Skip to comments.$1.1 million-plus Gates grants: ‘Galvanic’ bracelets that measure student engagement
Posted on 06/12/2012 6:21:48 AM PDT by upchuck
In the you-cant-make-up-this-stuff category, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is spending about $1.1 million to develop a way to physiologically measure how engaged students are by their teachers lessons. This involves galvanic skin response bracelets that kids would wear so their engagement levels could be measured.
If this tells us anything, it is that the obsession with measurement and data in school reform has reached new nutty heights. Heres the description of the $498,055 grant to Clemson University that was awarded in November (but that just recently became widely known by Susan Ohanian and Diane Ravitch):
Purpose: to work with members of the Measuring Effective Teachers (MET) team to measure engagement physiologically with Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) bracelets which will determine the feasibility and utility of using such devices regularly in schools with students and teachers.
And heres the description of the $621,265 grant given at the same time to the National Center on Time and Learning:
Purpose: to measure engagement physiologically with Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Galvanic Skin Response to determine correlations between each measure and develop a scale that differentiates different degrees or levels of engagement.
Thats more than $1.1 million that could have been spent on things that schools actually need, such as books, teachers, librarians, etc.
How, Ravitch asks, would the bracelet tell if a student is responding to a teacher and not to something his friend whispers in his ear?
Thats just one of the questions that come to mind about this enterprise, including this one: Why would anybody spent money on this when some school systems cant afford to pay their electric bills?
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
It does appear to use the Gates approach: Someone elses’ poor idea, poorly implemented, with little chance of actually functioning up to expectations.
Will they get a mood ring to match the bracelet?
Hmmmm....sounds like the scientologist's "e-meter". Not surprising--measuring skin/body resistance has been very profitable for con artists over the years.
That is what I thought too.
I thinks it’s nutty but at least he’s spending his own money.
I suppose Gates also wants to embed them with an identity chip and tattoo a bar code on the side of their neck.
Sounds like Gates would welcome a return to Nazi Germany of 1941.
Will these bracelets also have an electric shock capability?
They’d be able to wake up any student who nods off during a boring lecture.
Someone will modify them for the porn industry...
“Sounds like Gates would welcome a return to Nazi Germany of 1941.”
Doesn’t it, though?
Yet Steve Jobs is a god, who defrauded his best friend and caused his daughter to be on welfare until he finally owned up to her.
It’s all about believing the “news”.
Actually it’s a legitimate device. It is used extensively in biofeedback studies and in therapy for problems such as migraine and Raynaud’s disease.
And handcuffs on “Avatar”! :)
Ah a person who might see the positives, besides “1984” or some other mind control concept. I heard Mrs. Gates talk about how they are trying hundreds of things to find better ways to improve schools and teachers. The biggest problem seems to be how to get the correct feedback from students that = the grades or test understanding/results.
Years ago students were engaged and learned their lessons in one room schoolhouses, by candle light, and under the most difficult conditions. When waves of immigrants came to this country class size was 50 or 60 students to a class, sometimes more. But then the students were motivated and disruptive behavior was not tolerated.
It’s their money, and if they’re spending that million or more on nonsense, at least it’s not going to promote abortion.
It was the behavior that has changed - some how the government allowed the courts to say good behavior is not important to learning.
If, after building the prototypes, galvanic skin response (used as a proxy for engagement) proves to be well correlated with the results of testing, I think that is a great advance.
Testing shows failures in teaching after the fact. Often a year after the fact.
If you can get an instant recognition that the lesson presentation if failing, then you have a chance to fix it immediately, without leaving the students involved as just another data point in the failed column.
We know that some teachers are dramatically more effective than others and that their students tend to be much more engaged. How can measuring that property be a bad thing?
Consider the knee jerk response of the WAPO author amounting to “Why waste money on science when you could just give it to teachers and their union?”
Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. In life you often have to try a number of things before you find something that works or works better than what you have.
Science, research and even engineering do not have perfect seasons, no-hitters or holes-in-one. It’s how sports and politics differ from ‘the real world’.
It is private money and so does not have to be a hole-in-one. That is why private ventures work where government fails. They are not subject to the same gotcha requirements that beget the government culture of ass covering and failure.
My recollection (admittedly it was a long time ago) was that my engagement with the teacher’s lesson was solely a function of the teacher’s ability to engage my attention. A good teacher had my attention, a poor one didn’t. It also didn’t hurt if the teacher happened to be female and good looking.....