Category Archives: UNL / College Teaching

Social Motivation, Amongst Other Notes

Albanese, Robert, & van Fleet, David D. (1985). Rational Behavior in Groups: The Free-Riding Tendency. The Academy of Management Review 10(2):244-255.

Beins, B.C. (2002). Technology in the classroom: Traditions in psychology. In S. Davis & W.Buskist (Eds.). The teaching of psychology: Essays in honor of William J. McKeachie and Charles Brewer. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. (pp. 307-321)

Fass, Paula. Testing the IQ of Children.

Fels, Rendigs. (1993). This is what I do, and I like it. The Journal of Economic Education 24(4):365-370.

Leuthold, Jane H. (1993). A Free Rider Experiment for the Large Class. The Journal of Economic Education 24(4):353-363.

Slavin, Robert E. (1996). Research on Cooperative Learning and Achievement: What We Know, What We Need to Know. Contemporary Educational Psychology 21(1):43-69.

Slavin, Robert E. (1999). Comprehensive Approaches to Cooperative Learning. Theory into Practice 38(2):74-79.

Taylor, M.C.(1996). Creating global classrooms. In J.K. Roth (Ed.) Inspiring Teaching: Carnegie Professors of the Year Speak. Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, Inc. (pp. 134-145).

In a recent comment, Mark of ZenPundit tipped me off to Robert Slavin, an education researcher who emphasizes group goals and individual accountability. Some other tips were read, as well:

The studies that examined the role of task variables indirectly support the counterforces proposition. Making tasks identifiable, difficult, and/or unique (Harkins & Petty, 1982) or altering the nature of the task (Kerr & Brunn, 1983) basically changes the incentive system fro a group member. In general, such actions enhance the intrinsic satisfaction a group member receives from contributing to the group’s public good. This intrinsic satisfaction is, in effect, a special incentive or private good the group member receives for contributing to the group’s public good, and it serves to decrease the likelihood of free riding. (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 252)

Besides some other articles which I am required to read, most of this batch of notes deals with free-riding, accountability, and other similar issues. Many of the articles can be found on JSTOR

Nevertheless, it often is true that people acting rationally, try to minimize their costs relative to the benefits they receive. Free-rider theory (Olson, 1965) explains how this tendency operates to affect group formation and individual productivity in groups. (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 244)

Stigler states the basic free-rider problem as follows: “In a wide range of situations, individuals will fail to participate in collectively profitable activities in the absence of coercion or individually appropriate inducements (1974, 359). (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 244)

Free-rider theory assumes that individuals (1) are the actors in social situations, (2) share homogeneous value systems, similar information, and similar perceptions of reality, and (3) act rationally. Rationality means that an individual has an ordered set of preferences defined by the individual’s selfish interests and when free to do so will choose behaviors efficacious for achieving those preferences. (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 244-245)

The distinction between private and public goods is central to free-rider theory (Buchanan & Tullock, 1962; Olson, 1965; Samuelson, 1954). A good is anything tangible or intangible that satisfies an individual’s needs or desires. Goods can be differentiated by their degree of excludability. In a group, a private good is one for which it is feasible or economic to exclude one or more group members… A public good is one for which it is not feasible or economic to exclude one or more group members. (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 246)

One way to assure provision of public goods in large groups is through coercion and/or special incentives. Coercion is any form of influence or persuasion that tends to force the provision of public goods by a a group… Special incentives include increased shares in the public good and various individual incentives, such as personal recognition, a bonus, and so on. (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 247)

An identifiable task is one for which the output of an individual can be identified with that particular individual. Studies reporting “social loafing” effects used nonidentifiable tasks (Harkins, Latane, & Williams, 1980; Latane, Williams, & Harkins, 1979). Subsequent research by Harkins and Petty (1982) suggests social loafing effects cna be eliminated by making tasks identifiable. However, even when tasks are nonidentifiable, social loafing may not occur if subjects perceive tasks to be difficult or unique (Harkins & Petty, 1982). (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 248)

A study by Kerry and Brunn (1983) suggests that the task type affects group members performance. High-ability group members exerted less effort with increasing group size on a conjunctive task, a group task for which the group product is limited by the contribution of the least capable member (Steiner, 1972). Low-ability group members exerted less effort with increasing the group size on a disjunctive task, a task in which the group product is confined to the contribution of the most capable member (Ingham, Levinger, Graves, & Peckham, 1974; Steiner, 1972). (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 248)

Orbell and Dawes (1981) refer to the role of a group member who carries free riders as the “sucker role.” When a group member reduces efforts rather than play the sucker role, the effort reduction is referred to as the “sucker effect” (Kerry, 1983). The sucker effect may arise from incorrect attributions abotu the extent of free riding in a group. (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 252)

Altruistic motives may reduce the likelihood and degree of free-riding, but they do not eliminate it. (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 252)

Social information processing theory (Griffin, 1983; Salancik & Preffer, 1978) suggests that social cues from respected co-workers or supervisors about task characteristics may cause a group member to perceive a task as unique. (Albanese & van Fleet, 1985, 252)

Yandell, Lonnie. (2002) Web-based resources. In S. Davis & W.Buskist (Eds.). The teaching of psychology: Essays in honor of William J. McKeachie and Charles Brewer. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. (pp. 295-305).

Thorndike was among the first to imply that if we were to alter the process of instruction, the outcome would differ. In what we might now see as a prophetic utterance, he asserted that if “by some mechanical ingenuity, a book could be so arranged that only to him who had done what was directed on page one would page two become visible, … much that now requires personal instruction could be managed by print” (Thorndike, 1912, p. 165). (Beins, 2002, 308)

For example, Gaskill (1933) may have been the first teacher to usher in a form of distance learning. He presented two lectures over the radio; they involved what we would probably now call sports psychology. However, radio did not reappear in the literature as a medium of tutelage for 35 years (Snyder, Greer, & Snyder, 1968). Television broadcasts began as the beginning of the 1950s (Barden, 1951), and even teh telephone served as a teaching tool (Cutler, McKeachie, & McNeil, 1958). (Beins, 2002, 310)

“Instead of producing revolution, interactive courseware has produced barely a ripple on the stagnant surface of the instructional program. But the courseware mirage still beckons” (Ehrmann, 2000, pg. 44). (Beins, 2002, 315)

One of the newest approaches, Just in Time Teaching (JiTT), gives a good illustration of how to maximize what the student, teacher, and computer can achieve in combination… Using this approach, instructors pose questions or offer other preparatory assignments that students have to complete and submit within a few hours of the class meeting. The instructor reads the student responses prior to class and uses their ideas to structure class time. (Biens, 2002, 318)

Progressive social reformers hoped to use education to revitalize democracy through the reconstruction fo the elements of individual political responsibility. (Fass, 307)

The science that had the most profound effect on educational practice as psychology, a hybrid calling which was part biology, part philosophy, and in good part linked with the evolving profession of education. (Fass, 307)

What had begun as a way of eliminating the feebleminded, proceeded to a ranking of individuals according to talent, and finally became a means for ordering a hierarchy of groups. (Fass, 309)

Chamberlin reported using classroom games or experiments for teaching purposes as long ago as 1948. (Fels, 1993, 365)

Universities are based on the principle that teaching and research go together. (Fels, 1993, 365)

At the other extreme, a poor lecturer with low ratings on student evaluation questionnaires could pep up a course with these games. (Fels, 1993, 365)

Free riders are those who enjoy the benefits of a public good without contributing to the costs of providing it. Because it is impossible, or highly expensive, to exclude people from the benefits of a public gone once it is produced, consumers have an incentive to free ride” on the contributions of others. The presence of free riders can lead to the underrepresentation of preferences for the public good and, hence, to its underprovision. (Leuthold, 1993, 353)

Rosen (1992, 76) stresses that free ridership is not a fact, but a hypothesis. (Leuthold, 1993, 353)

Asch and Gigliotti (1991, 33) are also concerned that the standard treatment of free riding behavior as “rational” is ethically questionable. They believe that economists often ignore such noneconomic motivation as sense of commitment or morality. Other motivations for voluntary behavior that have been suggested in the literature include “a desire to win prestige, respect, friendship, and other social and psychological objectives” (Olson, 1965, 60) or “a desire to avoid the scorn of others or to receive social acclaim” (Becker, 1974, 1083). Andreoni (1990, 464) identifies the desire for a “warm glow” as a possible influence on behavior. (Leuthold, 1993, 353)

However, when Isaac and Walker (1988) tested the effect of group size on free riding in an experimental setting, they got mixed results, with small groups being more cooperative in some situations but less cooperative in others. (Leuthold, 1993, 354)

Experimental economics can provide interesting and profound insights into many types of economic behavior. Used in the classroom experiments stimulate student interest and involve students actively in the learning process. Involved students tend to be more attentive, have a more positive attitude toward the subject, and have higher self-esteem because they have more control over their own learning. The free rider experiment described here was specifically designed to bring active learning to the large classroom. It could, of course, be conveniently used in the small classroom as well. (Leuthold, 1993, 361-362).

From a motivationalist perspective (e.g., Johnson & Johnson, 1992; Slavin, 1983a, b, 1995), cooperative incentive structures create a situation in which the only way group members can attain their own personal goals is if the group is successful. Therefore, to meet their personal goals, group members must both help their groupmates to do whatever helps the group to succeed, and, perhaps even more importantly, to encourage their groupmates to exert maximum efforts. In other words, rewarding groups based on group performance (or the sum of individual performances) creates an interpersonal reward structure in which group members will give or withhold social reinforcers (e.g., praise, encouragement) in response to groupmates’ task-related efforts (see Slavin, 1983a)… students to encourage goaldirected behaviors among their groupmates (Slavin, 1983a, b; 1995). A substantial literature in the behavior modification tradition has found that group contingencies can be very effective at improving students’ appropriate behaviors and achievement (Hayes, 1976; Litow & Pumroy, 1975). (Slavin, 1996)

The motivationalist critique of traditional classroom organization holds that the competitive grading and informal reward system of the classroom creates peer norms opposing academic efforts (see Coleman, 1961). Since one student’s success decreases the chances that others will succeed, students are likely to express norms that high achievement is for “nerds” or teachers’ pets. Such work restriction norms are familiar in industry, where the “rate buster” is scorned by his or her fellow workers (Vroom, 1969). (Slavin, 1996)

Use of group goals or group rewards enhances the achievement outcomes of cooperative learning if and only if the group rewards are based on the individual learning of all group members (Slavin, 1995). Most often, this means that team scores are computed based on average scores on quizzes which all teammates take individually, without teammate help. (Slavin, 1996)

Comparisons of alternative treatments within the same studies found similar patterns; group goals based on the sum of individual learning performances were necessary to the instructional effectiveness of the cooperative learning models (e.g., Fantuzzo, Polite, & Grayson, 1990; Fantuzzo, Riggio, Connelly, & Dimeff, 1989; Huber, Bogatzki, & Winter, 1982). (Slavin, 1996)

However, motivational theorists hold that students help their groupmates learn at least in part because it is in their own interests to do so. Social cohesion theorists, in contrast, emphasize the idea that students help their groupmates learn because they care about the group. A hallmark of the social cohesion perspective is an emphasis on teambuilding activities in preparation for cooperative learning, and processing or group self-evaluation during and after group activities. Social cohesion theorists tend to downplay or reject the group incentives and individual accountability held by motivationalist researchers to be essential. For example, Cohen (1986, pp. 69-70) states “if the task is challenging and interesting, and if students are sufficiently prepared for skills in group process, students will experience the process of groupwork itself as highly rewarding…never grade or evaluate students on their individual contributions to the group product.” (Slavin, 1996) [this seems crazy — tdaxp]

