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Concept: Higher education


The existence of ‘Learning Styles’ is a common ‘neuromyth’, and their use in all forms of education has been thoroughly and repeatedly discredited in the research literature. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that their use remains widespread. This perspective article is an attempt to understand if and why the myth of Learning Styles persists. I have done this by analyzing the current research literature to capture the picture that an educator would encounter were they to search for “Learning Styles” with the intent of determining whether the research evidence supported their use. The overwhelming majority (89%) of recent research papers, listed in the ERIC and PubMed research databases, implicitly or directly endorse the use of Learning Styles in Higher Education. These papers are dominated by the VAK and Kolb Learning Styles inventories. These presence of these papers in the pedagogical literature demonstrates that an educator, attempting to take an evidence-based approach to education, would be presented with a strong yet misleading message that the use of Learning Styles is endorsed by the current research literature. This has potentially negative consequences for students and for the field of education research.

Concepts: Education, Academic publishing, Educational psychology, Higher education, Teacher, Evidence, Anecdotal evidence, Learning styles


Humour processing is a complex information-processing task that is dependent on cognitive and emotional aspects which presumably influence frame-shifting and conceptual blending, mental operations that underlie humour processing. The aim of the current study was to find distinctive groups of subjects with respect to black humour processing, intellectual capacities, mood disturbance and aggressiveness. A total of 156 adults rated black humour cartoons and conducted measurements of verbal and nonverbal intelligence, mood disturbance and aggressiveness. Cluster analysis yields three groups comprising following properties: (1) moderate black humour preference and moderate comprehension; average nonverbal and verbal intelligence; low mood disturbance and moderate aggressiveness; (2) low black humour preference and moderate comprehension; average nonverbal and verbal intelligence, high mood disturbance and high aggressiveness; and (3) high black humour preference and high comprehension; high nonverbal and verbal intelligence; no mood disturbance and low aggressiveness. Age and gender do not differ significantly, differences in education level can be found. Black humour preference and comprehension are positively associated with higher verbal and nonverbal intelligence as well as higher levels of education. Emotional instability and higher aggressiveness apparently lead to decreased levels of pleasure when dealing with black humour. These results support the hypothesis that humour processing involves cognitive as well as affective components and suggest that these variables influence the execution of frame-shifting and conceptual blending in the course of humour processing.

Concepts: Psychology, Cluster analysis, Educational psychology, Emotion, Mood disorder, Higher education, Mood, Conceptual blending


Humans show spontaneous synchronization of movements during social interactions; this coordination has been shown to facilitate smooth communication. Although human studies exploring spontaneous synchronization are increasing in number, little is known about this phenomenon in other species. In this study, we examined spontaneous behavioural synchronization between monkeys in a laboratory setting. Synchronization was quantified by changes in button-pressing behaviour while pairs of monkeys were facing one another. Synchronization between the monkeys was duly observed and it was participant-partner dependent. Further tests confirmed that the speed of button pressing changed to harmonic or sub-harmonic levels in relation to the partner’s speed. In addition, the visual information from the partner induced a higher degree of synchronization than auditory information. This study establishes advanced tasks for testing social coordination in monkeys, and illustrates ways in which monkeys coordinate their actions to establish synchronization.

Concepts: Psychology, Human, Sociology, Primate, Behavior, Human behavior, Higher education, Social relation


Weaving the visual arts into a science curriculum can both help develop scientific imagination and engage non-scientists.

Concepts: Social sciences, Higher education, Art, Aesthetics


Intersections between migration and sex work are underexplored in southern Africa, a region with high internal and cross-border population mobility, and HIV prevalence. Sex work often constitutes an important livelihood activity for migrant women. In 2010, sex workers trained as interviewers conducted cross-sectional surveys with 1,653 female sex workers in Johannesburg (Hillbrow and Sandton), Rustenburg and Cape Town. Most (85.3 %) sex workers were migrants (1396/1636): 39.0 % (638/1636) internal and 46.3 % (758/1636) cross-border. Cross-border migrants had higher education levels, predominately worked part-time, mainly at indoor venues, and earned more per client than other groups. They, however, had 41 % lower health service contact (adjusted odds ratio = 0.59; 95 % confidence interval = 0.40-0.86) and less frequent condom use than non-migrants. Police interaction was similar. Cross-border migrants appear more tenacious in certain aspects of sex work, but require increased health service contact. Migrant-sensitive, sex work-specific health care and health education are needed.

