All posts by swarmywarmy

Exam Results – Are They All In The Genes?

Despite all the talk about school performance league tables, declining exam results and investing in education, it would seem that how well you or your children do at school can actually have more to do with genetics than it does the right teacher.

Recent research looked at results from over 11,000 teenagers who had recently sat their GCSEs, and found that for the core subjects at least, genetics affected their results by almost 60 per cent. Results in English, maths and science were 58% affected by genetics, whereas artist and musical ability seems to be less affected by genetics, with only 42% genetic factors involved.

Testing to see how genes affected exam results involved looking at the GCSE scores of identical and non-identical twins, who would share the same environment and either 50 or 100 per cent of their genes.

Comparing the scores of different types of twins gave the scientists a way to find out how much of the variation in exam results was down to their environment, and how much could be attributed to genetic make-up. It meant that if identical twins got different scores in the same subject but were in different classes, the difference could be put down to their learning environment – classmates or teacher, rather than genetic ability in that subject.

The study showed that although a child’s DNA influences academic ability to a great extent, it’s not the only factor involved, and it’s still very possible for one identical twin to excel at a subject their twin doesn’t do as well at. However, on average, over half the variations could be put down to genetics. A child’s upbringing, home and learning environment accounted for 36% of the variation across all subjects. Details of the study appear in the journal, Plos One.

So, why do genetics have such a big effect on our academic ability? The reason that the researchers gave for genetics being such a major influence on exam scores is that the education system places a lot of importance on giving every child the same opportunities and education. It follows that if the school, teaching and other factors are equal, genetic similarities (or differences) will show up more.

Michael Reiss, professor of science education at the Institute of Education in London, was unimpressed by the findings, saying that while he could accept that genetics played a part in a child’s academic performance, knowing this might not actually be of much use.

He added that in the last decade, plenty of programmes had been created to help children who were falling behind in any area of their education, such as reading programmes for children who were struggling. These programmes don’t take genetics into account at all, they just focus on helping the individual child get to grips with whatever they are struggling with, and bring them up to the same level as other students.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re teaching maths or the trombone.” Reiss said, “A good teacher is sensitive to the needs of the learner, and I don’t think that genetics is going to help very much with that.”

Even so, it’s certainly an interesting debate and brings the whole question of ‘nature –v- nurture’ back into the spotlight.

Written by Kerry Jones, a teaching assistant and GCSE exam marker.

What to Do When You Hate Your Job

Did you know that only 38% of U.S. workers are satisfied with their job? During the recession, workers were holding onto their jobs even if they hated it because there were not enough jobs to go around. However, now that the government is working its way back up, more people are questioning their job and career choices. If you are one of the many people that hate their jobs, keep reading, for this article will tell you what you should do if you feel miserable in the workplace.

1. SELF ASSESSMENT – Start asking yourself important questions about you job such as,

  • Why do you hate your job?
  • Have you always hated your job, or is this something that has started recently?
  • Do you like the people that you work with?
  • Do you like your work duties?
  • Do you know, or like anything about the company where you work?

Make a list of the pros and cons of your job to see what the comparison is. That way, maybe you will change your mind after you see the things that you dolike about your job.

2. IS IT YOU OR THE JOB? – Many people make the mistake of taking their life issues and stress out on their job. Truth is, it may not be the job that is making you feel miserable. Having a full time job with multiple responsibilities on top of having other stresses in life such as children, marriage or a relationship that is clouding your mind, bills; you get the idea, is very stressful. If you decide to leave your job because you think it is causing too much stress, it is possible that the same thing would happen with the next job that you get. The stress will not go away unless you actually analyze what is causing the stress. If your life is making you unhappy at work, you may need to get help outside from the office.

3. COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR BOSS – Maybe your job is the reason why you feel miserable. Maybe the hours are too pressuring for you, or maybe you feel like you are not paid enough money. Maybe you are not interested in the projects assigned to you. Whatever the reason may be, you should always communicate with your boss. Tell him or her exactly how you feel about the situation that is driving you crazy, it might be much easier than you think! Whatever you do, definitely do not quit immediately. You should always land a secure job before quitting your present job.

4. SET YOUR CAREER GOALS – Where do you want to be in 5 years? How do you plan to do this? If you are not happy with your current career status, figure out exactly what you should do so that you are happy with your status. Make a list of what you need to do, and try to follow it starting with number 1. Try not to think too far ahead, you may get overwhelmed!

5. STAY POSITIVE – Do not let your bad moods affect your work. I know that is easier said than done; however, you should never let your emotions show while you are at work. Think of it this way, if you cause your manager to fire you, you will have a much harder time finding a new job after you quit your current one.

6. STAY PROFESSIONAL – You should always stay professional and keep doing your job well even if you are planning on quitting. If you start slacking off, you may leave your job employees and your boss with a bad taste in their mouths, along with a bad recommendation.