In general, methods which emphasize teambuilding and group process but do not provide specific group rewards based on the learning of all group members are no more effective than traditional instruction in increasing achievement (Slavin, 1995), although there is evidence that these methods can be effective if group rewards are added to them. (Slavin, 1996)

One widely researched set of cognitive theories is the developmental perspective (e.g., Damon, 1984; Murray, 1982). The fundamental assumption of the developmental perspective on cooperative learning is that interaction among children around appropriate tasks increases their mastery of critical concepts. (Slavin, 1996)

There is a great deal of empirical support for the idea that peer interaction can help non-conservers become conservers. Many studies have shown that when conservers and nonconservers of about the same age work collaboratively on tasks requiring conservation, the nonconservers generally develop and maintain conservation concepts (see Bell, Grossen, and Perret-Clermont, 1985; Murray, 1982; Perret-Clermont, 1980). (Slavin, 1996)

The importance of peers’ operating in one anothers’ proximal zones of development was demonstrated by Kuhn (1972), who found that a small difference in cognitive level between a child and a social model was more conducive to cognitive growth than a larger difference. (Slavin, 1996)

However, Damon (1984, p.337) explicitly rejects the use of “extrinsic incentives as part of the group learning situation,” arguing that “there is no compelling reason to believe that such inducements are an important ingredient in peer learning.” (Slavin, 1996)

As noted earlier, reviewers of the cooperative learning literature have long concluded that cooperative learning has its greatest effects on student learning when groups are recognized or rewarded based on individual learning of their members (Slavin, 1983a, 1983b, 1989, 1992, 1995; Ellis & Fouts, 1993; Newmann & Thompson, 1987; Manning & Lucking, 1991; Davidson, 1985; Mergendoller & Packer, 1989). (Slavin, 1996)

In groups lacking individual accountability, one or two students may do the group’s work, while others engage in “social loafing” (Latane, Williams, & Harkins, 1979). (Slavin, 1996)

A comparison among Learning Together studies (Johnson & Johnson, 1989) also supports the same conclusions. Across eight studies of Learning Together methods in which students were rewarded based on a single worksheet or product, the median effect size was near zero (+.04). However, among four studies that evaluated forms of the program in which students were graded based on the average performance of all group members on individual assessments, three found significantly positive effects. (Slavin, 1996)

Several studies have focused on the question of which students gain the most from cooperative learning. One particularly important question relates to whether cooperative learning is beneficial to students at all levels of prior achievement. It would be possible to argue (see, for example, Allan, 1991; Robinson, 1990) that high achievers could be held back by having to explain material to theirlow-achieving groupmates. However, it would be equally possible to argue that because students who give elaborated explanations typically learn more than those who receive them (Webb, 1992), high achievers should be the students who benefit most from cooperative learning because they give the most frequent elaborated explanations. The evidence from experimental studies that met the inclusion criteria for this review support neither position. A few studies found better outcomes for high achievers than for low and a few found that low achievers gained the most (see Slavin, 1995). Most, however, found equal benefits for high, average, and low achievers in comparison to their counterparts in control groups. (Slavin, 1996)

One category of tasks that may not require group goals and individual accountability is tasks in which it is likely that students will benefit by hearing others thinking aloud. This is the classic Vygotskian paradigm; students in collaborating groups make overt their private speech, giving peers operating at a slightly lower cognitive level on a given task a stepping stone to understanding and incorporating higher-quality solutions in their own private speech (see Bershon, 1992). Tasks of this kind would be ones at a very high level of cognitive complexity but without a well-defined path to a solution or a single correct answer, especially tasks on which there are likely to be differences of opinion. For such tasks, the process of participating in arguments or even of listening to others argue and justify their opinions or solutions may be enough to enhance learning, even if no teaching, explanation, or assessment goes on within the group. Perhaps the best classroom evidence on this type of task is from Johnson and Johnson’s (1979) studies of structured controversy, in which students argue both sides of a controversial issue using a structured method of argumentation. (Slavin, 1996)

As in the case of controversial tasks without single correct answers, there is evidence that adding group rewards to structured dyadic tasks enhances the effects of these strategies. Fantuzzo, Polite, & Grayson (1990) evaluated a dyadic study strategy called Reciprocal Peer Tutoring. A simple pair study format did not increase student arithmetic achievement, but when successful dyads were awarded stickers and classroom privileges, their achievement markedly increased. (Slavin, 1996)

individual learning of all group members, and feel that it is unnecessary and cumbersome to do so. Widespread reluctance to use extrinsic incentives, based in part on a misreading of research on the “undermining” effects of rewards on long-term motivation (Cameron & Pierce, 1994) has contributed to many educators’ reluctance to use group rewards. (Slavin, 1996)

Cooperative learning is one of the greatest success stories in the history of educational innovation. Almost unknown in the mid-1970s, cooperative learning strategies are now so common-place that they are often seen as a standard part of educational practice, not as an innovation. One national survey (Puma, Jones, Rock, & Fernandez, 1993) found that 79 percent of third grade teachers and 62 percent of seventh grade teachers reported making regular, sustained use of cooperative learning strategies. (Slavin, 1999, 74)

Research on teh achievement effects of cooperative learning emphasizes the importance of group goals and individual accountability (e.g., Davidson, 1985; Slavin, 1995). Yet observational studies of teachers using cooperative methods find that most are using informal versions of the model, typically lacking group goals and individual accountability. This “group work” creates the danger that one child can do the work for the whole group, that some children will take the “thinking rolee” in group activities while others take clerical or passive roles, or that some children may be ignored or shut out of the group activitity, especially if they are perceived to be low achievers (see, for example, Cohen, 1994). (Slavin, 1999,74)

The emergence of electronic and tellecommunications technologies is not only changing what we teach but is transforming how we think, write, and communicate. (Taylor, 1996, 134)

While many nineteenth- and twentieth-century philosophers accept Kant’s criticism of the notion of the mind as a blank slate upon which the data of experience are directly imprinted, they remain suspicious of his claims for the universality of our mental apparatus. From Hegel and Nietzsche to Heidegger and Sartre, philosophers insist that systems of knowledge are physcologically, socially, historically, and culturally relative. While the mind might be preprogrammed, it is not necessarily hardwired. (Taylor, 1996, 135-136)

Whlie personal and cultural differences can, of course, be enriching, they can also generate conflict. (Taylor, 1996, 137)

One of the most common uses of teleconferencing by universities is for distance learning in which communication tends to be one-way and non-interactive. It is obvious that in this kind of extended classroom or lecture hall, contact between teacher and student is difficult if not impossible. (Taylor, 1996, 139-140)

In addition to increasing contact among seminar participants, the electronci environment influenced the teacher-student relation in another important way. Students were much more willing to take the lead in discussions than in any other class I have taught. While the initial impulse to contribute might have been the result of the desire to see themselves on screen, students quickly overcame their exhibitionist impulses and became serious participants in a sustained dialogue. (Taylor, 1996, 140)

Not only did they [graduate students] devise effective laboratory sessions adn write clear procedures and instructions; they also repeated the gesture of uniting theory and practice or form and content by creating a hypertextual multimedia lab manual. (Taylor, 1996, 143)

Having given by research asssistants the opportunity to teach what they had designed, I elected not to attend any of the laboratory sessions… I was beginning to suspect that these technologies create new possibilities for nonhierarchical relationships in which the line separating students and teacherse becomes obscure. (Taylor, 1996, 143)

More faculty are choosing to integrate Web resources into their teaching, and many more teachers are beging encouraged to do so. (Yandell, 2002, 296)

Brown (2000) sugested three aditional positive aspects of the Web. He pointed out that the Web is a “two way push and pull” media (p. 12)… He also observed that the Web is the “first media that honors the notion of multiple intelligences — abstract, textual, visual, musical, social, and kinesthitic… He also suggested that the Web has the distinct advantage of being able to “leverage the small effort sof hte many with the large efforts of the few” (Yandell, 2002, 303)

Learning Evolved, Part III: Coalitionary Education

Altruistic punishment is another tool to rely on. People will forfeit rewards if it means they can punish free-riders and others who have treated them unfairly (Sanfey et al, 2003, 1755). Give students a meaningful opportunity to punish free-riders in their group, such as being able to deduct a point from another’s students project at a cost to one point to the punishing student. The more free-riders free-ride, the more they will be punished, and such a system will significantly increase contributions from students as a whole (Fehr and Gachter, 2000). The benefits of punishing increases with each cheater deterred from free-riding (Boyd et al, 2003, 3533). This sort of punishment is absolutely critical to group work, because without it the human drive to avoid an unfair deal (Smith, 2006) may cause students to give up rather than labor under unfair conditions. Likewise, the presence of free-riders can increase tension and complaints within a group (Price, 2006, 32). Just as we eschew types of instruction that destroys self-efficacy, and so lessons motivation (Chemers, Hu, and Garcia, 2001, 56), we must view free-riding as serious and organize groups such that students can punish, and thereby eliminate, shirking behavior.

Another threat to motivation is the outbreak of intergroup peace. That is, if one group believes the other will not try hard, it may not try hard. Worse, this peace can snowball, because cooperation reduction is most common between groups which have made it a habit (Sapolsky, 2004). Fortunately, human competitiveness should minimize the chances of this. All a teacher must do is make sure that student groups perceive a threat from another groups, and the behavior will follow automatically. A “perception of threat makes [some people] more likely to perceive threat-based messages as credible” (Lupia, 2002, 321), and such messages can be facilitated by having public group meetings at the end of class or in other ways. Humans are naturally biased thinkers (Lodge and Taber, 1-2), and teachers should design classes to exploit the natural human bias towards group competition, and against intergroup stasis.

Of course, there are problems here too. Certain populations are more averse to punishing cheaters than others (Kotulak 2006; Singer et al, 2006), or more be more aggressive than others McDermott 35 2006). Fully a quarter of the population does not punish cheaters in laboratory experiments (Kurzban, DeScioli, and O’Brien, 2006) and these types that do not are stable — they perform the same behavior in experiment after experiment (Smith et al, 2004). Interestingly, it appears to be possible to quickly identify who will act cooperatively and who won’t based on simple games (Kurzban and DeScioli, 2005), which implies teachers can use quick “fun-day” session to know how to group students for maximal group output. Likewise, in general required Classes, students may be sorted by major as certain fields of study attract more cooperative students than others (Guth and Tietz, 1990). This can be done by making sure that enough punishers exist in every group to get the most best effort out of the free-riders (Orbell et al, 2004) — to motivate the unmotivated, in other words. If predictive performance sorting such as standardized test scores (Robbins et al, 2005, 262) GPA (Weissberg and Owen, 2005, 308), and standardized test scores (Robbins, Le, and Lauever, 2005, 411) are accepted as valid , then gameplay and majors should be, as well.

