Extending Wednesdays

ADHD medication on non-ADHD subjects

In today’s Extending Wednesday clip, UC Berkeley clinical psychologist Stephen Hinshaw discusses the psychological research on studies of the effects of ADHD medication on non-ADHD students, relating how, while the level of confidence of the students participating in the study typically drastically increased, their actual results told a rather different story. 

(Excerpt from Extending Ideas In Psychology)

This clip is an excerpt from Ideas Roadshow’s Extending Ideas Video in Psychology.  There are 7 different Extending Ideas Videos that are part of the extensive collection of authoritative expert resources for the extended essay that are part of Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal. Each video features five specific topics highlighted by Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP resources for a possible extended essay or internal assessment in that subject area.  Meanwhile, the comprehensive Ideas Roadshow Extended Essay Guide for Students highlights an additional 5 possible extended essay ideas for each of the 21 different DP subjects we cover.

Our IB-specific database also offers reliable expert resources in different formats – clips, compilation videos highlighting ideas from different perspectives, long-format videos plus accompanying, enhanced eBooks with lots of additional academic resources and more to construct an excellent essay from start to finish!

We offer all IB schools affected by Covid-19 free access for 1 month to Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal, an IB-specific database which includes an extensive collection of authoritative, digital resources for EE, TOK, TOK integration across the DP curriculum and 21 DP subjects. Please visit our website, HERE, for further details.

Extending Wednesdays

Mindsets and Cultural Factors

In today’s clip, Stanford University social psychologist Carol Dweck describes how our appreciation of the key distinction between a growth and fixed mindset, despite its universal relevance to a wide variety of different human societies, invariably needs to be presented in a way that specifically resonates with particular cultural values in order to be accepted and properly understood. 

This clip is an excerpt from Ideas Roadshow’s Extending Ideas Video in Psychology.  There are 7 different Extending Ideas Videos that are part of the extensive collection of authoritative expert resources for the extended essay on Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal. Each of those videos features five specific topics highlighted by Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP resources for a possible extended essay or internal assessment in that subject area.  Meanwhile, the comprehensive Ideas Roadshow Extended Essay Guide for Students highlights an additional 5 possible extended essay ideas for each of the 21 different DP subjects we cover.

If your school does not have an institutional subscription to Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal you can now sign up for an individual teacher or student subscription. Annual individual subscriptions cost only $99 and provide unlimited access to all resources that are part Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal.

Connecting Thursdays

Misapplications

Under what circumstances can we be certain that non-specialists understand a given human sciences theory? 

An essential component of TOK is to consider the real-world application of theories.  Do our models correspond to what we actually find in the real world? What sort of real-world evidence exists that can convince us that our theories are correct, and why?  

Looking to concrete applications of our theoretical frameworks in the real world is an essential way of obtaining evidence for their validity. But what happens if “the real world” actually warps our theoretical frameworks out of recognition. What happens if when we think we’re actually implementing or testing our theories, we’re really doing no such thing?

While any theory can certainly be distorted or misinterpreted by other specialists (sometimes deliberately so), this sort of thing most often happens when non-specialists naively try to implement research knowledge that is directly relevant to them, a state of affairs which more often than not happens in the human sciences. 

Carol Dweck, a renowned social psychologist from Stanford University, has spent much of her research career demonstrating how students can dramatically increase their learning potential by switching from what she calls a “fixed mindset” to a “growth mindset”.  

One key aspect of her theory is that the type of praise that educators give students has a significant effect on their mindset, with praising the effort that led to success much more likely to lead them towards a growth mindset, while simply praising the success itself, or – worse still – the student’s intelligence, is much more likely to reinforce a fixed mindset.

Professor Dweck has good reason to believe that her psychological theory holds water, given that it has been rigorously tested in a number of extensive experiments by both her and others.  

The problem, however, is that the greater the public recognition of her mindset work is, the more often it is likely to be misinterpreted.  

(Check out the clip featuring Prof. Carol Dweck in our TOK Sampler called Communicating Concepts)

This brings us to an additional feature of the overlap between TOK and the human sciences that is sometimes overlooked.  Normally, we’re primarily concerned with the question of to what extent we can be certain that our theoretical HS frameworks are valid – perhaps there are different sociocultural factors which render them inappropriate in certain instances, or perhaps the evidence that we rely upon contains some hidden assumptions and biases that render our conclusions suspect, or at least limited. 

