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What Can a Multifaceted Program Do for Community College Students?

September 4, 2012 Comments off

What Can a Multifaceted Program Do for Community College Students?

Source: MDRC

In recent years, there has been unprecedented national focus on the importance of increasing the stubbornly low graduation rates of community college students. Most reforms that have been tried are short-term and address one or only a few barriers to student success. The City University of New York’s (CUNY’s) Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), launched in 2007 with funding from Mayor Bloomberg’s Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO), is an uncommonly multifaceted and long-term program designed to help community college students graduate.

ASAP requires students to attend college full time and provides a rich array of supports and incentives for up to three years, with a goal of graduating at least 50 percent of students within three years. Unlike many programs, ASAP aims to simultaneously address multiple barriers to student success over many semesters. The program model includes some block-scheduled classes for ASAP students for the first year of the program; an ASAP seminar for at least the first year, which covers such topics as goal-setting and academic planning; comprehensive advisement; tutoring; career services; a tuition waiver that covers any gap between a student’s financial aid and tuition and fees; free MetroCards for use on public transportation; and free use of textbooks.

This report presents very promising early findings from a random assignment study of ASAP at three CUNY community colleges: Borough of Manhattan, Kingsborough, and LaGuardia. For the study, ASAP targets low-income students who need one or two developmental (remedial) courses to build their reading, writing, or math skills. The study compares ASAP with regular services and classes at the colleges.

The Second Demographic Transition in Israel: One for All?

September 4, 2012 Comments off

The Second Demographic Transition in Israel: One for All?

Source: Demographic Research

This article explores family behaviours and attitudes in Israel over the last decades through the lens of the Second Demographic Transition (SDT). Israel is divided by religious affiliation, the level of religiosity, ethnic origin and timing of immigration. Although fertility transition to replacement level among certain societal groups has been previously shown, the question of how the transition unfolds in other domains remains open. The goal of this paper is to highlight the diversity of marital and fertility transitions and non-transitions among various groups of this heterogeneous society, and to compare Israel’s transitions to European ones. The data sources which are used are cross-national large scale surveys, national representative surveys, and Population Register data. The data were disaggregated by religion, religiousness and ethnic origin. Emancipative value change, postponement of marriage, alternative living arrangements and a growing variety of fertility regimes were analyzed. A full range of pre-transitional, transitional, and post-transitional elements was found among the groups. Such sign of the SDT as growing childlessness was not found, and the spread of other features as unmarried cohabitation and non-marital childbearing was found limited. Population composition effects were isolated. It was found that the level of religiosity and the country of origin are important factors which differentiate family behaviours and attitudes. The connection between value orientation of the groups within Israel and their family behaviours is discussed. The socio-structural and institutional constraints that might impede further progression of the Second Demographic Transition in Israel are also discussed. Further research directions are suggested.

Big Data for Education: Data Mining, Data Analytics, and Web Dashboards

September 4, 2012 Comments off

Big Data for Education: Data Mining, Data Analytics, and Web Dashboards

Source: Brookings Institution

In this report, I examine the potential for improved research, evaluation, and accountability through data mining, data analytics, and web dashboards. So-called “big data” make it possible to mine learning information for insights regarding student performance and learning approaches. Rather than rely on periodic test performance, instructors can analyze what students know and what techniques are most effective for each pupil. By focusing on data analytics, teachers can study learning in far more nuanced ways. Online tools enable evaluation of a much wider range of student actions, such as how long they devote to readings, where they get electronic resources, and how quickly they master key concepts.

