Parachutes Don’t Help (Important Asterisk) [Repost]

A surprising research finding to start your week: parachutes don’t reduce injury or death.

How do we know?

Researchers asked participants to jump from planes (or helicopters), and then measured their injuries once they got to the ground. (To be thorough, they checked a week later as well.)

Those who wore parachutes and those who did not suffered — on average — the same level of injury.

Being thorough researchers, Robert Yeh and his team report all sorts of variables: the participants’ average acrophobia, their family history of using parachutes, and so forth.

They also kept track of other variables. The average height from which participants jumped: 0.6 meters. (That’s a smidge under 2 feet.) The average velocity of the plane (or helicopter): 0.0 kilometers/hour.

Yes: participants jumped from stationary planes. On the ground. Parked.

Researchers include a helpful photo to illustrate their study:

Representative study participant jumping from aircraft with an empty backpack. This individual did not incur death or major injury upon impact with the ground

Why Teachers Care

As far as I know, teachers don’t jump out of planes more than other professions. (If you’re jumping from a plane that is more than 0.6 meters off the ground, please do wear a parachute.)

We do, however, rely on research more than many.

Yeh’s study highlights an essential point: before we accept researchers’ advice, we need to know exactly what they did in their research.

Too often, we just look at headlines and apply what we learn. We should — lest we jump without parachutes — keep reading.

Does EXERCISE helps students learn?

It probably depends on when they do the exercise. (If the exercise happens during the lesson, it might disrupt learning, not enhance it.)

Does METACOGNITION help students learn?

It probably depends on exactly which metacognitive activity they undertook.

Do PARACHUTES protect us when we jump from planes?

It probably depends on how high the plane is and how fast it’s going when we jump.

In brief: yes, we should listen respectfully to researchers’ classroom guidance. AND, we should ask precise questions about that research before we use it in our classrooms.

tags: category: L&B Blog

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