Auto Digitizing Embroidery Software – What Can It Do?

Are you an embroiderer who’d like to create your own designs? Did your embroidery machine come bundled with digitizing software that’s just too confusing with just way too many screens and obscure terminology? Why do you have to learn all that to just create a simple design? Well, today you don’t! Now it’s entirely possible to create your own embroidery designs without the labor of traditional digitizing.Auto Digitizing Software to the Rescue!If you had asked me a year ago about embroidery programs that could automatically generate a sewable design from clip art, I would have told you it couldn’t possibly produce a decent result. I’m now eating those words because these programs have come a long way!Why Auto Digitize?The obvious allure of such programs is instant embroidery designs without all the tedium of manually creating every element, figuring out sequencing, understanding compensation, density, stitch length, and underlay. A good program with clean artwork can produce a sewable design in just a few clicks. However, in many cases, the result is rather uninteresting. That’s where having a program that will let you modify stitch types and directions can truly release your inner creativity.How It WorksAs with any digitizing program, it starts with artwork–and the better the artwork, the better the results. This is true whether you are doing the digitizing or a program is doing it for you. The difference is that a program works by identifying colors and applying stitches based on the size of the area. It doesn’t know whether your design is bird, a plane, or Super Man. Large areas will get a fill, smaller ones a satin, and very thin lines will get a run stitch.Automatic functions come in a variety of forms from completely automating the art-to-embroidery process in just a few mouse clicks to semi-automatic functions such as True Type font conversion and Magic Wand digitizing of selected areas. Basic programs simply churn out a design while more complete programs offer features for editing of stitch attributes and object shapes (node manipulation) plus full manual digitizing features. Specialized functions also include photo stitch and cross stitch generation.Does it Live Up to the Hype?While it is unlikely that you will produce an award-winning design optimized for efficiency with a handful of mouse clicks, auto-digitizing is great for one-off designs. With the right artwork and just a few minutes of editing, it is quite possible to create viable designs. The more you understand about the anatomy of an embroidery design, the more efficient you will be at creating embroiderable designs in a fraction of the time of traditional digitizing. By presetting stitch attributes before digitizing, you can further speed the process.Highly interesting effects can be created via photo stitch that are virtually impossible to achieve with manual techniques. Replicating traditional cross stitch is incredibly tedious with traditional digitizing but is effortless with a specialty function.What to Look ForToday’s embroidery digitizing programs offer a range of automatic features. Don’t restrict yourself to just what came with your machine or is available at your dealer. Do a little research first. Things to consider are:What features are in the program?

True Type font conversion is becoming a more common feature

A Magic Wand tool provides for “semi-automatic” digitizing of manually selected areas

Full automatic image to stitches is offered in some programs

Editing ability is a must for control over stitch types and directions

Node editing of converted fonts and images can give you ultimate control over quality

Photo stitch is a great feature and is implemented in a variety of ways in different programs

Cross stitch conversion can produce embroidery that resembles hand-stitched cross stitch

The addition of full manual digitizing permits ultimate customization of the embroidery design and will insure that you don’t outgrow your software investment too quickly

The ability to scan directly into the program and clean up artwork before digitizing without additional software can save additional start-up expense and learning time

Ability to save in popular machine formats

Who supports it? Are there on-line forums, users groups, or webinars? These are excellent resources since dealers aren’t usually experienced in software beyond the basics. Many programs have a strong Yahoo group and you can often get the answers you need more quickly and thoroughly here than from a dealer. Independent educators are more likely to tell you the features as well as the bugs–and their work-arounds–than the company selling the software. While you can often find quick videos on YouTube, check around for more comprehensive training, which may include both free and purchased products. Look for digitizers who are using the software and find out if you can get designs in the program’s native format.Getting StartedWhile these programs can create a design quickly and effortlessly, do plan on expending some effort getting acquainted with the program. A fully featured program can be reasonably easy to use once you know your way around, offering a way for the complete newbie to create a design quickly and easily along with the power and functionality to satisfy the advanced digitizer. A downside is that you are not likely to find some of these programs or adequate support at your local sewing machine dealer.Before resigning yourself to whatever software that came with your machine, check out what’s available. Gone are the days when your only option was one program. Today’s embroidery programs save to most popular formats and have a host of fun and easy-to-use features. Learning to use a traditional digitizing program can be overwhelming. By using a good auto digitizing program you can be creating designs quickly.

