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Notes From the Fieldby Martin Weil

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

January 6, 2012

Job prospects for college grads

MSNBC reports on this Georgetown University study of job prospects for new college grads by various majors.

Best majors for finding a job out of college, according to the Georgetown researchers:  Education, Health, Life Sciences, Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Worst majors for job prospects, by large margins: Arts (no surprise there) and Architecture (!),

 

December 12, 2011

Teachers do not like creative students. Can you blame them?

One of the most consistent findings in educational studies of creativity has been that teachers dislike personality traits associated with creativity. Research has indicated that teachers prefer traits that seem to run counter to creativity, such as conformity and unquestioning acceptance of authority …  The reason for teachers’ preferences is quite clear creative people tend to have traits that some have referred to as obnoxious. Torrance (1963) described creative people as not having the time to be courteous, as refusing to take no for an answer, and as being negativistic and critical of others. …

Would you really want a little Picasso in your class? How about a baby Gertrude Stein? Or a teenage Eminem? The point is that the classroom isn’t designed for impulsive expression – that’s called talking out of turn. Instead, it’s all about obeying group dynamics and exerting focused attention.

From Marginal Revolution

June 24, 2011

The best way to create jobs … preschool

Take a bunch of 3 year olds from poor families. Randomly divide them into two groups, and give one group free access to preschool. Then follow both groups for 40 years. This is what the researchers in the Perry Preschool Program did, starting in the early 1960s.

The results were astonishing. Kids from the preschool group were less likely to be arrested and more likely to have a job. Among those with jobs, those who went to preschool made more money than those who did not.

According to this recent Planet Money podcast, most adult job-training programs are a waste of time and money. What does have a huge payoff, particularly for under-served communities? Preschool. James Heckmann, University of Chicago economist, is interviewed about his “rediscovery” of a ground-breaking study that began in the 1960s.

According to Heckman, and a recent article in Science magazine, the results and cost-effectiveness of preschool intervention are convincingly demonstrated in multiple studies.

So why, as a nation, are we not making that commitment, at a time when job and employment should be at the top of our national priorities (see yesterday’s post)? I put it down to the nature of public discourse today, defined by voter/consumer/investor need for instant results – and the natural response by politicians and companies to provide same. Imagine for a moment a Mayor/Governor/Congressperson/President having to wait 20 years or more to point to the payoff of an investment in pre-school education?

Behaviorists call this “present bias” (or simply impatience) and it leads the average person to over-value short-term rewards to the detriment of longer-term payoffs. The widespread failure to adequately save for retirement or address our dependence on foreign oil are two examples. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” I guess.

Market failure is a contributing issue.

May 27, 2011

What’s that college degree worth?

Just in time for graduation season, a study from Georgetown University finds that the highest average earnings for college graduates are earned by those with an engineering degree ($75,000), followed closely by those earning degrees in computers, mathematics, business and health. For those embarking on a job search, or considering which field to study, the report (see link above) breaks down these broader areas into earnings by individual major. The highest earnings for a specific major appears to be petroleum engineering at $120,000.

Unsurprisingly the lowest average earnings were for degrees in social work ($42,000), education (alas), and the arts.

The study also looks at median earnings for post-graduates. Looking at the summary data, those in the sciences enjoy the largest financial gain for their post-graduate degrees.

h/t Planet Money

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