Glass Shape Influences Consumption Rate for Alcoholic Beverages

September 4, 2012 Comments off

Glass Shape Influences Consumption Rate for Alcoholic Beverages

Source: PLoS ONE

Background

High levels of alcohol consumption and increases in heavy episodic drinking (binge drinking) are a growing public concern, due to their association with increased risk of personal and societal harm. Alcohol consumption has been shown to be sensitive to factors such as price and availability. The aim of this study was to explore the influence of glass shape on the rate of consumption of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Methods

This was an experimental design with beverage (lager, soft drink), glass (straight, curved) and quantity (6 fl oz, 12 fl oz) as between-subjects factors. Social male and female alcohol consumers (n = 159) attended two experimental sessions, and were randomised to drink either lager or a soft drink from either a curved or straight-sided glass, and complete a computerised task identifying perceived midpoint of the two glasses (order counterbalanced). Ethical approval was granted by the Faculty of Science Research Ethics Committee at the University of Bristol. The primary outcome measures were total drinking time of an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage, and perceptual judgement of the half-way point of a straight and curved glass.

Results

Participants were 60% slower to consume an alcoholic beverage from a straight glass compared to a curved glass. This effect was only observed for a full glass and not a half-full glass, and was not observed for a non-alcoholic beverage. Participants also misjudged the half-way point of a curved glass to a greater degree than that of a straight glass, and there was a trend towards a positive association between the degree of error and total drinking time.

Conclusions

Glass shape appears to influence the rate of drinking of alcoholic beverages. This may represent a modifiable target for public health interventions.

See: Stein, Tankard, Pint, Boot: Different beer glasses affect drinking speed (EveryONE blog)

Transgenerational transmission of trauma and resilience: a qualitative study with Brazilian offspring of Holocaust survivors

September 4, 2012 Comments off

Transgenerational transmission of trauma and resilience: a qualitative study with Brazilian offspring of Holocaust survivors

Source: BMC Psychiatry

Background

Over the past five decades, clinicians and researchers have debated the impact of the Holocaust on the children of its survivors. The transgenerational transmission of trauma has been explored in more than 500 articles, which have failed to reach reliable conclusions that could be generalized. The psychiatric literature shows mixed findings regarding this subject: many clinical studies reported psychopathological findings related to transgenerational transmission of trauma and some empirical research has found no evidence of this phenomenon in offspring of Holocaust survivors.

Method

This qualitative study aims to detect how the second generation perceives transgenerational transmission of their parents’ experiences in the Holocaust. In-depth individual interviews were conducted with fifteen offspring of Holocaust survivors and sought to analyze experiences, meanings and subjective processes of the participants. A Grounded Theory approach was employed, and constant comparative method was used for analysis of textual data.

Results

The development of conceptual categories led to the emergence of distinct patterns of communication from parents to their descendants. The qualitative methodology also allowed systematization of the different ways in which offspring can deal with parental trauma, which determine the development of specific mechanisms of traumatic experience or resilience in the second generation.

Conclusions

The conceptual categories constructed by the Grounded Theory approach were used to present a possible model of the transgenerational transmission of trauma, showing that not only traumatic experiences, but also resilience patterns can be transmitted to and developed by the second generation. As in all qualitative studies, these conclusions cannot be generalized, but the findings can be tested in other contexts.

Education, Job Openings, and Unemployment in Metropolitan America

September 4, 2012 Comments off

Education, Job Openings, and Unemployment in Metropolitan America

Source: Brookings Institution

This paper aims to provide metro, state, and national policy makers with a better sense of the specific problems facing metropolitan labor markets. First, the analysis examines trends in the demand for educated labor and how a gap between education supply and demand is related to unemployment. Next, it attempts to distinguish between cyclical and structural effects before turning to an explanation of how an education gap might affect both by limiting job creation. It concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings for public policy.

Handbook of good human resource practices in the teaching profession

September 4, 2012 Comments off

Handbook of good human resource practices in the teaching profession
Source: International Labour Organization

The handbook draws upon experiences and good practices in a wide range of ILO member States, giving a large number of examples of good practice and lessons learned. The methods it outlines are intended to be applicable to all schools and education systems, and to be adapted to accommodate differences in resource availability, culture, ethnicity, gender, political and governance structures.

