Category Archives: Education

Infographic by Oliver Caviglioli and Paul Kirschner: the case for fully-guided instruction

Oliver Caviglioli The same guy who designed the great study method posters by the learning scientists worked now together with Paul Kirschner on this infographic which you can download here!

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Ten Cures for the Teacher Shortage

Bearing in mind that teacher shortage is almost a global phenomenon, I think this post can inspire also people outside the UK.

Love Learning....

Dear Government,

Here are ten cures for the teacher shortage.

  1. Stop talking teachers and schools down. Every time you (falsely) mention how poorly we compare to our international competitors or how we need to raise standards in our schools, you put people off. Few want to play for a losing side.
  2. If you’re going to offer financial incentives to, say Maths, Science graduates, then why not tie them into teaching for a few years? At the moment, it’s a no brainer to train for a year and receive a £30,000 grant. Especially if you don’t even have to teach afterwards.
  3. Develop good career pathways for teachers who don’t want to move into management but who still want their excellence and expertise to be recognised. Value and reward experience.
  4. Increase funding to schools so they can afford to employ good teachers.
  5. Broaden out the EBacc to cover more subjects – e.g. more…

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The Importance of Asking the Right Policy Question: Technology in Schools

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

About a century ago, electronic technologies entered the classroom. Initially  as the film (1920s), radio (1930s), and instructional television (1960s), these devices derived from the entertainment business. The hype surrounding each promised that teachers would have access to the world beyond the classroom and the library. Teachers would have engaging tools that turn on students to what had to be learned. And students would be able to learn more, faster, and better.

The policy question driving these entertainment-oriented devices was: How can these new media help teachers do better what they ordinarily do in conveying to students new knowledge and skills?

Both teacher and student access to these electronic devices, however, was limited by costs of film projectors, classroom radio sets, and television wiring and equipment. Districts parceled out equipment to schools and established audiovisual departments. Consider further that finding the best film for a unit took much time as teachers…

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Study: the importance of good teaching conditions for learning

I found this new study by Banerjee et al. via Larry Ferlazzo and while it seems logical to many people in education, this study wants to give empirical evidence for the link between good teaching conditions for educators is positively correlated with student achievement in both math and reading.

Abstract of the study:

Studies have not conclusively established whether teacher job satisfaction improves student achievement or whether the advantages to students from having satisfied teachers vary with the broader school culture. In this article, we investigate two research questions: (1) Is there a relationship between teacher job satisfaction and students’ math and reading growth in elementary school? (2) How do schools’ organizational cultures moderate the relationship between teacher job satisfaction and student achievement growth? We examined these questions using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey and found that teacher job satisfaction has a modest but positive relationship with students’ reading growth but no relationship with students’ math growth between kindergarten and fifth grade. However, school culture and teacher job satisfaction interactively affect student achievement in both math and reading. We argue that future education reforms should place special emphasis on improving teacher job satisfaction and school culture.

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Interesting read: What Works Can Hurt: Side Effects in Education

I’ve been working on a new book, due out January 2018, about teaching and my first chapter – already read by my publishers – has quite some in common with this new blog post and article by Yong Zhao: What Works Can Hurt: Side Effects in Education.

This is the abstract of the actual paper (you can download the actual article also in this blog post):

Medical research is held as a field for education to emulate. Education researchers have been urged to adopt randomized controlled trials, a more ‘‘scien- tific’’ research method believed to have resulted in the advances in medicine. But a much more important lesson education needs to borrow from medicine has been ignored. That is the study of side effects. Medical research is required to investigate both the intended effects of any medical interventions and their unintended adverse effects, or side effects. In contrast, educational research tends to focus only on proving the effectiveness of practices and policies in pursuit of ‘‘what works.’’ It has generally ignored the potential harms that can result from what works. This article presents evidence that shows side effects are inseparable from effects. Both are the outcomes of the same intervention. This article further argues that studying and reporting side effects as part of studying effects will help advance education by settling long fought battles over practices and policies and move beyond the vicious cycle of pendulum swings in education.

