Do we really believe that every child can be successful? How does the belief that a child’s potential is limited affect our ability to reach out to that child and retard their growth and academic success? The largely unexplored, and in some cases erroneous, beliefs held by many mainstream educators have resulted in ineffective and even harmful educational practices. The way we view students and learning affects what we teach, how we teach, and ultimately how students learn. Some teachers design curricula as if there were no diversity; They ignore or are unaware of how their students’ background or context shapes their learning styles and affects their performance.
We prefer observation to research’s traditional pre- and post-testing and surveys as the best means of gathering information about people. Observation makes it possible to recognize the number and types of variables that affect learning in a given context. For example, observation of infants and young children has shown their ability to process information at a much more complex and abstract level than other forms of research have previously shown.
A second misconception of many educators is that intelligence is a definable, measurable, static entity. First, not even psychometric experts themselves can agree on a common definition or theory of intelligence. Neither the tools nor the quantification methods used by IQ psychometricians could provide accurate, scientific results.
In addition, the mental measurement of intelligence is by no means a prerequisite for today’s school success. No evidence shows that the use of traditional IQ or mental measurements is tied to valid teaching and learning. Therefore, IQ measurement is a professionally meaningless ritual, a ritual with unnecessarily harmful consequences, one that negatively undermines professional thought and action and causes professionals to overlook successful strategies and approaches in education. It is a ritual that has a negative impact on students’ self-image.
Some educators make the mistake of thinking that intelligence is a fixed, unchanging unit. This view is based on the belief that one’s IQ is a fixed quantity that cannot grow. Those who hold this misconception do not take the time to encourage the learner because they do not believe that such encouragement can have any impact on learning. As a result, teachers spend more time focusing on measuring capacity and standardized test scores than on developing curricula that help students advance. This practice can lead to an over-reliance on test scores as indicators of future success. While some educators use scores from tests like the SAT and ACT to predict student success, these tests only show students’ exposure to the material in the exams.
A third misconception is society’s doubts about the ability of all children to be successful. This misconception about student achievement has led many to wonder if schools can improve learning. And yet there are many schools that are successful, regardless of what IQ tests and public opinion might predict. Some schools have developed a rigorous and demanding curriculum. The school day is longer than other schools and students are expected to work hard to be successful. Since opening, these schools have seen an increase in student performance of over 48 percent on standardized tests. Teachers at these schools did not focus on what IQ tests or the context told about student success. We need to stop examining why students and schools fail and instead examine how we can work in each context to maximize success.
We are particularly concerned with how educational researchers confuse political issues with professional ones. Educators waste time developing standards against which to measure students when they should be working to encourage student growth. Confusing politics with professionalism can also mislead educational researchers into attributing professional motives to people who actually have a political agenda.
Does teaching really make a difference in student learning? The cognitive system represents the lowest level of learning. This is the level at which most of the instruction in the form of declarative or procedural knowledge takes place. Declarative knowledge is information that is taken in and understood – for example, memorizing historical data. On the other hand, procedural knowledge can be described as skills or processes that are mastered by students – for example with the process of scientific research.
In most classrooms today, the teaching of science, geography and history is heavily influenced by declarative knowledge. Mathematics instruction is about half declarative and half procedural. Language arts instruction consists of three quarters procedural and one quarter declarative knowledge.
The next level in the hierarchy of human learning is metacognitive. At the metacognitive level, students reflect on their learning. They set goals for their learning, assess the resources they need, determine their own learning strategies, and monitor their own progress. Another broad area of the metacognitive system is the learner’s disposition to learn. Does the learner persevere, seek clarity and go to their own limits?
Rounding out the hierarchy is the self-system, where learners reflect on how their beliefs affect their learning. Belief systems have a powerful impact on what students learn. It is the degree of students’ emotional involvement in their learning that determines its impact. Learners’ beliefs about themselves, others, and the world, and their own personal capacity all interact in generating goals for their own learning.
If educators know how to dramatically increase learning, why are students performing so poorly in many classrooms across the country? There are many reasons for this, including the lack of a solid philosophical basis for embracing innovation. Another reason is a lack of public support for change.
Teachers need to make conscious decisions about learning goals and then design the lessons to evoke that learning. In many classrooms, teachers themselves are not clear about what they want to learn from students, so they may not use the most effective teaching strategies. In fact, it is often difficult to identify the kind of knowledge you want. Research shows that teaching vocabulary through pictures and fuzzy definitions has the greatest impact on learning. But how do most teachers deal with vocabulary lessons? By having students memorize definitions and using words in sentences. Similarly, using stories is the best strategy for conveying information that is factual or involves time or cause and effect sequences. But most teachers ask students to remember dates instead.
The meta-analysis shows that in relation to the hierarchy of learning, no teaching strategy will lead to effective, long-term learning if students do not believe that they can learn or that learning is important to them. Teachers need to be aware not only of learning objectives and the best teaching strategies to achieve them, but also of how they can influence students’ beliefs about their learning. Only then will effective teaching strategies lead to significantly more learning success.
Thanks to Megan Wilson | #Influencing #Quality #Education