Modern science has proven that people behave and learn in distinctive ways. And yet these individual patterns get lost in our institutions of opportunity—from education to the workforce—which remain rooted in the misguided belief that statistical averages are good enough to understand individuals and identify their unique talents. Standardized tests, grading systems, job applicant profiling, performance reviews—they invariably ignore our differences and ultimately fail at measuring our capacity for success.
In this first popular book on the science of the individual, Todd Rose, a pioneer in the field draws on the latest research to show how, when we focus on individual findings rather than group findings or averages, we can rethink the world and everyone’s potential in it. By understanding the three “principles of individuality”—the principle of the jaggedness, the principle of context, and the principle of pathways—we can avoid setting ourselves and those we are tasked with helping succeed (our children, students, employees) up for repeated failure and instead find the right path for success.
The End of Average reminds us that we are not anything close to average—because the average is a statistical myth—and presents a new way of understanding and maximizing everyone’s potential.
Our goal is to establish a science of the individual, grounded in dynamic systems, and focused on the analysis of individual variability. Our argument is that individuals behave, learn, and develop in distinctive ways, showing patterns of variability that are not captured by models based on statistical averages. As such, any meaningful attempt to develop a science of the individual necessarily begins with an account of the individual variability that is pervasive in all aspects of behavior, and at all levels of analysis. Using examples from fields as diverse as education and medicine, we show how starting with individual variability, not statistical averages, helped researchers discover two sources of ordered variability—pathways and contexts—that have implications for theory, research, and practice in multiple disciplines. We conclude by discussing three broad challenges—data, models, and the nature of science—that must be addressed to ensure that the science of the individual reaches its full potential.
Most research on dyslexia to date has focused on early childhood, while comparatively little is known about the nature of dyslexia in adolescence. The current study had two objectives. The first was to investigate the relative contributions of several cognitive and linguistic factors to connected-text oral reading fluency in a sample of adolescents with dyslexia (n = 77). The second was to test the hypothesis that the effect of verbal working memory on connected-text oral reading fluency is moderated by word-level skills and/or vocabulary knowledge. The results suggest that many deficits associated with childhood dyslexia remain prominent in adolescence, but the nature of the relationships between key cognitive and linguistic predictors (i.e., word-level reading, vocabulary, verbal working memory) and reading fluency appear to be different in adolescence. For example, while word-level skills remain a significant predictor, the strength of the effect is relatively weak. In contrast, the data support an increased role for vocabulary and verbal working memory, including an interaction between these factors. The presence of an interaction can be interpreted as evidence that the influence of verbal working memory on connected-text oral reading fluency in adolescents with dyslexia depends on individual differences in vocabulary knowledge. These results offer support for the changing nature of dyslexia across development, and suggest that researchers should study dyslexia in adolescents on its own terms, rather than treating it as an extension of reading problems in early childhood.
From its inception, the field of Mind, Brain, and Education (MBE) has been conceived as an interdisciplinary science, and with good reason: The phenomena the field aims to understand often arise from interactions among multiple factors, span levels of analysis, and are context dependent. In this article, we argue that to reach its potential as an interdisciplinary science—and in order to explain such complex phenomena—MBE must be fundamentally organized around meaningful, discipline-spanning questions, and the questions must determine tools and research methods (not the other way around). Using examples from three central questions in MBE—“who,”“when,” and “how”—we highlight the limits of single disciplines, and the value of a question-driven interdisciplinary approach in MBE, with respect to questions that can be asked, the perspectives that can be considered, and the array of methods, tools, and models that can be made available. We believe that the future is bright for MBE, and that the field has a unique opportunity to provide meaningful answers to some of the most difficult questions in education today. However, realizing this potential depends on, as a first step, allowing the questions themselves to drive the field's work moving forward.