the children’s parents, teachers, employers, and peers to ensure support for the children’s positive changes. Although more research is needed, preliminary results suggest that, compared to children in other residential treatment programs, children in Teaching-Family Model centers have fewer contacts with police and courts, lower dropout rates, and improved school grades and attendance.

Couples are selected to be teaching-parents based on their ability to provide individualized and affirming care. Teaching-parents then undergo an intensive year-long training process. In order to maintain their certification, teaching-parents and Teaching-Family Model organizations are evaluated every year, and must meet the rigorous standards set by the Teaching-Family Association.
Significance
The Teaching-Family Model is one of the few evidence-based residential treatment programs for troubled children. In the past, many treatment programs viewed delinquency as an illness, and therefore placed children in institutions for medical treatment. The Teaching-Family Model, in contrast, views children’s behavior problems as stemming from their lack of essential interpersonal relationships and skills. Accordingly, the Teaching-Family Model provides children with these relationships and teaches them these skills, using empirically validated methods. With its novel view of problem behavior and its carefully tested and disseminated treatment program, the Teaching-Family Model has helped to transform the treatment of behavioral problems from impersonal interventions at large institutions to caring relationships in home and community settings. The Teaching-Family Model has also demonstrated how well-researched treatment programs can be implemented on a large scale. Most importantly, the Teaching-Family Model has given hope that young people with even the most difficult problems or behaviors can improve the quality of their lives and make contributions to society.
Practical Application
In recent years, the Teaching-Family Model has been expanded to include foster care facilities, home treatment settings, and even schools. The Teaching-Family Model has also been adapted to accommodate the needs of physically, emotionally, and sexually abused children; emotionally disturbed and autistic children and adults; medically fragile children; and adults with disabilities. Successful centers that have been active for over 30 years include the Bringing it All Back Home Study Center in North Carolina, the Houston Achievement Place in Texas, and the Girls and Boys Town in Nebraska. Other Teaching-Family Model organizations are in Alberta (Canada), Arkansas, Hawaii, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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Believing You Can Get Smarter Makes You Smarter

Thinking about intelligence as changeable and malleable, rather than stable and fixed, results in greater academic achievement, especially for people whose groups bear the burden of negative stereotypes about their intelligence.
Findings

Can people get smarter? Are some racial or social groups smarter than others? Despite a lot of evidence to the contrary, many people believe that intelligence is fixed, and, moreover, that some racial and social groups are inherently smarter than others. Merely evoking these stereotypes about the intellectual inferiority of these groups (such as women and Blacks) is enough to harm the academic perfomance of members of these groups. Social psychologist Claude Steele and his collaborators (2002) have called this phenomenon “stereotype threat.”

Yet social psychologists Aronson, Fried, and Good (2001) have developed a possible antidote to stereotype threat. They taught African American and European American college students to think of intelligence as changeable, rather than fixed – a lesson that many psychological studies suggests is true. Students in a control group did not receive this message. Those students who learned about IQ’s malleability improved their grades more than did students who did not receive this message, and also saw academics as more important than did students in the control group. Even more exciting was the finding that Black students benefited more from learning about the malleable nature of intelligence than did White students, showing that this intervention may successfully counteract stereotype threat.
Significance

This research showed a relatively easy way to narrow the Black-White academic achievement gap. Realizing that one’s intelligence may be improved may actually improve one’s intelligence, especially for those whose groups are targets of stereotypes alleging limited intelligence (e.g., Blacks, Latinos, and women in math domains.)
Practical Application

Blackwell, Dweck, and Trzesniewski (2002) recently replicated and applied this research with seventh-grade students in New York City. During the first eight weeks of the spring term, these students learned about the malleability of intelligence by reading and discussing a science-based article that described how intelligence develops. A control group of seventh-grade students did not learn about intelligence’s changeability, and instead learned about memory and mnemonic strategies. As compared to the control group, students who learned about intelligence’s malleability had higher academic motivation, better academic behavior, and better grades in mathematics. Indeed, students who were members of vulnerable groups (e.g., those who previously thought that intelligence cannot change, those who had low prior mathematics achievement, and female students) had higher mathematics grades following the intelligence-is-malleable intervention, while the grades of similar students in the control group declined. In fact, girls who received the intervention matched and even slightly exceeded the boys in math grades, whereas girls in the control group performed well below the boys.

These findings are especially important because the actual instruction time for the intervention totaled just three hours. Therefore, this is a very cost-effective method for improving students’ academic motivation and achievement.
Cited Research

Aronson, J., Fried, C. B., & Good, C. (2001). Reducing the effects of stereotype threat on African American college students by shaping theories of intelligence. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 1-13.