Characteristics of Recent Science and Engineering Graduates: 2008

September 4, 2012 Comments off

Characteristics of Recent Science and Engineering Graduates: 2008
Source: National Science Foundation

This report presents data from the 2008 National Survey of Recent College Graduates (NSRCG) on the characteristics of men and women who received bachelor’s or master’s degrees in science, engineering, or health fields from U.S. institutions during the two academic years 2006 and 2007. The data reflect the employment, educational, and demographic status of individuals as of the survey reference week of 1 October 2008.

The data presented in this report measure the number of individuals with recently acquired science, engineering, and health degrees and do not necessarily coincide with the data on degree completions from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). IPEDS is conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. The IPEDS completions data file represents a count of degrees that graduates were awarded, whereas the NSRCG data represent estimates of graduates (persons).

The data tables present information on the number and median salaries of recent graduates by field of major, occupation, and various demographic characteristics. Tables are presented separately for bachelor’s and master’s degree recipients. Complementary tables for the two degree levels are numbered sequentially so that odd-numbered tables are for bachelor’s degree recipients and even-numbered tables are for master’s degree recipients.

The Effect of Law School Marketing Materials on U.S. News and World Report Rankings

September 4, 2012 Comments off

The Effect of Law School Marketing Materials on U.S. News and World Report Rankings

Source: Social Science Research Network

In the last few years, law schools have inundated each other with glossy brochures, postcards, magazines, and other marketing materials in an attempt to influence their “peer assessment scores” in the annual U.S. News and World Report rankings. This article describes a study that attempted to determine whether law schools’ print marketing efforts to one another have an impact on their U.S. News rankings data. From June to December 2011, the author’s school collected and coded all of the materials it had received from schools, including materials that it itself had sent to others. In total, 427 unique pieces of marketing were received from 125 of the 191 schools that were the subjects of this study. They varied considerably in size, format, content, and audience. A number of statistical tests were conducted to compare a school’s marketing efforts with its overall rank, overall score, peer assessment score, and tier, along with any change in those variables from the 2011 rankings to the 2012 ones. The results showed that there was some correlation between a school’s marketing efforts and its U.S. News data. Schools that sent marketing materials had, on average, higher tier placement and peer assessment scores; however, there was not a significant change in year-to-year rankings variables. The number of pieces a school sent during the study period was, for the most part, not significant. On the other hand, the number of pages in its materials was correlated with a number of U.S. News variables. Schools that sent longer, magazine-type publications geared towards a specific audience had higher U.S. News scores and also showed a slight improvement in their overall score between the two years of rankings data in this study. However, it is possible that a co-variate, such as institutional financial resources, may be causing the results. Additional study is needed to determine whether marketing materials have a longer-term effect on U.S. News ranking variables that cannot be captured in a one year study.

Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?: A Systematic Review

September 4, 2012 Comments off

Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?: A Systematic Review
Source: Annals of Internal Medicine

Background: The health benefits of organic foods are unclear.

Purpose: To review evidence comparing the health effects of organic and conventional foods.

Data Sources: MEDLINE (January 1966 to May 2011), EMBASE, CAB Direct, Agricola, TOXNET, Cochrane Library (January 1966 to May 2009), and bibliographies of retrieved articles.

Study Selection: English-language reports of comparisons of organically and conventionally grown food or of populations consuming these foods.

Data Extraction: 2 independent investigators extracted data on methods, health outcomes, and nutrient and contaminant levels.

