The New York Times summarizes latest findings here.
It occurs to me that our blended learning experiments have suggested ways that computer-based tutorials and quizzes might help to address some of the issues the article discusses. These tutorials give students (and instructors) immediate feedback on students’ work. With enough problems or questions, they can also give students the opportunity to practice additional problems until they master a concept or skill — without increasing the time that instructors must spend grading. It strikes me that this possibility for persistence might help address issues created by differences in grading across disciplines. An instructor could require mastery without grading by giving students all-or-nothing credit for successfully completing a weekly tutorial — where “success” meant working until one could answered a certain number of questions in a row correctly. Science might still be hard, but at least students wouldn’t be penalized for mistakes they made while attempting to master it — and in fact studies suggest that students both retain material better and are more engaging in learning if they are allowed to fail and learn from their failures before they are assessed “for real.”