Throughout series I have argued for an approach in which, while the system is designed by the teachers, much of the everyday work is done by the students. This does not take away old methods, such as having a well defined syllabus (Barker, 2002, 382), but rather complements those methods with new knowledge.. Sometimes the best thing that teachers can do is to sit back and not pretend to know every answer (Roth, 1996, 203), or for that matter to know the best way to motivate in every circumstance. Researchers in other fields have now confirmed this, demonstrating that decentralized reward-and-punishment models do not need an all-seeing governing authority (Orbell et al, 2004, 1). Likewise, complex group assignments will allow students to specialize their tasks to their learning styles (Halonen ,2002). Some types of behavior can be adaptive in one setting but ordinarily disruptive in classrooms (Ding, 2002; Harpending and Cochran, 2002), and by allowing the same sort of specialization we see everywhere else in our society, we can design classrooms to get the best motivation out of everyone while still delivering concrete projects, reports, and other academic goods.

Learning Evolved, a companion series to Classroom Democracy
1. Darwinism-Cognitivism
2. Social Motivation
3. Coalitionary Education
4. Bibliography

Notes too late for "Learning Evolved"

One valuable part about having a blog, besides the invaluable community of critics & fans, is that it helps me write. For some reason posting notes (even notes that are universally ignored and rather vertical-domain-specific) in a semi-public place gives me more motivation to make sure that I am reading the articles and papers carefully. Likewise, using live search from any computer, I am able to quickly search through notes in any class. I wrote Learning Evolved this way, essentially compiling it together from notes I had already taken from this site.

This post’s notes are over a whole-bunch of way amazing articles, including one that I pointed Curtis to in reference to polyblogic 5GW discussion. Several of the articles are from UNL’s recent Hendricks Forum on genetics in the social sciences.

Perhaps the most interesting is from a Ph.D, a future J.D, and a Marine, Empathy and Collective Action in the Prisoner’s Dilemma:

John A. Sautter graduated cum laude from New York University, received his M.A. in History from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He currently attends Vermont Law School in South Royalton, VT and is a Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. (Sautter 2)

The Lt. Dr. should submit his work, which has obvious military implications, to the Small Wars Journal. Unless, of course, he is going after a bigger publisher.

Anyway, this post is over the following articles:

Benton, Stephen L., & Kiewra, Kenneth A. (1986). Measuring the Organizational Aspects of Writing Ability. Journal of Educational Measurement 23(4): 377-386.

Biggs, John (1999). Enriching Large-Class Teaching in Teaching for Quality Learning at University. Philadelphia, PA; Open University Press.

Craemer, Thomas. (2006). Evolutionary Model of Racial Attitude Formation Socially Shared and Idiosyncratic Racial Attitudes. Paper presented at the Hendricks Conference on Biology, Evolution, and Political Behavior.

Huddy, Leonie, Feldman, Stanley, & Weber, Christopher. (2006). The Political Consequences of Perceived Threat and Felt Insecurity. Paper presented at the Hendricks Conference on Biology, Evolution, and Political Behavior.

Igo, L. Brent, Kiewra, Kenneth A., Bruning, Roger. (2004). Removing the Snare from the Pair: Using Pictures to Learn Confusing Words. Journal of Experimental Education 72(3):165-178.

Johnson, Paul. E. (2006). Ecological Analysis of a System of Organized Interests. Paper presented at the Hendricks Conference on Biology, Evolution, and Political Behavior.

McCrudden, Matthew, Schraw, Gregory, Kendall, Hartley, & Kiewra, Kenneth A. (2004). The Influence of Presentation, Organization, and Example Context on Text Learning. Journal of Experimental Education 72(4):289-306.

Mutz, Diana C. (2006). Effects of “In-Your-Face” Television Discourse on Perceptions of a Legitimate Opposition. Paper presented at the Hendricks Conference on Biology, Evolution, and Political Behavior.

Sautter, John A. (2006). Empathy and Collective Action in the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Paper presented at the Hendricks Conference on Biology, Evolution, and Political Behavior.

Schraw, Gregory, & Bruning, Roger. (1996). Readers’ Implicit Models of Reading. Reading Research Quality 31(3):290-305.


The challenge faced by measurement specialists is that of devising valid and reliable standardized measures of writing skills. An information-processing approach to the assessment of writing ability suggests a way of meeting this challenge. (Benton & Kiewra, 1986, 378)

Good writers outperformed poor writers on these tests in both high school and college samples, when reading comprehension, reading speed, general knowledge, verbal ability, and achievement were controlled (Benton et al.). Such findings support models of writing that acknowledge the role of complex organizational skills in writing (Collins & Gentner, 1980; Hayes & Flower, 1980), and speak to the relevance of the information-processing approach to writing assessment. (Benton & Kiewra, 1986, 378)

Lectures are as effective as other methods for teaching information, but not more effective. Forty studies suggested that unsupervised reading is better than lecturing… Lectures are quite ineffective for stimulating higher order thinking…Lectures cannot be relied on to inspire, or to change students’ attitudes favorably… Students like really good lectures, but as a rule prefer well conducted group work (Biggs 1999 98)

Sustained and unchanging low-level activity lowers concentration. Sitting listening to a lecture is such an activity. Yet it requires concentrated effort to follow lecture content. (Biggs 1999 99)

The attention span of students under these [lecture] conditions can be sustained for about 10 to 15 minutes, after which learning drops off rapidly… A short rest period, or simply a change in activity, after about 15 minutes leads to a restoration of performance almost to the original level… A brief period of consolidation after prolonged learning greatly enhances retention. Getting students to review at the end of the lecture what has been learned leads to much better and more lasting retention than simply finishing and dismissing the students.” (Biggs 1999 100)

But the basic point remains: do not talk longer than 15 or 20 minutes without a pause, unless you are certain you still have their attention. When you do pause, get the students to change their activity. (Biggs 1999 100-101)

Think of the large-class situation as a plenary session rather than as a ‘lecture.’ This carries the strong suggestion that there are other ways of using the time than listening to the chair endlessly talking. (Biggs 1999 102)

Large classes need much more meticulous preparation than small classes. The larger the class, the slower things get done. A spur of the moment change of direction, perhaps in response to a student question, highly desirable and manageable within a group of 30, becomes perilous with 200. (Biggs 1999 103)

You should make the purposes of each session clearly explicit well in advance. (Biggs 1999 103)

Notes, handouts, overhead transparencies etc need to be organized before class, ready to be used. (Biggs 1999 103)

David and McLeod suggest playing lively music to accompany discussion; when it stops, it’s back to the lecturer. (Biggs 1999 104)

The structure of the lecture is ideally a reflection of the structure of the topics or content being taught. Brown and Atkins (1988) refer to several lecture structures:
Classical, where the lecture addresses several broad areas…
Problem-centered: a problem is presented and alternative solutions are suggested…
Comparative: two or more theories, views, perspectives, etc. are offered and compared. Students need to know the different theories or positions first.
Thesis: a position is taken and then supported with evidence, argument, hypothesis.
Whatever the structure, explain it specifically on an overhead or handout. (Biggs 1999 105)

Stand in front of the lectern, not behind it, which also means don’t read from your notes. Walk about, up and down the aisles if feasible. Get students to leave a few rows empty, so you can move along them. Such plyos give the impression of accessibility, not distance. Stand still, however, when delivering important points. (Biggs 1999 106)

Partners could be matched by the teacher: alphabetically, or on the basis of the way students complement each other… Alternatively, studnets could choose their own partners, and that probably is the best way. (Biggs 1999 110)

There is no best method of teaching, ‘but the second best is students teaching other students’ (McKeachie et al 1986:63).(Biggs 1999 110)

The most prolific resource in large classes is the students themselves, and using them appropriately engages a different set of verbs that address a range of objectives scarcely touched by teacher-directed TLAs (Biggs 1999 117)

This paper proposes a simple neural model of racial attitude formation that makes an important distinction between socially shared and idiosyncratic racial attitudes. Socially shared attitudes reflect evaluations that are culturally transmitted and may not necessarily represent an individual’s personal views. In contrast, idiosyncratic attitudes represent a sense of interpersonal ‘chemistry’ that may be at odds with dominant social norms. (Craemer, 2006, 2)

The main difference is that implicit attitudes tend to reflect attitudes that have been rehearsed for a longer period of time and have become automatic. Such automatic responses require no conscious thought while newer attitudes require conscious effort. According (Craemer, 2006, 3)

The model further assumes that both types of sensory perception, internal as well as external, are subjected to a process of Hebbian learning (Donald O. Hebb 1949), whereby repeated rehearsal leads to automaticity. This process is equivalent to the rehearsal process described in Wilson’s et al. (2000) dual attitude model and its neural basis will be described in greater detail in section 2.2. Finally, on the inter-personal level, the model of racial norms evolution is inspired by Motoo Kimura’s (1983) theory of neutral evolution. (Craemer, 2006, 4-5)

Idiosyncratic perceptions of internal body states can be expressed in a communicable format with probability p(idiosyncratic). This probability depends on the level of difficulty translating internal body sensations into a communicable format2. It may be easier, for example, to express the internal body state of ‘feeling hungry’ than the complex sensation of feeling a ‘sense of chemistry’ with a complete stranger. (Craemer, 2006, 5-6)

The principle of Hebbian learning suggests that both types of racial attitudes discussed in section 2.1 – idiosyncratic as well as socially shared – should become automatic after frequent activation (rehearsal). Thus, both types of racial attitudes should be detectable on the unconscious (implicit) level outside of an individual’s conscious control. This leads to a two-by-two classification scheme of racial attitudes distinguishing (1) implicit idiosyncratic attitudes, (2) implicit socially shared attitudes, (3) explicit idiosyncratic attitudes, and (4) explicit socially shared attitudes. (Craemer, 2006, 7-8)

Nonetheless, a process invariably occurs by which one out of any number of equal alternatives eventually emerges as a socially dominant majority attitude. This process, referred to in biological theory as ‘random drift,’ has been mathematically analyzed by Motoo Kimura (1983) in his theory of neutral evolution. (Craemer, 2006, 8-9)

Since this evolutionary model is new to the social sciences, a brief description of its biological origin is in place. It was developed by Kimura (1983) to explain evolutionary phenomena that cannot be explained by the Darwinian principle of natural selection. It became necessary when molecular genetics in the late 1960s, to their own surprise, encountered unequal distributions of selectively neutral synonymous alleles. Synonymous alleles are different DNA-sequences, that code for the same protein. Since an organism’s selective advantage relies on the proteins it is composed of, these synonymous DNA-sequences are indistinguishable from one another by natural selection. This puzzle was solved by the strange dynamic of the Neutral Theory of Evolution that demonstrates how a purely random process will inevitably lead to distinct patterns in which one neutral alternative will dominate and eventually replace other equal alternatives. (Craemer, 2006, 9)

Interestingly, the use of random evolution models in political science precedes Kimura’s neutral theory. In 1968 William N. McPhee (1968) proposed a “Campaign Simulator” (p. 169) based on similar ideas and his colleagues Jack Ferguson and Robert B. Smith applied a related model to voting behavior. (Craemer, 2006, 9)

Interestingly, on a personal level Thurmond appears to have acknowledged his African American daughter at the same time he publicly uninvited Virgin Island Governor Hastie with the following racist statement: “Governor Hastie knows that neither he nor any other Negro will ever be a guest at the Governor’s house in Columbia so long as I am Governor” (Thurmond on Oct. 25, 1948 cited in Stroud 2003, emphasis added TC). At the same time he secretly received his African American daughter Essie Mae Washington at the Governor’s Mansion (Stroud 2003). (Craemer, 2006, 11)

