Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Occupational change and mobility among employed and unemployed job seekers

a report by Simonetta Longhi and Mark Taylor (Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex) published in October 2011 under the auspices of the Economic & Social Research Council.


We use data from the Labour Force Survey to show that employed and unemployed job seekers in Great Britain originate from different occupations and find jobs in different occupations. We find substantial differences in occupational mobility between job seekers: employed job seekers are most likely to move to occupations paying higher average wages relative to their previous occupation, while unemployed job seekers are most likely to move to lower paying occupations. Employed and unemployed job seekers exhibit different patterns of occupational mobility and, therefore, do not accept the same types of jobs.

I am sure that social economists will understand the methodology of this research as described in the report which you can find here (PDF 26pp) but I have to say that I found the following most helpful.

Non-technical summary

Economic theory suggests that workers will change their job – and occupation – to improve wages over their career. However, a number of studies find substantial returns to experience accumulated within an occupation and argue that any loss of occupational experience associated with a change in occupation may result in lower wages, at least initially. This suggests that high levels of occupational mobility can severely inhibit a person’s career wage growth.

Whether a change in occupation is a positive or negative event is likely to depend on the cause of the change. For example, employed people searching for a new job will only accept job offers that are better than in their current job, either in terms of current wages, or in terms of future wage growth (or other working conditions). In contrast, people who are unemployed might be forced to accept sub-optimal jobs in order to exit unemployment and occupational change in this case might be to lower paying occupations, or occupations offering lower future wage growth. Our focus in this paper is to identify and compare the occupational mobility of employed and unemployed job seekers, a topic that has received little attention in the literature despite its potential implications. The literature has instead focused on the impact of an occupational change on short-term wage changes at the individual level, and has typically ignored whether the change is to an occupation offering higher or faster future wage growth.

We find that for both employed and unemployed job seekers the probability of finding a new job in the same occupation as the previous job is relatively low (around 30%), while more than one half experience a major occupational change (i.e. across occupations that are very different). However employed job seekers are much more likely than unemployed job seekers to move into higher paying occupations and much less likely to move into lower paying occupations. This suggests that for unemployed people a change in occupation is likely to have a negative impact on future wage growth while for employed people an occupational change is more often associated with better prospects for wage growth. Therefore occupational change is more likely to be an opportunity for employed job seekers, but a constraint for unemployed job seekers.

Previous studies suggest that employed and unemployed job seekers have different individual characteristics and employment histories, have different probabilities of finding a job, and find jobs of different quality. Our results suggest that they also exhibit different patterns of occupational change and tend to move in different directions in the occupational hierarchy. Since employed and unemployed job seekers start from different occupations and move in different directions, we can conclude that they tend to accept different types of jobs. All this adds evidence suggesting that employed and unemployed job seekers operate in different labour markets.

Although it has been suggested that job seekers might be more likely to find a better job if they quit their current job (i.e. become unemployed) and focus their efforts on their search for new employment, our results suggest otherwise. Since on-the-job search yields better occupational outcomes than unemployed search, workers should try to avoid unemployment. The best strategy for unemployed job seekers therefore seems that of accepting the first job offer they receive and then engaging in on-the-job search, rather than waiting for a good job offer which, especially in periods of recession, might not materialise.

Seems to run counter to the job-seeking advice of former times.

Mentoring Siblings of Gang Members: A Template for Reaching Families of Gang Members?

an article by Juanjo Medina, Robert Ralphs and Judith Aldridge (School of Law, University of Manchester) published in Children & Society Volume 26 Issue 1 (January 2012)


Mentoring has become a popular model of intervention to reduce the risk of offending, and has been proposed as an effective tool to tackle the risk of gang membership. This paper reviews the existing literature on mentoring and reports on a qualitative evaluation of a mentoring programme targeted at young people ‘at risk’ of gang membership in an English city.
The study highlights important issues around these interventions.
Although we found it a useful way to engage otherwise hard-to-reach families, important limitations remain: their potential labelling impact and their limited impact in isolation from other more ambitious measures.

Hazel’s comment;
This article, indeed the whole journal, looks at the interaction of young people with society and society's interaction with them. The question that this particular article raises for me is how it is possible to turn round the lifestyles displayed in these hard-to-reach families when there are so few opportunities for anything else in the more deprived areas of the country. Careers advice is not an option for these youngsters.

All the news that’s fit to post: A profile of news use on social networking sites

an article by Carroll J. Glynn and Michael E. Huge (The Ohio State University) and Lindsay H. Hoffman (University of Delaware) published in Computers in Human Behavior Volume 28 Issue 1 (January 2012)


Facebook and other social networking sites (SNSs)1 are altering the way individuals communicate. These online environments allow users to keep up with friends, network with colleagues, and share their personal views and observations with others. Previous work describes typical social networking site users as young, extroverted, and technologically savvy. Little research exists, however, on the emerging role of news in the social network environment. With over 500 million global Facebook users, both print- and television-based media outlets are making concerted efforts to become part of this important and increasingly ubiquitous virtual world. The present study uses a sample of students, faculty, and staff from a large university to investigate the factors that are related to news use on Facebook. Findings indicate that while news use is still a minor component of overall social network site activity, certain key variables, such as gender and life satisfaction, have a significant impact on how Facebook is used for news-related purposes. Future implications for news in the social networking world are presented and discussed.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Assessing Web interaction with recollection: Age-related and task-related differences

an article by Isabelle Etcheverry, Patrice Terrier, Jean-Claude Marquié (Université de Toulouse & CNRS (CCLE-LTC UMR 5263)France) published in Computers in Human Behavior Volume 28 Issue 1 (January 2012)


The current study examined how young (n = 26; mean = 22.31 years) and older Internet users (n = 24; mean = 64.54 years) performed when they had to select and recollect information displayed in Web pages. Content-oriented and navigation-oriented information-finding tasks were used during the study phase. At test, the method made use of two recognition paradigms designed to assess recollection and the nature of representations in memory: namely, the remember/know procedure and a forced-choice recognition procedure which made it possible to compare the retrieval of detailed (verbatim-based) and semantic (gist-based) representations. The evidence from both procedures suggested that remembering was less contextualised in older participants. Furthermore, the idea that content-oriented searches impose greater processing demands than navigation-oriented searches in Web pages was confirmed for both age groups. Interestingly, the older Internet users experienced more difficulties in finding targets in navigation-oriented searches than in content-oriented searches.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

10 stories and links I think are educative, informative, entertaining, or weird

My Experience with ADD via Big Think by Big Think Editors
Freelance writer and editor Molly Oswaks first found some relief with cocaine. Instead of giving her a high, it calmed her down and helped her focus. Later, an ADD diagnosis and medication gave her more lasting clarity and attention consistency after a life mostly spent adrift.
Read More

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Steve Jobs and David Gelernter seemed like natural allies: Both chided technologists for neglecting design. Instead, they fought each other... more

How does biology explain the low numbers of women in computer science? via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker
Watch the video here where you can also link to more presentations from Terri Oda
A great look at math, and real vs. imaginary Bell curve distributions.
Thanks to Gideon for bringing this to my attention!