Posted in Digital Arts | Tagged | Comments Off

How to Create a Powerful Corporate Brand

4 Questions to Ask When Creating a Brand for Your Small BusinessWhether it’s a large corporation or a small business, branding is one of the most important aspects of marketing.Your brand differentiates you from your competitors, and it tells your customers what they can expect from you.According to a Nielson survey, 59% of consumers prefer to buy new products from brands familiar to them. Corporate branding is one of the best ways to build and keep your customers’ trust.Not only that, but proper business branding can also lead to an increase in sales, word-of-mouth referrals and advocacy for what you’re selling.Here are 4 questions to ask and answer as you’re creating a brand:1. Who Are You?You can’t be everything to everyone. As you grow your corporate brand, you need to whittle down who your target customers are.If your customers know you for your low-cost products, your brand message and brand strategy will reflect that. If your customers perceive your company as innovative and cutting-edge, be that to them.Let’s use an example. A relationship therapist who offers marriage counselling will focus on brand development strategies to appeal to a target audience of married couples, not troubled teens or bereaved pet owners.2. What’s Your Mission Statement?One of the first elements of creating a brand is defining your mission statement. Your mission statement is related to what your company is most passionate about.Some of the questions you can ask in this business branding exercise include:• Why are you in business?• What do you want for your customers?• How do you differ from your competitors?• Where do you see your company going in the future?• What underlying philosophies or values do you have around your business?Take a look at Nike’s mission statement. While you may be most familiar with their “Just Do It” tagline, here’s their mission statement. “Bring innovation and inspiration to every athlete in the world”.Your mission statement will influence everything from your tagline and logo to your tone of voice.3. What’s Your Brand Message?When you’re creating a brand, it’s important to start with your brand message. Your brand message can be boiled down to your value proposition and the tone of your content.Brand messaging is what inspires and persuades buyers to buy your product or service.MailChimp has a simple, three-word brand message: Send better email. It’s direct and tells you exactly what you can expect if they use their service.Let’s use the relationship therapist as an example again. He or she might create a brand message that’s bold and direct: Save your marriage. Or, he or she might focus on compassion and listening, and create a brand message around that: I’m here for both of you.4. What’s Your Brand Strategy?Your brand strategy refers to how, what where, when and to whom you deliver on your brand messages.First, you need to determine your overall goals when it comes to your corporate branding. Are you trying to reach a new audience or steal market share from a competitor?Included in your long-term brand strategy may be:• What you communicate, such as your logo, tagline and language in website copy• Where you advertise. Do you use Google AdWords, social media marketing, brochures, bus shelter ads…• How you’ll reach customers, whether it’s weekly emails advertising sales or seasonal contests to keep them engaged with your brandCorporate branding is a process.It’s not easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight, or even in a few months. However, the ongoing effort can result in better relationships with your customers, increased leads and sales, and more trust in your product or service.It can be very challenging to focus on brand development strategies on your own, and the risk of not doing it correctly can be devastating to your business.

Posted in Branding | Tagged | Comments Off

Home Health Care – Alternative to Do Everything by Yourself

Utilizing the home health care is a best option to get the relief and get rest you require while even so making sure that the older people are getting proper protection and care. Don’t feel shamed if you take some time off to take care of yourself and your family, but home health care is essential if you like to keep on care for your family and friends in the future. If you are in a quandary whether to get the servings of home health care.Your family and friends are taken care of by the trained medical staff. Employing home health care is farther safer than hiring unknowns to care for your relatives. Since home health care working class people are trained medical professionals. These medical professionals can answer properly.New York City is urgently in demand of teachers especially in high demand schools. Hence, the New York City department of education has a broad range of inducements and special programs for instructors to be and practicing teachers. It is the most former and perhaps the last major cause to restabilize education and attain qualified and motivated potential and assuring pre-service or educator’s students to instruct in high demand schools.Hospice Fraud in South Carolina and the US is a changing problem as the number of hospice patients has blew up over the past years. From 2004 to 2008, many patients encountering hospice care in the US grew about 40% to all but 1.5 million, and of the 2.5 thousand people who died in 2008, intimately one million were housing patients. The consuming bulk of people receiving hospice care encounter national benefits from the federal authorities through the Medicaid or Medicare programs. The health care offers who offer hospice services traditionally inscribe in the Medicaid and Medicare programs in order to modify to receive payments under these governing programs for services delivered to Medicaid and Medicare eligible patients.Recently federal hospice fake social control actions have evidenced, the number of health care individuals and companies who are wishing to try to defraud the Medicaid and Medicare hospice welfare programs is on the rise.Hospice care is a kind of health care service for the patients who are ill terminally. Hospices as well offer backing services for the families of ill patients. This care lets in physical care and guidance. Hospice care is normally offered by a private company sanctioned by Medicare and Medicaid. Hospice care is present for all the age groups, including adults, children, and the older people who are in the last stages of life. The main purpose of hospice is to offer care for the ill patient her or his family and not to heal the terminal illness.

