Blog Archives

Academies Releases “How People Learn II”

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recently released a new consensus study report, How People Learn II: Learners, Contexts, and Cultures, which summarizes the current research on the science of learning. The report is a follow-up to a 2000 study and highlights advances in knowledge produced over the past 15 years, including “insights about the influence of culture in shaping how people learn, the dynamic nature of learning across the life span, and the importance of motivation in learning.” The report also identifies priorities for future research in two main areas: (1) connecting research on internal mechanisms of learning with the shaping forces of contextual variation, including culture, social context, instruction, and time of life; and (2) using insights on the science of learning to better design technologies that facilitate learning across the lifespan and to adapt technologies to specific learning environments. The full report is available for download on the National Academies’ website.

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Posted in Issue 20 (October 16), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

COPAFS Launches Executive Director Search

The Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS) has launched a search for a new Executive Director following the retirement of John Thompson this summer. COPAFS advocates for the development and dissemination of high-quality federal statistics. More details on COPAFS and on the search are available on the COPAFS website.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 2), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Social Psychologists Among 2018 Golden Goose Award Recipients

The seventh annual Golden Goose Award Ceremony was held on September 13 in Washington, DC to honor seemingly obscure federally funded research that resulted in “tremendous human and economic benefit.” Many members of Congress joined the honorees in recognizing the importance of federal-funded scientific research including Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR). The honorees included the social and behavioral scientists that pioneered the study of implicit bias and the Implicit Association Test. More information about the award, videos of the honorees, and complete coverage of the event can be found here.

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Posted in Issue 18 (September 18), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

COSSA and 25 Science Organizations Call for Removal of Census Citizenship Question

In a joint comment to the Department of Commerce, COSSA and 25 other science and research organizations urged the Department to remove the citizenship question from the 2020 Census. The letter, which was submitted in response to a federal request for input on data collection activities related to the 2020 Census, focuses on the science and research implications of the citizenship question, arguing that “the inclusion of a question on citizenship in the 2020 Census will increase the burden on respondents, add unnecessary costs to the operation, and negatively impact the accuracy and integrity of one of the most valuable data resources the government produces.” COSSA previously released a statement opposing the question after it was announced. While formal approval of 2020 Census questionnaire by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is all but certain, several law suits to remove the question are currently pending.

In response to the same request for comments, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Council on National Statistics (CNSTAT) Task Force on the 2020 Census submitted a letter concluding that “the decision to add a question on citizenship status to the 2020 census is inconsistent with the ‘proper performance of the functions’ of the Census Bureau.” The CNSTAT letter is available on the National Academies’ website.

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Posted in Issue 16 (August 7), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Event Highlights State Evidence-Based Policymaking

On July 24, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) hosted an event entitled “How States Use Data and Evidence for Policymaking: Current Trends and Future Opportunities.” The event began with a fireside chat between Nick Hart, Director of the Evidence-Based Policymaking Initiative at BPC, and Sara Dube, Director of the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative at the Pew Research Center, who defined evidence-based policymaking (EBP) as “the systematic use of findings from program evaluations and outcome analyses to guide government policy and funding decisions.” Much of the conversation revolved around a report from Pew, “How States Engage in Evidence-Based Policymaking.” The report found that successful EBP efforts include four characteristics: (1) engaging decision makers, (2) building champions for evidence-building, (3) developing staff capacity, and (4) creating mechanisms for effective and continued use.

A panel moderated by Kira Fatherree, Senior Policy Analyst at BPC, highlighted several examples of state- and city-level evidence-based policymaking and discussed the challenges of implementing it. Jessica Corvinus, Research and Evidence-Based Policy Manager at the Colorado Office of State Planning and Budgeting, went over the work the Colorado Governor’s Office has been doing to increase the use of EBP since 2014. Eric W. Trupin, Director of the Division of Public Behavioral Health and Justice Policy at the University of Washington, discussed his work on incorporating evidence in the field of juvenile detention and youth recidivism. David Yokum, Director of The Lab @ DC, explained that a big hurdle in implementing evidence-based policymaking is that most states and cities don’t have the means to collect survey data themselves, and the data that is available to them is often not in a format that is easily used. Overall, the speakers agreed that the best way to normalize and increase use of evidence-based policymaking is to build a culture where it is expected and where policy that isn’t evidence-based is not accepted.

