Classroom Plan: Final

Early adolescence can be the period that makes or breaks a students’ love of school, and by extension, whether they like school enough to want to go to post secondary, or even graduate high school. It is a time period where the social aspects of life seem far more important than the academic aspects. Grades and educational aspirations take a backseat to absorbing the curricular information. What if a classroom could be catered specifically to the early adolescent mind? There are a great amount of peer reviewed journal articles that suggest many ways to improve a middle school classroom. I believe that a perfect classroom is not built on one kind of learning approach, one type of good teacher, or one type of perfect student, but a conglomerate of a handful of variables that work together to create a perfect learning environment. This learning environment can scientifically foster the best results among middle school students. Particularly students in grade seven and eight.

The goal in this classroom plan is to foster an environment of extrinsically motivated learning. This means that the goal is for the students to come to school and learn because they are excited to, and not because they are looking for extrinsic rewards, such as good grades, or participation trophies. While getting good grades is important, if the students are motivated enough by their own curiosity to learn, this will foster higher grades than if just being taught under the traditional learning model (Kusurkar et al. 2013) — which includes little to no actual learning. In my classroom model, the grading system remains the same, but the learning environment is such that grades are not the standard by which students base their education. Instead, it is the pursuit of knowledge that drives their education, which in turn fosters high performance anyway.

As stated previously, the ideal learning environment is built upon a conglomerate of learning strategies. It is easiest, for presentation sake, to break these strategies down into categories. There are four categories to foster my goal of intrinsic achievement: Good teaching, a good instructional design (or lesson plan), active learning/higher order thinking, and classroom inclusivity. The last category is crucial for teaching thirteen/fourteen year old students.

Being a Teacher Students Can Count On:

In my research, I found that one could use all the best teaching methods, and have the best, most talented bunch of students, but none of that matters if the students do not have a teacher who fosters the best learning environment. At the age of thirteen or fourteen, it is the most important time to have a teacher who the students really connect with. Having a teacher who recognizes the uniqueness and potential in a middle school student can leave a life long impact that fosters excellence not only in the classroom, but outside the classroom as well.

What can teachers do that is really so special? It all comes down to attitude. An article on the positive correlation between enjoyment in teachers and enjoyment in students shows a unique perspective on an emotion rarely felt at the middle school level. It has been examined that the relationship between teacher and student enjoyment, based on social– cognitive approaches to emotions, shows that 1. teacher enjoyment and student enjoyment within classrooms are positively linked and 2. that teacher enthusiasm mediates the relationship between teacher and student enjoyment. (Frenzel, et al. 2009) Looking back on my own middle school experience, the best teachers were the ones who were somehow able to put aside the woes going on in their own lives to bring a positive attitude to the students each day. Students feel like they can trust an adult who is positive and kind, so teacher enjoyment will foster a foundation upon which the teacher can implement the rest of these learning strategies.

Additionally, the best critic of a teacher is their students. Students are candidly honest, and see the teacher at their best and  worst, so it makes sense that students should be able to give a teacher feedback on how they can change their teaching style to suit them better. A researcher in psychology of education created a survey that generated positive results once implemented in actual classrooms. The students were given a questionnaire that gets a gauge on their relationship with the teacher, and the school climate that the teacher is fostering. The information that the students provided was organized by hierarchical multiple regression equations that first accounted for the effects of demographic variables (ethnicity, social class, household composition), and then accounted for the variables correlating to the students’ school climate perceptions (self-esteem, academic self concept, exposure to stressful events, and academic performance).( Halverson and Clifford 2006). These details are important to include in this classroom design because the traditional education system does not account for students outside of the realm of average. It is catered to a white, middle class student who averages around 75% on most assignments and exams. This survey accounts for the extraneous students who fall outside this realm because representation matters. A teacher can think that they are  fostering the optimal learning environment, but might learn upon student feedback that ESL students, or low academic performance, or students with divorced parents are struggling. Given this important feedback, a teacher can work in small groups or one on one with these students to integrate them back into a classroom in which they feel safe again.

A Scientifically Based Instructional Design:

While something as trivial as a teacher’s personal lesson plan seems ridiculous for fostering academic growth, a well formatted lesson plan can cover all the government- based academic curriculum, and add elements of active learning to foster legitimate consolidation of information without wasting any class time. Lesson planning can also cultivate higher order thinking strategies in early adolescence.

The scientifically based instructional design I choose to implement in my classroom is called the ADDIE process. ADDIE stands for Analysis/Assessment, development, design, implementation, and evaluation. (Martin,2011)

A) During the analysis phase, it is up to the teacher to find out where each individual student falls on their existing knowledge, and to set a realistic goal for each individual student to achieve by the end of the class year.