Posted in health care | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Commercial Loans In UK- Finance For Business Professionals

UK has been known for its merchandise policies from early ages. The UK citizens have been maintaining this practice or genre from generations. Thus, keeping in notice this strategy, lending institutions has come up with commercial loans in UK. The commercial loans in UK advance funds related to commercial activities to promote and prop their tradition.The commercial loans in UK bifurcates its services in two episodes viz. secured and unsecured. The secured section, carry numerous offers and benedictions which can be subscribed by placing the property as mortgages against the loan amount. The second chapter i.e. the unsecured loans facilitate the approximate advantages without interrogating about collateral or mortgages. The UK citizens can opt for any alternate form depending upon their suitability.The commercial loans in UK allocate funds for every small or large business, new or existing business in an easy and affordable path. The loan financially supports to bear all the expenses of the borrower. Expenses like purchasing commodities, sites, machineries, stationeries are included in the loan scheme. Depending upon the plan and expenditure the UK residents or business professional can borrow funds.The rate of interest of commercial loans in UK has been calculated to match every financial category. So, the business professional will find it suitable and affordable according to their repaying ability. These offers are sanctioned for short terms and directly depend up on the numerous factors like loan amount, use of collateral and repayment terms.Commercial loans in UK bring good news for the bad creditors. Persons with grave records can also click the advantages and set up or expand their existing business to their expectations. Moreover, they can supervise their credit score and re-establish their derogated financial status. Each and every activity related to applying and approval of commercial loans in UK is fast and simple providing reliable results to the applicants.

Posted in Finance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Booklet Tips – Graphics or Not

You want your tips booklet to be as attractive and appealing as possible. And you’ve got lots of information you want to share about your expertise. Creating the balance of text and graphics can be challenging for you unless you consider certain possibilities and decide what you want to accomplish.The earliest suggestion given to tips booklets authors who wanted to write a lot of tips was to keep illustrations and graphics to a minimum unless the topic truly warranted the support of those graphics. If your topic is about staying healthy while sitting all day at your computer, visual illustrations about posture and exercises to do while sitting at your desk make all the sense in the world.Ideas for living a happier life need fewer graphics to make the point. Your booklet is likely to be primarily text. You may want to include small graphic images of sunshine, smiles, or some other generic representation of happiness to separate the topic sections. That’s different than a drawing of the best way to sit at a computer station.You might have a vision of your booklet being mostly graphics or illustrations with very little text. The text supports the visuals rather than the visuals supporting the text. That is certainly another way to do it, while less common among tips booklet authors.Maybe you want to write a tips booklet about organizing a child’s room. Each page could have one or more images of a product or system used for organizing that space, with a sentence or two about how to use it. The booklet could be part of a series about organizing different parts of the home, or it could be on different aspects of parenting.Be as strategic as you can in whatever you decide to do. Your booklet is intended to whet the appetite of the reader rather than to provide a comprehensive treatment of everything you know on the topic. Besides, you’ll know more tomorrow than you do today anyway. The booklet is the basics, the starting point rather than the entire thing. Giving people less so they can absorb that is the best way to serve them. There are always ways to give them more as they are ready, whether that is in other products, other product formats, at your website, or all of these.ACTION – Think as broadly as you can before you start. That means how much text and how much visual illustration of any kind goes into one tips booklet. As you are thinking of more visuals, consider where else you can provide them. Sending people to your website for more is always a great idea. The website content is easier to update than a product, and you can offer other products and services at your site. You will undoubtedly come up with new information to share as you learn it, new ways to offer it, and have new people coming to you. The website is ideal for accommodating all of that as you progress.”Turn Your Tips Into Products, Your Tips Products Into Moneymakers.TM” © 2014

Posted in art | Tagged | Comments Off

There is an excessive amount of traffic coming from your Region.