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Interesting read: Why global education rankings don’t reveal the whole picture

What if… you took socio-economic backgrounds of countries into account when you make rankings of educational systems?

This is exactly what Daniel Caro and Jenny Lenkeit did, you can read all about it here.

But the rankings sure look different:

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George Monbiot on Factory Schools and the Future of Education

Quite a lot of people tweeted me the piece by Monbiot, this is a good reply!

Trivium21c

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On his website George Monbiot writes that:

While you can be definitively wrong, you cannot be definitely right. The best anyone can do is constantly to review the evidence and to keep improving and updating their knowledge. Journalism which attempts this is worth reading. Journalism which does not is a waste of time.

Just as importantly, journalists should show how they reach their conclusions, by providing sources for the facts they cite. Trust no one, but trust least those who cannot provide references. A charlatan, in any field, is someone who will not show you his records.

This is good to know, in the light of an article he wrote called:

In an age of robots, schools are teaching our children to be redundant

As a trainee Luddite I was quite hopeful when I saw this title, maybe it would be an attack on the mechanisation of our schools from…

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No shit, Sherlock: School bullying linked to lower academic achievement

This study sounds almost too obvious to share, still I think it’s very important: this study that tracked hundreds of children from kindergarten through high school found that chronic or increasing levels of bullying were related to lower academic achievement, a dislike of school and low confidence by students in their own academic abilities.

From the press release:

While pop culture often depicts more frequent bullying in high school, the study found that bullying was more severe and frequent in elementary school and tended to taper off for most students as they got older. However, 24 percent of the children in the study suffered chronic bullying throughout their school years, which was consistently related to lower academic achievement and less engagement in school, said lead researcher Gary Ladd, PhD, a psychology professor at Arizona State University.

“It’s extremely disturbing how many children felt bullied at school,” Ladd said. “For teachers and parents, it’s important to know that victimization tends to decline as kids get older, but some children never stop suffering from bullying during their school years.”

Most studies on bullying have tracked children for relatively short periods of time and focused on psychological effects, such as anxiety or depression. This is the first long-term study to track children for more than a decade from kindergarten through high school and analyze connections between bullying and academic achievement, Ladd said. The research, which was published online in the Journal of Educational Psychology, was part of the Pathways Project, a larger longitudinal study of children’s social, psychological and academic adjustment in school that is supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The study, which began with 383 kindergarteners (190 boys, 193 girls) from public schools in Illinois, found several different trajectories for children related to bullying. Children who suffered chronic levels of bullying during their school years (24 percent of sample) had lower academic achievement, a greater dislike of school and less confidence in their academic abilities. Children who had experienced moderate bullying that increased later in their school years (18 percent) had findings similar to kids who were chronically bullied. However, children who suffered decreasing bullying (26 percent) showed fewer academic effects that were similar to youngsters who had experienced little or no bullying (32 percent), which revealed that some children could recover from bullying if it decreased. Boys were significantly more likely to suffer chronic or increasing bullying than girls.

“Some kids are able to escape victimization, and it looks like their school engagement and achievement does tend to recover,” Ladd said. “That’s a very hopeful message.”

The researchers faced the difficult challenge of tracking children for more than a decade, from kindergarten through high school, as some families moved across the United States. The study began in school districts in Illinois, but the children were living in 24 states by the fifth year of the study. “People moved and we had to track them down all over the country,” Ladd said. “We put people in cars or on planes to see these kids.”

The study included annual surveys administered by researchers to the children, teacher evaluations, and standardized reading and math test scores. Children described their own experiences about bullying in questions that asked whether they had been hit, picked on or verbally abused by other kids. Some children may be more sensitive to bullying, with one child who is shoved thinking it is bullying while another might think it is just playful, but parents and teachers shouldn’t dismiss what may seem like minor bullying, Ladd said.

“Frequently, kids who are being victimized or abused by other kids don’t want to talk about it,” he said. “I worry most about sensitive kids who are not being taken seriously and who suffer in silence. They are being told that boys will be boys and girls will be girls and that this is just part of growing up.”

