Subliminal education?

The idea of inserting “social-psychological interventions” into learning software is gaining steam, raising both hopes and fears about the ways the ed-tech industry might seek to capitalize on recent research into the impact of students’ mindsets on their learning.

…Publishing giant Pearson recently conducted an experiment involving more than 9,000 unwitting students at 165 different U.S. colleges and universities. Without seeking prior consent from participating institutions or individuals, the company embedded “growth-mindset” and other psychological messaging into some versions of one of its commercial learning software programs. The company then randomly assigned different colleges to use different versions of that software, tracking whether students who received the messages attempted and completed more problems than their counterparts at other institutions.

The results included some modest signs that some such messaging can increase students’ persistence when they start a problem, then run into difficulty. That’s likely to bolster growth-mindset proponents, who say it’s important to encourage students to view intelligence as something that can change with practice and hard work.

But the bigger takeaway, according to Pearson’s AERA paper, is the possibility of leveraging commercial educational software for new research into the emerging science around students’ attitudes, beliefs, and ways of thinking about themselves.

Here is more, via Phil Hill.  Is all education subliminal education?

Comments

Not sure why you're calling it "subliminal". One of their interventions was to include messages after a wrong answer including "Some students tried this question 26 times! Don't worry if it takes you a few tries to get it right." which seems pretty damn blatant.

(Though that example was part of what they called an "anchoring" intervention, rather than the "growth-mindset" intervention.)

You sound like Dan Ariely! You should read his excellent book "Predictably Irrational"!

It's not the methodology so much as it is the message. "What" are they sneaking into the instruction? This technique lends itself to misuse and sneaky brain washing. What we need is transparency not secrecy.

The motives seem potentially good in this case. But if we are to tolerate lack of transparency here, then we will be less predisposed to agitate in cases where there are higher prospects for abuse.

Such research should involve small datasets with limited prospect to be used against the broader public (whether collectively or some subset of selected individuals).

Those damn teachers at school were always subliminally using psycho social interventions on me. Frowning at me when I did things wrong, smiling when I acted in approved ways -- "You're sharing your crayons, good boy!" (As you can see, I was raised in a communist country.)

Mine used subliminal rulers across the knuckles!

After one encounter with the subliminal ruler, I resolved to behave myself in class. Then, we more feared the teacher telling the Old Man. That was then. This is now.

In any case, built-in subliminal psycho stuff facilitates the brainwashing. Public schools are leftist indoctrination camps.

Don't forget Facebook, and basically everything on your smartphone or on the internet when thinking about "built-in subliminal psycho stuff" that facilitates brainwashing.

So much brainwashing all around us, we must have really clean brains!

You would think that, but alas....

Anyone who has taught technical topics to undergraduates knows that part of the job is to persuade the student that they can actually understand and master a topic if they apply themselves a little. At the margin, this has a stronger effect than finding a new creative way to teach a concept.

It is amazing to think that online Ed providers have more data on learning than 382 year old Ivy League schools.

We are just getting started.

So this is how Trump stole the election. Subliminal messages, but not in college textbooks. Rather in social media feeds. Ingenious.

Trump did not steal the election, and any one who suggests it is clearly living in a deluded fantasy world.

@C_P - yes he did, it's called the Electoral College. It's legal but it's theft (from the left, in this case).

Not in all cases, Ray. If it happened to the right, it'd be OK.

That's friggin ridiculous. First, the EC is a feature, not a bug. It was specifically designed so that smaller colonies (states) would consent to be part of a united federal republic. The EC wasnt an act of genius or conspiracy, but a compromise of political pragmatism.

Second, both Clinton and Trump knew they were playing the EC game when they started. Clinton has no excuse for losing bases on rules she not only understood but campaigned around.

Third, there is no iron law that plurality rule is optimal. It is but one of many voting schemes. Objective functions dont have to weight each voter's preferences equally. For that matter, there were tens of millions of nonvoters who had no say whatsoever. Their preferences were given zero weight as a matter of law.

