ScienceDaily (Apr. 3, 2012) — A new
regional study by a senior learning researcher and Mississippi State faculty
member is the first to link homework distraction to a wide range of variables.
The multi-level analysis by
Jianzhong Xu, a professor in the university's College of Education, examined a
range of variables affecting homework distraction, at both the student level
and the class level. He hypothesized that homework distraction is affected by
such variables as gender, academic achievement and student attitudes toward the
A member of the college's leadership
and foundations department, Xu also included numerous types of distractions in
"The distractions I considered
ranged from the conventional, such as watching television or daydreaming, to the
high-tech, such as text messaging and playing video games," he said.
Xu surveyed 1,800 eighth- and
11th-grade students from nearly 100 classes across the Southeastern United
States. Students were asked about the frequency of family help with homework, extracurricular
activities and parents' education levels, among other variables.
Xu, a Columbia University doctoral
graduate, said the study found those less likely to be distracted while doing
homework scored higher in affective attitude, academic achievement,
learning-oriented reasons, homework interest, and adult-oriented reasons.
Most of the variance in homework
distraction occurred at the student level, not at the class level, he added.
While it may be a common assumption
that many students tend to think of homework as boring, Xu's investigation
indicated affective attitude toward homework, like the favorability of homework
as compared with other after-school activities, affect homework distraction the
The study also yielded two
Girls were more likely to be distracted than boys
11th graders were more likely to be distracted than
younger students while doing homework.
Xu said the study's results have
both research and practical implications.
"This line of research needs to
be continued," Xu said. "Other school levels, how different genders
handle distractions and how certain attitudes toward homework play a role in
coping with distraction need to be examined."
Even though the findings show family
homework help is not directly related to homework distraction, parents may
still play an important role in helping children cope with distraction through
influencing their attitudes toward homework. And students can take
responsibility toward decreasing distraction while doing their homework by
arranging a conducive homework environment and prioritizing and structuring
Mississippi State University (2012, April 3). In-depth look
at homework distractions.
Autism More Common Than Previously Thought: CDC Report
Shows One in 54 Boys Identified
ScienceDaily (Mar. 29, 2012) — The
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 88 children
in the United States has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder
(ASD), according to a new study released March 29 that looked at data from 14
communities. Autism spectrum disorders are almost five times more common among
boys than girls -- with 1 in 54 boys identified.
The number of children identified
with ASDs ranged from 1 in 210 children in Alabama to 1 in 47 children in Utah.
The largest increases were among Hispanic and black children.
The report, Prevalence of Autism
Spectrum Disorders -- Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network,
14 Sites, United States, 2008, provides autism prevalence estimates from 14
areas. It was just published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
"This information paints a
picture of the magnitude of the condition across our country and helps us
understand how communities identify children with autism," said Health and
Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "That is why HHS and our
entire administration has been working hard to improve the lives of people
living with autism spectrum disorders and their families by improving research,
support, and services."
"One thing the data tells us
with certainty -- there are more children and families that need help,"
said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "We must continue to track
autism spectrum disorders because this is the information communities need to
guide improvements in services to help children."
Zachary Warren, Ph.D., director of
the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center's Treatment and Research Institute for Autism
Spectrum Disorders at Vanderbilt University, says effective early
identification and treatment of autism is a public health emergency.
"The new CDC data is the best
evidence we have to date that autism is a very common disorder. While recent
estimates have varied, we have always known the individual, familial, educational
and societal costs that go along with autism are tremendous," Warren said.
"We are now seeing autism in more than 1 percent of the population, which
highlights how challenging it will be for systems of care to meet service
The results of CDC's study highlight
the importance of the Obama administration's efforts to address the needs of
people with ASDs, including the work of the Interagency Autism Coordinating
Committee (IACC) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The
IACC's charge is to facilitate ASD research, screening, intervention, and
education. As part of this effort, the National Institutes of Health has
invested in research to identify possible risk factors and effective therapies
for people with ASDs.
