Posts tagged ‘Intelligence quotient’

June 7, 2013

Distractions, focus, and IQ

by Grace

‘The average smartphone user checks his or her device 150 times per day, or about once every six minutes.’

This quote is from a CNBC article about how many of us are on call for work 24/7, making long relaxing weekends a thing of the past.  Never mind lost weekends, the constant interruptions of checking messages and getting updates from other people can be damaging to the quality of life every day of the week.

As an introvert who dislikes constantly being on call, I understand how the expectation of an immediate response can be a problem:

… “We have created an expectation in society that people will respond immediately to everything with no delay. It’s unhealthy, and it’s unproductive, and we can’t keep going on like this.”

There’s a long list of horribles associated with our new, always-on-digital lives: You are dumber. You are more stressed. You are losing sleep, and more depressed….

We need downtime to preserve our memories.

… without regular rest, brains fail at more basic tasks. A study at the University of California, San Francisco, found that new experiences fail to become long-term memories unless brains have downtime for review.

At least we’ll have our Instagram photos to remember what we’ve done.

The Key to a High IQ? Not Getting Distracted

A new study suggests that intelligence is more about what the brain chooses to ignore than simply its ability to process information rapidly.

It’s called the “suppression index”.

… “For intelligence, you need to be able process relevant information fast, but you also need to focus on the most relevant information and filter out what’s irrelevant,” says Tadin.

A Reddit discussion offers another take, asserting that this study is more about ‘a visual processing thing, not an attention thing, and it has absolutely nothing to do with “distractions”‘.

I’m reminded that meditation improves our ability to focus.

… In recent years, mindfulness has been shown to improve connectivity inside our brain’s attentional networks, as well as between attentional and medial frontal regions — changes that save us from distraction.

April 12, 2013

Deconstructing the college premium – it depends on major and ability bias

by Grace

The college premium is derived from several elements.

The college premium of better pay and job prospects should be considered as a composite of several elements, not all directly resulting from actual college attendance.  The premium can be affected by the amount of genuine learning (influenced by major and institution), ability bias, signaling capacity, and other factors.  A hard-working computer science MIT graduate with a 130 IQ will likely enjoy a higher college premium  than a lackadaisical ethnic studies major with a 100 IQ who graduated from a directional state college.  Even if neither attended college, the MIT-wannabee would still probably out-earn the second individual.  [Edited to add that these comments refer to actual dollar amounts.  In terms of percentages, I can see how the slacker kid could have a higher college premium.]

Bryan Caplan has written extensively on this topic, including a recent post about how ‘stronger students typically choose harder – and more lucrative – majors’.

Economists usually talk about the college premium, but the college premium heavily depends on your major.  At the same time, though, stronger students typically choose harder – and more lucrative – majors.  Thus, the college premium is doubly infected by ability bias: People who would have made more money anyway are more likely to go to college, and college graduates who would have made more money anyway are more likely to select demanding majors.

Incorporating this information, Caplan calculated the premium for various majors.  Here are the top five, broken down by gender.


Major Males Females
Electrical engineering +63% +72%
Computer Science +61% +63%
Mechanical engineering +61% +72%
Finance +61% +55%
Economics +60% +59%

While Caplan admits these figures “lack the precision of Planck’s constant”, he considers them better than much of the information typically available to high school seniors.  Although as I look at this table, I’m not exactly sure how I would use the data in advising a particular student.  He also notes the relatively high rank of economics,  confirming his belief that “Economics is the highest-paid of all the easy majors.”

January 9, 2013

Quick Links – Top-paying jobs for community college graduates; no mandate relief in New York; high salary for high school principal; plus more

by Grace

◊◊◊ Top ten jobs for two-year graduates (Community College Spotlight)

The top job is an air traffic controller,with a median 2010 salary of $108,040.

ALBANY, N.Y. – Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Mandate Relief Council voted down 51 of 65 requests for help from local governments and school districts Tuesday, approving 14 suggestions for review of state mandates for special education and two other school issues….

The Council also recommended further study of a request to drop the state mandate for school districts with fewer than 1,000 pupils to have internal auditors on staff; and a state Education Department rule that mandates students get a “minimum number of minutes per week (seat time), by grade level and subject area.”

Requests to reduce the crippling pension costs were among those that were rejected.

They rejected requests to reduce the mandate to transport private school students; to reform teacher tenure and “last in, first out” work rules; to change the Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law that keeps automatic teacher pay raises in place after a contract has expired; and to reduce the cost of public employee and teacher pensions. The requests included letting school districts create pension reserve funds, but that was rejected because it was an expansion of district authority, not a state mandate.

Also rejected were local government requests regarding the Wicks public works contracting law, health insurance contributions, restrictions on new unfunded mandates, tax cap exemptions, legal services for the poor and the MTA commuter tax.

Staff of the panel said that the rejected requests were beyond the scope and the authority of the council to decide because they were matters of state law, covered by local union contracts, or otherwise not a qualified candidate for elimination or reform.

I believe a constitutional amendment is needed to reduce pension costs, one of the most costly state mandates.  If that’s the case, the Council could have made that recommendation.  You can see a copy of the full report at the Mandate Relief Council site.

New York’s highest-salaried school principal, James Ruck, who has led Harrison High since 2006, will earn $245,728 this year, setting a new standard for a building administrator in the nation’s hottest market for education leaders.

Ruck, 68, the former schools superintendent at Suffolk County’s Sachem Central schools, augments his Harrison pay with an estimated $131,352 a year in pension payments, pushing his annual income to more than $377,000. Ruck, of Northport, intends to step down from Harrison in June

About 1,000 students attend Harrison High School.

  ‘Motivation, Not IQ, Matters Most for Learning New Math Skills’ (Time)

But IQ does matter in overall math achievement levels.

… While some element of math achievement may be linked to natural inborn intelligence, when it comes to developing skills during high school, motivation and math study habits are much more important than IQ, according to a new study…

To their surprise, the researches found that IQ does not predict new learning — in other words, intelligence as measured by the IQ test does not indicate how likely students are to pick up new concepts or accumulate new skills. While children with higher IQs did have higher test scores from the beginning of the study, how much newmaterial the kids learned over the years was not related to how smart they were, at least not once demographic factors were taken into account.

“Students with high IQ have high math achievement and students with low IQ have low math achievement,” Murayama says. “But IQ does not predict any growth in math achievement. It determines the starting point.”

%d bloggers like this: