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  • A New Way To Boost High School Graduation Rates

    by LearnEd

    Graduated students in the sunset

    Don Kilburn
    President, North America, Pearson

    Education is unquestionably the foundation of a brighter future, and graduating from high school the most fundamental step toward good employment and further education. For that reason, boosting graduation rates throughout America, and particularly among underserved student populations, is an essential piece of building a more just and fair economy and society, with more opportunities for all.

    President Obama has stated a goal of achieving 90% high school graduation rates by 2020, and Pearson is proud to support that goal. We put the learner at the heart of everything we do, and believe strongly in advancing the cause of opportunity for all students.

    In June, we announced the GradNation State Activation initiative in partnership with America’s Promise Alliance. This partnership aims to support and scale multi-year, cross-sector efforts at the state and local levels to make measurable impact on graduation rates.

    We’re delighted to announce three state organizations that will each receive a $200,000 grant to support their work towards these goals.

    • The Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable engages with mayors in 16 cities across the state through the Arizona Activation Initiative, in collaboration with WestEd and other state partners
    • The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education focuses on students whose first language is not English
    • The Minnesota Alliance With Youth, which supports GradMinnesota, a statewide initiative to increase the graduation rate, focusing on students of color, low-income students, English language leaners and students with disabilities.

    An independent panel selected the grantees from a group of 41 applicants from 26 states. The panel, consisting of respected leaders in the education and youth development community, including Building a Grad Nation report co-author John Bridgeland, president and CEO, Civic Enterprises; former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise, president, Alliance for Excellent Education;  Karen Pittman, co-founder, president and CEO, The Forum for Youth Investment;  and 2015 National Teacher of the Year Shanna Peeples.

    We congratulate the grantees, and wish them the best in the work to come. We’re looking forward to working with you, supporting you and celebrating the progress you will make in the years ahead.

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  • Great Minds Think Unalike: Creatively Teaching Gender Diversity in the Workplace

    by LearnEd

    A team collaborating

    When Kendra Thomas was asked to consider a new Pearson project that could help companies understand gender differences (gender diversity), she thought it was "just another reason to single out women who 'all cry in the marketplace.'" She says "that kind of thinking drives me batty."

    Kendra is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion in the Americas for Pearson. Her regard for this new project changed drastically when she saw two brain scan images, one of a male's brain at rest and the other of a female's brain at rest. The pictures were entirely different, showing the stark differences between men and women's cognitive processes. "It was really valuable," she says. "If you're not a gender intelligent colleague or leader, then you're missing a lot of progress."

    Brain scans of a female brain (left) and a male brain (right). Both brains are at rest.

    Not long after, Be Gender Intelligent was born. It's an online curriculum produced by Pearson in close collaboration with Barbara Annis and Associates, a firm that takes ground-breaking gender research seminars in to executive suites and board rooms.

    "We want to translate that experience, not simply transcribe it," says Sean Stowers who's Pearson's Director of Learning Services. For example, Be Gender Intelligent takes those two brain scans usually shown on a screen during seminars and adds several more interactive steps for the online learner.

    Gender Intelligence 2
    A screen shot of the Be Gender Intelligent digital program for online learners.

    "It begins with the brain science," Sean says about the online version of the two images. "Then we scroll through key differences between men and women in the pictures. Then, again through interactivity and video, we show the man's perspective during the experience, as well as the woman's perspective during the same experience."

    Sean says his own team has learned how to be more gender intelligent while working on the project. "It's now part of our own dialogue," he says.

    Be Gender Intelligent will be available to large firms and their employees starting this fall. The design team has integrated some of Pearson's most creative thinking about online learning in to the almost 16 hours of content. "It can be structured so that learners can go through it in a pace that works for them," Sean says.

    Learning and inclusion work hand-in-hand to make organizations more efficient—and more profitable. “If you don’t know how to be gender intelligent with your colleagues, then you’re likely not finding the best or most innovative solutions together,” says Kendra Thomas. “Truly transformative things happen when men and women leverage their diversity to work better together.”

    Kendra provided three tips for increasing your gender intelligence

    1. Be an insatiable learner. Being gender intelligent means having curiosity that goes beyond binary gender lines. Gender intelligent leaders voraciously learn all that they can, regardless of whether the learning comes from a male or female viewpoint. This makes them more attuned to fine differences that can make or break teams.
    2. Be inclusive. You cannot be a gender intelligent colleague or leader without keeping a constant eye on whether you are contributing to the environment. Practicing inclusive leadership lets you better leverage the unique skills men and women bring to the workplace. 
    3. Even if a meeting ends, keep the dialogue going. Instead of rushing to an immediate conclusion, train yourself to step back and ask, "is there anything here that I'm missing?" Exercise your muscles around contextual and web-like thinking.

    Read more from Kendra and Sean on Twitter.