That his first acknowledged fatherhood had been in violation of the very anti-miscegenation laws that Thurmond had so desperately fought to maintain flies in the face of any attempt to explain political behavior rationally. (Craemer, 2006, 11)

The fact that implicit idiosyncratic feelings of closeness towards African Americans appear to be large and significant predictors of racial policy liberalism supports the construct validity of this implicit idiosyncratic measure. The fact, however, that racial priming measures appear to be unrelated to racial policy liberalism at first blush casts doubt on their validity as a measures of implicit socially shared racial attitudes. (Craemer, 2006, 23)

A number of studies suggest that non-White participants, especially African Americans, display as much pro-White and anti-Black bias in their implicit word associations as their White American counterparts. (Craemer, 2006, 24)

White and Asian American participants express significantly more pro-White than pro-Black attitudes, while African Americans express overwhelmingly pro-Black attitudes (all deviations from the neutral zero-point are significant at p<.01). (Craemer, 2006, 25-26) In his Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March on March 25th, 1965 Martin Luther King counter-intentionally invoked ingrained linguistic and racial associations while explicitly criticizing such stereotypes: “How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, darken their understanding, and drive bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne?” (King in Carson & Shepard 2001, p. 130, emphasis added TC). The explicit attitudes expressed give voice to the views of the Civil Rights Movement, while the figures of speech invoked implicitly represent ingrained elements of the overall linguistic culture. (Craemer, 2006, 26) The tendency for computational models of social communication processes to produce unanimity as a function of random rather than systematic processes has been noted with puzzlement by some social scientists. Andrzej Nowak et al. (1990), for example, criticize: “the implicit null hypothesis seemingly held by most social psychologists is that group processes, if allowed to work themselves through to their conclusion, would lead to a final distribution of opinion … with zero variance” (Nowak et al. 1990, p. 363). (Craemer, 2006, 34-35) Research on threats that involve the potential for physical harm such as crime, natural disasters, and violent conflicts provide clear evidence that personal threat increases one’s sense of vulnerability and motivates action designed to minimize personal risk (Browne and Hoyt 2000; Ferraro 1996; Sattler et al 2000; Smith and Uchida 1988). (Huddy, Feldman, & Weber, 2006, 1) Studies conducted to date find a clear relationship between national threat and support for national and domestic security policies (Davis and Silver 2004; Huddy et al 2005). (Huddy, Feldman, & Weber, 2006, 1-2) Psychologist Abraham Maslow (1943) placed security just above the satisfaction of basic physiological needs in his hierarchy of human needs (and below love and self-actualization). And political scientist Ronald Inglehart (1997), building on Maslow’s work, viewed the fulfillment of basic economic and security needs as a necessary societal precondition to the pursuit of postmaterialist values which emphasize freedom, self-expression and quality of life. (Huddy, Feldman, & Weber, 2006, 2) Bowlby’s attachment theory (1982/69) is an evolutionary-developmental account of social behavior that posits a need for social proximity to protective others under conditions of threat and danger, implicitly assuming a need to maintain a sense of security under threat. Building on Bowlby’s original insights (1969) on the universality of a human need for attachment as way to deal with insecurity, scholars have theorized about the evolutionary advantage of adult attachment under conditions of threat (Ainsworth, Blehar, Water, and Well, 1978; Mikulincer and Shaver, 2003; Fraley, Brumbaugh, and Marks, 2005; Kirkpatrick, 1998; Tancredy and Fraley, 2006). (Huddy, Feldman, & Weber, 2006, 2-3) As noted by Sroufe and Waters (1977), the goal of attachment behaviors is to reduce anxiety through an established sense of “felt security”. The attachment system emerges in early infancy, particularly in the context of the caregiver-child relationship, and operates as a functional system organizing interpersonal beliefs throughout development (Bowlby, 1969). While the attachment system is universal, operating in all humans and a host of other organisms (e.g., Fraley et al., 2005), individual differences often emerge from variations in attachment histories. (Huddy, Feldman, & Weber, 2006, 3) Once established, attachment styles are relatively constant across the lifespan, suggesting that they serve as a stable individual difference (Fraley, 2002; Ainsworth, 1991) that may be mediated by distinct neural and hormonal reactions to threat. For instance, Kraemer (1992) found that physiological indicators of stress such as norepinephrine varied depending on whether rhesus monkeys were reared in isolation versus with mothers or peers. And humans with an enduring sense of insecurity release higher levels of glucocorticoids in stressful situations than those with a secure attachment (Goldberg, 2000). (Huddy, Feldman, & Weber, 2006, 4) Mikulincer and colleagues (Mikulincer, Florian and Weller 1993) examined the effects of the Gulf War, and Iraqi Scud missile attacks, on Israelis with different attachment styles and found that securely attached individuals perceived lower levels of threat, reported higher levels of self-efficacy, actively sought out social support, and pursued constructive problem solving strategies. (Huddy, Feldman, & Weber, 2006, 4) According to attachment theory, one of the key correlates of a secure attachment is a general willingness to trust other people. (Huddy, Feldman, & Weber, 2006, 13) Overall, it appears that insecure individuals respond to the threat of terrorism with enhanced ingroup attachment as reflected in higher levels of reported patriotism. But outgroup derogation is driven simply by threat. (Huddy, Feldman, & Weber, 2006, 15)
People frequently misuse word pairs such as fewer and less and that and which. But why is this so? Perhaps it is because the concepts they represent do not have a visual referent. That is, it can be difficult for one to create a mental image of what is meant by the word which. (Igo, Kiewra, & Bruning, 2004)

Pictures, it seems, can be especially important to word learning. In fact, extensive research indcates that pictures are powerful learning tools that can aid in (a) the resilient recall of discrete information over time… (b) the performacne of procedural tasks, such as first aid… (c) the effectiveness of psychology lectures… (d) the learning of cause and effect relationships regarding lightning formation… and (e) memory for prose (Levin & Lesgold, 1978). Critical to this study, however, is that pictures can make word learning easier and vocabulary instruction better… This is especially true for words that represent concrete concepts. (Igo, Kiewra, & Bruning, 2004)

Two prominent theories regarding how people process pictures and words are dual coding theory (Paivio, 1991) and Baddeley’s (1999) theory of working memory. Each theory explains the integration of words and pictures differently (Mayer, 2001). The dual coding model postultaes the existence of separate verbal and nonverbal memory channels that combine separate memories to make singular mental models. The Baddeley model describes the existence of working memory subsystems for the simultaneous processing of separate verbal and nonverbal information. (Igo, Kiewra, & Bruning, 2004)

The hallmark of a complex system is that there are many small parts that interact with each other only in loosely coupled ways, sometimes producing surprising and unexpected results (Casti, 1997;DeAngelis and Gross, 1992;Epstein and Axtell, 1996;Kauffman, 1993). (Johnson 2)

A sincere organization will simply offer citizens a policy package that reflects its “true” organizational policy, while a more sophisticated organization may offer citizens a policy package that differs from the truth. (Johnson 12)

Consider a“democratically governed group”(Paul E. Johnson, 1990). The members of the organization exercise self-determination. The current members are asked to create the organization’s policy, and the new group policy is used in the advertising effort to attract new members. The multi-dimensional median is offered as a representation of the outcome of an internal decision-making process. Policy change is expected to occur frequently as people are drawn in and out of the organization. Such organizations might gain members as their policy changes, but they also risk alienating existing members who find the organization’s policy moving away from them. (Johnson 21)

Recall that the ideal points of the citizens are a multivariate normal “hillside.” As discussed elsewhere (Paul E. Johnson, 1996), policy in democratically governed groups is expected to drift, as new positions are adopted that alienate some existing members but draw in new members. Since group members are, more or less, a random sample of people who would find a given position to be tolerable, then we expect that organizations that are positioned on the edges of the policy space will their policy positions drawn toward the center. In other words, although the members of these organizations do not consciously intend to do so, they tend to be hill climbers. (Johnson 21)

Learning from text can be difficult because of a reader’s limited processing capacity (Turner & Engle, 1989). Cognitive load theory suggests that some texts and learning environments impose greater information processing demands on working memory than others (Chandler & Sweller, 1999; Sweller, van Merrienboer, & Paas, 1998). Cognitive load may vary because of intrinsic or extraneous demands. Intrinsic-load demands stem from the properties of the tobo-learned information (Sweller, 1994) (McCrudden, Schraw, Hartley, & Kiewra, 2004)

Overall, research reveals that reducing extraneous cognitive load in one design characteristic improves learning (Mayer, 9 1999; Mayer & Moreno, 2002, 2003). (McCrudden, Schraw, Hartley, & Kiewra, 2004)

Research has shown that different text presentation formats differently affect extraneous cognitive load. For example, Mayer and Chandler (2001) examined the amount of viewer control on the pace of presentation (e.g., computer-controlled pace or self-paced). The computer-controlled pace imposed a higher load than the self-paced presentation because readers were forced to process information without stopping or looking back to previous information. As predicted, readers in the self paced format outperformed those in the computer-paced format. (McCrudden, Schraw, Hartley, & Kiewra, 2004)

According to cognitive load theory, the effects of each extraneous variablemake a contribution to total cognitive load. When total cognitive load is withinw orking memory limitations, extraneous load exerts minimal influence on learning. When total cognitive load exceeds working memory limitations, learning suffers. The laod imposed by extraneous variables is addititive (Sweller et al., 1988). Reducing extraneous cognitive load reduces overall cognitive load, which may prevent working memory from being overloaded. (McCrudden, Schraw, Hartley, & Kiewra, 2004)

The first question was whether extraneous variables affect learning. Text presentation had a clear impact on fact and concept learning. Reading text that is presented sentence-by-sentence, as compared with a whole-text presentation, resulted in less fact and concept learning. In other words, performance was better when the reader could refer to the text presented as a whole. This replicated the work of Dillon (2991), who found that requiring mental integration of offscreen information (which has been viewed previously) with current on-screen informaiton decreased learning compared with whole-text presentations. (McCrudden, Schraw, Hartley, & Kiewra, 2004)

The second question was whether readers perceive differences in ease of comprehension among the three extraneous variables. Results show that readers perceived greater ease of comprehension for low-load versions of text presentation and text organization. This is concistent with previous research in cognitive load (Sweller, 1999) and text processing (McKoon & Ratcliff, 1990; van den Broek et al., 1995; van Oostendorp, 1994) in which learners reported differences in perceived cognitive load resulting from the manipulation of extraneous load variables. (McCrudden, Schraw, Hartley, & Kiewra, 2004)

Collectively, these findings are consistent with the cognitive resource sharing model described by Miyake (2001), which states that limited cognitive resources in working memory can be allocated flexibly between storage and processing activities. (McCrudden, Schraw, Hartley, & Kiewra, 2004)

For example, at least since the Eisenhower administration, the gap between Republican and Democratic citizens’ approval of the president has never been as wide as it has become under George W. Bush (Jacobson 2007). (Mutz 3)

If citizens remain unaware of any legitimate opposition, then political conflict itself seems petty and unnecessary (see Hibbing and Theiss-Morse 2002). Moreover, if the losing side in any given controversy perceives no legitimate basis for the positions of the winning side, then the losers are unlikely to cooperate in maintaining and perpetuating the rules of the game (see Anderson et al. 2005). (Mutz 4)