Winter Escape via How-To Geek by Asian Angel
In this week game you have been accidentally locked out of your home and must find a way to get in. Can you do it before you become ill from being out in the cold too long? Tick-tock tick-tock!
As usual you can choose to read Asian Angel’s walk-through here or take your chance and go straight to the game here.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Money and art. The two can't be disentangled. But some entanglements are more troubling than others. Culture is in retreat before the brute dollar. Jed Perl explains.. more

Smog-Eating Material to Wrap Buildings via Big Think by Big Think Editors
Researchers in Belgium are testing an old material in a new way, which may benefit the environment and make city dwellers healthier and happier by eating away at air pollutants. Titanium oxide, currently used in everything from toothpaste to sunscreen, can now be found coating the ceiling of a driving tunnel in Brussels, Belgium.
Read More

What is ET Listening to Now? via Stephen's Lighthouse
An infographic (of which Stephen Abram is very fond judging by the number in his blog) which shows how far television waves (could) have reached across space. The Lone Ranger is just past Pi Mensae. Fascinating.
See for yourself here.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Gloria Steinem, still tiny of waist and big of hair, wants you to know that she has never gotten by on her appearance. “Who wants to be feminine?”... more

The Colossal Heads of the Olmec (Picture of the Day) via Britannica Blog by Britannica Editors
Olmec colossal basalt head in the Museo de la Venta, an outdoor museum near Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico. Credit: © Robert Frerck/Odyssey Productions
The Olmec, the “people of the rubber country”, represented the first elaborate pre-Columbian civilization of Mesoamerica. Much of what is known about them has come from archaeological excavations at sites in modern-day southern Mexico, where structures such as large earthen pyramids and giant stone carvings, including colossal heads, have been uncovered.

Fascinating – read more here

Researchers to build Babbage Analytical Engine via Boing Boing by Xeni Jardin

Over the next decade, a group of researchers in the UK will attempt to construct a working version of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, which he dreamed up a hundred years ago, but did not complete. John Markoff has the story in the New York Times today [7 November], and here’s a related interactive feature. Cory blogged about the project recently on Boing Boing, and the legacy of Babbage, a great mathematician, philosopher, and engineer, is a favorite topic in our archives (see links below).

Babbage-esque mechanical computer chip
Comic about Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage
Charles Babbage comic
Babbage Difference Engine No. 2 Recreation Coming to Computer ...
Babbage difference engine No. 2 now operational – Boing Boing Gadgets
Lovelace met Babbage on this day in 1833

Saturday, 21 January 2012

10 stories and links I think are educative, informative, entertaining, or weird

The Secret to Marital Happiness: Don't Have Kids or Have Lots of Them via Big Think by Peter Lawler
That’s the conclusion of this study. The discovery that being married without children is one path to happiness vindicated the feminists, the liberationists, the authentic followers of Simone de Beauvoir. Authentic people live for themselves; they refuse to be breeders; their lives are fulfilled without giving into some biological inclination shared with the other animals.
Read More

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
To enliven a well-trodden globe, what's a travel writer to do? Some try gimmicks, like hitchhiking with a fridge. Evelyn Waugh opted for wit... more

War Tubas via Retronaut by Chris

“The war tuba is a colloquial name sometimes applied to Imperial Japanese Army acoustic locators due to the visual resemblance to the musical tuba.” – Wikipedia
There’s another photo here.

Why Americans Don’t Care via Big Think by Robert de Neufville
Compare the covers of the different editions of the latest [as at 30 November] issue of Time. In most of the world, the cover of the magazine features a striking image of an Egyptian rioter in a gas mask. But the U.S. edition reduces the unrest to Egypt to small print and leads instead with a general series on “Why Anxiety is Good for You”.
Read More

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
If you've been at death’s door or your wits’ end, about to bite the dust or cast the first stone, you’ve inhabited the King James Bible... more

What Can Plato Teach Me That I Can't Find on Wikipedia? via Big Think by Daniel Honan
Do we really need to read the classics in the age of Wikipedia? Aren't these books just historical artifacts or a bunch of pretentious fodder for cocktail party conversation? According to Jeffrey Brenzel, Philosopher and Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at Yale University, the classics will not only enhance your education, but help you live better.
Read More

Magazine First Covers via How to be a Retronaut by Chris
  • Harper's Bazaar - 1867
  • National Geographic - 1888
  • Vogue - 1892
  • Time - 1923
  • New Yorker - 1925
  • Esquire - 1933
  • Newsweek - 1933
  • Seventeen - 1941
  • TV Guide - 1953
  • Sports Illustrated - 1954
  • Rolling Stone - 1967
  • People - 1974
  • Vanity Fair - 1983
  • Wired - 1993
View them all here
This capsule was curated by Isaac Scribner

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
A life in letters. When the day was done, P.G. Wodehouse returned to his chief pleasure: "writing stinkers to people who attack me"... more

The Pedascope via HOW TO BE A RETRONAUT by Chris

“Shoe-fitting fluoroscopes, also known as Pedoscopes, were X-ray fluoroscope machines installed in shoe stores from the 1920s until about the 1960s in the United States (by which time they were prohibited), and into the mid-1970s in the United Kingdom. In the UK, they were known as Pedoscopes, after the company based in St. Albans that manufactured them.” Wikipedia
More images here
Thank you to the Science Museum

The Marching Eagle: Africa’s Secretary Bird via Britannica Blog by Kara Rogers

Credit: © Stephen J. Krasemann/Peter Arnold, Inc.
On the open lands of sub-Saharan Africa, the world's only terrestrial bird of prey, the long-legged secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius), stalks across the ground, sometimes walking as many as 20 miles in a single day in search of quarry. And when it finally happens upon a soon-to-be meal, we find that the civilized nature implied by the secretary bird's name is far from a true reflection of its actual behavior. Indeed, when it encounters prey, it stomps, kicks, and crushes the victim into submission and then swallows it whole.
This post was originally published in NaturePhiles on TalkingScience.org

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Distribution and determinants of lifetime unemployment

an article by Achim Schmillen (Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg; Osteuropa-Institut Regensburg; and University of Regensburg, Germany) and Joachim Möller (Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg; University of Regensburg, Germany and Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn) published in Labour Economics Volume 19 Issue 1 (January 2012)


The empirical literature on unemployment almost exclusively focuses on the duration of distinct unemployment spells. In contrast, we use a unique administrative micro data set for the time span 1975–2004 to investigate individual lifetime unemployment – defined as the cumulative length of all unemployment spells over a 25-year period. This new perspective enables us to answer questions regarding the long-term distribution and determinants of unemployment for birth cohorts 1950–1954.

We show that lifetime unemployment is highly concentrated on a small part of the population. With censored quantile regressions we investigate the long-lasting influence of bad luck early in the professional career. Controlling for individual and firm characteristics we find that choosing at a young age what turns out to be an unfavourable occupation significantly increases the predicted amount of lifetime unemployment.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Recognition of knowledge and skills at work – in the interest of the employer

an article by Leif Berglund (Luleå University of Technology) and Per Andersson (Linköping University) published in Journal of Workplace Learning Volume 24 Issue 2 (2012)


Workplace learning takes place in many settings and in different ways, resulting in knowledge and skills of different kinds. The recognition processes in the workplace is however often implicit and seldom discussed in terms of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). The aim of this article is to exemplify and analyse the employers' logics in assessing knowledge and skills of employees. Further we discuss how knowledge and skills get recognition in the work place and what the consequences of such recognition processes might be.
This paper is based upon a study in two companies and two municipalities, where twenty-one interviews have been made with human resource managers, team leaders and Labour Union representatives. The research concerned in what ways these organisations visualised and recognised skills among their employees, how the logics of these actions could be understood and in what ways this promotes the interests of the employees.
The findings show that both companies and municipalities have their own ways of assessing knowledge and skills, mostly out of a production logic of what is needed and used at the workplace. However, certain skills are also kept in silence and made "unvisualised" for the employee. This employer-controlled recognition logic is important to understand when RPL models are brought to the workplace in order to obtain win-win situations for both employers and employees.
Practical implications
It seems important to identify already existing system for assessment of knowledge/skills at the workplace when bringing RPL processes to the workplace.
The approach was to understand assessment processes in these companies and municipalities from an RPL perspective, not widely covered before.

Monday, 16 January 2012

10 Skills All Students Need in Any Job Market

Molly Mitchell, writing on Big Think, says: “Every few years sees the job market changing and the educational market change along with it. As the new hot career comes up, there is always a degree or program to go with it. But did you know that there are essential skills that every student, graduate, and job candidate needs to have to give him or her the best chance at landing a job? Below, we have gathered a list of just ten of the must-haves every college student should be thinking about during their studies.”