Data Synthesis: 17 studies in humans and 223 studies of nutrient and contaminant levels in foods met inclusion criteria. Only 3 of the human studies examined clinical outcomes, finding no significant differences between populations by food type for allergic outcomes (eczema, wheeze, atopic sensitization) or symptomatic Campylobacter infection. Two studies reported significantly lower urinary pesticide levels among children consuming organic versus conventional diets, but studies of biomarker and nutrient levels in serum, urine, breast milk, and semen in adults did not identify clinically meaningful differences. All estimates of differences in nutrient and contaminant levels in foods were highly heterogeneous except for the estimate for phosphorus; phosphorus levels were significantly higher than in conventional produce, although this difference is not clinically significant. The risk for contamination with detectable pesticide residues was lower among organic than conventional produce (risk difference, 30% [CI, −37% to −23%]), but differences in risk for exceeding maximum allowed limits were small. Escherichia coli contamination risk did not differ between organic and conventional produce. Bacterial contamination of retail chicken and pork was common but unrelated to farming method. However, the risk for isolating bacteria resistant to 3 or more antibiotics was higher in conventional than in organic chicken and pork (risk difference, 33% [CI, 21% to 45%]).

Limitation: Studies were heterogeneous and limited in number, and publication bias may be present.

Conclusion: The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods. Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Is Rinsing Your Sinuses Safe?

September 4, 2012 Comments off

Is Rinsing Your Sinuses Safe?

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Little teapots with long spouts have become a fixture in many homes for reasons that have nothing to do with tea.

Called neti pots, they are used to rinse the nasal passages with a saline (salt-based) solution, and have become popular as a treatment for congested sinuses, colds and allergies, and for moistening nasal passages exposed to dry indoor air.

However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concerns about the risk of infection tied to the improper use of neti pots and other nasal rinsing devices. The agency is informing consumers, manufacturers and health care professionals about safe practices for using all nasal rinsing devices, which include bulb syringes, squeeze bottles, and battery-operated pulsed water devices.

These devices are generally safe and useful products, says Steven Osborne, M.D., a medical officer in FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). But they must be used and cleaned properly.

Most important is the source of water that is used with nasal rinsing devices. Tap water that is not filtered, treated, or processed in specific ways is not safe for use as a nasal rinse.

National and State Vaccination Coverage Among Adolescents Aged 13–17 Years — United States, 2011

September 4, 2012 Comments off

National and State Vaccination Coverage Among Adolescents Aged 13–17 Years — United States, 2011
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

Since 2005, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has expanded the routine adolescent vaccination schedule with administration of the following vaccines at ages 11 or 12 years: meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY), 2 doses*; tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (Tdap), 1 dose; human papillomavirus (HPV), 3 doses; and influenza, 1 dose annually (1). To assess vaccination coverage among adolescents aged 13–17 years,† CDC analyzed data from the National Immunization Survey-Teen (NIS-Teen). This report summarizes the results of that assessment, which indicated that, from 2010 to 2011, vaccination coverage increased for ≥1 dose Tdap on or after age 10 years (from 68.7% to 78.2%), ≥1 dose MenACWY (from 62.7% to 70.5%), and, among females, for ≥1 dose of HPV (from 48.7% to 53.0%) and ≥3 doses of HPV§ (from 32.0 to 34.8%) (2). Vaccination coverage varied widely among states. Interventions that increase adolescent vaccination coverage include strong recommendations from health-care providers, urging consideration of every health visit as an opportunity for vaccination, reducing out-of-pocket costs, and using reminder/recall systems. Despite increasing adolescent vaccination coverage, the percentage point increase in ≥1 dose HPV coverage among adolescent females was less than half that of the increase in ≥1 dose of Tdap or MenACWY. The causes of lower coverage with HPV vaccine are multifactorial; addressing missed opportunities for vaccination, as well as continued evaluation of vaccination-promoting initiatives, is needed to protect adolescents against HPV-related cancers.