Watching others discuss opposing perspectives on television is qualitatively different from participation in face-to-face discussion, and the evidence on face-to-face deliberation is mixed in what it suggests about its outcomes (see Mendelberg 2002). (Mutz 5)

Granting legitimacy to those with whom one has significant differences of opinion is a complex and cognitively difficult task. To comprehend the logic and motivation behind views that are not one’s own is an effortful, multi-step process (see Gilbert 1991). (Mutz 6)

Indeed, those involved in the production of political television routinely argue that lively and passionate debate is a necessary ingredient for a successful television program involving political topics. Anything less is probably too boring to attract the attention of television audiences (see, e.g., Christianson 1986, Bradley et al. 1992, Christianson et al. 1986). (Mutz 7)

In one study, Storms and Thomas (1977) showed subjects a mock survey supposedly filled out by a person the subject was about to meet. The surveys were rigged to convince each subject that the confederate’s attitudes were either very similar to or highly dissimilar from his or her own, based on random assignment… When the confederate sat abnormally close to the subject, violating the norms for personal space, close physical distance interacted with attitude similarity to intensify attitudes toward the confederate (see also Schiffenbauer & Schiavo 1976; Middlemist, Knowles & Matter 1976). (Mutz 8)

This pattern of reactions to interpersonal distance has been well documented in the realm of face-to-face interaction. Dissimilarity breeds dislike, and closeness generally intensifies whatever kind of reaction – positive or negative – a person has to another person or object. (Mutz 8)

Likewise, Reeves and Nass (1996) find that viewers’ levels of attention and recall respond to mediated simulations of interpersonal distance (manipulated through the use of close-ups versus long shots, and through the size and distance of the image from the viewer) in much the same way that they do to interpersonal distance in face-to-face contexts. (Mutz 9)

The sense of threat experienced by television viewers is not likely to be a cognitive acknowledgment of some real threat; after all, few people would claim they feel imminent danger from a politician on a television screen. Instead, it is a subconscious feeling of threat based on the perception of being physically very close to someone who is disagreeable, and who thus presents an unwelcome invasion of personal space (Persson 1998). (Mutz 10)

On one hand, some level of arousal is absolutely necessary in order to produce attention to the content of political discourse. The arousal produced by “in your face” political discourse should heighten levels of physiological arousal, and thus enhance attention to content and promote greater awareness of oppositional perspectives. Viewers cannot be expected to learn anything about oppositional perspectives unless they are paying attention. (Mutz 10)

Recall of arguments was enhanced by the same factors that enhance arousal: incivility and a close-up camera perspective. For awareness of oppositional issue arguments, the interaction of incivility and close-up camera perspective was significant (F=4.36, p<.05). For awareness of arguments on one’s own side, only incivility significantly enhanced recall (F=5.13, p<.05), though the pattern is very similar to the left-hand side of Figure 2. The uncivil, close-up conditions consistently stand out in producing higher levels of recall. (Mutz 20) Levels of civility mattered a great deal to perceptions of the legitimacy of opposition views when subjects viewed the uncivil exchange in one of the close-up conditions. (Mutz 22) In contrast to this rational-essentialist view it has been shown that individuals do “irrationally” cooperate in both a Prisoner’s Dilemma game and in real life scenarios that are parallel to it (Axelrod, 1984; Ridley, 1996; Field, 2004). (Sautter 2) Evolution has cultivated a multitude of personality traits that vary amongst humans. This phenotypic variation allows for selective advantages on the group level (Wilson, 2002). (Sautter 4) Studies of autism, violent behavior and other asocial disorders indicate that genetic inheritance, as well as environmental conditioning, is an important determinant of patterns of behavior (Ebstein, Benjamin, and Belmaker, 2003; Pericak-Vance, 2003). (Sautter 5) Empathy can be defined and interpreted under the auspices of three main sub-characteristics: concern for others, perspective taking (also called theory of mind empathy) and personal distress, or the ability to have emotional reactions to others in need. A study of 800 twin-pairs that compared monozygotic to dizygotic dyads estimated the combined inheritance of these three components of empathy to be estimated at 32% (Davis et al., 1994). (Sautter 5) Indeed, this sort of emotional capacity has been important to researchers looking at what motivates moral and pro-social actions, finding that higher levels of empathy tend to make individuals more likely to be morally outraged or to take action to prevent unjust acts (Davis, 1996; Smith-Lovin, 1995). (Sautter 5) There are three main evolutionary arguments for the development of empathy. First, is the well known theory of kin selection (Hamilton, 1964)… The second evolutionary theory focuses more on the interaction with those who are not genetically related. Reciprocal altruism hypothesizes that the empathetic bonds that develop in friendships or working relationships evolved out of an iterated sequence of encounters where conspecifics mutually benefited from cooperation (Axelrod, 1984)… Finally, the group-selection model of human evolution posits that inter-group conflict promoted the adoption of empathetic characteristics because natural selection would have rewarded those groups that worked together well over groups that would not have contained the frequency of individuals with cooperative dispositions (Sober and Wilson, 1998). (Sautter 6) The Prisoner’s Dilemma has been invoked time and again in explanation of the evolutionary origins of human behavior. It represents in a simplified manner the continual problem of reciprocity, trust and collective action (Rapoport and Chammah, 1965; Axelrod, 1984; Ridley, 1996; Fehr and Schmidt, 1999) that is ever-present in iterated interactions between human beings. This makes the Prisoner’s Dilemma framework ideal for a test of pro-social emotional disposition in an incentive based game because it is simple enough for those first exposed to it in an experimental setting to comprehend, yet theoretically sophisticated so as to allow a rich interpretation of the results.2 (Sautter 7) In contrast to Olson’s more traditional economic view of collective action, Hardin (1982) frames the free-rider problem as really an N-person Prisoner’s Dilemma (PD) game. (Sautter 7) Much in line with the way that evolutionary theorists suggest that reciprocal behavioral situations may have evolved in humans some theorists, including Palfrey and Rosenthal (1983) as well as Axlerod (1984), suggest that if certain conditions are met cooperative behavior is a predictable outcome of the PD. First, individuals need to have a low rate of time-preference, or in other words they should not discount the future too much. The second condition is that the game theoretic scenario needs to be repeated several times. This mitigates the standard oneshot strategy of defection. Similarly, the third condition requires there to be uncertainty among the players about when the game will end. Under rational choice assumptions players will always defect in the final round if information is available on when the game will end. The final condition involves punishment. If each player is capable of punishing other players that defect over the course of the game then an incentive structure is created that discourages defection. Theoretically, these conditions work best when there is no central authority and agents are left to their own to decide whether to defect or cooperate. (Sautter 8) Andreoni and Miller (1993) find that altruists even exist in the finitely repeated PD, where individuals are aware of when the game will end… By separating the two groups Andreoni and Miller are able to show that reputation is not as important to altruistic behavior as it might be thought. Indeed, their findings suggest that people probably have what they refer to as “homemade” altruistic preferences, or in other words, people tend to have individual dispositions making them more likely to cooperate. (Sautter 8-9) Fehr and Schmidt (1999) look at the PD in an entirely different way. Somewhat similar in manner to Hibbing and Alford’s (2002) notion of people as wary cooperators, they see individuals as being inequality averse. People in this conception of the PD have an evolved inclination toward seeing equal distribution of payoffs. Framing becomes the key in this case. If players are more optimistic about the other player’s probability of cooperating then inequality-averse players will cooperate more often than the standard theoretical completely rational agent. They present this idea as a social utility function, where each player calculates their payoff in regard to how that payoff relates to the other player’s payoff, thus making inequality-averse players conditional cooperators. (Sautter 9) This notion of egalitarianism coincides with the way that evolutionary psychology theorizes that individuals have innate preferences for fairness. Absolute outcomes are not as important as relative outcomes. The process of how the game is played in relation to the other player becomes the most important aspect. Both evolutionary theories of multilevel selection and reciprocal altruism reflect this focus on relative outcomes. In the case of collective action, individuals should be disposed toward equal and fair outcomes that reflect an innate desire to achieve what is implicitly best for the group, not for the individual (Fehr and Gachter, 2000). (Sautter 10) Evolutionary pressure equipped humans with emotions in order to guide their decision making in the group context (Bowles and Gintis, 2003). From this perspective it is not rationality per se that a researcher should be investigating, but the emotions that lead to intra-group rationality that are designed to deal with conflict and compromise. (Sautter 10) At the base of this emotional temperament is a pro-social empathetic disposition that varies from individual to individual. As Sober and Wilson (1998) imply throughout their polemic, empathy is the veritable context with in which all choices are made.4 Indeed, McCabe et al. (2001) found that different parts of the brain are used when a player is competing against a computer versus another human. When playing against another human a large part of the pre-frontal cortex becomes activated, while in contrast when playing a computer only a small area in the rear of the brain that is used in mental calculation, like arithmetic, becomes activated. (Sautter 11) Hypothesis I: A more robust empathetic psychological disposition will lead to higher rates of “punishment” or mutual defection in the face of an initial defection by another player. (Sautter 11) Hypothesis II: Empathy will predict more forgiving behavior in a player during a period when the opposing player attempts to re-establish mutual cooperation. (Sautter 11) Students made their decisions simultaneously with their opponent. They were given the impression that they were playing another person when in reality they were playing a computer programmed to either cooperate or defect. (Sautter 12) However, the hypothesis for this experiment is that those with a higher level of empathy will defect at a higher rate than those with lower levels because of their group-oriented leanings. (Sautter 14) The third stage in the experiment is the most interesting part. According to Hibbing and Alford’s (2002) theory of humans as wary cooperators that want to be neither leeches (take advantage of others) nor suckers (to be taken advantage of), when the computer begins cooperating individuals should feel as though they are being leeches on a cooperative person. (Sautter 14) Independent variables used in regression analysis included age, gender, income, population of hometown, race and grade point average. It was felt necessary to control for these differences in socioeconomic status in order to isolate the effects of empathy. As Schieman and Van Gundy (2000) show, empathy is a context specific phenomenon that is particular to one’s socioeconomic status.6 By documenting the relationship between education, age, income and gender over an entire community, they are able to demonstrate that empathy levels are relative to one’s social position. For instance, Shieman and Van Gundy present evidence that empathy tends to decrease with age, but that increases in higher education, income and by being female can mitigate this general trend. If these factors were not taken into account it would lead to a misguided analysis of the role that a particular individual’s relative level of empathy plays in their decisionmaking process. (Sautter 15-16) The experimental results are presented below in a statistical appendix. Two types of regression analysis were used in examining the data. The first consisted of a standard ordinary least squares regression. The second type used was a tobit regression model. Tobit (0,X) estimation models were used because of the truncated nature of each of the dependent variables. This statistical methodology can control for the two different types of theoretical participants in the experiment: those that defect all of the time (or, 0 cooperation) and those that cooperate to varying degrees (or, X cooperation). (Sautter 17) In the ordinary least squares (OLS) regression the first thing one should notice is that the F – statistic, or model fit test, is not significant, meaning that little to none of the variance present in the dependent variable is being explained by the independent predictors. What variance is explained is being predicted by the round one variable, which is significant at p < .01 level. (Sautter 18) Not surprisingly, the round one predictor is a very strong indication that participants would cooperate during the entire experiment. However, in these regressions no other independent predictors, including empathy, were significant. (Sautter 19) The first hypothesis presented was that empathy would be a significant predictor of participants’ defection in the second stage of the experiment. In both the OLS and tobit estimations a participant’s empathetic disposition was a significant predictor of defection in retaliation to the opposing player’s second stage defections. For these two analyses, the null hypothesis can be rejected. Empathy was a factor. (Sautter 20-21) The second hypothesis that an empathetic disposition would lead to higher rates of re-cooperation in the final stage of the experiment was flat out wrong… Truly, empathy was not a facilitator of restoring cooperation after reciprocal trust had been broken. (Sautter 21) This indicates that there is a possible “J-curve” to empathy, or that high levels of empathy can produce either more defection or more cooperation depending on the individual, but that participants with a median level of empathy will converge toward cooperating about 50 percent of the time.9 (Sautter 22) This indicates that there is a possible “J-curve” to empathy, or that high levels of empathy can produce either more defection or more cooperation depending on the individual, but that participants with a median level of empathy will converge toward cooperating about 50 percent of the time.9 (Sautter 24) Finally, an analysis of the possible differences between individuals with high levels of empathy residing in the more cooperative empathy peak and the less cooperative empathy peak was conducted. All possible variables that were gathered from the survey after the experiment were investigated. The size of a participant’s home town and the level of their family income were found to be statistically significant predictors. Figures 7 and 8 show the results of the difference of means test for each variable. Essentially, those individuals with high levels of empathy present in the “more cooperative peak” tended to have been raised in smaller towns and come from families with a relatively lower level of income. (Sautter 24-25) The results of this experiment suggest social conditioning could be very important to the manner in which an empathetic disposition manifests itself in social decision making. Being from a larger urban area during an individual’s childhood would likely diminish the reputation effects of continued social interaction. (Sautter 25) Higher rates of empathy tended to have two contrary effects by either making an individual more likely to defect or more likely to cooperate, but not to converge toward the median level of cooperation as the majority of participants in this experiment. (Sautter 25) Contrary to the hypotheses originally being tested, it is not that empathy has a simple positive linear relationship with a desire for egalitarian outcomes. Rather, an empathetic emotional disposition likely cultivates a sensitivity to social decisions, which depending on an individual’s social conditioning, leads to a more intense display of cooperation and defection. (Sautter 26) For example, when comparing professional historians and high school students, Wineburg (1991) found taht historians read texts from a critical perspective in which they actively questioned and transformed text, whereas high school students interested in history read from a less critical perspective without seriously questioning the legitimacy of text assertions. (Schraw & Bruning, 1996, 290) In analogous research, Dweck and Leggett (1988) found that older students and even adults often have little specific awareness of the theories and models they use to understand the world. (Schraw & Bruning, 1996, 302)