The list (see here for a short description of the item):
  1. Job experience
  2. Relevant experience
  3. Writing
  4. Verbal communications
  5. Public speaking
  6. Technology
  7. Finance
  8. Criticism
  9. Networking
  10. Research
Just ten things you need to do/get. Say it quickly and it might not seem too bad!

Computer use in older adults: Determinants and the relationship with cognitive change over a 6 year episode

an article by Karin Slegers (Centre for User Experience Research, K.U. Leuven/IBBT, Belgium) and Martin P.J. van Boxtel and Jelle Jolles (Maastricht University, The Netherlands) published in Computers in Human Behavior Volume 28 Issue 1 (January 2012)


Cognitively challenging activities may support the mental abilities of older adults. The use of computers and the internet provides divergent cognitive challenges to older persons, and in previous studies, positive effects of computer and internet use on the quality of life have been demonstrated.

The present study addresses two research aims regarding predictors of computer use and the relationship between computer use and changes in cognitive abilities over a 6-year period in both younger (24–49 years) and older adults (older than 50 years). Data were obtained from an ongoing study into cognitive aging: the Maastricht Aging Study, involving 1,823 normal aging adults who were followed for 9 years.

The results showed age-related differences in predictors of computer use: the only predictor in younger participants was level of education, while in older participants computer use was also predicted by age, sex and feelings of loneliness. Protective effects of computer use were found for measures of selective attention and memory, in both older and younger participants. Effect sizes were small, which suggests that promotion of computer activities in older adults to prevent cognitive decline may not be an efficient strategy.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

10 stories and links I think are educative, informative, entertaining, or weird

How chicken wire is made via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
Here’s a mesmerizing Gabion machine [Well, it is in the blog post but I could not find a static picture anywhere], a massive loom that weaves chicken wire fencing out of wire.
Machine grace ahoy.
Chicken Wire Fabrication – Video (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Neanderthal neuroscience. What are humans made of? Find 40,000-year-old hominid pinky bone, extract the DNA, compare and contrast... more

The debate over Kaliningrad's architectural heritage: An insider’s perspective
an article by Anna Karpenko published in Eurozine
What is the threat implied in the handover of the symbolically significant heritage of the Kaliningrad region to the Orthodox Church of Russia? An examination of the social and cultural aspects of the conflict.
Full story (HTML) here also available as PDF (4pp) here

Transformice: An Addictive, Casual Game For Your Browser Or Desktop via MakeUseOf by Craig Snyder
It took nearly two months for a friend to convince me to give Transformice a shot. The game looked too childish, uninteresting, and casual. After finally giving the game a fair chance, I've been disappointed that I didn’t listen two months sooner. This is one of the most unique browser games that you're going to find.
It’ hard to put Transformice into a genre. It’s a strategy game, but it’s something more than that. Transformice is the most individual team-based game I’ve played. That’s weird, I know. It’s also the only game that I can think of where trolling is almost integrated within the gameplay.
On any given school night, Transformice touches over 10,000 players online. I say school night because this game is targeted more towards a younger audience. The objective of Transformice is to proceed through each map and collect the cheese. After collecting the cheese, you must bring it back to the mouse hole. By collecting cheese, you gather points towards becoming the next Shaman. The Shaman is the designated mouse who builds and casts objects so that their fellow mice can more easily get to the cheese. Shamans are rewarded for the number of mice they are able to save and help bring back the cheese.
Check out the Gameplay here (where you will also get the adverts that help to keep MakeUseOf free at the point of use) which includes tips and tricks, a video to help you along etc
Or you could go straight into the game here (don’t be put off if the screen opens in French – you get to choose your language after about three screens).

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Once the epitome of glamour, fur has fallen on hard times. The mink coat has come to signify hussies on the make or the kept woman... more

6 Classic Disney Animated Wartime Propaganda Cartoons [Stuff to Watch] via MakeUseOf by Tim Brookes
During the Second World War film-makers on both sides of the Atlantic were put to work on morale-boosting and influential propaganda films – Walt Disney included. The master of animation was determined to put his characters to use in the war effort, especially Donald Duck.
Here are a selection of 6 Disney cartoons that were produced during the war, each with its own message and each designed to bolster public opinion behind allied war efforts.
  • Education For Death: The Making of a Nazi (1943)
    Considerably different to the average Disney short, Education for Death is based on a book by Gregor Ziemer and features none of Disney’s usual characters. Instead the production focuses on the issue of youth and how the Nazi machine corrupted minds from a very early age.
    At just over 10 minutes long this film was shown to US audiences in movie theaters in 1943 and probably had quite an impact. This isn’t the usual jovial Disney outing – far from it. The imagery contained in this short film is as serious as it gets and it’s easy to see why Walt believed his usual love-able characters would confuse the message.
  • Der Fuehrer’s Face (1942)
    Starring Disney favorite Donald Duck, Der Fuehrer’s Face is a simple anti-Nazi propaganda film that went on to win the Academy Award for best animated short. The message behind this one is straightforward: Hitler and the Nazis are your enemy, support our troops and back the war effort!
    There are lashings of comedy thrown in, after all this is a Donald Duck film! The obsessive extremes painted of Nazi Germany are almost comical – everything from clouds to trees are swastika shaped.
  • The Spirit of ’43 (1943)
    Propaganda wasn’t just used to influence public opinion against the enemy, far from it. In this example Donald Duck expounds the virtues of saving money in order to pay tax – and pay it on time.
    At a time when the payment of tax was more important than it ever had been before the film was viewed by around 26 million US citizens. According to a poll, 37% of those who saw the film admitted that it had indeed affected their willingness to pay higher tax rates in order to fund the ongoing conflict.
  • Donald Gets Drafted (1942)
    This short treads a fine line between brazen propaganda and typical Disney antics as Donald Duck receives his draft notice and prepares for the army. The film opens with Donald walking past seemingly endless recruitment advertisements, many of which look way too good to be true.
    Walt managed to squeeze in a few more clever jokes about conscription and the army’s willingness to take new troops, though this film seems to have a less defined message than many of the other Disney wartime shorts.
  • Fall Out Fall In (1943)
    In this cartoon we see Donald Duck marching for miles through storms, ice and baking hot desert sands before struggling with his tent and regiment’s particularly loud sleeping habits.
    Donald was a busy duck during the war, and many of the cartoons produced simply follow his military career and inevitable mistakes that lead to hilarious consequences. Whilst this one is naturally not much different, it does at least tackle a few of the hardships faced by soldiers in the war.
  • Commando Duck (1944)
    With a not-so-subtle reminder of who America was fighting and lines like “Japanese custom always say shooting a man in the back please” (yes, I know) this is one Disney cartoon that reflects the desperation of the war effort by 1944.
    Rather than ending up peeling potatoes or troubled by fatigue this is one cartoon in which Donald seemingly succeeds – though not without the usual hysterical cartoon antics that made Disney so popular in the first place. Politically incorrect but historically important!
Link to the original post here

In a good light via Prospero by J.M. | NEW YORK
Cecil Beaton, an English photographer, found happy hunting in New York City for more than 40 years, both behind the camera and in the world of the theatre. When he arrived in America after the second world war, Beaton wrote that it was “time to settle down and relish to the full the infinite delights that New York has to offer”. A new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York aims to chronicle his engagement with those delights, from his early Vogue photos of the mid-1930s – their figures highly stylised in poses and shadows reminiscent of German Expressionism – to a 1970 portrait of Mick Jagger, as casual and unaffected as a snapshot.
Cecil Beaton: The New York Years is at the Museum of the City of New York until February 20th – just in case you’re going there anyway!!
Full article

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Everything is suddenly a distraction to William Ian Miller. His brain is "balsa wood floating in a helium sea." In truth, his brain is shrinking. And so is yours... more

Startling photo of volcanic lightning via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
 Your-Shot Weekly-Wrapper 2011 Img 1011Wallpaper-Week-3-1 1600

No, this is not a still from the Raiders of the Lost Ark scene when the ark is opened, but an absolutely magnificent image of southern Chile’s Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano spewing lightning-topped ash. Wow. Ricardo Mohr’s photo was selected as one of National Geographic’s “Pictures We Love: Best of October”.