FAA Has Not Effectively Implemented its Wildlife Hazard Mitigation Program

September 4, 2012 Comments off

FAA Has Not Effectively Implemented its Wildlife Hazard Mitigation Program
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General

On August 22, we issued a report on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Wildlife Hazard Mitigation Program, which aims to reduce the risk of wildlife strikes to aviation. Under the Program, FAA requires airports to create and implement wildlife hazard management plans to assess and minimize the risk of future strikes. However, we found that FAA’s oversight and enforcement activities are not sufficient to ensure airports fully adhere to Program requirements or effectively implement their wildlife hazard plans. In addition, FAA’s policies and guidance for monitoring, reporting, and mitigating wildlife hazards are mostly voluntary, thereby limiting their effectiveness. For example, FAA recommends but does not mandate that airports and aircraft operators report all wildlife strikes to FAA’s strike database. As a result, FAA’s strike data are incomplete, which impacts the Agency’s ability to evaluate the effectiveness of its Program in reducing wildlife hazards. Finally, FAA coordinates effectively with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, its main partner in wildlife hazard mitigation, but its efforts to coordinate with other relevant Government agencies are limited and infrequent. We made 10 recommendations intended to improve FAA’s management and oversight of the Program. FAA concurred with six, partially concurred with three, and did not concur with one. We are requesting additional information or revised responses for five recommendations—particularly related to improving the quality and quantity of the Agency’s wildlife strike data.

Census Bureau Reports There Are 89,004 Local Governments in the United States

September 3, 2012 Comments off

Census Bureau Reports There Are 89,004 Local Governments in the United States
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau today released preliminary counts of local governments as the first component of the 2012 Census of Governments.

In 2012, 89,004 local governments existed in the United States, down from 89,476 in the last census of governments conducted in 2007. Local governments included 3,031 counties (down from 3,033 in 2007), 19,522 municipalities (up from 19,492 in 2007), 16,364 townships (down from 16,519 in 2007), 37,203 special districts (down from 37,381 in 2007) and 12,884 independent school districts (down from 13,051 in 2007).

Conducted every five years (for years ending in “2″ and “7″), the census of governments provides the only uniform source of statistics for all of the nation’s state and local governments. These statistics allow for in-depth trend analysis of all individual governments and provide a complete, comprehensive and authoritative benchmark of state and local government activity.

The census of governments measures three components: organization, employment and finance. These components provide statistics on the number of governments that exist, the services they provide, the number of their employees and their financial activity. In addition to the information provided for states, cities, counties and townships, the census of governments also provides information on special districts and school districts.

The Devil’s in the Tail: Residential Mortgage Finance and the U.S. Treasury

September 3, 2012 Comments off

The Devil’s in the Tail: Residential Mortgage Finance and the U.S. Treasury
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

This paper seeks to contribute to the U.S. housing finance reform conversation by providing a critical assessment of the various types of policy proposals that have been offered. There appears to be a broad consensus to maintain explicit government guarantees for certain narrowly defined borrower populations, such as Federal Housing Administration insurance guarantees for low- and moderate-income and first-time homebuyers. However, the expected role of the federal government in the broader housing finance system is in dispute. The expected role ranges from no role to insuring against only extreme or tail events to insuring against all losses. However, most proposals agree that any public insurance be priced and available only for loans meeting specified criteria to limit taxpayer exposure.

Fact Sheet: Conflict of Interest Disclosure and Journal Supplements in MEDLINE®

September 3, 2012 Comments off

Fact Sheet: Conflict of Interest Disclosure and Journal Supplements in MEDLINE®
Source: National Library of Medicine

Journals indexed for MEDLINE® sometimes publish supplements devoted to a specific topic and that may be financed by profit-making organizations or by organizations representing for-profit interests. The supplements may have a guest editor or may be produced outside of the routine editorial and peer review processes of the journal. Citation of these supplements in MEDLINE may give the appearance that for-profit interests have acquired a place in the scholarly literature while working outside of the usual standards for publication that were considered when the journal was approved for indexing in MEDLINE by the NLM Literature Selection Technical Review Committee. Supplements will thus be cited and indexed for MEDLINE only if certain conditions are met.