Steele, C. M., Spencer, S. J., & Aronson, J. (2002), Contending with group image: The psychology of stereotype and social identity threat. In Mark P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, Vol. 34, pp. 379-440. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, Inc.
Additional Sources

Blackwell, L., Dweck, C., & Trzesniewski, K. (2002). Achievement across the adolescent transition: A longitudinal study and an intervention. Manuscript in preparation.

Dweck, C., & Leggett, E. (1988). A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality. Psychological Review, 95, 256-273.

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Photo Into Painting – What is Digital Painting?

Digital painting is an art form still in its infancy. The question of what is digital painting has been asked many times by countless people. These answers vary even amongst artists and are as numerous as those who ask. On the surface, digital painting is like any other art form where the goal is to capture the creative human expression. Just like paint, brushes and canvas are a medium to the traditional artist, so too is the tablet, stylus and computer to the digital artist.Although a completely different medium, digital painting mimics the traditional techniques used by watercolor, oil, pastel, and impasto artisans, to name a few. Digital painters, unlike traditional artists, have an unlimited amount of brushes from which to choose. Adding to their arsenal of tools, digital painters have the ability to create new styles and versions of those brushes to achieve their goal. By adding different shapes, textures and weight properties, the digital artist has total control–bridging the gap between traditional and digital painting. With so many options available to the artist, digital painting frees an artist to experiment with new concepts and techniques.Digital painting is not a push button solution to creating art. Today’s computers, although very fast and powerful, are by no means able to automatically generate a skillfully crafted, well executed piece of art. Many people assume a computer or a software package can magically transform a photo into a painting of artistic integrity. While computers are powerful tools, they are unable to mimic the skill, eye and attention to detail of a true artist. A useful analogy to help one understand is the synthesizer. Synthesizers are electronic instruments that are capable of producing a variety of sounds by generating and combining signals of different frequencies. However, without a musician to manipulate the keys, knobs, and widgets, the end result would be noise. The same is true with digital painting. Each and every stroke is purposely placed with careful consideration to the principles and rules of design.The input devices used by a digital painter are critical to producing high quality works of art. The graphics tablet and pressure-sensitive stylus capture the natural hand gesture and subtle wrist movements of the artist. Unlike a computer mouse, which is like painting with a brick, the tablet and stylus allows the artist to adjust angle, direction and thickness of a line naturally. A computer mouse’s primary function is a pointing device used to navigate digital interfaces. In contrast, the stylus is formed much like a pen or chalk–freeing the digital artist from the limits and constraints of the computer mouse.The computer, input devices and software are simply tools that digital artists use to create and express themselves. Without the proper training, skill set, and experience a digital painting would simply be noise.

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Logistics As It Applies To The Military

Logistics. Most people don’t really even know what it means let alone what’s involved. If you look up the definition of logistics in the dictionary you will find the following:1. The aspect of military operations that deals with the procurement, distribution, maintenance, and replacement of materiel and personnel.2. The management of the details of an operation.Or…You have the noun which is…Handling an operation that involves providing labor and materials be supplied as needed.So what exactly is involved in doing all that?A lot.First we start with design and development. Let’s take the military as an example. Suppose the military wants to design new weapons systems that will be more accurate than the systems they currently have. The first thing they have to do is get a team of scientists and whatever other personnel are needed to design the system. Then, after they come up with a design they are pleased with they have to get the engineers to develop it. All these people either have to be hired or contracted. Some of the work may be sub contracted.Then there is the acquisition of the materials needed. Some of the materials may already be on hand while others have to be purchased. Some will be purchased domestically and others will need to be purchased from overseas. In many cases bids will be put in to various companies to see who can supply the materials at the cheapest cost.After the materials are acquired there’s the matter of storage. In many cases the material is either of so large a quantity or so large in size that the storage facilities need to be specially built in order to adequately provide the needed space. This of course has to be figured into the equation.Then there’s the matter of movement and distribution to maybe the various military bases around the country or even overseas. Trucks or planes need to be acquired in order to distribute the materials if there aren’t enough ready made transportation vehicles. Transportation costs alone can be astronomical.Then of course there is the maintenance of these systems. Specialized tools and personnel may be needed. In many cases safeguards need to be installed to make sure the systems don’t malfunction.Then you have the actual operation of the system itself. This may simply be a matter of assigning personnel the task of doing so. But usually in the case of a new system the personnel need to be trained. That usually involves transporting those involved in the original design and development to the various bases around the world in order to train the men and women who will be using these systems.Finally, there is the deployment of the new system, making it ready and available for use. This may require a second transport if the system is actually used in the battle field. This might require special trucks or other vehicles to mobilize the system.All of the above makes up logistics. As you can see it’s a very complex word in itself.Think about that the next time you hear about a new missile that was just developed.

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