“We didn't have [x] when I was a kid and I turned out okay” via Big Think by Scott McLeod
Here’s a statement that I'm getting really tired of hearing: “We didn’t have computers when I was in school and I turned out okay. There’s no reason why kids today need ’em.” I’m sure that this argument was offered in the past as well: “Buses? We walked to school barefoot, in the snow uphill both ways!”
Read More

Saturday, 14 January 2012

10 stories and links I think are educative, informative, entertaining, or weird

The Color of 47-Million-Year-Old Moths via Britannica Blog by Kara Rogers

A Peleides blue morpho butterfly. Credit: © Vera Kailova/Fotolia
The color of a fossil species is often its greatest secret, its pigmented tissues having decayed and returned to the earth long before its discovery. An anomaly in this pattern was the recent reconstruction of wing coloration from color-producing structures discovered in the wing scales of 47-million-year-old fossil lepidopterans (moths and butterflies) recovered from the Grube Messel oil shales in Germany.
You can read the rest of this incredible article here.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Though reluctant to work with the U.S. military, anthropologists have a lot to say about the war in Afghanistan. Alex Star listens... more

Why Mozart Rocks So Hard. Artistic Genius Explained. via Big Think by Megan Erickson
What’s the difference between a Jackson Pollock painting and a finger-painting? Why is The Magic Flute so enduring, while other classical compositions have been forgotten? Is “I know it when I see it” as close as we’ll get to defining what we mean by “great art”?
Read More

The most dangerous place to be a park ranger via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker
Lots of links to more photos, how you can support the work etc are here

This photo was taken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Virunga National Park, where the Nyamulagira volcano is currently erupting. The man in the photo is named Romeo. No last name given, and I can’t help but wonder if that's for the same reason that he carries a rather large gun.
Romeo is a park ranger in Virunga. It’s a very dangerous job. Virunga has lost more park rangers than any other protected site on Earth. That’s due to several factors. For one thing, men like Romeo are in charge of protecting the Park’s gorillas and other endangered wildlife from poachers. For another, political instability leaks into Virunga on a relatively regular basis. Back in January, three rangers and five Congolese soldiers were killed by members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). Virunga borders Rwanda and members of this militia try to use the park as a hideout. In the process, they clear-cut the forest for charcoal. The January attack was thought to be in retaliation for rangers destroying a couple of FDLR camps and cracking down on illegal forest destruction.
In fact, the job is dangerous enough that one of the fundraising campaigns the park is promoting is a program to care for the widows of dead rangers. You can donate online.
Who are the guys that put their lives on the line for a national park and a bunch of great apes? The park website also has some short statements by several of the rangers. Romeo isn’t among them. But you can get an idea of who these guys are, and why they chose this job.
Surprisingly, despite all that, large parts of Virunga are safe enough for tourists. According to Wikipedia, the park gets 3,000 visitors a year.
Via Brendan Maher

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Stephen Hawking included just one equation in A Brief History of Time. Others followed suit. But can physics be explained without math?... more

Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, Holland, 1928 via HOW TO BE A RETRONAUT by Chris

Pictures are provided here with no explanation as to why a seemingly pseudo Roman/Egyptian theme was chosen. Can I find out?
NO. But I did find out some information about sprinter Percy Williams here
Anyone else got any ideas?

Why some birds of prey become transvestites via 3quarksdaily by Azra Raza

Birds of prey may be thought of as fierce foes, but scientists find that some males disguise themselves as peaceful females. These males belong to a species of raptor known as the marsh harrier. Using plastic decoys, French researchers learned that the transvestites among these predators are less aggressive than other males. Some animals will use the tactic known as sexual mimicry in the cutthroat battle to survive. For instance, young male birds often have female plumage that helps camouflage them; they will acquire more striking plumage only after reaching sexual maturity, to help them attract mates. However, permanent lifelong female mimicry, in which males look like females throughout life, is extraordinarily rare in birds. Until now, it had been studied in only one species, the ruff (Philomachus pugnax), a shorebird in which some males engage in female behavior to sneakily get sex.
More here

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Retractions in scholarly journals are on the rise. Why? Let’s ask an editor. “It's none of your damn business!”... more


“Airlines of the United States” Ads, WWII, by James Bingham
Thank you to American Art Archive where you can see the rest of the images.

The real Hurt Locker via 3quarksdaily by Morgan Meis
Captain Nawa Salah Ahmed was not thinking of Hollywood when he signed up for the bomb-disposal unit in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. It was 2004, and the young policeman was burnt out. He had enlisted in the force when the American military invaded his homeland, taking a job in the local criminal-investigations unit. And as a lawless chaos had come crashing down upon the country, business, so to speak, was booming. Cases flooded in—Ahmed dealt daily with thefts, murders, and worse. But the pressure, he says, was unrelenting.
more from Neil Arun at Vanity Fair here.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Reviewing the need for gaming in education to accommodate the net generation

an article by by G Bekebrede, H J G Warmelink and I S Mayer published in Computers & Education Volume 57 Issue 2 (2011)


There is a growing interest in the use of simulations and games in Dutch higher education. This development is based on the perception that students belong to the “gamer generation” or “net generation”: a generation that has grown up with computer games and other technology affecting their preferred learning styles, social interaction patterns and technology use generally.

It is often argued that in education this generation prefers active, collaborative and technology-rich learning, i.e. learning methods that involve extensive computer use and collaboration among students. Gaming is then proposed as a new teaching method which addresses these requirements.

This article presents the results of a survey which studied whether this discourse is also applicable to higher education students from the Netherlands and whether games, considered as active, collaborative and technology-rich learning experiences, are of greater importance in the formal education of today’s students.

Of 1,432 respondents from eight Dutch institutes of higher education surveyed between 2005 and 2009, about 25% fit our criteria of being a clear representative of the net generation. Furthermore, our analysis shows that there is little difference, and no statistically significant difference, in active, collaborative and technology-rich learning preferences between the representatives and non-representatives of the net generation. Furthermore, no large or statistically significant differences were found between representatives and non-representatives of the net generation with respect to the value they accorded to gaming in education.

Overall our dataset did not fit the expectations raised by the net generation theory, with the percentage of students who fit the criteria being much lower than expected. However, regardless of whether they represented the net generation or not, in general our respondents preferred collaborative and technology-rich learning and deemed games a valuable teaching method.

Europe and the economic crisis: forms of labour market adjustment and varieties of capitalism

an article by Michel Lallement (Lise-CNRS, CNAM (Paris), France) published in Work Employment & Society Volume 25 Number 4 (December 2011)


The economic crisis that beset Europe in 2007 had a considerable impact on employment. Since 2008, unemployment has increased throughout Europe, but adjustment mechanisms affecting the labour market have varied from one country to another. By examining six representative European Union countries from the EU15, this article examines three types of adjustment involving segmentation, working hours and unemployment/underemployment. These adjustment systems, which originate from business strategy and which are partly supported by public policy measures, reflect the persistence of three varieties of capitalism in Europe.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but being left on my own is worse: …

an analysis of reported bullying at school within NFER attitude surveys

Tom Benton Research report, November 2011

Since early 2010 the NFER has been working with both primary and secondary schools to allow them to survey their own pupils and better understand their views across a range of issues. With almost 100 secondary schools and more than 35,000 pupils in years 7 to 13 having taken part we have now begun undertaking a national analysis of the results so far. We have begun by exploring findings relating to bullying at school and have produced some interesting results.