The children from the study were followed into early adulthood, although researchers lost track of approximately one-quarter of the youngsters during the lengthy study. Approximately 77 percent of the children in the study were white, 18 percent were African-American, and 4 percent were Hispanic, biracial or had other backgrounds. Almost one-quarter of the children came from families with low annual incomes ($0- $20,000), 37 percent had low to middle incomes ($20,001-$50,000), and 39 percent had middle to high incomes (more than $50,000).

Schools should have anti-bullying programs, and parents should ask their children if they are being bullied or excluded at school, Ladd said. In the early years of the study, school administrators sometimes claimed there weren’t any bullies or victims in their schools, but the researchers stopped hearing that view as bullying has received more attention nationwide, Ladd said.

“There has been a lot of consciousness raising and stories of children being bullied and committing suicide, and that has raised public concern,” he said. “But more needs to be done to ensure that children aren’t bullied, especially for kids who suffer in silence from chronic bullying throughout their school years.”

Abstract of the study:

This investigation’s aims were to map prevalence, normative trends, and patterns of continuity or change in school-based peer victimization throughout formal schooling (i.e., Grades K–12), and determine whether specific victimization patterns (i.e., differential trajectories) were associated with children’s academic performance. A sample of 383 children (193 girls) was followed from kindergarten (Mage = 5.50) through Grade 12 (Mage = 17.89), and measures of peer victimization, school engagement, academic self-perceptions, and achievement were repeatedly administered across this epoch. Although it was the norm for victimization prevalence and frequency to decline across formal schooling, 5 trajectory subtypes were identified, capturing differences in victimization frequency and continuity (i.e., high-chronic, moderate-emerging, early victims, low victims, and nonvictims). Consistent with a chronic stress hypothesis, high-chronic victimization consistently was related to lower—and often prolonged—disparities in school engagement, academic self-perceptions, and academic achievement. For other victimization subtypes, movement into victimization (i.e., moderate-emerging) was associated with lower or declining scores on academic indicators, and movement out of victimization (i.e., early victims) with higher or increasing scores on these indicators (i.e., “recovery”). Findings provide a more complete account of the overall prevalence, stability, and developmental course of school-based peer victimization than has been reported to date.

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Importance of trust, also for youth of color: losing trust in teachers may mean bye bye college

Last week there was this news about two UK schools who would trial the use of police-style bodycams for teachers. As a pedagogue I made straight away the connection with trust. And this new study shows again how important trust is in education: For youth of color, losing trust in teachers may mean losing the chance to make it to college.

From the press release:

In a time of increased concern about how minorities are treated by police, teachers, and other authorities, it is critical to examine whether students of color have experiences in school that lead to mistrust of authorities and what the long-term implications are for young people.

In a new set of longitudinal studies, minority youth perceived and experienced more biased treatment and lost more trust over the middle school years than their White peers. Minority students’ growing lack of trust in turn predicted whether they acted out in school and even whether they made it to college years later.

The research, which appears in the journal Child Development, was conducted at the University of Texas at Austin, Columbia University, and Stanford University.

“The end of seventh grade seems to be a period for developing trust in institutions like school,” explains David S. Yeager, assistant professor of developmental psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, who led the study. “When adolescents see that school rules aren’t fair to people who look like them, they lose trust and then disengage. But it doesn’t have to be this way; teachers have an opportunity to earn minority students’ trust, and this helps students do better in middle school and beyond.”

Researchers examined students’ perceptions of the fairness of their teachers in middle school and how these perceptions related to whether they were disciplined in school and whether they eventually attended a four-year college. Data were drawn from an eight-year study, conducted two years in a row at the same school, that tracked students in the northeast region of the United States from sixth grade until college entry. In one part of the study, researchers surveyed 277 White and African American students twice yearly; about a fifth of the students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, an indicator of poverty. In a followup part of the study, they surveyed 206 White and Latino students from Colorado twice yearly; most of the students were from working-class families and these students have not been followed through college entry.

