Science Education & Policy

As we celebrate Earth Day this week, it is an opportune time to recognize that not all Americans have equally enjoyed the dividends of our nation’s environmental protections.

Decades of research clearly demonstrate that poor and minority communities often experience more environmental burdens and enjoy fewer environmental amenities. These communities tend to host a disproportionate number of landfills, incinerators and other polluting facilities. These are not only unpleasant to live by but also can pose significant health risks.

Teachers are likely to interpret students' misbehavior differently depending on the student's race, according to a new paper. 

Racial differences in school discipline are widely known, and black students across the United States are more than three times as likely as their white peers to be suspended or expelled, according to the background information, but the psychological processes that contribute to those differences have not been clear.

"The fact that black children are disproportionately disciplined in school is beyond dispute," said Stanford psychology Professor Jennifer Eberhardt in an interview. "What is less clear is why."


Little is known about how new mobile technologies affect students' development of non-cognitive skills such as empathy, self-control, problem solving, and teamwork. Two Boston College researchers say it's time to find out.

Lynch School of Education Assistant Professor Vincent Cho and researcher Joshua Littenberg-Tobias, PhD, present a new survey measuring teachers' perspectives on these issues recently at the American Educational Research Association annual meeting session "Examining the Potential of Mobile Technology."


Too many British children die compared to other developed nations and researchers want to know if the reason is relative poverty or low health care funding.

Through data analysis, a research team from Bournemouth University was able to compare the UK to other Western countries and found that the UK has the fourth highest child mortality rate, the third worst relative poverty and lowest funded health care. The upside is its free.

As states and the federal government in the U.S. continue to clash on the best ways to improve American education, Canada's Province of Ontario manages successful education reform initiatives that are equal parts cooperation and experimentation, according to a Boston College professor and authority on educational change.

"Although there have been battles in the past, the hallmarks of Ontario's education reform efforts are cooperation and experimentation - with an emphasis on cooperation," said Lynch School of Education Professor Dennis Shirley. "Ontario has struck the right balance. Unfortunately, in the U.S., we squander a lot of energy by fighting with each other. Instead, we should be pulling together to do the real work of improving teaching and learning."


Coaxing teenagers to sit down and do their homework is never an easy task. But is it actually worth their while to slave away for hours on end every evening?

Not according to a new study of Spanish secondary school students which has concluded that the optimum amount of homework for children is around one hour a day.

There is an old saying that A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. This was brought home to me during a radio interview I did on Tuesday night in the wake of the Federal Government’s decision to remove the conscientious objection exemption for vaccination.

I was astonished that in 2015, some of these pieces of misinformation are still out there, and still believed, if the passionate radio callers (and several posts in my Facebook feed) are any indication.

Literacy has been getting declining support in recent years. The Obama administration only wants to spend $187 million for its Effective Teaching and Learning: Literacy initiative while the Bush administration had devoted $1 billion annually to the Reading First program. That means it is necessary to find out which programs work best.

A new study uses a scientific lens to look at the conversational art of instruction, a team of researchers identify specific ways teachers talk to students that measurably impact literacy skills.


Poor sanitation is linked to 280,000 deaths per year worldwide but it has lots of benefits besides just saving lives. That is why sanitation is a key policy goal in many developing countries.

Strange sociological voodoo like a "community motivation" model to improve hygiene has done nothing, according to a recent analysis of Bangladesh, but it would if there are subsidies for hygienic latrines targeted to the poor. 


Using technology like tablets in schools has turned into a heated political debate. Los Angeles infamously spent $1.3 billion on a program to give iPads to each student, a program that has been plagued with problems.

In the United Kingdom, the head of the National Association of Head Teachers claimed he was dubious about using tech as a teaching aid in non-IT classes.