As part of the NFER attitude survey, children in school years 7 to 13 (aged 11 to 18) were asked questions about the types of bullying they had experienced over the last 12 months and why they think they may have been bullied. Through analysis of their responses to these questions and how these relate to the emotional well-being of children (also measured within the questionnaire) some conclusions can be made as to the prevalence of different types of bullying and the relative seriousness of each type of bullying as measured by its impact on emotional well-being.

Key findings
  • Schools and parents should be aware of the potential harm done to young people when they experience bullying through “being left out”. This type of bullying is more strongly associated with poor emotional well-being than any other type including more explicit forms such as physical or verbal abuse. For this reason it is important that schools look for ways to build on the efforts they already make to help young people to socialise, and explore ways of supporting them when relationships with other pupils break down.
  • “Being left out ”  is more common amongst girls than boys. However, it was found that the link between this type of bullying and poor emotional well-being is stronger in boys.
  • For girls  “unwanted sexual contact ” was found to be the type of bullying most strongly associated with poor emotional well-being. However, this type of bullying is relatively rare.
  • Most common type of bullying is verbal abuse. The potential negative impact of this type of bullying should not be underestimated as our analysis indicates that verbal abuse is more strongly linked to poor emotional well-being than physical abuse.
  • Pupils become less likely to be the victim of the majority of types of bullying once they enter the sixth form.
  • Physical bullying more commonly affects boys than girls.
Pupils who have been the victim of bullying are most likely to mention “lies or rumours” about them or their appearance as the reason they think they have been bullied.

NFER press release is here where you can find a link to the full report (PDF 18pp) and a videocast about the research.

A survey on information re-finding techniques

an article by Tangjian Deng and Ling Feng (Tsinghua University, Beijing) published in International Journal of Web Information Systems Volume 7 Issue 4 (2011)


Observing that people re-access what they have seen or used in the past is very common in real lives. The purpose of this paper is to review the subject of information re-finding comprehensively, and introduce to readers the underlying techniques and mechanisms used in information re-finding.
After analysing users’ information re-finding behaviours and their requirements, the paper studies the natural way of re-finding in human memory, and reviews state-of-the-art techniques and tools developed in the fields of web and personal information management for information re-finding.
Four main re-finding support techniques on the Web are:
  • re-finding tools in Web browsers; 
  • history service; 
  • re-finding search engine; and 
  • voice-based re-finding.
Three main re-finding approaches are used in PIM: browse-based approaches; content-based search; and context-based search.
Practical implications
Following the recalling mechanisms in human memory, the method of recall-by-context in both fields of web usage and personal information management can make users feel easy to re-find information.
The paper gives a comprehensive overview of information re-finding techniques.

Rent this article from DeepDyve

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The complete information literacy? Unforgetting creation and organization of information

an article by Isto Huvila (Uppsala University, Sweden) published in Journal of Librarianship and Information Science Volume 43 Number 4 (December 2011)


Even though the concept of information literacy typically embraces an idea of a complete participation in an information community, its definitions have tended to underline the phases of seeking, searching and evaluation instead of creating information. Shortcomings of information creation can, however, explain many of the difficulties of finding information.

This article develops the notion of information literacy with a specific focus on integrating creation and organization of information as central aspects of being information literate and discusses the implications of developing information creation processes from the point of view of information professionals and users. Finally, suggestions are made for how information creation might be improved in practice.

Macroeconomic policy, labour market institutions and employment outcomes

an article by Eileen Appelbaum (Center for Economic and Policy Research, USA) publisihed in Work Employment & Society Volume 25 Number 4 (December 2011)


The increase in income inequality and household debt of middle- and lower-income households in the USA over several decades led to increasingly fragile financial institutions and set the stage for the most serious recession in the last 60 years. The proximate cause of the economic crisis was the collapse of the housing bubble that caused both the recession that began at the end of 2007 and the financial crisis that erupted in 2008.

The drop in GDP in the USA, while steep, was not more severe than in most of the other OECD countries and the macroeconomic policy response was better. Yet the increase in the US unemployment rate was among the steepest. This article examines this failure of US labour market institutions to respond to these policy initiatives and the implications of the analysis for economic policy.

Racism in a post-racial Europe

an article by Alana Lentin published by Eurozine


The discrediting of the category of race in post-war European societies did not abolish racism: officially endorsed cultural relativism perpetuated Eurocentricism while dismissing racism as the pathology of the individual. Critique of culturalism is, however, to be distinguished from the new wave of anti-multiculturalism, argues Alana Lentin. Ostensibly aimed at the illiberalism of multiculturalism's “beneficiaries”, the latter expresses intolerance of “bad diversity”.

Read the full article here

The impact of career visions on work attitudes: a longitudinal approach

an article by Claudia Holtschlag (University of Barcelona, Spain) and Aline D. Masuda, (EADA Business School, Barcelona) published in Career Development International Volume 16 Issue 7 (2011)

The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of difficult and specific career visions on job satisfaction and turnover intentions seven years after students reported their visions.
Data for this study were collected in two waves, seven years apart, from the same cohort. At time 1 the career visions of MBA students were measured in terms of difficulty and specificity. At time 2 MBA students reported their job satisfaction and turnover intentions.
Results showed that MBA students with a specific and challenging career vision were less likely to report intentions to leave their work seven years after reporting their visions. Further, job satisfaction mediated this relationship.
Research limitations/implications
The study was limited due to the small sample size used (n=74). Future studies should also test whether goal progress and job performance could be mediators between the quality of career vision and job satisfaction.
Practical implications
Results of this study indicate that individuals who formulated more specific career visions were more satisfied with their jobs seven years after reporting their visions. This finding has implications for career counsellors, coaches and managers who care for the development of their subordinates.
This is the first study that examined the impact of the quality of career visions (i.e. specificity and difficulty) on future job satisfaction and turnover intentions.

Understanding the worklessness dynamics and characteristics of deprived areas

DWP Research Report 779 by Helen Barnes, Elisabeth Garratt, David McLennan and Michael Noble (Oxford Institute of Social Policy, University of Oxford)


Research was commissioned to use individual level data from the Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study (WPLS) to try to shed light on some unanswered questions about the dynamics of worklessness in deprived areas.

It has been suggested that in certain deprived neighbourhoods individuals make the transition from worklessness into employment and move away to less deprived areas. As these people move away they are replaced by inflows of other workless people who may themselves find employment and move on in a similar way. Therefore, although people experience positive individual level employment outcomes whilst living in a neighbourhood, the area may change little over time and may appear unresponsive to initiatives aimed at reducing worklessness. This research examines this issue and the associated policy implications.

The research classifies deprived areas according to whether they were an ‘improver’ or ‘non-improver’ area, over the period 2004 to 2007, as well as identifying ‘transition’ areas (a subset of ‘non-improver’ areas characterised by high population churn). We have published a full list of these classifications for each Lower Super Output Area in Great Britain, to enable local partners to conduct their own follow-up research into the issues locally. This has been simultaneously published alongside this report.

Full report published November 2011 (PDF 87 pages)
ISBN 978 1 908523 31 0

LSOA tables for DWP RR779 (Excel (97-2003) 8.79 MB)

Hazel’s comment:
As one does with reports of this nature I looked for my home town and, as expected, Kettering contains some nasty pockets of deprivation. The area in which I live also has some very long-term worklessness into the third generation of “dealers” (not in drugs, although there is some of that, but in anything that can raise a bit of cash).

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Digital libraries in the classroom: Secondary school teachers’ conception

an article by A Abrizah and AN Zainab (University of Malaya) published in Journal of Librarianship and Information Science Volume 43 Number 4 (December 2011)


This paper presents findings from a case study investigating secondary school teachers’ understanding of the term digital libraries and their relationship with learning.
The study addresses two research questions:
  1. How do teachers conceptualize digital libraries, their relevance and issues relating to their integration into the curriculum? and
  2. What are the teachers’ perceptions of the initiative to develop a collaborative digital library for school projects?
A series of interviews were carried out on six history subject teachers which provide a detailed and succinct information on their understanding of digital libraries, their knowledge and use of the internet and digital resources, their perception of the possible impact of digital resources on teaching and learning, the benefits teachers seen in digital resources and the problems they have in using them. It also offers important insights on history subject teachers’ perceptions of the initiative to develop a collaborative digital library for history projects, perception of its potential use, pointing out the conditions that facilitate its use in the classrooms.