Study results from the 2008
surveillance year show 11.3 per 1,000 8-year-old children have been identified
as having an ASD. This marks a 23 percent increase since the last report in
2009. Some of this increase is due to the way children are identified,
diagnosed and served in their communities, although exactly how much is due to
these factors is unknown. "To understand more, we need to keep
accelerating our research into risk factors and causes of autism spectrum
disorders," said Coleen Boyle, Ph.D., M.S.Hyg., director of CDC's National
Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.
The study also shows more children
are being diagnosed by age 3, an increase from 12 percent for children born in
1994 to 18 percent for children born in 2000. "Unfortunately, 40 percent
of the children in this study aren't getting a diagnosis until after age 4. We
are working hard to change that," said Boyle.
Reference: Prevalence of Autism
Spectrum Disorders -- Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network,
14 Sites, United States, 2008 March 30, 2012 / Vol. 61 / No. SS-3
Parents of Children With Autism More Likely to Get
ScienceDaily (Apr. 2, 2012) —
Parents of children with autism are more likely to get common ailments such as
colds, coughs and headaches as a direct result of the increased stresses linked
to their caring duties, according to research from Northumbria University.
The research is published in the
journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, this April which is also National
In the first study to look at the
physical and psychological well-being of these carers, psychologists Dr Mark
Wetherell, Dr Mark Moss and PhD researcher Brian Lovell also discovered higher
levels of C-reactive protein in the careers, a marker of inflammation that is
linked to increased risk of developing coronary heart disease and diabetes.
Dr Wetherell said: "Parents of
children with autism face tremendous physical, financial, emotional and social
pressures and these can lead to prolonged activation of stress responses which
might place them at greater risk of adverse health outcomes.
"The consequences of these
effects are far-reaching and can influence the ability of the caregiver to
provide consistent, effective and sustainable care for their child."
In a separate study, published in
the April edition of Research in Developmental Disabilities the team
discovered that careers with lower levels of social support experienced greater
levels of stress, depression and anxiety and more common ailments.
The team is now to embark on a new
research project looking at how writing about their emotions can have a
positive impact on careers' well being. Those taking part in the research will
be asked to provide saliva and blood samples and write for 20 minutes for three
days on an assigned topic.
Link Between Violent Computer Games and Aggressiveness
ScienceDaily (Apr. 2, 2012) — There
is a long-lasting and at times intense debate about the possible link between
violent computer games and aggressiveness. A group of researchers from the University
of Gothenburg, Sweden, are now questioning the entire basis of the discussion.
In a recently published article, they present a new study showing that, more
than anything, a good ability to cooperate is a prerequisite for success in the
violent gaming environment.
Researchers argue that gamers not
only learn to cooperate but also to understand complex contexts, understand how
skills can be improved, and think through cause and effect relationships.The
opposing camp, on the other hand, is convinced that the games may foster
violent and aggressive behaviour outside the gaming environment.
Complex gaming situations
The study, authored by Ulrika
Bennerstedt, Jonas Ivarsson and Jonas Linderoth and titled "How gamers
manage aggression: Situating skills in collaborative computer games," is presented
in International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning.
The Gothenburg-based research group
spent hundreds of hours playing online games and observing other gamers,
including on video recordings. They focused on complex games with portrayals of
violence and aggressive action where the participants have to fight with and
against each other. 'The situations gamers encounter in these games call for
sophisticated and well-coordinated collaboration. We analysed what
characteristics and knowledge the gamers need to have in order to be
successful,' says Jonas Ivarsson, Docent (Reader) at the Department of
Education, Communication and Learning.
Strategy and timing
It turns out that a successful gamer
is strategic and technically knowledgeable, and has good timing. Inconsiderate
gamers, as well as those who act aggressively or emotionally, generally do not
do well. 'The suggested link between games and aggression is based on the
notion of transfer, which means that knowledge gained in a certain situation
can be used in an entirely different context. The whole idea of transfer has
been central in education research for a very long time. The question of how a
learning situation should be designed in order for learners to be able to use
the learned material in real life is very difficult, and has no clear answers,'
'In a nutshell, we're questioning
the whole gaming and violence debate, since it's not based on a real problem
but rather on some hypothetical reasoning,' he says.