Learning Evolved, Part II: Social Motivation

It must be emphasized that even making students believe they are motivated, or giving them an identity of motivated students, would not help. Self-beliefs (Zimmerman, 2000, 85) and and self-reports (Bower, 2006; Ley and Young, 1998, 47; Lieberman et al, 2003, 682) are all relatively useless at predicting anything. Even self-esteem, which is correlated with some benefits (Price, 2005; Steinberg and Morris, 2001), appears to be as much of a consequence as a cause of high achievement. Therefore, wise teachers have no alternative but to manipulate the modules of students to make them behave as if they were motivated.

The simplest change is alter the way grades are presented. “Goal-oriented” learning is effected by incentives (Lupia & Menng, 2006, 3-4), and also by how those incentives are given. Losing something hurts more than gaining something pleases (Jervis, 2004, 165). Likewise, people choose different based on if options are presented positively or negatively, even when there is no substantive difference between options (Casmerer, Lowenstein, and Prelec, 2003, 18; De Martino et al, 2006, 684), though other things matter as well (Wolak & Marcus, 2006, 6). The implication of this is clear: instead of starting students are zero points and letting them add to their total as the semester continues, students should start with a 100% and have points deducted as the class rolls on.

The other main change is that nearly every grade should be through a group project. The general benefits of group work are well known, and include increased motivation when working collectively (Bruning, 1995), and increased validity of learning (Dawson, 1996, 47). Additionally group work is closely connected to multiple perspectives, which is vital for improved rationality (van Glasersfeld, 1995, Moshman, 2005). Likewise, collective action can lead to better results than individual decision making (Shulman 1984; Schwartz 1995). Just as we ask questions in class to engage students in the information (Entwistle, McCune, and Walker, 2001, 127) , the whole structure of the class should be centered on student engagement. Yet groups are a better medium for social interaction than a traditional classroom where students are called on. People who speak up in assemblies are looked down upon generally (Larimer, Hannagan, & Smith, 2006), so socially wise students will remain quiet (and so not participate) during normal lecture students. Additionally, compared to mentally exhausting lectures, students simply enjoy well-designed group work more (Biggs, 1999).

That is not a minor point – enjoyment and happiness are important! Happy people are more socially cooperative, while detached people act cooly, attempting to minimizing their efforts while maximizing their benefits (McDermott, 2004, 696) . Happiness is correlated with long-term recall of lecture material (Pollio ,2002, 76). Further, emotional state is inseparable from information processing (Spezio and Adolphs, 3), and so is important directly as well as indirectly. Educators ignore happiness as a factor of motivation only at their peril.
The groups should be in competition for points, such that it benefits a group to do better than another. This type of situation can quickly increase cooperation even when the cooperation is not immediately reciprocated (Hammond and Axelrod, 2006). Group work helps to motivate students by exploiting both their natural altruism and their natural desire for altruistic punishment.

People are nice to their fellows. They want to be connected to each other (Royse, 2006, 6). Humans “frequently engage in acts of altruism by choosing to bear costs in order to provide benefits to others” (Fowler, 2006, 675) because we are “social creatures who depend on groups “ and we “possess the genetic, neurological, and behavioral machinery to nurture groups and to monitor and protect their own status within the group” (Alford & Hibbing, 2006, 3). Indeed, our ancestors have been social animals for millions of years (Wrangham, 1999). In short students, as humans are sociable and consider their standing in the eyes of others to be imporants (Zak, 2006).

Learning Evolved, a companion series to Classroom Democracy
1. Darwinism-Cognitivism
2. Social Motivation
3. Coalitionary Education
4. Bibliography

Learning Evolved, Part I: Darwinism-Cognitivism

Students are social animals that think. What else does one need to know?

Evolutionary Psychology is a cousin to that other great movement, the Cognitive Revolution. Both desire to explore how one , and are unhappy with vague or mentalist answers. Bruning described the Cognitivists as believing “Unlike the associationist-behavioral view, which focused on environmental influences on behavior or “conditions of learning. Cognitive psychology seeks to understand the mind’s structures and processes” (1995). Similarly, Evolutionary Psychology was founded in reaction to the “general-purpose, content-independent” (Tooby & Cosmides, 1992, 41). As the old paradigms are now in their “last throes” (Carmen, 2006), it is time that Evolutionary Psychology and Cognitive Psychology be combined to give educators the best possible guide.

Evolutionary Psychologists and Cognitive Psychologists agree that human mind is composed of modules of domain-specific applications. Humans possess “modules” that are pre-existing mental processes that allow context-specific learning and whose differing operations make us unique (Pintrich and Garcia, 1994, 125) . As Smirnov, Arrow, Kennet, and Orbell put it, “The idea that human cognitive architecture consists, in substantial part, of functionally specific information processing modules is standard in evolutionary psychology and in cognitive neuroscience more broadly” (2006). In other words, “the mind/brain consists of many modules/organs/intelligences, each of which operates according to its own rules in relative autonomy from the others” (Garnder, 2003). Medical tests show that various modules of the mind are related to specific regions of the brain (Jung-Beeman et al 2004; Gilbert, Regier, Kay, & Ivry 2005). From the everyday, such as talking (Buller, 2005; Pinker, 2002) and judging attractiveness in others (Olson & Marshuetz), to pro-social activities such as voting (Fowles, Baker, & Dawes, 2006) , to the more abstract areas such as political orientation (Alford and Hibbing 2004, Alford, Funk, and Hibbing 2005; Morris et al 2003), how our species evolved influences how we act and what we do.

Thus, I propose a theory of motivation rooted in exploiting student’s neural-cognitive modules. I will outline methods of motivation that are adapted to small group and large group interactions and defend them with new research. Just as it is sad and foolish for researchers to ignore the importance of teaching (Halpern, 2002, 5), teachers must improve their methods by utilizing the latest research. I will argue as follows: For students to be motivated, they would have had to practice motivation for hours. It is unlikely that students have put in this practice, so teachers must use indirect mechanisms for creating motivation. Framing and group competition are two such mechanisms teachers such should. Framing is straight-forward and hangs on the known predilection to avoid losses more avidly than seeking gains. Group competition relies on altruism and altruistic punishment. These are not merely broad categories that contradict each other (as are, say, Csikszentmihalyi, 1996), but quantitatively defined qualities that are seen in laboratory conditions.

We know what expertise requires: “endless hours of practice” (Ridley, 2003, 260). Practice separates the talented from the incompetent (Gardner, 1998, 28) and sustained effort separates critical thinkers from the naive (Reiter, 1994, 302) . It takes around ten years to become really good at something (Ross, 2006), whether the activity is academic publishing (Kiewra, 1994) or even showing emotions (Crawford, 2006). Learning how to be motivated is no less a skill than writing articles or overcoming the flat effect, but many teachers ignore this lesson when they assume that students can just turn motivation on. Merely telling students to be motivated cannot possibly work, any more than one can just tell someone to be good at any other talent domain. Additionally, relying exclusively on motivation may be unfair, as many learners may be genetically predisposed to depression, novelty-seeking, and other conditions that detract from purposeful practice (Caspi et al, 2003; Hammock & Young, 2005). Therefore, I propose a subversive style of motivation that bypasses a conscious desire to excel at the material and instead achieves results. As one might trick a geographer into caring about literature by mapping literary lands (Cooper-Clark, 1996, 172) or subvert a student into thinking by contradicting established beliefs (Ruiz, 1996, 159), students should manipulate the environment to make students act as if they were truly motivated.

Learning Evolved, a companion series to Classroom Democracy
1. Darwinism-Cognitivism
2. Social Motivation
3. Coalitionary Education
4. Bibliography

Learning Evolved, Introduction: The Revolution Against the Standard Social Sciences Model

This series was originally going to be a single post titled “The Evolution of Learning, Reloaded.” I wanted to take Part IV from my series, Classroom Democracy, and flesh out its implications. Additionally, the post was going to be handed in for my second philosophy of teaching paper in College Teaching. I began twice, but could not catch a groove. Then this Monday I started seriously writing, and I didn’t look back.

This series is still a companion to Classroom Democracy, but can also stand on its own. In the end, the bibliography for the post was more than three times longer than the original post. I succeeded in synthesizing notes not only from college teaching, but from adolescent psychology, creativity, talent, & expertise, and genetic politics. What began as a minor paper now seems like the seed for something more. This paper would not be possible without the openness of my college teaching professor, or with the enthusiasm of my genetic factors professor, who (along with the graduate chair of the political science department) is teaching the genetic factors class as an overload. It is also due to them than this year’s Hendricks Symposium is on Genetic Factors. I am incredibly grateful.

