John Donlosky

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Survivorship bias and the enduring appeal of bad ideas

2019-12-24T13:28:16+00:00October 9th, 2018|Featured|

Survivorship bias occurs when we draw conclusions only from examples which have passed some sort of selection criteria and systematically discount those which have not. During World War II, British bombers were suffering a fairly awful attrition rate. Understandably, the RAF were keen to try to improve the survivability of their aircraft. Most of the bombers that limped back to base showed signs of heavy damage around the cockpit and wing tips and so the prevailing opinion was that if these sections of the aircraft were reinforced more planes would survive. Then, along came statistician, Abraham Wald who pointed out that [...]

Context isn’t king

2016-11-21T16:26:09+00:00November 21st, 2016|Featured|

It's become quite fashionable recently to say that there's no best way to teach because what works depends on the context in which you teach. This is a considerable improvement on asserting that [insert half-baked, debunked practice of your choosing] is the best way and then penalising teachers for not doing it, but it's still a bit of a cop-out. I'm not claiming context doesn't matter - of course it does - but it isn't nearly as important as some would have us believe. Clearly, the context of schooling in different countries varies greatly and most right-thinking people acknowledge that 'policy tourism [...]