The paper also points out the relevance of digital libraries to the history curriculum which will make readers understand that using the technology is relevant to the teaching of all subjects.

A study on the conceptualization of librarians’ career movement and identification of antecedents

an article by Younghee Noh (Konkuk University, South Korea) published in Journal of Librarianship and Information Science Volume 43 Number 4 (December 2011)


In today’s world, the surrounding environment and organizations are constantly requiring individuals to engage in lifelong learning and develop boundaryless careers. In this paper, the antecedents of career movement for librarians or those working in related organizations will be identified and conceptualized. To this end, this study establishes a theoretical model of internal and external career movement and its antecedents, verifies a model based on surveying librarians working at libraries and those whose functions are similar to those of librarians, and conducts usefulness analysis while exploring a new model.

In the previous study, a structural equation model, originally designed for careers other than librarians, was applied to the targets of this study, librarians, to assess external validity. This study, however, sets out a new model because the basic model cannot fully explain the structure of the data. The new model has good fit and also offers a good explanation of a covariance matrix of the original data. The significance of all coefficients, except for the covariance between career development support and external career movement intention, are statistically significant.

Parents’ perspectives on technology and children’s learning in the home: …

social class and the role of the habitus

 an article by S. Hollingworth, A. Mansaray, K. Allen and A. Rose (Institute for Policy Studies in Education (IPSE), London Metropolitan University) published in Journal of Computer Assisted Learning Volume 27 Issue 4 (August 2011)


Government attention (in England and elsewhere) has been drawn to the role of technology in supporting learning in families. However, sociologists of education highlight that parent’s ability to engage with their children’s education and learning is not a straightforward issue.

Drawing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, this paper attempts to open up a space for examination of the differential experiences of parents from different social class backgrounds, of technology in the home, and how this informs the potential they see for family learning using technology. We use Bourdieu’s concepts of ‘cultural and economic capital’ and ‘habitus’ to explore several themes.

Firstly, the paper explores the impact of material inequalities of access on families and how this structures parental engagement with technology in relation to their children's schooling;
secondly, how the harms and risks of technology are differentially experienced, negotiated and managed by parents from different social class backgrounds – with varying amounts of social and cultural resources available to them;
thirdly, through discussion of the ‘generation gap’, we examine the significance of the parents’ working lives (in terms of the privileged forms of engagement with technology, which professional employment increasingly requires and facilitates) in shaping parents’ own relationships to education and learning.

Houses and schools: Valuation of school quality through the housing market

an article by Stephen Machin (University College London and Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics) published in Labour Economics Volume 18 Issue 6 (December 2011)


This paper offers a critical appraisal of the now sizable empirical literature that values school quality and performance through housing valuations. This literature consistently finds housing valuations to be significantly higher in places where measured school quality is higher, implying a strong parental willingness to pay to get their children educated in better performing schools. This conclusion emerges from studies undertaken in a number of countries, using a variety of identification strategies, and at different parts of the education sequence that children follow.

Social Network and Occupational Mobility: A Mathematical Model

an article by Oleg Demchenko published in Social Science Quarterly Volume 92 Issue 4 (December 2011)


This article examines the comparative effectiveness of different types of social ties used by a job seeker and proposes an explanation for the inconsistency in empirical evidence for strength-of-weak-ties hypothesis.

Granovetter’s strength-of-weak-ties hypothesis predicted that in a job search, weak ties (acquaintances) are a more valuable source of information as compared to strong ties (close friends or relatives). However, subsequent empirical research has provided ambiguous support for this hypothesis. To sort out the conflicting results, a mathematical model of the transmission of job information through a contact network has been constructed. Along with the strength of tie, a widely used characteristic of contact, the model also incorporates the work relation of tie.

The model has numerous implications with strong empirical support, as well as propositions going beyond the findings of prior empirical work, which can be evaluated in subsequent studies. It is shown that the effectiveness of a certain type of contact depends on both the ego’s status (weak and work-related contacts are more advantageous for higher-status workers) and the composition of the ego’s network (work-related contacts promote the effectiveness of weak ties, while strong-tie contacts hinder the effectiveness of work-related ties). In particular, it implies that the inconsistency in empirical evidence for the strength-of-weak-ties hypothesis can be explained by the differences in status or the proportion of work-related contacts in the samples examined.

Work-related ties play a significant role in the analysis of informal job-search methods; their incorporation into the model allows one to account for a number of previously unexplained empirical results.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Striking the Right Note: The Cultural Preparedness Approach to Developing Resonant Career Guidance Programmes

an article by G. Arulmani published in International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance Volume 11 Number 2 (July 2011)


Cultural preparedness is presented as a conceptual framework that could guide the development of culture-resonant interventions. The "Jiva" careers programme is presented as a case study to illustrate a method of career and livelihood planning based upon Indian epistemology and cultural practices. Social cognitive environments and career beliefs are discussed as key factors that characterise a group's orientation to career development. An impact analysis is described. Traditional knowledge is highlighted as an important resource for constructing career guidance programmes to address the needs of clients from different cultural heritages.

Nobody tells you how to be a SENCo

an article by Sarah M. Rosen-Webb published in British Journal of Special Education Volume 38 Issue 4 (December 2011)


The ways in which SENCos identify themselves and how they enact the SENCo role is the focus of this research by Sarah Rosen-Webb, an associate tutor and course coordinator at Middlesex University.

Who becomes a SENCo and how different individuals develop their SENCo role is explored through the study of the career pathways of nine SENCos in nine secondary schools in England. Data from semi-structured interviews and completion of Diamond Nine activities were coded and analysed using grounded theory procedures.

Recommendations arising from this research indicate that recruitment initiatives and development programmes need to be alert to the dynamics between management and teaching roles of SENCos, and to be careful in maintaining a balance between management training and specialist teacher training.

Internet use in households and by individuals in 2011 - Issue number 66/2011

Eurostat (European Commission statistics) says:
Two thirds of Europeans used the internet on average at least once a week, one quarter have never used it
The internet has become important for daily life, education, work and participation in society. A large majority of households and individuals make use of it today. Nevertheless there are significant differences in access and usage between countries and socio-economic groups. About a quarter of the EU-27 population aged 16 to 74 years old have never used the internet. Among those who used it, most internet users have searched for information and news, consulted wikis, participated in social networks and bought products online. This issue of Statistics in Focus provides an overview of the latest results from the Survey on ICT (information and communication technology) usage in households and by individuals and takes a closer look at the activities done by internet users.

Full report (PDF 8pp)

The differences in motivations of online game players and offline game players: …

A combined analysis of three studies at higher education level

 an article by by Tom Hainey, Thomas Connolly, Mark Stansfield and Elizabeth Boyle (University of the West of Scotland, Paisley) published in Computers & Education Volume 57 Issue 4 (2011)


Computer games have become a highly popular form of entertainment and have had a large impact on how university students spend their leisure time. Due to their highly motivating properties computer games have come to the attention of educationalists who wish to exploit these highly desirable properties for educational purposes. Several studies have been performed looking at motivations for playing computer games in a general context and in a higher education (HE) context. These studies did not focus on the differences in motivations between online and offline game players. Equally the studies did not look at the differences in motivations of people who prefer single-player games and people who prefer multi-player games.

If games-based learning is to become a recognised teaching approach then such motivations for playing computer games must be better understood. This paper presents the combined analysis of two studies at HE level, performed over a two year period from 2007 to 2009. The paper focuses, in particular, on differences of motivations in relation to single-player/multi-player preference and online/offline game participation. The study produces a set of important motivations to be taken into consideration for each player preference type (single-player or multi-player) and each player participation type (online or offline) based on a large piece of empirical research.