D) The design phase documents specific learning objectives, the instructional material, practice activities, feedback from the practice activities, instructional strategies, and assessments. Essentially, now that an analysis of your students is complete, what are the best learning tools to implement? Depending on the class demographic, certain tools may be beyond comprehension, or too basic.

D) The development phase is considered to be the most important of all. The development phase is the step where all the data collected from the design phase gets put together. For example, certain class groups will show more comfort with project based learning as opposed to the standard learn and regurgitate model. So knowing this, how does the teacher develop projects into their lesson plan?

I) The Implementation phase begins once the school year begins. The implementation phase bears a whole lot of trial and error. Although the teacher might have gone into the school year with this group thinking they would respond to project based learning, perhaps it was discovered with exposure to the lesson plan that the students appear to learn best from discussion and debate. Alter the development plan accordingly. No need to go all the way back to square one, just use the data collected from analysis and design to approach the class in a different development pattern.

E) Last comes the evaluation phase. The evaluation phase consists of two parts: formative and summative. Formative evaluation is present in each stage of the ADDIE process. Constant revision of the ADDIE model. Summative evaluation consists of tests designed for getting feedback from the users. The “users” are the students, as well as the administration. It’s always good to see if your ADDIE model can be used to help other teachers. (instructionaldesign.org,2013)

I believe that the ADDIE method of instructional design should be implemented across all divisions of education, but it is especially effective when implemented in a middle school classroom. It depends a lot on teachers working together, and it seems time consuming, but I think that it would only really be a hassle for the first few years of implementing it into a classroom. The first few years would be the experimental phase where the teacher gets a feel for what has worked in the past three years and what hasn’t. From there, lesson plans will only require minor modification for each consecutive class.

Active Learning in Middle School to Fosters Higher Order Thinking Tools:

My research on active learning, and its benefits on developing a good concept of higher order thinking and metacognition later on in adolescence, is some of the best research I conducted in the whole nine days of class. I want to preface this section by acknowledging the fact that metacognition and higher order thinking are not possible in the majority of thirteen to fourteen year old students, but the introduction of active learning in middle school can provide a student with the scaffolding required to approach higher order thinking and metacognition when they are intellectually ready. Traditional education has a focus on finding the easiest, and most efficient way to educate children. The truth is that designing a classroom that involved active learning would not take that much more time! Especially when you consider the benefits of how much more learning gets done when teachers choose to promote active learning. (Li & Sethi, 2006)

The active learning tools that are appropriate to integrate into a middle school classroom are easier explained by describing the four levels of optimal learning. The last level of learning can be introduced in middle school, but will not be intellectually effective until high school:

To begin, level one of learning is recall. This is put to test by your basic multiple choice test. Standardized testing weeds out the students who are best at recall. These students are able to shoot all the way to post secondary with relative ease. The second level of learning is represent. This takes the student through the process of short and long answer style test questions. In my experience, many students dislike this sort of question style because it allows them to “have to think”.  Representation is only a step above recall because you can memorize and regurgitate this style of question too.

The last two kinds of learning are much more in depth, and focus on developing the students’ higher order function.  Level three is analyze/reason, and level four is apply. By early adolescence, the brain is developed enough to be able to use the analyze/reason tool to further their understanding of course material. It is important to implement this level of learning at this critical time, because brain development in adolescence is second only to infancy in the ability to intake information and learn. If you give a thirteen year old the tool of analysis and reason, they will be able to use it inside and outside of the classroom. It also creates a scaffolding for the higher order learning that occurs later on in adolescence. By the time the reach the apply stage in high school, this kind of thinking will come easily to them. (learningfocussed.com, 2014)

Here are the best activities that foster analysis and reason: Compare and contrast, Determine patterns, analyze relationships, analyze viewpoints, and construct arguments. Thinking back to the information presented in this classroom plan on lesson planning, it would be best to use these activities based on trial and error to find out which activities the students in your class respond to the most. Intrinsic motivation can be gained through the process of asking questions, and leaving room in the lesson plan for extensive discussion. Once the students are discussing using these tools of analysis/reason, they will be setting themselves up for an easy A without even realizing it. And at this stage, the student will care more about the lesson than the grade that proceeds the lesson.

Classroom Inclusivity in Adolescence:

The feeling of belonging is the greatest motivation life can give you. During a time of hormone, body and brain development, the last thing a middle school kid wants to do is focus on a test. Classroom inclusivity is absolutely a teacher’s responsibility. Making sure that their students are not falling behind at that stage of education is their responsibility. So what tools can be used to create the kind of unity in a classroom that fosters high quality discussion? Two things. The Value Education Program, and preventing anti-social attitudes in students using the School Climate Survey.