If a supplement is sponsored by an outside organization, or reports on a conference or other activity that was sponsored by an outside organization, or is devoted to a special topic that is in any way related to a proprietary product, then the articles in the supplement will not be cited and indexed for MEDLINE unless the supplement includes the disclosure information that is described below. An “outside organization” does not include the organization for which the journal is the publishing organ (e.g., the American Academy of Dermatology and the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology), nor does it include any U.S. or non-U.S. government agency.

Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity, 2011

September 3, 2012 Comments off

Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity, 2011 (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Labor

In 2011, the unemployment rate for the United States averaged 8.9 percent, but varied across race and ethnicity groups. The rates were highest for Blacks (15.8 percent) and for American Indians and Alaska Natives (14.6 percent) and lowest for Whites (7.9 percent) and for Asians (7.0 percent). The jobless rate was 13.6 percent for persons of two or more races, 11.5 percent for Hispanics, and 10.4 percent for Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders.

Differences in labor force characteristics emerge when the race and ethnicity groups are compared. These differences reflect a variety of factors, not all of which are measurable. These factors include variations across the groups in educational attainment; the occupations and industries in which the groups work; the geographic areas of the country in which the groups are concentrated, including whether they tend to reside in urban or rural settings; and the degree of discrimination encountered in the workplace.

This report describes the labor force characteristics and earnings patterns among the major race and ethnicity groups—Whites, Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics—and provides more detailed data through a set of supporting tables. These data are obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of 60,000 households that is a rich source of information on the labor force.

Rising prices greatest factor in grocery purchase decisions

September 2, 2012 Comments off

Rising prices greatest factor in grocery purchase decisions

Source:  Nielsen
Eight-five percent of respondents to a Nielsen global online survey say that rising food prices are impacting their choice of grocery purchases, with more than half (52%) stating higher prices are a major influence. But price is not the only consideration that weighs heavily on the minds of consumers when shopping for groceries. Health factors, product availability and in-store services are also important considerations.
New findings from a Nielsen online survey of respondents from 56 countries around the world provide insights into how 16 various factors have impacted grocery purchases in the last year. Manufacturers and retailers armed with this knowledge can fine-tune strategies to better align with what matters most to consumers—and what does not.

Free registration required to download full report.

Identifying Barriers to Diversity in Law Enforcement Agencies

September 2, 2012 Comments off

Identifying Barriers to Diversity in Law Enforcement Agencies

Source:  RAND Corporation
The authors describe how law enforcement agencies can use barrier analysis, a method of assessment aimed at identifying potential obstacles to obtaining resources or participating in a program, to better understand and address the challenge of creating diversity among their personnel. They examine key points in the career lifecycle, such as recruitment, hiring, promotion, and retention practices, to determine where women and racial/ethnic minorities face obstacles that might account for less-than-proportionate representation among applicants, hires, and senior leadership. They describe the barrier analysis process, illustrate how it can help law enforcement agencies increase the diversity of their workforce, and present case studies featuring police departments that have used barrier analysis.

An Ecological Approach to Integrating Conservation and Highway Planning, Volume 2

September 2, 2012 Comments off

An Ecological Approach to Integrating Conservation and Highway Planning, Volume 2

Source:  Transportation Research Board
TRB’s second Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP 2) Report S2-C06-RW-2: An Ecological Approach to Integrating Conservation and Highway Planning, Volume 2 is designed to help transportation and environmental professionals apply ecological principles early in the planning and programming process of highway capacity improvements to inform later environmental reviews and permitting. Ecological principles consider cumulative landscape, water resources, and habitat impacts of planned infrastructure actions, as well as the localized impacts.
The report introduces the integrated ecological framework, a nine-step process for use in early stages of highway planning when there are greater opportunities for avoiding or minimizing potential environmental impacts and for planning future mitigation strategies.
Information developed as part of the project that produced SHRP 2 Report S2-C06-RW-2 is included on the on the Transportation for Communities: Advancing Projects through Partnerships website.
This publication is only available in electronic format.
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