Concepts: Health care, Public health, Health, Africa, Human migration, South Africa, Higher education, Johannesburg


OBJECTIVES: To perform a bibliometric analysis of theses and dissertations on prematurity in the Capes database from 1987 to 2009. METHODS: This is a descriptive study that used the bibliometric approach for the production of indicators of scientific production. Operationally, the methodology was developed in four steps: 1) construction of the theoretical framework; 2) data collection sourced from the abstracts of theses and dissertations available in the Capes Thesis Database which presented the issue of prematurity in the period 1987 to 2009; 3) organization, processing and construction of bibliometric indicators; 4) analysis and interpretation of results. RESULTS: Increase in the scientific literature on prematurity during the period 1987 to 2009; production is represented mostly by dissertations; the institution that received prominence was the Universidade de São Paulo. The studies are directed toward the low birth weight and very low birth weight preterm newborn, encompassing the social, biological and multifactorial causes of prematurity. CONCLUSIONS: There is a qualified, diverse and substantial scientific literature on prematurity developed in various graduate programs of higher education institutions in Brazil.

Concepts: Scientific method, Greek loanwords, Science, College, Higher education, Doctor of Philosophy, Thesis or dissertation, Rhetoric


The impact case studies submitted by UK Higher Education Institutions to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014 provide a rich resource of text describing impact beyond academia and across all disciplines. Using text mining techniques and qualitative assessment, the 6,679 non-redacted case studies submitted were analysed and the impact described was found to be multidisciplinary, multi-impactful, and multinational. By digging deeper into the data, the health gains from health research in terms of Quality Adjusted Life Years was also estimated. Similar analyses are possible using these case studies, but will require the data to be ’re-purposed' from the original intention (i.e., for assessment purposes) for robust analysis.

Concepts: Scientific method, Research methods, Evaluation methods, Educational psychology, Qualitative research, Thought, Case study, Higher education


Educational disparities in U.S. adult mortality are large and have widened across birth cohorts. We consider three policy relevant scenarios and estimate the mortality attributable to: (1) individuals having less than a high school degree rather than a high school degree, (2) individuals having some college rather than a baccalaureate degree, and (3) individuals having anything less than a baccalaureate degree rather than a baccalaureate degree, using educational disparities specific to the 1925, 1935, and 1945 cohorts.

Concepts: United States, Education, High school, College, Higher education, School, Bachelor's degree, Education in the United States


Open scholarship, such as the sharing of articles, code, data, and educational resources, has the potential to improve university research and education as well as increase the impact universities can have beyond their own walls. To support this perspective, I present evidence from case studies, published literature, and personal experiences as a practicing open scholar. I describe some of the challenges inherent to practicing open scholarship and some of the tensions created by incompatibilities between institutional policies and personal practice. To address this, I propose several concrete actions universities could take to support open scholarship and outline ways in which such initiatives could benefit the public as well as institutions. Importantly, I do not think most of these actions would require new funding but rather a redistribution of existing funds and a rewriting of internal policies to better align with university missions of knowledge dissemination and societal impact.

Concepts: Scientific method, Sociology, Academic publishing, Law, Academia, Higher education, Society, Institution


Using a national longitudinal survey data set from the Higher Education Research Institute, this study tested whether students who identified as a sexual minority (for example, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer) were more or less likely to persist after 4 years in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, as opposed to switching to a non-STEM program, compared to their heterosexual peers. A multilevel regression model controlling for various experiences and characteristics previously determined to predict retention in STEM demonstrated that, net of these variables, sexual minority students were 8% less likely to be retained in STEM compared to switching into a non-STEM program. Despite this finding, sexual minority STEM students were more likely to report participating in undergraduate research programs, and the gender disparity in STEM retention appears to be reversed for sexual minority STEM students.

Concepts: LGBT, Regression analysis, Statistics, Sociology, Gender role, Higher education, Sexual orientation, Homosexuality