The Value Education Program was started by Uzunkul and Yel suggest that the solution to preserving self esteem in the current academic system is to scrap the traditional institution, and build  a “value education program” instead. The purpose of the value education program is to base education on respect, responsibility, self-esteem, social problem solving skills, and empathy. The value education program takes into account the idea that the kids  in the class come from different family arrangements, come from different ethnic backgrounds, and come to school from different socio-economic backgrounds. Instead of using these differences as an isolating factor (which is common in middle school) the value education program can be used by teachers to turn these differences into strengths. Because all the students are different, use this to your advantage when conducting a discussion. One of the best ways for students to learn is from each other. The results of the value education system when implemented at various elementary and middle schools was significant. There was a significant effect size of the grades students got before the value education system was implemented, and after the value education system was implemented. This system would be the most important part of the whole classroom design. (Uzunkul and Yel)

It can be hard to include students who exhibit anti-social behaviours into any education model, whether traditional, or under the value education program. somehow, there are always students who slip through the cracks. The tool used to combat this is called the School Climate Survey. The School Climate Survey is a way to establish a contrast between the school climate that the students observed, versus the school climate the admin and teachers thought they were providing. A solution to improving the school climates is taking the results of the surveys and actually doing something constructive with them. Use the feedback of the SCS to provide better for your school’s population of adolescent students. The results of this survey, just like the teacher questionnaire, can help identify at risk youth who might need more help adjusting into the school climate. (Kuperminc, Leadbeater, Emmons, & Blatt, 1997)

Conclusion

The goal of this assignment was to choose an age group, and design a classroom model that includes scientific research that will foster the highest success in the students of the chosen age group. I picked middle school students because the amount of research on the adolescent mind, and the baste ways to cater to it are vast. Also, I believe middle school to be the critical period that will determine if a student goes to post-secondary (not high school). I think by promoting my ideal learning environment on a class of grade seven or eight students would drastically improve their intrinsic motivation to learn in school. This intrinsic motivation is the golden component to academic achievement. The ideal classroom requires no alteration to the traditional grading scale, only an alteration on the psychology associated with this traditional grade scale. By using tools such as the School Climate Survey, the Value Education Program, the ADDIE method of lesson planning, the inclusion of active learning into middle school education, and positive reinforcement created by a good teacher, you can make the negative associations with grading disappear. What is left is a classroom rooted in discussion and active learning, in which all adolescent students feel welcome and comfortable to participate fully. This will truly foster the best results in the education of early adolescent students.

Academic Sources Cited:

ADDIE Model (2013) Retrieved from: http://www.instructionaldesign.org/models/addie.html

 

Frenzel, A. C., Goetz, T., Lüdtke, O., Pekrun, R., & Sutton, R. E. (2009). Emotional transmission in the classroom: Exploring the relationship between teacher and student enjoyment. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(3), 705–716.

Halverson, R. R., & Clifford, M. A. (2006). Evaluation in the Wild: A Distributed Cognition Perspective on Teacher Assessment. Educational Administration Quarterly: EAQ, 42(4), 578–619.

HIgher Order Thinking. (2016) Retrieved from https://learningforward.org/docs/default-source/elearning/higher_order_thinking_1hr_conf_pres_feb_15_2016.pdf?sfvrsn=2

 

Kuperminc, G. P., Leadbeater, B. J., Emmons, C., & Blatt, S. J. (1997). Perceived School Climate and Difficulties in the Social Adjustment of Middle School Students. Applied Developmental Science, 1(2), 76–88.

Kusurkar, R. A., Ten Cate, T. J., Vos, C. M. P., Westers, P., & Croiset, G. (2013). How motivation affects academic performance: a structural equation modelling analysis. Advances in Health Sciences Education: Theory and Practice, 18(1), 57–69.

Li, M., & Sethi, I. K. (2006). Confidence-based active learning. IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 28(8), 1251–1261.

Martin, F. (2011). Instructional Design and the Importance of Instructional Alignment. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 35(12), 955–972.

Uzunkol, E., & Yel, S. (2016). Effect of Value Education Program Applied in Life Studies Lesson on Self-Esteem, Social Problem-Solving Skills and Empathy Levels of Students. Dializ, Transplantasyon ve Yanik: Turkiye Organ Nakli ve Yanik Tedavi Vakfi, Tip Bilimleri Dergisi = Dialysis, Transplantation & Burn: Medical Journal of the Turkish Transplantation and Burn Foundation, 41(183). https://doi.org/10.15390/eb.2016.5550

 

 

Advertisements

Rough Draft Classroom Plan

I know this is too long for a final project. That’s why it is called a rough draft. It is 3200 words, but I’m looking to cut it down to 2500 words for presentation’s sake. An overdose of information is not the correct way to get a concise message across. 