Wage inequality, technology and trade: 21st century evidence

an article by John Van Reenen (Centre for Economic Performance and London School of Economics) published in Labour Economics Volume 18 Issue 6 (December 2011)


This paper describes and explains some of the principal trends in the wage and skill distribution in recent decades. Increases in wage inequality started in the US and UK at the end of the 1970s, but are now widespread. A good fraction of this inequality trend is due to technology-related increases in the demand for skilled workers outstripping the growth of their supply. Since the early 1990s, labour markets have become more polarised with jobs in the middle third of the wage distribution shrinking and those in the bottom and top third rising.

I argue that this is because computerisation complements the most skilled tasks, but substitutes for routine tasks performed by middle wage occupations such as clerks, leaving the demand for the lowest skilled service tasks largely unaffected.

Finally, I argue that technology is partly endogenous, for example it has been spurred by trade with China. Thus, trade does matter for changes in the labour market, but through a different mechanism than conventionally thought.

Analysis of keyword networks in MIS research and implications for predicting knowledge evolution

an article by Jinho Choi (Sejong University, Seoul), Sangyoon Yi (University of Southern Denmark) and Kun Chang Leec (Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul) published in Information & Management Volume 48 Issue 8 (December 2011)


New concepts and ideas build on older ones. This path dependence in knowledge evolution has promoted research to identify important knowledge elements, research trends, and opportunities by analysing publication data. In our study, keyword networks formed from published academic articles were analysed to examine how keywords are associated with each other and to identify important keywords and their change over time.

Based on MIS publication data from 1999 to 2008, our analysis provided several notable findings.
First, while the MIS field has changed rapidly, resulting in many new keywords, the connectivity among them is highly clustered.
Second, the keyword networks show clear power-law distribution, which implies that the more popular a keyword, the more likely it is selected by new researchers and used in follow-on studies. In addition, a strong hierarchical structure is identified in the network.
Third, the network-based perspective reveals interdisciplinary keywords which are different from popular ones and have the potential to lead research in the MIS field.

The independent evaluation of the pilot of the linked pair of GCSEs in mathematics - First interim report

The impetus for change to the assessment of mathematics at GCSE level began with Adrian Smith’s report, Making Mathematics Count (2004). The response to some of the criticisms in the report was the development of a new programme of study (PoS) for mathematics that placed the emphasis on problem solving, functionality and mathematical thinking. New criteria and a new single GCSE in mathematics was developed for first teaching in September 2010 alongside the pilot of the linked pair of GCSEs in mathematics.

This report is the second of seven formative evaluation reports on the pilot of the linked pair of GCSEs in mathematics. The report focuses on the centres and students who participated and engaged in the pilot, on reported changes to teaching and learning caused by the pilot qualifications and their assessment, and on the extent to which these changes parallel those caused by the introduction of the new single GCSE in mathematics.

The aim of the evaluation, to consider the extent to which the linked pair of GCSEs offers a different experience of learning mathematics from the new single GCSE, is addressed by looking at: attitudes to mathematics, comparability of demand of the pilot qualifications both with each other and with other GCSEs in mathematics, and the views of centres (both pilot and non-pilot) on the pilot.

  • Introduction
  • Methodology
  • Research findings
  • Summary and conclusions
DFE Research Report RR181 (PDF 42pp)
DFE Research Report RR181 Appendices (PDF 48pp)

Monday, 9 January 2012

Working Futures 2010-2020

UKCES Evidence Report Number 41


Working Futures 2010-2020, is the most detailed and comprehensive set of UK labour market projections available. The results provide a picture of employment prospects by industry, occupation, qualification level, gender and employment status for the UK and for nations and English regions up to 2020.

These projections form a core part of the base of labour market intelligence that is available to support policy development and strategy around careers, skills and employment.

As with all projections and forecasts, the results presented in Working Futures should be regarded as indicative of likely trends and orders of magnitude given a continuation of past patterns of behaviour and performance, rather than precise forecasts of the future.

At a time of great uncertainty about the short to medium term prospects for the economy, it is important to stress the value of Working Futures in aiding understanding of likely prospects for employment in the longer term (i.e. in 2020). The reader should therefore focus on the relative position of sectors, and occupations in 2020 and treat the projected values as broad indicators of scale rather than exact predictions.

Full report (PDF 237pp+)

‘An acceptance that it’s just your lot, I suppose’: reflections on turbulent transitions between work and welfare

an article by e David McCollum published in People, Place & Policy Online Volume 5 Issue 3 (2011)


Employment policies have conventionally focused on the transition from welfare to work. However, many of those who leave out-of-work benefits for employment return to them again relatively quickly, meaning that some people perpetually cycle between work and welfare for much of their working lives.

This article focuses on the individuals making these precarious labour market transitions and on the narratives that they use when reflecting on them. A broad agency-structure analytical framework is used to demonstrate the role of individual and more ‘involuntary’ structural factors in the production and reproduction of economic marginalisation. These findings have implications for the extent to which ‘bad jobs’ and ‘bad workers’ are viewed as determinants of labour market disadvantage and for how policies to combat work-welfare cycling are formulated and critiqued.

Full text: HTML and PDF (12pp)

Are temporary jobs a port of entry into permanent employment?: …

Evidence from matched employer-employee

 an article by Fabio Berton (University of Eastern Piedmont, Italy and LABORatorio Revelli, Turin), Francesco Devicienti, (Collegio Carlo Alberto, University of Turin and LABORatorio Revelli, Turin) and Lia Pacelli (University of Turin, and LABORatorio Revelli, Turin) published in International Journal of Manpower Volume 32 Issue 8 (2011)


This paper seeks to explore whether temporary jobs are a port of entry into permanent employment and to argue that the answer crucially depends on the type of temporary contracts being considered.
The paper bases its empirical evidence on a longitudinal sample of labour market entrants in Italy and estimates dynamic multinomial logit models with fixed effects to allow for the non-random sorting of workers into the different types of contracts.
The authors show that the transition to permanent employment is more likely for individuals who hold any type of temporary contract than for the unemployed, thus broadly confirming the existence of port-of-entry effects. Yet, not all temporary contracts are the same. An order among non-standard contracts with respect to the probability of taking an open-ended job emerges, with training contracts at the top, freelance work at the bottom, and fixed-term contracts outperforming apprenticeships. Strong SSC rebates, lack of training requirements, and low legal constraints concerning renewals result in poor port-of-entry performance, as in the case of freelance contracts. Instead, mandatory training and more binding legal constraints on the use, extension, and renewals of training contracts tend to enhance the probability of getting a standard job.
Most of the existing empirical literature aggregates temporary contracts in a single category, thereby ignoring a relevant source of heterogeneity.

None of our business? Private emails, FOI and lawful interception

an article by Jonathan Baines, Information Governance Office in the Legal and Democratic Services Team at Buckinghamshire County Council, examines the issues surrounding FOI and lawful interception published in Freedom of Information Volume 8 Issue 2 (November/December 2011).

And at that point I come to a thundering full stop. There is no abstract to this article. The two introductory paragraphs could be taken to constitute one (see below) although they aren’t really. This journal is not listed on DeepDyve nor does there appear to be any way of accessing a single article without subscribing to the whole journal for a minimum of a year.

This policy is, to my mind in this day and age, short sighted but then I'm not the publisher trying to make money!

Introductory paragraphs

There was much discussion in the media recently about reports that the Information Commissioner was to investigate the education secretary, Michael Gove, and his close advisers at the Department for Education (the Department). The Department has since denied any impropriety, and has stated that private email was being used to conduct party political rather than government business.

