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Impact and Design of a National-scale Professional Development Program for Mathematics Teachers

2021-06-17

By examining the effects of a national-scale teacher professional development (PD) program on instructional practices and student mathematics achievement, we contribute to calls for empirical studies investigating the impacts of such programs conducted at scale. The program corresponds well with core critical features of high-quality teacher PD and mathematics instruction identified in the literature, and the results indicate that it has had a small but statistical significant impact on teachers' instructional practices. However, no effect was found for student achievement. These results raise questions as to the importance of the critical features and how programs incorporating all of them affect instructional practices and student achievement.

Perceptions of the appropriate response to norm violation in 57 societies

2021-05-26

Norm enforcement may be important for resolving conflicts and promoting cooperation. However, little is known about how preferred responses to norm violations vary across cultures and across domains. In a preregistered study of 57 countries (using convenience samples of 22,863 students and non-students), we measured perceptions of the appropriateness of various responses to a violation of a cooperative norm and to atypical social behaviors. Our findings highlight both cultural universals and cultural variation. We find a universal negative relation between appropriateness ratings of norm violations and appropriateness ratings of responses in the form of confrontation, social ostracism and gossip. Moreover, we find the country variation in the appropriateness of sanctions to be consistent across different norm violations but not across different sanctions. Specifically, in those countries where use of physical confrontation and social ostracism is rated as less appropriate, gossip is rated as more appropriate. Little is known about people's preferred responses to norm violations across countries. Here, in a study of 57 countries, the authors highlight cultural similarities and differences in people's perception of the appropriateness of norm violations.

Vaccine confidence is higher in more religious countries

2021-04-14

Vaccine hesitancy is a threat to global health, but it is not ubiquitous; depending on the country, the proportion that have confidence in vaccines ranges from a small minority to a huge majority. Little is known about what explains this dramatic variation in vaccine confidence. We hypothesize that variation in religiosity may play a role because traditional religious teachings are likely to be incompatible with the specific magical/spiritual health beliefs that often undergird anti-vaccination sentiments. In analyses of publicly available data in 147 countries, we find that a country measure of religiosity is strongly positively correlated with country measures of confidence in the safety, importance, and effectiveness of vaccines, and these associations are robust to controlling for measures of human development (education, economic development, and health). The underlying mechanism needs to be examined in future research.

Do income and marriage mediate the relationship between cognitive ability and fertility? Data from Swedish taxation and conscriptions registers for men born 1951-1967

2021-03-14

Recent evidence suggests a positive association between fertility and cognitive ability among Swedish men. In this study we use data on 18 birth cohorts of Swedish men to examine whether and how the relationship between cognitive ability and patterns of childbearing are mediated by income, education and marriage histories. We examine whether the expected positive associations between cognitive ability and life course income can explain this positive association. We also explore the role of marriage for understanding the positive gradient between cognitive ability and fertility. To address these questions we use Swedish population administrative data that holds information on fertility histories, detailed taxation records, and data from conscription registers. We also identify siblings in order to adjust for confounding by shared family background factors. Our results show that while cognitive ability, education, income, marriage, and fertility, are all positively associated with each other, income only explains a part of the observed positive gradient between fertility and cognitive ability. We find that much of the association between cognitive ability and fertility can be explained by marriage, but that a positive association exists among both ever-married and never-married men. Both low income and low cognitive ability are strong predictors of childlessness and low fertility in our population. The results from the full population persist in the sub-sample of brothers.

Climate Change Denial among Radical Right-Wing Supporters

2021-02-16

The linkage between political right-wing orientation and climate change denial is extensively studied. However, previous research has almost exclusively focused on the mainstream right, which differs from the far right (radical and extreme) in some important domains. Thus, we investigated correlates of climate change denial among supporters of a radical right-wing party (Sweden Democrats, N = 2216), a mainstream right-wing party (the Conservative Party, Moderaterna, N = 634), and a mainstream center-left party (Social Democrats, N = 548) in Sweden. Across the analyses, distrust of public service media (Swedish Television, SVT), socioeconomic right-wing attitudes, and antifeminist attitudes outperformed the effects of anti-immigration attitudes and political distrust in explaining climate change denial, perhaps because of a lesser distinguishing capability of the latter mentioned variables. For example, virtually all Sweden Democrat supporters oppose immigration. Furthermore, the effects of party support, conservative ideologies, and belief in conspiracies were relatively weak, and vanished or substantially weakened in the full models. Our results suggest that socioeconomic attitudes (characteristic for the mainstream right) and exclusionary sociocultural attitudes and institutional distrust (characteristic for the contemporary European radical right) are important predictors of climate change denial, and more important than party support per se.

Gender Differences in the Interest in Mathematics Schoolwork Across 50 Countries

2021-01-22

Although much research has found girls to be less interested in mathematics than boys are, there are many countries in which the opposite holds. I hypothesize that variation in gender differences in interest are driven by a complex process in which national culture promoting high math achievement drives down interest in math schoolwork, with the effect being amplified among girls due to their higher conformity to peer influence. Predictions from this theory were tested in a study of data on more than 500,000 grade 8 students in 50 countries from the 2011 and 2015 waves of TIMSS. Consistent with predictions, national achievement levels were strongly negatively correlated with national levels of math schoolwork interest and this variation was larger among girls: girls in low-achievement, high-interest countries had especially high interest in math schoolwork, whereas girls in high-achievement, low-interest countries had especially low interest in math schoolwork. Gender differences in math schoolwork interest were also found to be related to gender differences in math achievement, emphasizing the importance of understanding them better.

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