Besides this prologue, Learning Evolved has four parts. The synposes below frame the readings, but the individual sections themselves are more applied than theoretical:

    Part I, Darwinism-Cognitivism
    While the early Sociobiologists and Evolutionary Psychologists attacked the Standard Social Sciences Model from the outside, the renegade behavioralists who founded Cognitivism chipped away from the inside. Indeed, researchers such as Noam Chomsky are heroes to scientists in both revolutionary traditions. Educational research is best servied not be focusing on just one or the other of Cognitive Psychology and Evolutionary Psychology, but leveraging both to build better classrooms.

  • Part II, Social Motivation
    Early sociobiologists were heavily influenced by E.O Wilson’s kin selection and Richard Dawkin’s genetic selfishness. Yet critics, typically on the left, attacked the early radicals on grounds that humans were inherently social and altruistic. The sociobiologists countered that such selflessness could only evolve in environments where, roughly genocide exceeded murder as a cause of death, so the critics attacks were mere hippie posturing. The sociobiologists were right on the math. The critics were right on the altruism.
  • Part III, Coalitionary Education
    First-order free-riders take from the group without giving back. Second-order free-riders observe first-order free-riders but do not punish Both destroy motivation. Yet strangely contemporary classrooms do little against first-order free-riders and nothing against second-order free-riders. That much change.
  • Part IV, Bibliography
    From Alford & Hibbing (2004) to Zimmerman (2000), a complete list of works referenced in the text of the series. Research into genetic factors is scattered throughout the sciences, as the Standard Social Science Model fights a rear-guard action everywhere. Publications such as the American Political Science Review, Contemporary Educational Psychology, the Journal of Economic Literature, PNAS, and Science, are consulted, along with a variety of conference papers and unpublished manuscripts.

To all those who are interested in the intersection between evolution and education: enjoy!

Suicide Bombers, 5GWarriors, and Happy Folks

“Teaching the Learning Course: Philosophy and Methods,” by Lewis Barker, The Teaching of Psychology: Essays in Honor of Wilbert J. McKeachie and Charles L. Brewer, 2002, 379-393.

The Feeling of Rationality, The Meaning of Neuroscientific Advances for Political Science,” by Rose McDermott, Perspectives on Politics Vol. 2 No 4., 2004, pp 691-706,

Emotional Processing and Political Judgement: Toward Integrating Political Psychology and Decision Neuroscience,” by Michael Spezio and Ralph Adolphs, unpublished manuscript,

Notes in reference to the Suicide Bomber Type

“In this way, preferences need not be thought of as fixed and given — uncaused causes — as they currently are in rational choice theory; rather, they can be understood as changing dynamically in response to emotional cues.” (Implications for SBT) (McDermott 2004 699)

“Some intriguing experimental work suggests that game players are affected by mood. Happy players mimic the strategy of their opponent, while sad players make their moves on the bassis of detached analysis of the game itself. Happy players are thus more socially engaged and interactive than sad players.” (implication for Suicide Bomber Type?) (McDermott 2004 696)

Notes in reference to 5th Generation Warfare

“In at least one perverse sense, conspiracy theorists who argue that the government brought about recent terrorist actions get the emotional reality right: inducing anger can make the public more sanguine about the probability of successful retribution.” (5GW implications) (McDermott 2004 697)

“Speed mattered, it was critical for human survival that we recognize and respond to threat quickly.” (McDermott 2004 700)

Notes in reference to Subjective Happiness

“Daniel Gilbert and his fellow researchers found that while a group of junior professors all believed that getting tenure would make them happy, there was no difference in happiness among those who had received, as opposed to those who had been denied, tenure five years later… Alternatively, this finding may result from the fact that people focus primarily on transitions rather than on ultimate future states, a pattern that David Schkade and Daniel Kahneman label the focusing illusion.” (McDermott 2004 698)

“Economic indicators focus exclusively on the marketplace, which, by definition, leaves out some of the most central indicators of health, happiness, and longevity, such as marriage, social support, and exercise. Indeed, once basic material needs are met, more amorphous forms of fulfillment and meaning become primary.” (McDermott 2004 701)

“Surprisingly, income only seems to matter when people feel bad because they are very poor. Winning lotteries, for example, seems to make people less, rather than more, happy. The one exception to the imperviousness of happiness to wealth appears to be social comparisons in wage negotiations…” (McDermott 2004 702)

The rest of the notes are below the fold:

“A detailed syllabus is pedagogically sound to the extent that it sets the students’ expectations for the semester.” (Barker 382)

Specifically, the framework allows that emotional processes not only are inseparable from information processing in human judgment, but that they contribute critically to human judgment and decision making in various ways, including in ways that constitute and do not oppose adaptive outcomes. (Spezio and Adolphs 3)

The law in question is the Yerkes-Dodson Law, which simply states that performance depends on the level of emotion – often defined as arousal – such that performance is low at very low and very high levels of emotion, and optimal somewhere in between (Figure 2). The conceptual framework of the Yerkes-Dodson Law was put forward by Easterbrook (1959) based on original observations by Yerkes and Dodson (1908) in order to unify a literature showing both adaptive and maladaptive effects of emotion on various measures of performance. (Spezio and Adolphs 7-8)

However, it must be emphasized that the use of the term “cognition” to include non-conscious, automatic processing is a specialized usage developed within cognitive psychology/neuroscience, and one that does not overlap with the use of cognition in political psychology, political science more broadly, or most other academic discourse. (Spezio and Adolphs 9)

Proponents of dual-process models often associate the automatic processing system with routine discriminations, judgments or decisions that do not involve situations of novelty or deep conflict. Once novel or seriously conflicting signals arise, the controlled processing system is brought online, taking over from the automatic processing system in order to manage the novel situation or conflict. Such an approach is described for political judgment in Lieberman et al. (2003). (Spezio and Adolphs 9)

Behavioral decision theorists sometimes argue as if it would be desirable for humans to manifest less emotional processing, so that the norms of rational decision making – as set in the laboratory – can be attained. For example, Baumeister and colleagues (2005) suggest that emotional processing concurrent with decision making is so harmful that one would expect an evolutionary advantage for “people with fewer and fainter emotions” (p. 10). Yet a person’s emotional processing systems are known to be involved in effectively judging the emotions of other people (Adolphs 2001, 2002, 2003), and dysfunction in these emotional systems is likely partially responsible for such social deficits as autism (Baron-Cohen 1997; Baron-Cohen et al. 2000; Frith 2003). (Spezio and Adolphs 13)

Moving away from feedforward schemas toward a model involving recurrent, or feedback, connections allows one to account for the complex interplay between goals, emotions and evaluative processes within decision making. (Spezio and Adolphs 15)

One very reliable finding is mood-congruent social attribution, wherein, for example, inducing sadness in a subject covaries with that subject’s attributing sadness to another person. (Spezio and Adolphs 24)

That is, subjects who unscrambled sentences categorized as happy were no more likely to attribute happiness to M than they were to attribute sadness. Subjects who unscrambled sentences categorized as sad were no more likely to attribute sadness to M than they were to attribute happiness. Only when mood induction techniques were used was there a congruence effect between emotional induction condition and emotional attribution. (Spezio and Adolphs 25)

“For my purposes, I will rely on Gerald Clore and Andrew Ortony’s definition: “emotion is one of a large set of differentiated biologically based complex conditions that are about something… Affect refers to the way people represent the value of things as good or bad; it can include preferences as well as emotions and moods. Moods are amorphous states — like emotions, but without specific objects or referents. Finally, feeligns are the actual experience of value.” (McDermott 2004 692)

“Many of our biological processes (heartbeat, immune system, et cetera) are regulated by unconscious information-processing systems; just because a function requires information processing, like emotion, it need not be cognitive in nature.” (McDermott 2004 692)

“Thus the brain’s structural makeup requires that emotional information exert an influence before, and sometimes instead of, higher-level cognitive functioning. this means that rationality, as we understand it, often requires emotional processing first. At least it requires that emotional processing takes place as an integral part of rational cognitive processing. This finding alone begins to undermine theories of rationality that presume that emotion is either not involved in decision making or exists in opposition to the highest-quality decision making.” (McDermott 2004 693)

“To be clear, my argument is not simply that emotion helps form preferences — although it does — and then rational logic takes over. Rather, I suggest that emotion is part of rationality itself, and that the two are intimately intertwined and interconnected processes, psychologically and neurologically.” (McDermott 2004 693)

“Subjects with damaged ventromedial sectors never learned to distinguish between the good and bad decks, and continued to lose money by preferring the decks with high payoffs and high losses. Unimpaired subjects quickly learned to pick from the good decks. Even more interestingly, such subjects learned to make correct decisions long before they could say why they were doing so.” (McDermott 2004 694)

“Marcus, Neuman, and MacKuen predict that anxiety reduces voters’ reliance on habits such as party identification and increases attention to new information, such as a candidate’s issue positions.” (McDermott 2004 695)

“Incidental or anticipatory processes — like anxiety about the future — can partially determine immediate emotions. Anticipatory feelings appear insensitive to probability, but very sensitive to timing and vividness; moreover, they depend on the individual’s sense of control over his or her environment.” (McDermott 2004 695)

“The theory of mood congruence states that individuals are more likely to remember events that are consistent with their present mood. In other words, people selectively take in information consonant with their current mood states.” (McDermott 2004 695)

“Mood influences information processing-strategies as well. Happy people tend to be expansive in their judgements and decisions, using preexisting theories in a top-down manner. Unhappy people, however, tend to focus on details and prefer bottom-up decision-making strategies. In other words, optimism can lead to creative decision making, while pessimism and anger may lead to the opposite.” (McDermott 2004 696)

“Catecholamines improve memory consolidation, making memories for stressful events better than usual and unrelated memories from the same time less distinct.” (McDermott 2004 697)

“People are most likely to make counterfactual comparisons that alter either the first or last link in a causal chain.” (McDermott 2004 697)

“This finding is consistent with the predictions of prospect theory, which points out that people are particularly attentive and averse to loss.” (McDermott 2004 697)

“Systematic work by Daniel Kahneman, Barbara Fredrickson, adn their colleagues demonstrates that people tend to best remember the peak intensity and the end of an emotional experience; they pay little attention to the duration of the experience. As a result, they often make choices that involve more rather than less pain, depending on the pattern by which pain rises and falls during an event.” (McDermott 2004 698)

“Somit and Peterson trace political scientists’ objections to biopolitics and evolutionary explanations to earlier association of biopolitics with Social Darwinism, and the subsequent impalement of social Darwinism on the stake of racist associations.” (McDermott 2004 698)

“It was not until the pathbreaking work of John Von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern that utilities came to represent ranked, measurable, internal assessments of preferences.” (McDermott 2004 699)

“A decision maker’s expected emotional state can be understood as part of that person’s expected utility calculation… Immediate and anticipatory emotion can increase the perceived discount of future payoffs, such that decision makers become more pessimistic about the likely success of their actions.” (McDermott 2004 700)

“Indeed, researchers have discovered that social isolation presents a health risk as great as high blood pressure, obesity, lack of excersise, and even smoking. (This effect is not well correlated with economic indicators.)”
(McDermott 2004 701)

“In short, if happiness derives from social support, governments should place less emphasis on incomes adn more on employment and job programs, encouraging leisure activities — by supporting after-school programs and public parks — and supporting marriages and other family relationships.” (McDermott 2004 701)

Classroom Democracy, Part II: A Defense of Republics

One reason Classroom Democracy succeeds is the powerful human drive for socialization. “Students have a more enjoyable and profitable learning experience when they feel connected to each other,” (Royse 6), and hands-on role-playing (11) such as classroom democracy enable this. Classroom democracy succeeds because it is founded on social interaction, and “the most successful programs for developing critical thought have been those involving social interaction” (Bruning 4).