But now we have something else to consider:  even when we’re confident that our theoretical models are valid, to what extent can we be certain that non-specialists are applying them correctly in the real world?  After all, for a HS theory to have genuine impact, it’s not enough for it to be “abstractly true”. It has to be applicable, not only in principle, but in practice. Which means, in turn, that we have to turn our attention to the overlap of not just psychology and TOK, but also language, the media, and much else besides.  

 For additional examples of how TOK overlaps with psychology, language and the media, see Ideas Roadshow TOK Connections Guide for Psychology and Ideas Roadshow TOK Connections Guide for English A: Language & Literature, directly available in the Teacher Resources section and the Student TOK section on our IBDP Portal.

Your school has not subscribed yet? Visit our website – HERE – to learn more about Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal which offers an extensive database of authoritative video and print resources explicitly created to meet the needs of both teachers and students throughout the Diploma Programme.


Extending Wednesdays

Bilingualism and Dementia

Introduction

Welcome to the first of our Extending Wednesdays posts, where each week we’ll feature a different extended essay theme from Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal. 

While our IBDP Portal highlights over 130 themes and concepts to help students launch their extended essay investigations through the combination of our comprehensive Extended Essay Guide and 7 Extending Ideas videos, many subscribers have suggested that it would be very helpful to be regularly presented with specific ideas to get the most out of our database.   So that’s what these posts are all about.  

Each post briefly describes a particular extended essay concept suggested by our resources, while explicitly designating all the additional Ideas Roadshow resources on our Portal to assist those interested in giving the topic a closer look. 

Bilingualism and Dementia

Our first Extending Wednesdays topic comes from our Extending Ideas in Psychology video where renowned York University psychologist Ellen Bialystok highlights her groundbreaking work on the link between bilingualism and dementia.

In Chapter 6 of the Ideas Roadshow eBook called The Psychology of Bilingualism, Professor Bialystok describes her findings that show that, on average, being bilingual delays the first signs of dementia about four to five years compared to monolinguals.

Professor Bialystok is renowned for her pioneering work on how bilingualism impacts the brain, a notion that inherently relies on how our brains are shaped by our experiences, a concept known as “neuroplasticity”.

Her many experiments on attention and multitasking have led her to conclude that bilinguals typically have a more developed frontal lobe structure than monolinguals, the part of the brain that is associated with planning and so-called “executive control”.  

But understanding how this fits with dementia is not so clear.

The puzzle is that dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, is initially a memory disorder.  It’s not a disease of executive control. How does an experience that boosts the front part of the brain protect us from a disease that initially strikes the middle part of the brain, since the memory disorders that are the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s come from the hippocampus in the medial temporal lobe?

“The theory, yet to be confirmed, is that because the front part of the brain is typically more developed for bilinguals than monolinguals, it’s better suited to provide compensation for deterioration that arises elsewhere.  This increased ability for executive control comes in as a kind of ‘cognitive reserve’.” 

Possible areas of investigation for an extended essay include an examination of the current state of the theory of “cognitive reserve, a comparative examination of studies linking dementia to bilingualism, an analysis of research methods associated with such studies, suggestions for further investigations that might help distinguish between competing theories and interpretation, various other specific avenues of psychological research linking language with memory, and the use of fMRI and other brain diagnostic tools for psychological research. Given the natural overlap of many of these themes with neuroscience, some may be appropriate for a literature-based EE in biology. 

Primary Ideas Roadshow content includes the clips Improving Multitasking, Measuring Brain Activity, Metalinguistic Awareness, Reducing the Mess and Taking the Right Path, the compilation videos Extending Ideas in Psychology and The Science of Language, the hour-long video The Psychology of Bilingualism and the eBook, The Psychology of Bilingualism.

Your school has not subscribed yet? Visit our website – HERE – to learn more about Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal which offers an extensive database of authoritative video and print resources explicitly created to meet the needs of both teachers and students throughout the Diploma Programme.