These stories provoke some interesting questions. Firstly, to what extent can information contained in “private emails” be caught by the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)? Secondly, to what extent might a deliberate attempt to evade FOIA in this alleged manner be unlawful? Thirdly, to what extent can an employers, or a government department, scrutinise its employees’, or an elected person’s email accounts (especially if those accounts are webmail accounts)?


Are you an Adult at Work?

via Lynda Gratton - The Future of Work by Lynda Gratton

It’s been an exciting year – economic turmoil in Europe, extraordinary growth in many of the developing countries, the rise of some companies and demise of others. What is clear is that we are in the midst of an industrial revolution greater than the world has ever seen with all the turbulence, the challenges and the opportunities that previous revolutions have brought. Partly as a result of this, it seems to me that the relationship between companies and their employees is undergoing a fundamental shift. All over the world the old Parent to Child relationship is moving towards a potentially more balanced Adult to Adult relationship. This is generally good news – but don’t underestimate what this will mean to your working life and what you will have to do to make the most of it.

Ms Gratton goes on to look at her own experiences of the last year and suggests that everyone asks themselves five questions. I’ll not spoil this for you – you really do need to read the advice for yourself. Warning: it’s not easy.
  1. Am I letting my context overwhelm me?
  2. Am I a Technological Child?
  3. Am I in control of my competencies?
  4. Do I have the courage to make the hard choices?
  5. Am I making the most of the future?

Class size and education in England evidence report

The number of children born each year in England has risen significantly since 2004 and, apart from between 2009 and 2011, is projected to continue rising. Over the next few years this will inevitably increase demand for primary and secondary school places.

This report gives an overview of the existing evidence base on class size and education in England. In particular, it considers how class sizes have changed over time; and the impact of the increase in birth rate on pupil numbers and how this could affect the teacher requirement and class sizes; and the impact of class size on educational outcomes.

  • Executive summary
  • Introduction
  • Population changes and class size
  • Impact of current legislation on class size
  • How important is class size?
  • International comparisons
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
DFE Research Report RR169 (PDF 68pp)

The supply of and demand for high-level STEM skills

This briefing paper (from UKCES) considers the supply of and demand for high-level science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills in England. It draws on detailed analysis of STEM skills supply, demand and mismatches, as well as key findings from the 2009 National Employer Skills Survey (NESS). It aims to add to the evidence base on high-level STEM skills and identifies a number of areas for further discussion.

STEM skills support research, innovation and high-tech manufacturing, and are seen as critical to the UK’s international competitiveness in these areas. Recent media coverage suggests that there is a problem with STEM skills: some employers report that they cannot recruit people of the calibre and with the skills they need, and that this is harming their businesses. However, other sources suggest that the supply of STEM skills is more than sufficient to meet demand, and that the focus needs to be on improving the ways in and extent to which these skills are used in the economy.

This paper sets out and analyses the evidence on the supply of and demand for high-level STEM skills, and argues that the picture is much healthier than often suggested. High-level STEM skills supply is broadly in line with demand, and by international standards the UK is holding its own. This is not to say that there are no challenges: in particular geographical areas, sub-sectors and industrial specialisms, we need to improve both the supply and use of skills.

Full document (PDF 24pp)

Eight Questions about Brain Drain

a Policy Research Working Paper (WPS5668) by John Gibson and David McKenzie published by The World Bank Development Research Group in May 2011 and included in the Journal of Economic Perspectives Volume 25 Number 3 (Summer 2011)


High-skilled emigration is an emotive issue that in popular discourse is often referred to as brain drain, conjuring images of extremely negative impacts on developing countries. Recent discussions of brain gain, diaspora effects, and other advantages of migration have been used to argue against this, but much of the discussion has been absent of evidence. This paper builds upon a new wave of empirical research to answer eight key questions underlying much of the brain drain debate:
  1. What is brain drain?
  2. Why should economists care about it?
  3. Is brain drain increasing?
  4. Is there a positive relationship between skilled and unskilled migration?
  5. What makes brain drain more likely?
  6. Does brain gain exist?
  7. Do high-skilled workers remit, invest, and share knowledge back home? and
  8. What do we know about the fiscal and production externalities of brain drain?
This paper is a product of the Finance and Private Sector Development Team, Development Research Group. It is part of a larger effort by the World Bank to provide open access to its research and make a contribution to development policy discussions around the world. Policy Research Working Papers are also posted on the Web at http://econ.worldbank.org.

Full paper (PDF 30pp)

Sunday, 8 January 2012

10 stories and links I think are educative, informative, entertaining, or weird

The Rise of Social Entrepreneurs via Big Think by Big Think Editors
A growing number of individuals are using their companies to directly benefit society while also making a profit. Many are innovating low-cost solutions to social and economic problems in the third world. For example, Sam Goldman and Ned Tozun of D.Light Design manufacture inexpensive lamps and sell them in communities that don’t have reliable electricity. Or take Tom Skazy who dropped out of Princeton to create Terracycle, which sells fertilizer and over 250 products made from 60 waste streams.
A globalised communication and financial network has given rise to a new kind of entrepreneur. Some call them impact investors, others prefer social entrepreneurs, but what they have in common is trying to empower people using market-based solutions. Popularised by Muhammad Yunus’s Grameen Bank, which was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, social entrepreneurs take the view that risk brings reward, even on the smallest scales.
Read it at Forbes

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Jackie Kennedy, a name synonymous with style and class. What a surprise, then, that her first instinct was for the popular, the kitsch, the second-rate... more

The connections between “itch” and “ouch” via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

Image: llama itch, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from davedehetre's photostream
The biology of itching and the biology of pain are intertwined in interesting ways, writes graduate student and science blogger Aatish Bhatia. Understanding itching can help us better understand how to treat pain. I’d not seen Bhatia’s blog before, but I’m really liking his style. He does a great job of breaking down the science in a clear way.
Via Greg Laden
Read Maggie’s post in full here

The Rise of Atlantis via How-To Geek by Asian Angel
In this game you set off on a campaign across ancient Mediterranean regions to acquire multiple artifacts in a quest for success.
Special Note: This flash version of the game allows you to play through three areas (Phoenicia, Babylon, and Egypt) of the overall campaign that is available in the full version. Even in its limited form it still provides a good amount of game play.
Asian Angel’s walk-through is here or you can go straight to the game thus:
The Rise of Atlantis (Webpage Version for all Browsers)
Install The Rise of Atlantis (Web App for Chromium-Based Browsers) [Note: wouldn’t load for me but I’m using my husband’s computer and he has all sorts of blocks on which I must not remove on pain of death.]

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Social science is wrong: Crowds are not violent forces that submerge individuality and destroy rationality. In fact, they bring out the best in people... more

Exit Searcher: a game via How-To Geek by Asian Angel
Test your skills as an escape artist while trying to escape the rooms you are trapped in.
Asian Angel’s walk through is here or if you want to go straight to the game then do it here
My OH says: "Beware, this is highly addictive."

Kitchens, 1950s via HOW TO BE A RETRONAUT by Chris

Thank you to House Beautiful where you can see another 15 kitchens of the 50s together with links to kitchens of the following four decades.
If this is the 1950s style then I don't think I lived through it! I searched for something a bit more authentic and found an article from the Daily Mail which shows something a bit more recognisable to me as being “of the period”.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Aphrodite, goddess of...looting. Consider the journey of one classical statue, hidden in loose carrots, from Italy to Los Angeles and back... more

Does Shacking-Up Before Marriage Hurt the Bottom Line? via Big Think by Marina Adshade
When my sister married a man she had only known for nine months, seventeen-year-old me thought that was a bad idea. “Why not live together first?” I asked. Because, she explained, people who live together before they get married are less likely to have successful marriages. Ridiculous, I thought. Read More

Technology’s Exponential Progress via Big Think by Big Think Editors
Radical futurist Ray Kurzweil says the pace of innovation will only continue to accelerate because exponential evolution is built into the very nature of technology. He says that technological progress, from the discovery of fire through today's headlines, follows a …
Read More