The Classroom: A People-Powered Polis

The innovative nature of classroom democracy makes this doubly true, as its unusual processes challenge “established orthodoxies” (Ruiz 159) and force students to be aware of how they learn and how they want to learn. Socialization encourages students to develop “self-regulation [to] use personal (self) processes to strategically monitor and control his or her behavior and the environment” (Lee and Young 32). Whatever we would wish, many college students do not develop study skills because they are never given any control of their learning in a classroom environment. Classroom democracy allows students to develop self-regulation in a Vygostkian, zones-of-proximal-development, style by working with more established learners in deciding how to learn.

Further, the benefits of social cognition are intertwined with motivation. The reason that recent pedagogical models “include not only purely cognitive processes but also motivational ones” (Bruning 5) is that students are moved by group processes. It is not correct, for example, to say that students ask themselves “how well can I do by working and learning as little as possible” (Ruiz 160), but it probably is true that students have “a preference for cooperation, a modest level of mistrust, an ability to persuade others of one’s own good faith, and an ability to detect lack of good faith in others” (Smith 1014) and that instead of utility maximization, what drives the behavior of wary cooperators is ‘sucker aversion'” (1015). Students will contribute and try to help until they believe they are being cheated. The ability for even a small amount of students — holding just one-third of the assembly — to prevent the re-election of an Administration they dislike — means that the “type” of student who is most concerned with unfair play (Smith et al 12) will have the power to act on the behalf of the group. Further, the deliberative, inclusive manner of the elections are likely to correlate with student happiness, because folks “do not necessarily need to receive more resources to be happy, but they do need decisions to be made by decision makers who are not selfishly motivated and who are not driven by ambition” (24). I suggest that “apathy and disengagement” are less the result of “dialogical instruction” and debate (Reiter 302) than the process of the debate.

The processes I use also fit the various learning styles of students better than a series of lectures. Classroom democracy allows both dynamic and static matching for personalities. Learners express “appreciation for teachers who make a point to appeal to a broad range of learning styles” (Holonen 49), yet the ratios of students who thrive in discussion sections, or review sections, or other sections changes from class to class. All teachers are familiar with the glazed-over eyes students can quickly acquire during lectures, and the difficulty in reading students minds. Again, the deliberative and minority-sensitive nature of classroom democracy comes through. Because of the two-thirds majority, “all learning” really does become “collaborative learning” (Dawson 47) because students collaborate even in setting the process criteria. “Students need to write” (Roth 207) and study in different ways, and the inherent “community-process criteria” (Bruning 19) allows for that range. Additionally, the pre-defined ministers allow the thriving of personalities who may simply be shy. Information Ministers may be tasked to provide detailed notes, say, and Interior Ministers to think and write critically on the assignment, and this provides social interaction for students who might otherwise keep their heads down and only show their work on predetermined quizzes.

Classroom Democracy, a tdaxp series
1. A Parliament of Scholars
2. A Defense of Republics
3. The Life of Constitutions
4. The Evolution of Learning
5. Bibliography

Classroom Democracy, Part I: A Parliament of Scholars

My Classes are Democracies and hold elections every week.

The Classroom: A People-Powered Polis

Through these elections an Assembly, a President, and a Government are selected.
First, every student votes for an Assembly. The Assembly is elected through proportional parliamentary representation, so that a student who receives one vote from the class has the ability to cast one vote in the Assembly, a student who receives two has the power to cast two, and so on.

In Assembly, The People Rule

Secondly, the Assembly elects a President. The President is chosen by a two-thirds vote of the Assembly….

In the case there are more than two candidates and none receives a two-thirds vote, the lowest-vote-earning candidate is removed, and the Assembly votes against on the remaining candidates. In the case that there are only two candidates and none receives a two-thirds vote, the Assembly can vote on more time. In the case that the Assembly is deadlocked, the Assembly begins electing again, but cannot vote for any candidate it has previously considered. If the Assembly repeats this process such that there is no one left to vote for, the Assembly falls and a new Assembly is elected by the Class.

The Popular Presidency

Third, the President selects a Prime Minister. This is the first stage in forming a Government. The Prime Minister is selected by the President but most be confirmed by half of the Assembly. If the President’s selection for Prime Minister is not approved by the Assembly, the President may try a second nomination of anyone, including the first choice. If the President is again rebuffed, the President’s Administration falls and the Assembly selects a new President. If a second President falls, the Assembly itself falls and a new Assembly is elected.

PM: Calling the Shots

Fourth, the Prime Minister selects an Information Minister and an Interior Minister. This is the last stage in forming a Government. Both the Information Minister and the Interior Minister must be approved by the President. If either of the Prime Minister’s candidates are rebuffed, a second selection may be made of anyone, including re-nominating the candidate for the office again. If the Prime Minister is again rebuffed, the Prime Minister’s Government falls and the President selects a new Prime Minister as described above.

The Ministers of the Government

The Assembly can find that it has “no confidence” in either the President or the Prime Minister by a majority vote. If the Assembly has No Confidence in the President, then the Assembly must select a new President who will form a new Government as outlined above. If the Assembly has No Confidence in the Prime Minister, the President must then name a new Prime Minister as outlined above.. The President can dismiss the Prime Minister and select a new Government, as outlined above.
The central personality in the Democracy is the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister, in a real way, runs the class. The conditions under which quizzes are taken are decided by the Prime Minister, as well what is discussed in class. The Prime Minister has the power to dismiss the class, hold the class, and run the discussion. The Interior Minister, by contrast, is in charge of suggesting quiz questions for the next week, while the Information Minister is in charge of submitting notes for the class. The powers of the President and the Assembly are limited to oversight of the Prime Minister.

The Assembly can create a Constitutional change by a 2/3rds vote, which is ratified if it is approved by 2/3rds of the class.

Every class I have ever had has challenged this system. Students, wise from more than a decade of classroom instruction, have figured out that teachers lie to them and that collaborative learning is really just a way for a teacher to lecture and then act grumpy when students don’t talk up. So students, who don’t like hypocrisy, attempt to expose it by spending an entire class period on parliamentary procedures, or letting the class leave early after ten minutes, or some other stunt. They are, like good scientists, attempting to determine the real rules of the class by seeing what a teacher does and not just what he says.

It is after the challenges that teaching becomes delightful. In my most recent, for example, I walked in early as students were negotiating how the class would be run. The requirement for a 2/3rds majority prevents the little cliques, or “Parties” who rise in winner-take-all races (the ones students are familiar with since elementary school). Therefore, students who wish to be leaders know they have to appeal to a wide variety of learning styles. Prime Ministers who do not care about the learning of others, either by not paying attention to other’s needs or being flippant, are not chosen again. Students want a good grade on their projects, and in a Democracy they realize that their ability to gain one depends on interaction with the different perspectives of their peers.

Students also are skeptical of those who will cheat their way to the top. The most lopsided race I have ever witnessed began with a Party offering chocolate to students who vote for them. I recognized this as a challenge, and so allowed it. Another student offered himself as a candidate, stating “I don’t know what to do, but I know this is not fair.” He received twice as many votes offering nothing but fairness than the Party which wanted to “condition” its way to the top. (Interestingly, the Party may have been able to gain 1/3 of the seats, and so cause problems in naming a President, if one member hadn’t said “The class is clear what it wants. It wouldn’t be fair to vote for ourselves.)

Note: As with my previous post, Inside the Black Gangster Disciple Nation Crack Cocaine Gang-Corporation, the illustrative graphics are courtesy of an army of open-source, free, and no-cost programmers. I am particularly grateful to Inkskape, OpenClipart,, and Paint.Net.

Classroom Democracy, a tdaxp series
1. A Parliament of Scholars
2. A Defense of Republics
3. The Life of Constitutions
4. The Evolution of Learning
5. Bibliography

Fragments of Notes

“Improving Teaching Through Teaching Portfolio Revisions: A Context and Case for Reflective Practice.” by John Zumizarreta, Inspiring Teaching, pp 123-133.

The Automaticity of Affect for Political Candidates, Parties, and Issues: An Experimental Test of the Hot Cognition Hypothesis,” by Milton Lodge and Charles Taber, Unpublished Manuscript,

The Neural Basis of Economic Decision-Making in the Ultimatum Game,” by Alan Sanfey et al, Science, 13 June 2003, Vol 300 pp 1755-1758,

Notes from three articles for two seminars, today. They appear below the fold, so I’ll put up a rand above the fold:

Incompetence, combined with an uncovered-within-seconds coverup, by an office I rarely interact with soured my morning and threatened to derail a timely graduation. It is karmically balanced by unexpected kindness and generosity from a department I rarely interact with, but it still smarts…. Grr.

“For example, a recent draft of my own portfolio — written exclusively for my improvement — includes the following areas:
1. Statement of Teaching Responsibilities
2. Teaching Philosophy
3. Analysis of Strategies, Methods
4. Teaching Materials: Syllabi, Handouts, Exams, Essay Topics, Reading Lists, Web Pages and Sites
5. Collaborative Scholarship with Students
6. Assessment of Student Learning
7. Examination of Student Ratings
8. Survey of Peer, Chair, Dean Evaluations
9. Study of Impact of Improvement Activities: Conferences, Workshops, Committees
10. Teaching Goals” (Zumizarreta 126)

“Find ways of making reuired assessment and evaluation activities integral dimensions of portfolio revisions…” (Zumizarreta 131)

Standard economic models of human decision making (such as utility theory) have typically minimized or ignored the influence of emotions on people’s decision-making behavior, idealizing the decision-maker as a perfectly rational cognitive machine. (Sanfey et al 2003 1755)

The latter, quite robust, experimental finding is particularly intriguing, demonstrating that circumstances exist in which people are motivated to actively turn down monetary reward. (Sanfey et al 2003 1755)

On the basis of participant reports, it appears that low offers are often rejected after an angry reaction to an offer perceived as unfair. (Sanfey et al 2003 1756)

Unfair offers of $2 or $1 made by human partners were rejected at a significantly higher rate than those offers made by a computer… suggesting that participants had a stronger emotional reaction to unfair offers from humans than to the same offers from a computer. (Sanfey et al 2003 1756)

One clear expectation — given that affect permeates all thinking and reasoning — is that most citizens most of the time will be biased reasoners, finding it difficult to evaluate new, attitude-relevant information in an evenhanded way (Redlawsk, 2002).
(Lodge and Taber 1-2)

Note first that the self is the strongest node in the network and that identity (here, female, black) and self-esteem are the strongest links in the network.
(Lodge and Taber 4)

Critical to the hot cognition postulate is that one’s feelings are triggered automatically on the mere presentation of the concept; accordingly, the predicted facilitation and inhibition effects should only show up in the short SOA condition when priming activation is at peak.
(Lodge and Taber 14)