Author Text:

Adam Smith’s keen appreciation about what motivates people to learn and engage lies at the core of his experience. He is a highly sought after educational consultant having immense experience in this field. He moved into educational consultancy driven by the mission to enable people from whichever background to gain knowledge and develop study skills, attitudes and habits that empower them to achieve their full potential. Adam has written a number of educational articles and online-materials for various websites. For his latest publication you can visit The Intern Group.

How to Become An Expert At Gifting: Affordable Tech Gifts To Buy This Christmas

The time of year has come around again where we scratch our heads, rummage through shop aisles and try to work out what gifts best suit those close to us. This year, by taking the technological route, you can get presents that will be appreciated by others without too much stress or bother.

From iTunes vouchers, battery chargers, headphones, car chargers, hands-free headsets and more, there’s a techno-gadget out there to suit the needs of pretty much everyone. By getting the affordable gizmos this Christmas, you’ll be remembered for your thoughtfulness and your gifts will be appreciated.

iTunes Voucher

You can never go wrong with a gift voucher. For years, people unsure of what to get others have doled out book and music vouchers at Christmas gatherings around the world. So in short, a voucher is always a great idea if you’re stumped for ideas, and what’s better than a standard voucher is a voucher for the eponymous iTunes music, movie, podcast, TV-show and all-round digital media store. With literally countless amounts of songs available for download, from the chart breakers to hard to find songs, well known movies and TV shows most have never heard of, you can open the doors for a friend to get any digital media they may want. And it’s all done with a card, a password and a budget of whatever you can afford.

Dr. Dre Beats Headphones

If you want to get someone some techy hardware this Christmas, it’s hard to go wrong with a pair of Beats Headphones by Dr. Dre. With exceptional audio quality and the ability to be used on computers, iPhones, iPods and other musical devices, you can expect that whoever gets your gift will spend hour upon hour getting lost in the music of their choice. The headphones also act to block out the sound of any loud music they might be playing, so that’s a plus for the people around them too! The headphones retail at most places at prices starting at $130, but on eBay it’s possible to get them for significantly cheaper prices.

Car Charger

The great thing about a car charger is that, while it seems a pretty strange choice of gift, it’s almost certain to come in handy at some point for the person you give it to, provided they have a car of course. With a range of chargers that can be used for everything from charging phones, iPods, iPads and even computers, there’s going to be a time sooner or later when someone really needs a device charged. That’s when the value of your relatively inexpensive gift will really become apparent, and the Christmas party when you gave it as a gift will become a cherished memory in your gift-receivers’ mind!

New Mouse or Keyboard

Again, while it may seem a little strange to gift someone a new mouse or keyboard unless they specifically ask for it, it makes perfect sense for people to be buying gifts like this more often. Everyone knows that keyboard keys break and mice lose sensitivity; and that accident spills can happen at computer desks. It follows that people are more likely than not replacing their keyboards and mouse’s at least a couple of times every few years, and even if they have a working keyboard and mouse when you give them the gift, it can always be used as backup for when the inevitable need to replace these items arrives. The price of computer mouse’s and keyboards vary, but you can snap up some cheap but quality models on websites like Amazon.

Gaming Consoles

With the new range of next generation consoles coming soon, the popularity of console gaming is stronger than ever before. Even if your friend, relative or partner isn’t much known for gaming, there’s almost certain to be a console out there that will get them interested in gaming activities. After all, the Nintendo Wii got many non-gamers into sensor-based sports and adventure video games, so think of your gift as giving your receiver a push in the direction of a hobby they won’t regret! The current generation of gaming consoles did start out expensive, but you can get them in shops now for a little over hundred in some places, or possibly even less with an online purchase.

Hands-Free Headset

Now we all know that this has been around for a while, but the real beauty of hands-free headsets are that they take many forms and are all extremely useful. For example, in Australia it’s currently an offence to drive while talking on the phone – unless of course you’re using a hands-free headset, which allows you to keep your eyes on the road and your hands firmly on the wheel. The other benefit to a hands-free is that it can save you the inconvenience of having your arm cocked upwards for long periods of time during phone calls, and whoever you give this gift too is sure to appreciate that. It’s also worth noting that the basic range of hands-frees retail at pretty cheap prices.

Instagram Watch

Now how’s this for an idea: you take a photo on Instagram, upload it and visit the Instagram watch website. Then, you pick out what colour you want the wrist-link to be and voila! At the Christmas gathering, you’ll have not only a $40 watch to give your receiver but also one that has an Instagram picture as its face. Think carefully about what picture you want to use, and make a good choice so that the person wearing the watch will remember the uniqueness of the gift whenever they go to check the time. Now that’s pretty cool.

Tom Phelps is an Arts student who loves computers and his technology. For Christmas he’s saving up to get a swish laptop for himself through the flexible loans site Flexirent, and he plans to shower friends with tech gifts this Christmas!