Finally, Trump was not the first person to win the EC but not the popular vote. IIRC, it has happened four times. This doesnt even consider all the times the president was selected in smoke filled rooms by the House when no candidate had a majority of EC votes and no one had a majority of the popular vote.

I find all similar arguments against the EC equally ignorant and unprincipled.

When Trump repeatedly argues that there was no collusion, this is because a) there is basically no doubt that someone was going to bat for Trump and seems to have broken quite a lot of laws (not to mention ethics) along the way, but b) no documentation has been brought forward which demonstrates that "the Trump campaign" colluded.

In other words, it is possible that someone broke a lot of laws and that the Trump campaign benefited from it, without "the Trump campaign" having broken any laws.

'who say it’s important to encourage students to view intelligence as something that can change with practice and hard work'

Clearly, more PC clap trap from the sort of people that refuse to confront reality. Or at least disagree with a number of commenters here.

Come on. If you're going to fake Prior at least do it properly. For one thing, you are on topic. That is a dead give away.

A proper Prior post has to be about ten times longer. It needs to be mostly a cut and paste from Wikipedia. With at least two links. It needs to be more incoherent and irrelevant. And somehow you have to work the subject so you can get a complaint about GMU in there somehow.

Presumably if people really think that there is such a thing as unconscious bias and leaving bus stops untidy cause racism, then everything people do needs ethics clearance and regulation. Even the messages you get when you get a question wrong.

The mockery sails undisturbed past your eyes. But then, your IQ is undoubtedly never influenced by practice and hard work.

It's literally possible to practice and prepare for a standardized test.

This is nothing. What you are saying is that you are using behavioral econ and educational psychology, along with AI learning algorithms which track the learners behavior with similar cohorts, to derive an optimal individualized learning plan for a student.

The same thing used to be done by an attentive teacher.

Cambridge Analytica has an educational program based on scraping your and your friends Facebook data to create an optimal learning program. You may have already been using it without your knowledge or consent.

I for one welcome our bleep bloop overlords.

The subliminal message I often get when I attempt to sign in on a web site: The user name or the password doesn't match our records. I'll get that mild response two or three times, then this subliminal message: You have been blocked from signing in after three failed attempts. The first response encourages me to try again, while the second response encourages me to throw my computer out the window. Some websites offer other subliminal messages to assist one in signing in, such as asking a question that only you, the correct person and not a hacker would know the answer. The typical question: Who was your father's best friend when your father was in the third grade?

"it’s important to encourage students to view intelligence as something that can change with practice and hard work." Some may think it important; I think it could be cruel. "It's your own fault that you are stupid" is a wicked thing to tell a youngster.

On subliminal messages in music:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backmasking

Actually, there are three kinds of education: Subliminal, Liminal and Superliminal
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roswPPr2t3U

Supraliminal, for whatever reason ...

I am reminded of playing Alpha Centauri, where when you acquire a new technology, it will read some Nietzsche to you, or something to that effect.
Maybe in this software they can recite some of Jordan Peterson's Rules for Life, or perhaps a quotation from a motivational poster.

Publishing giant Pearson recently conducted an experiment involving more than 9,000 unwitting students at 165 different U.S. colleges and universities. Without seeking prior consent from participating institutions or individuals, the company embedded “growth-mindset” and other psychological messaging into some versions of one of its commercial learning software programs.

They got the IRB to approve that?

We took this one to IRB when we were considering it as a paper, but ended up making a youtube video instead. Same topic as Pearson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GyXDoSvR4Y&feature=youtu.be

Before we embed growth-mindset ideas in college software, can we first start with altered ethics that allow for running psychological experiments on unwitting students? I think that will cut off a lot of future hand-wringing.

I don't see anything unethical about this. They're always experimenting on students, and you're always experimenting on others in your interactions with them. The only difference is that this time they randomized what they were going to do to see how if it affected learning. Does a shop keeper need permission from customers if they decide to try out different advertisements or sale prices on their goods to see which one increased sales more?

If a student is not getting something, top educators suggest repeating yourself much more loudly and slowly, with lots of exasperated eye-rolling and foot-tapping

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