Posted in Online Education | Tagged | Comments Off

The Need For Strong Vocational and Career Education

Why Vocational and Career Education Are ImportantThere are three major reasons why every school district should offer strong vocational learning opportunities:1. Vocational competence is critical to the economic health of our nation.2. A significant number of students, both college-bound and non-college-bound, are experiential learners who will learn academic skills best from developing them in a career or application context.3. Delaying the career or application context until after grade 12 lowers motivation and learning achievement for many experiential learners.Consider these characteristics of experiential learners:1. They are often as or even more capable of complex learning than traditional learners.2. They learn academic skills best from concrete tasks and a focus on real-life problems.3. They often do not work to their potential in the relatively abstract-linear environment of traditional classes.So, not having vocational or career learning options is a major disservice to the many experiential learners in any school population.Advantages of Career and Vocational EducationWhen strong vocational learning options are available in a school district, they present these advantages:1. They help many experiential learners reach higher achievement levels. (Too few policymakers have given adequate attention to a major weakness of American public education – - lack of inclusion of a strong application component in learning programs. Refer to the work of Dr. William Daggett, president of the International Center for Leadership in Education, for solid research comparisons in this area. The Center’s web site is Career path exploration helps many students make more information and dedicated choices on college enrollment. Students often discover the career path they love and are more motivated to pursue college study.3. Career context makes subjects and courses more meaningful to students. Application adds to the strength of learning.4. The career context makes it more feasible to teach and promote a continuous improvement culture in relation to the real world of work.5. Strong secondary school vocational programs provide workplace skills to some students who do not plan to attend college immediately after graduation from high school. They also equip many college-bound students with skills useful in part-time work that helps in financing college study.Evaluating Your Local SituationDo you want to evaluate the strength of your local vocational and career options for students? Look for positive responses to these standards:1. The local school mission statement recognizes career/vocational education as a valuable service to many college-bound and non-college-bound students.2. The career focus is placed on all levels of the K-12 programs – -a. Elementary schools using career-focused stories, readings, field trips.b. Middle schools providing strong technical (applied) literacy learning opportunities, especially to encourage continued interest in science. Also, providing after-school career exploration options perhaps with the help of local or area vocational centers.c. High schools providing a broad spectrum of both career exploration and initial skill development on different career paths. NOTE: The number of vocational programs should be adequate to serve students with different talents and interests. There should be technical or science-focused programs, people-focused programs, and traditional trade programs.d. High school guidance providing help on preference matching between talents and careers.e. High school vocational programs presenting beneficial articulation with both 2-year and 4-year college programs to reject completely the error of viewing vocational courses as something only for the non-college-bound. That latter stereotype was founded on ignorance of the value of different talent or intelligence areas.f. High schools providing strong information on and articulated access to apprentice training programs as a viable and important option for graduation.3. Fiscal support and facilities are maintained on modern and attractive levels for both classical and vocational programs, never allowing one area to play second-fiddle to the other.4. Local educators and government leaders are working to correct any state and national inattention to the needs and talents of experiential and vocational learners. NOTE: That inattention is evidenced by over-emphasis on written high stakes tests and concurrent outright failure to provide performance evaluation options for highly talented experiential learners under initial implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act. Reasons given for this serious failure are nothing but outright rationalizations to provide excuses for avoiding the work of constructing comprehensive assessment programs. Narrow written tests alone are an “easier” even though cognitively weak option. Can you imagine riding in an airplane with a pilot who has passed a written test but never before actually successfully flown an airplane? At some point in the future a higher quality assessment program must be pursued for the good of students and the good of our nation.5. Local educators and government leaders work actively to ensure three other realities for quality vocational programs:a. Secondary vocational programs being protected against misuse such as referral of a disproportionate share of learning disadvantaged students (who often need more effective basic academic programs) or misbehaving students (who can be dangerous to themselves and others in shop situations). NOTE: The mission of vocational schools involves career path selection and preparation. They are not special education schools but, like all schools, can serve their share of special education students. If over-used for the special education purpose, the primary mission is subverted and many talented experiential learners are tragically excluded.b. Business and industry representatives being kept deeply involved as advisors to and evaluators of all secondary vocational programs. NOTE: This is the path to keeping programs relevant to evolving careers and to having businesses provide special help (internships, equipment, etc.) to an important source of future employees.c. Secondary vocational programs being given strong annual funding for modernization of teaching youngsters to use equipment no longer used in the real world of work.If the response to any one of the above basic standards is negative, you have identified an area where corrective action should be taken.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Increasing Student Success Through Instruction in Self-Determination

An enormous amount of research shows the importance of self-determination (i.e., autonomy) for students in elementary school through college for enhancing learning and improving important post-school outcomes.