This article was contributed by COSSA’s summer intern, Catherine Cox of the University of Michigan.

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Posted in Issue 16 (August 7), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Puerto Rico’s Statistical Agency Spared from Reorganization (For Now)

Legislators in Puerto Rico have backed away from a plan to dismantle Puerto Rico’s statistical agency, the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics (PRIS). The proposal had been included in drafts of a government reorganization bill being considered by the commonwealth’s Legislative Assembly; it would have moved the independent agency to the Department of Economic Development and Commerce and outsourced many of its activities to the private sector. COSSA joined a letter led by the American Statistical Association (ASA), a COSSA governing member, to call for PRIS to maintain its independence. The provision was ultimately removed in the final conferenced version of the legislation sent to Puerto Rico’s governor for signature. However, the future of the Institute may not yet be secure; the legislature has promised to address issues related to PRIS in a future session. More information is available on ASA’s website.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 10), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

International Natural and Social Science Bodies Merge to Form “International Science Council”

Two international science organizations, the International Council for Science and the International Social Science Council, have merged to form the International Science Council (ISC), whose mission is to “act as the global voice for science.” ISC’s membership consists of international scientific unions and associations and over 140 national and regional scientific organizations (including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences). In an opening address at ISC’s inaugural General Assembly in Paris, Catherine Brechignac, Secretaire Perpetuel of the French Academy of Sciences (a past president of the natural science-focused International Council for Science) said that the merging of the two organizations reflects that “social sciences should be at least as important” as natural sciences in setting the global research agenda. More information about the new organization is available on the ISC website.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 10), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Academies Report Recommends Strategies to Address Sexual Harassment in Academia

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has released a new consensus study report, Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report details the impacts of sexual harassment in terms of damage to research integrity and loss of talent and argues that institutions should view sexual harassment as “equally important as research misconduct in terms of its effect on the integrity of research.” The report makes seven broad recommendations for how academic institutions can better address and prevent sexual harassment: address gender harassment (sexist hostility and crude behavior); move beyond legal compliance to address culture and climate; create diverse, inclusive, and respectful environments; improve transparency and accountability; diffuse the hierarchical and dependent relationship between trainees and faculty; provide support for targets of harassment; and strive for strong and diverse leadership. The complete report and supplementary materials are available on the National Academies website.

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Posted in Issue 13 (June 26), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Innovation: An American Imperative Releases Progress Report

In celebration of the third anniversary of Innovation: An American Imperative, a group of the endorsing organizations issued a report on the progress made by Congress on areas of focus highlighted in the original 2015 report.

The Innovation Imperative effort brought U.S. industry, higher education, science and engineering organizations, including COSSA, together to urge Congress to enact policies and make investments to help ensure the United States remains the global innovation leader.

The original statement on congressional progress provided seven areas of focus for congressional action moving forward: renewing the federal commitment to scientific discovery by ending sequestration level spending caps and providing steady and sustained funding growth; permanently strengthening the R&D tax credit; reforming visa policies; improving STEM education; streamlining or eliminating costly and inefficient regulations; reaffirming merit-based peer review; and stimulating improvements in advanced manufacturing.

The progress report notes the congressional progress on making permanent a strengthened federal R&D tax credit and reaffirming merit-based peer review. The report also notes that Congress has taken steps toward renewing the federal commitment to scientific discovery and streamlining costly and inefficient regulations but has not completely enacted these changes. Find more information on the Innovation Imperative website.

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Posted in Issue 13 (June 26), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NASEM Report Outlines Future of Graduate STEM Education

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recently released a new consensus study report on Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century, which outlines ways to better to prepare students from all backgrounds for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The study was written by a committee chaired by Alan Leshner, CEO Emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Burroughs Welcome Fund, the Institute of Education Sciences, and the Spencer Foundation.

The report describes an ideal system of STEM graduate education and outlines core competencies for master’s and doctoral STEM degrees. The report makes a number of recommendations to achieve this vision, including funding for research on graduate STEM education; rewarding effective teaching and mentoring; collecting national and institutional data on students and graduates; ensuring diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning environments; career exploration and preparation for graduate students; changes to the structure of doctoral research activities; and stronger support for graduate student mental health services. The full report is available to download for free on the NASEM website.

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Posted in Issue 12 (June 12), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

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