Explore the New Pearson ELT eCatalog



These three words describe the new eCatalog from Pearson ELT. This new eCatalog has everything you would expect from a catalog, and so much more! Do you want to know how to use the catalog – click here to watch the video!

What does the fully interactive catalog mean for you?
With just a click of a button, you can:

  • View hundreds of sample units from any level.
  • Listen to podcasts and audio samples.
  • Watch product and author video clips.
  • Search by key word, author, or ISBN.
  • Read articles by Pearson authors.
  • Link to easy online ordering.
  • E-mail your ELT Specialist directly.
  • Share with colleagues by e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter.

Start exploring today! 

B is for Bell Curve

Ken BeattyDr. Ken Beatty

First, let me leave nothing to the imagination: I hate the Bell Curve. Because I teach assessment statistics to graduate students, I know I shouldn’t callously bully an innocent graph of achievement, but it isn’t the tool itself I object to, but the wicked uses to which it is put.

Bad beginnings

The Bell Curve was first called “the normal curve of error” by Abraham de Moivre in 1733. He used it to explain games of chance, but by the 19th century, the Bell Curve was being misapplied to justify differences in society such as to support Francis Galton’s theories of eugenics, a pseudo-scientific movement to breed humans to produce a master race. It was only the Nazi party’s horrific love of the idea that led to its belated rejection (Goertzel & Fashing, 1981).

In time, the Bell Curve swept into classrooms as a popular means for quantifying levels of student performance. The assumption was that among any group of students, about 10 percent of the weakest ones inhabit the low end of the curve, most linger comfortably in the middle, and 10 percent can be assumed to be highly competent.

The Bell Curve in practice

At one university, my fellow teachers and I were forced to apply the Bell Curve to the grades of each of our classes. Practically speaking, this meant 3 of 30 students would get the lowest D and E failing grades, another 3 or so would get the top A grades, and the bulk in the middle, 24 students, could expect to earn C and B grades. Through considerable protests and prayers, management might permit us to squeeze the middle of the curve and award more A grades as well as save our weakest students from expiring in an assessment train wreck, but we had to beg.

Regardless of final figure manipulations, a bad taste was left in the mouths of both students and teachers. Students felt the Bell Curve inherently made the classroom unnecessarily competitive and that success depended not so much on an individual doing well as on others doing badly. It wouldn’t matter if each and every member of my class were the secret spawn of an Einstein cloning experiment; degrees of difference would be conjured up, and otherwise brilliant students would be spread across the Bell Curve like falling blossoms on wet pavement.

At the same time, teachers felt their work was devalued because even the most highly educated, experienced, and dedicated teachers offering the most innovative lessons could not hope to have their students score higher than those of their less-inspired colleagues. Any gains in student achievement attributable to a superb teacher’s work would be washed away in the Bell Curve. Teachers who rebelled against the obvious unfairness of it all faced the subtle punishment of having to provide detailed justifications of deviations from the so-called norm. From the administrative perspective, the Bell Curve helped even out teachers’ grades and avoid grade inflation, the creeping tendency for teachers to award higher marks, in some cases to garner positive evaluations. Continue reading

Smart Practice: Using Repetition to Improve Memory

 Sarah Lynn 2013.1.1Sarah Lynn

 We forget 90% of what is taught in class within 30 days.

Over a hundred years ago the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus (1885) came to this conclusion after painstakingly exposing his human subjects to list of words.   He also discovered that most of this forgetting occurs just hours after being exposed to the new material.  It is called the curve of forgetting.

When we encounter new information, neurons in our brain activate, but the stimulation lasts only up to 90 minutes unless it is reactivated (Squire, Kandel, 1999).  We begin to commit the new learning to memory when we first practice it, but for learning to endure in our memory, we must return to it at intervals and in different ways over weeks, months, and even years.

Quick Learning

A popular model in education is “teaching to mastery”.  We often interpret this to mean that students need to practice a language point intensely until it is burned into memory. Indeed, while students are practicing, they demonstrate an easy fluency with the material.  That is because it is active in their working memory.  Teachers and students alike prefer this intensive kind practice because it produces rapid, if ephemeral, gains. Quickly students gain confidence in their control of the material.  It feels familiar and known.  If tested immediately after intensive repetition and in a way that simulates the rehearsal, students score well.

Quick Forgetting

It turns out, however, that intensive repetitive practice leads to quick learning AND quick forgetting.  (Dunloskey, 2013).  If students are tested on that same material just a day later, their scores drop precipitously. The challenge is to have students put the material aside and then return to it. Inevitably they will have forgotten some of the material, and that is ok.  The effort they make to retrieve and reconstruct the information each time they practice it anew will strengthen their memory. Continue reading

New from Pearson this fall

See what’s new from Pearson this fall. We are excited to show you all of our new titles and new editions of your favorites. From the fourth edition of NorthStar  – now with a fully blended MyEnglishLab – and the new adult video-based program, Project Success, to the third edition of the Longman Preparation Course for the TOEFL iBT Test  for exam prep – there is something to meet your classroom needs!

Click here to get up-to-date product information and to see sample units in an instant!

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