Research by psychologists Richard Ryan, PhD, and Edward Deci, PhD, on Self-Determination Theory indicates that intrinsic motivation (doing something because it is inherently interesting or enjoyable), and thus higher quality learning, flourishes in contexts that satisfy human needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Students experience competence when challenged and given prompt feedback. Students experience autonomy when they feel supported to explore, take initiative and develop and implement solutions for their problems. Students experience relatedness when they perceive others listening and responding to them. When these three needs are met, students are more intrinsically motivated and actively engaged in their learning.

Numerous studies have found that students who are more involved in setting educational goals are more likely to reach their goals. When students perceive that the primary focus of learning is to obtain external rewards, such as a grade on an exam, they often perform more poorly, think of themselves as less competent, and report greater anxiety than when they believe that exams are simply a way for them to monitor their own learning. Some studies have found that the use of external rewards actually decreased motivation for a task for which the student initially was motivated. In a 1999 examination of 128 studies that investigated the effects of external rewards on intrinsic motivations, Drs. Deci and Ryan, along with psychologist Richard Koestner, PhD, concluded that such rewards tend to have a substantially negative effect on intrinsic motivation by undermining people’s taking responsibility for motivating or regulating themselves.

Self-determination research has also identified flaws in high stakes, test focused school reforms, which despite good intentions, has led teachers and administrators to engage in precisely the types of interventions that result in poor quality learning. Dr. Ryan and colleagues found that high stakes tests tend to constrain teachers’ choices about curriculum coverage and curtail teachers’ ability to respond to students’ interests (Ryan & La Guardia, 1999). Also, psychologists Tim Urdan, PhD, and Scott Paris, PhD, found that such tests can decrease teacher enthusiasm for teaching, which has an adverse effect on students’ motivation (Urdan & Paris, 1994).

The processes described in self-determination theory may be particularly important for children with special educational needs. Researcher Michael Wehmeyer found that students with disabilities who are more self-determined are more likely to be employed and living independently in the community after completing high school than students who are less self-determined.

Research also shows that the educational benefits of self-determination principles don’t stop with high school graduation. Studies show how the orientation taken by college and medical school instructors (whether it is toward controlling students’ behavior or supporting the students’ autonomy) affects the students’ motivation and learning.

Self-determination theory has identified ways to better motivate students to learn at all educational levels, including those with disabilities.
Practical Application

Schools throughout the country are using self-determination instruction as a way to better motivate students and meet the growing need to teach children and youth ways to more fully accept responsibility for their lives by helping them to identify their needs and develop strategies to meet those needs.

Researchers have developed and evaluated instructional interventions and supports to encourage self-determination for all students, with many of these programs designed for use by students with disabilities. Many parents, researchers and policy makers have voiced concern about high rates of unemployment, under-employment and poverty experienced by students with disabilities after they complete their educational programs. Providing support for student self-determination in school settings is one way to enhance student learning and improve important post-school outcomes for students with disabilities. Schools have particularly emphasized the use of self-determination curricula with students with disabilities to meet federal mandates to actively involve students with disabilities in the Individualized Education Planning process.

Programs to promote self-determination help students acquire knowledge, skills and beliefs that meet their needs for competence, autonomy and relatedness (for example, see Steps to Self-determination by educational researchers Sharon Field and Alan Hoffman). Such programs also provide instruction aimed specifically at helping students play a more active role in educational planning (for example, see The Self-directed Individualized Education Plan by Jim Martin, Laura Huber Marshall, Laurie Maxson, & Patty Jerman).