Researchers assessed trust by asking the students to complete surveys that featured questions such as “I am treated fairly by teachers and other adults at my school” and “Students in my racial group are treated fairly by teachers and other adults at [my] middle school.” Students were also asked questions that examined their perceptions of how minority students were treated, such as “If a Black or White student is alone in the hallway during class time, which one would a teacher ask for a hall pass?” Academic achievement was assessed from school records (including grade point averages in core classes); disciplinary incidents were also determined from school records.

In the first study, researchers found that African American students reported more racial disparities than White students in decisions involving school discipline. School records confirmed this: Only minorities were disciplined for defiance and disobedience, not White students. This suggests the possibility of bias: When teachers have to make a judgment call, minority students may be more likely to be disciplined than their White peers. Minority students notice this, Yeager says, and it undermines their trust in school.

Every semester in middle school, African American students became more aware of this bias and lost trust. By seventh grade, this loss of trust made African American students more likely to get in trouble in school and defy school rules, even if before losing trust, they had never been in trouble and had made good grades. African American students who lost trust in school in seventh grade were then less likely to make it to a four-year college six years later.

A similar pattern was found among Latino students in the second study. The more semesters students spent in middle school, the more they came to distrust that their teachers were fair.

But this pattern doesn’t have to be inevitable, the authors point out. The research also featured a pilot randomized experiment, which was built into the study and designed to serve as an antidote to students’ mistrust of staff in school settings. Building on pioneering research by Geoffrey Cohen at Stanford University on “wise” critical feedback, researchers randomly assigned a group of 88 seventh grade social studies students (White and African American) to receive a single display of respect from their teachers (who were White): a hand-written note on a first-draft essay encouraging them to meet a higher standard and implying that the teacher believed in them as they tried to do so. African American students who received these notes had fewer disciplinary incidents over the entire next year and were more likely to be enrolled in college six years later.

“Youth of color enter middle school aware that majority groups could view them stereotypically,” notes Valerie Purdie-Vaughns, associate professor of psychology at Columbia University, who coauthored the study. “But when teachers surprise them with an early experience that conveys that they are not being seen in terms of stereotypes, but rather respected, it creates trust and may set in motion a positive cycle of expectations.”

In this study, neither trust nor receiving the intervention predicted subsequent college entrance for White students as it did for minority students. The authors suggest that for students with group-based advantages, such as majority-group students who are more positively stereotyped and overrepresented, a loss of trust or a poor relationship with a teacher might be only a temporary setback.

The study can inform educational policy and practice. The researchers caution that the one-time note is not an intervention that is ready for wide-scale use. Instead, they say, it highlights that teachers can work more systematically to create a classroom climate that boosts the trust of students who may have to contend with discrimination.

Abstract of the study:

This research tested a social-developmental process model of trust discernment. From sixth to eighth grade, White and African American students were surveyed twice yearly (ages 11–14; Study 1, = 277). African American students were more aware of racial bias in school disciplinary decisions, and as this awareness grew it predicted a loss of trust in school, leading to a large trust gap in seventh grade. Loss of trust by spring of seventh grade predicted African Americans’ subsequent discipline infractions and 4-year college enrollment. Causality was confirmed with a trust-restoring “wise feedback” treatment delivered in spring of seventh grade that improved African Americans’ eighth-grade discipline and college outcomes. Correlational findings were replicated with Latino and White students (ages 11–14; Study 2, = 206).

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Lectures are rubbish, right?

Interesting post on reporting bias, but with enough caution in all directions!

Filling the pail

The key difference between lecturing and explicit instruction is that explicit instruction is highly interactive. I advocate for explicit instruction and I am prepared to accept that non-interactive lecturing is a bit rubbish. The reasons are intuitive enough. If you think you might be called upon to respond then you are more likely to pay attention.

This is such an important idea that it is one of the basics that I look for when observing lessons. I do not believe that lesson observation is valid for making many inferences, but I do think you can look for a few key conditions: students complete tasks that teachers set, students don’t talk while the teacher is talking and questioning of the students by the teacher is frequent and unpredictable from the students’ perspective. I don’t really mind how teachers achieve this but I do think it is a prerequisite for effective teaching.

I…

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