    Read more about how Pearson and the Gender Intelligence Group are exploring gender intelligence together.

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  • You're Already a Learning Expert at Home, Here's How

    by LearnEd

    Photo of a family

    A Concept Called 'Retrieval Practice'

    Retrieval Pull

    Liane Wardlow is a learning research scientist at Pearson—and a mom. Both of these roles are involved when she's helping her children with their homework.

    "My son often has spelling homework, or definitions," Liane says. "Re-writing those words and definitions over and over again doesn't help him learn as much as asking him to spell the words and explain the definitions out loud, out of order."

    It's a concept called retrieval practice and, after decades and decades of research, it's more or less proven to help learners create stronger memories about what they're learning.

    Ever read something, then forget it five minutes later? Liane says you're reading, but you're not putting the information in your long-term memory.


    Learning Curves, Forgetting Curves

    Learning curves are often steep for learners. That means forgetting curves can be steep, too.

    "When students are getting ready for a test, they're typically re-reading material or reviewing notes or re-immersing themselves in the material," Liane says. "That's much less effective than forcing a learner to retrieve memories about what they've learned."

    Liane says she tries to do this sort of thing with her daughter, too. "I ask her for her class notes, then I just ask her questions about the material," she says.

    "We're all working towards student learning, towards improving their lives through learning beyond just memorization and forgetting," Liane says. "This is a very simple, no-cost thing that everybody can understand and use to make the learning experience that much better."

    Pearson's Research and Innovation Network is made up of top education experts who explore solutions and innovations for challenges faced by teachers, parents and students. They’re working to ensure that learning is engaging, meaningful, personalized and focused on student success.

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  • Learning So-Called Soft Skills Could Tip the Scales In Your Favor For a Job

    by LearnEd

    Woman looking at a man

    Millions of students each year face an American job market that is as competitive as it is evolving. A recent Person survey shows that these employment challenges are wearing a lot of folks down: an incredible 41-percent of people are pessimistic about the future of employment.

    Job applicants have to keep ahead of the challenges with new skills and new learning. That same Pearson survey finds that 65-percent of today's 12-year-olds will have jobs that don't yet exist.

    Future Jobs

    “The challenge goes beyond just giving someone the skills to get a job,” said Leah Jewell, Pearson's Managing Director of Workforce Readiness and Higher Education. “Employability extends from prep to getting and keeping a job. It encompasses basic skills, technical skills, soft skills, and workplace skills. I don’t believe most schools think about teaching those soft skills, things like personal and sociability and other employability skills.”

    Employability Tease Graphic2
    Certain attributes are critical in increasing long-term employability

    Hard skills are the ones that are teachable, like computer programming, foreign language proficiency, or SEO marketing. These are the abilities that are easily quantifiable for recruiters.

    Soft skills are less measurable. Sometimes referred to as "people skills" or "interpersonal skills," these are the things that complement hard skills. They're also more valuable to recruiters. Applicants who are proficient in these skills are sought after because they're much harder to teach—and they make individuals more enjoyable to work with.

    Here are seven "soft skills" employers are looking for in potential hires:

    1. Adaptability - responding well to challenges will help you grow personally and profressionally

    2. Resilience - learning from experience and boldly attacking subsequent challenges

    3. Optimism - being the most poistive person in any meeting - generate good energy and good will

    4. Integrity - being trustworthy, honest, and authentic

    5. Critical thinking - challenging assumptions and finding new and bold solutions

    6. Proactivity - thinking and acting ahead

    7. Empathy - respecting and nurturing all relationships with co-workers and clients

    More on the Pearson poll we mentioned:


    Read more from Leah on Twitter.

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  • Meet Matt and Briana: They're Making Learning More Childish

    by LearnEd

    Students and teachers at a desk

    Matt and Briana live in Arizona. He is 12. She is 11. Both of them have an essential role in the design of future learning tools because ... well, they're children.

    "It's been a long time since we were kids," says (adult) researcher Lisa Maurer who helps run Kids CoLab with Pearson. The project pairs kids like Matt and Briana with adults for collaborative sessions on upcoming projects and products. "Everyone has a role," Lisa says. "They only thing the kids need to do is be kids."

    Kids CoLab meets each week for about 90 minutes. After snack and circle time, adults and children split up together in to groups to test out a design task or research technique. Everybody addresses each other by first name. Each session ends with presentations about ideas and discoveries.

    "It's helped me change how I look at school," says Briana in the video below. "Like in projects, I'll be open to more things and more ideas."

    "She wasn't always a tinkerer," says Briana's mom, Joyce. "She manipulates things more. She's a problem solver."

    "We're empowering children to take part in the design and ideation process to make learning better," says Lisa Maurer. "We know the role that engagement plays in learning. If kids can be involved in the process early on, they can make changes to the whole system in positive ways."

    Coming soon: more about the specific projects and contributions of the Kids CoLab team.

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