Drs. Field and Hoffman developed a model designed to guide the development of self-determination instructional interventions. According to the model, instructional activities in areas such as increasing self-awareness; improving decision-making, goal-setting and goal-attainment skills; enhancing communication and relationship skills; and developing the ability to celebrate success and learn from reflecting on experiences lead to increased student self-determination. Self-determination instructional programs help students learn how to participate more actively in educational decision-making by helping them become familiar with the educational planning process, assisting them to identify information they would like to share at educational planning meetings, and supporting students to develop skills to effectively communicate their needs and wants. Examples of activities used in self-determination instructional programs include reflecting on daydreams to help students decide what is important to them; teaching students how to set goals that are important to them and then, with the support of peers, family members and teachers, taking steps to achieve those goals. Providing contextual supports and opportunities for students, such as coaching for problem-solving and offering opportunities for choice, are also critical elements that lead to meeting needs for competence, autonomy and relatedness and thus, increasing student self-determination.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Comments Off

How to Build a Better Educational System: Jigsaw Classrooms

The jigsaw classroom technique can transform competitive classrooms in which many students are struggling into cooperative classrooms in which once-struggling students show dramatic academic and social improvements.

In the early 1970s, in the wake of the civil rights movement, educators were faced with a social dilemma that had no obvious solution. All over the country, well-intentioned efforts to desegregate America’s public schools were leading to serious problems. Ethnic minority children, most of whom had previously attended severely under-funded schools, found themselves in classrooms composed predominantly of more privileged White children. This created a situation in which students from affluent backgrounds often shone brilliantly while students from impoverished backgrounds often struggled. Of course, this difficult situation seemed to confirm age-old stereotypes: that Blacks and Latinos are stupid or lazy and that Whites are pushy and overly competitive. The end result was strained relations between children from different ethnic groups and widening gaps in the academic achievement of Whites and minorities.

Drawing on classic psychological research on how to reduce tensions between competing groups (e.g., see Allport, 1954; Sherif, 1958; see also Pettigrew, 1998), Elliot Aronson and colleagues realized that one of the major reasons for this problem was the competitive nature of the typical classroom. In a typical classroom, students work on assignments individually, and teachers often call on students to see who can publicly demonstrate his or her knowledge. Anyone who has ever been called to the board to solve a long division problem – only to get confused about dividends and divisors – knows that public failure can be devastating. The snide remarks that children often make when their peers fail do little to remedy this situation. But what if students could be taught to work together in the classroom – as cooperating members of a cohesive team? Could a cooperative learning environment turn things around for struggling students? When this is done properly, the answer appears to be a resounding yes.

In response to real educational dilemmas, Aronson and colleagues developed and implemented the jigsaw classroom technique in Austin, Texas, in 1971. The jigsaw technique is so named because each child in a jigsaw classroom has to become an expert on a single topic that is a crucial part of a larger academic puzzle. For example, if the children in a jigsaw classroom were working on a project about World War II, a classroom of 30 children might be broken down into five diverse groups of six children each. Within each group, a different child would be given the responsibility of researching and learning about a different specific topic: Khanh might learn about Hitler’s rise to power, Tracy might learn about the U.S. entry into the war, Mauricio might learn about the development of the atomic bomb, etc. To be sure that each group member learned his or her material well, the students from different groups who had the same assignment would be instructed to compare notes and share information. Then students would be brought together in their primary groups, and each student would present his or her “piece of the puzzle” to the other group members. Of course, teachers play the important role of keeping the students involved and derailing any tensions that may emerge. For example, suppose Mauricio struggled as he tried to present his information about the atomic bomb. If Tracy were to make fun of him, the teacher would quickly remind Tracy that while it may make her feel good to make fun of her teammate, she is hurting herself and her group – because everyone will be expected to know all about the atomic bomb on the upcoming quiz.
When properly carried out, the jigsaw classroom technique can transform competitive classrooms in which many students are struggling into cooperative classrooms in which once-struggling students show dramatic academic and social improvements (and in which students who were already doing well continue to shine). Students in jigsaw classrooms also come to like each other more, as students begin to form cross-ethnic friendships and discard ethnic and cultural stereotypes. Finally, jigsaw classrooms decrease absenteeism, and they even seem to increase children’s level of empathy (i.e., children’s ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes). The jigsaw technique thus has the potential to improve education dramatically in a multi-cultural world by revolutionizing the way children learn.
Practical Application

Since its demonstration in the 1970s, the jigsaw classroom has been used in hundreds of classrooms settings across the nation, ranging from the elementary schools where it was first developed to high school and college classrooms (e.g., see Aronson, Blaney, Stephan, Rosenfield, & Sikes, 1977; Perkins & Saris, 2001; Slavin, 1980). Researchers know that the technique is effective, incidentally, because it has been carefully studied using solid research techniques. For example, in many cases, students in different classrooms who are covering the same material are randomly assigned to receive either traditional instruction (no intervention) or instruction by means of the jigsaw technique. Studies in real classrooms have consistently revealed enhanced academic performance, reductions in stereotypes and prejudice, and improved social relations.

Aronson is not the only researcher to explore the merits of cooperative learning techniques. Shortly after Aronson and colleagues began to document the power of the jigsaw classroom, Robert Slavin, Elizabeth Cohen and others began to document the power of other kinds of cooperative learning programs (see Cohen & Lotan, 1995; Slavin, 1980; Slavin, Hurley, & Chamberlain, 2003). As of this writing, some kind of systematic cooperative learning technique had been applied in about 1500 schools across the country, and the technique appears to be picking up steam. Perhaps the only big question that remains about cooperative learning techniques such as the jigsaw classroom is why these techniques have not been implemented even more broadly than they already have.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Have Your Children Had Their Anti-Smoking Shots?


In the early 1960s, social psychologist William McGuire published some classic papers showing that it is surprisingly easy to change people’s attitudes about things that we all wholeheartedly accept as true. For example, for speakers armed with a little knowledge of persuasion, it is remarkably easy to convince almost anyone that brushing one’s teeth is not such a great idea. McGuire’s insight into this curious phenomenon was that it is easy to change people’s minds about things that they have always taken for granted precisely because most people have little if any practice resisting attacks on attitudes that no one ever questions.

Taking this logic a little further, McGuire asked if it might be possible to train people to resist attacks on their beliefs by giving them practice at resisting arguments that they could easily refute. Specifically, McGuire drew an analogy between biological resistance to disease and psychological resistance to persuasion. Biological inoculation works by exposing people to a weakened version of an attacking agent such as a virus. People’s bodies produce antibodies that make them immune to the attacking agent, and when a full-blown version of the agent hits later in life, people win the biological battle against the full-blown disease. Would giving people a little practice fending off a weak attack on their attitudes make it easier for people to resist stronger attacks on their attitudes that come along later? The answer turns out to be yes. McGuire coined the phrase attitude inoculation to refer to the process of resisting strong persuasive arguments by getting practice fighting off weaker versions of the same arguments.

Once attitude inoculation had been demonstrated consistently in the laboratory, researchers decided to see if attitude inoculation could be used to help parents, teachers, and social service agents deal with a pressing social problem that kills about 440,000 people in the U.S. every year: cigarette smoking. Smoking seemed like an ideal problem to study because children below the age of 10 or 12 almost always report negative attitudes about smoking. However, in the face of peer pressure to be cool, many of these same children become smokers during middle to late adolescence.
Practical Application

Adolescents change their attitudes about smoking (and become smokers) because of the power of peer pressure. Researchers quickly realized that if they could inoculate children against pro-smoking arguments (by teaching them to resist pressure from their peers who believed that smoking is “cool”), they might be able to reduce the chances that children would become smokers. A series of field studies of attitude inoculation, conducted in junior high schools and high schools throughout the country, demonstrated that brief interventions using attitude inoculation dramatically reduced rates of teenage smoking. For instance, in an early study by Cheryl Perry and colleagues (1980), high school students inoculated junior high schools students against smoking by having the younger kids role-play the kind of situations they might actually face with a peer who pressured them to try a cigarette. For example, when a role-playing peer called a student “chicken” for not being willing to try an imaginary cigarette, the student practiced answers such as “I’d be a real chicken if I smoked just to impress you.” The kids who were inoculated in this way were about half as likely to become smokers as were kids in a very similar school who did not receive this special intervention.

Public service advertising campaigns have also made use of attitude inoculation theory by encouraging parents to help their children devise strategies for saying no when peers encourage them to smoke. Programs that have made whole or partial use of attitude inoculation programs have repeatedly documented the effectiveness of attitude inoculation to prevent teenage smoking, to curb illicit drug use, and to reduce teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. In comparison with old-fashioned interventions such as simple education about the risks of smoking or teenage pregnancy, attitude inoculation frequently reduces risky behaviors by 30-70% (see Botvin et al., 1995; Ellickson & Bell, 1990; Perry et al., 1980). As psychologist David Myers put it in his popular social psychology textbook, “Today any school district or teacher wishing to use the social psychological approach to smoking prevention can do so easily, inexpensively, and with the hope of significant reductions in future smoking rates and health costs.” So the next time you think about inoculating kids to keep them healthy, make sure you remember that one of the most important kinds of inoculation any kid can get is a psychological inoculation against tobacco.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Comments Off