My rough draft consists of the four categories I will be writing my final project on. My final project will consist of a more professional, more polished version of the content I am about to post here.

I am creating the ideal learning environment for a grade seven/eight middle school class. I think it is important to target this age group because early adolescence can be the period that makes or breaks a students’ love of school, and by extension, whether they like school enough to want to go to post secondary, or even graduate high school. We know from this nine day course that the current traditional system of educationis not set up for every student to do well. It simply weeds out the students who are excellent at the traditional method of standardized learning, and casts all other students aside. This course has taught me that we can do more (a lot more in fact) to make a students’ life in school an actual place where kids can come to learn.

I am breaking up my ideal classroom into several sections, as I believe that a perfect classroom is not built on one kind of learning approach, one type of good teacher, or one type of perfect student, but a conglomerate of a handful of variables that work together to create a perfect learning environment.

Being A Teacher the Students Deserve:

In my research, I found that one could use all the best teaching methods, and have the best, most talented bunch of students, but none of that matters if the students do not have a teacher who fosters the best learning environment.

In my first article on teacher cognition, the researchers find that there is an empirical link between teacher enjoyment and student enjoyment. The authors examined the relationship between teacher and student enjoyment. Based on social– cognitive approaches to emotions, they hypothesized (a) that teacher enjoyment and student enjoyment within classrooms are positively linked and (b) that teacher enthusiasm mediates the relationship between teacher and student enjoyment. You hear all the time older students who look back and think “*insert here teacher* really made me hate this particular subject in school.” While in most cases it is the student themselves who made the class harder, there are definitely cases where you meet a teacher who you can just feel is steering you in the wrong direction. The researchers got results that showed that an excited teacher will foster excited students. (Frenzel, et al. 2012)

psych fuck em

Table 1 shows the effect size of the difference that a teacher who implements positive attitude and enjoyment can have on their students.

One other article that is important for my lesson plan is written by Halverson, R. R., & Clifford, M. A.. The article is titled “Evaluation in the Wild: A Distributed Cognition Perspective on Teacher Assessment.” and discusses a method in which students can give feedback on their teacher’s manner. Essentially, the student fills out a pregnant questionnaire that gets a gauge on their relationship with the teacher, and the school climate that the teacher is fostering. The information that the students provided was organized by hierarchical multiple regression equations that first accounted for the effects of demographic variables (ethnicity, social class, household composition), and then accounted for the variables correlating to the students’ school climate perceptions (self-esteem, academic self concept, exposure to stressful events, and academic performance). Based on the results of the survey. the teachers were able to adjust the manner of their teaching style to better suit the students in their class. 

These two sources are important to me because it sets a precedent for two things: constructive criticism of the teacher’s learning style, and an emphasis for the behaviour a teacher has and how it translates to their students. When teachers are in their first few years with a new class, the principal comes in to give the teacher an evaluation. What I don’t see often, however, is a teacher having to adjust to criticism that their students give them. At the end of the day, a teacher’s students will see things a principal will never see (especially when the teacher is on their best behaviour to get a good evaluation). If students give evaluations that are readily available to both the teacher and the administration, the teacher must adjust accordingly in an attempt to make their classroom a place of comfort. The behaviour a teacher has matters too. The saying “if mama ain’t happy, no one is happy” could be easily changed to “If a teacher ain’t happy, no one is happy”. A teacher’s positive outlook can change the perspective of adolescents who at the best of times do not have a positive outlook on life.

A Well Formatted Lesson Plan Generates A Properly Educated Class of Students:

While something as trivial as a teacher’s personal lesson plan seems ridiculous for fostering academic growth, a well formatted lesson plan can cover all the government- based academic curriculum, and add elements of active learning to foster legitimate consolidation of information without wasting any class time. Lesson planning can also cultivate higher order thinking strategies in early adolescence.

Creating a flawless instructional design:

What is instructional design? Instructional design can be defined as the science of creating detailed specifications for the design, development, evaluation, and maintenance of instructional material that facilitates learning and performance. The efficiency of  the instructional design of a class can be evaluated by following the ADDIE process. ADDIE stands for analysis, development, design, implementation, and evaluation. (Martin,2011)

A) During the analysis phase, it is up to the teacher to find out where each individual student falls on their existing knowledge, and to set a realistic goal for each individual student to achieve by the end of the class year.

D) The design phase documents specific learning objectives, the instructional material, practice activities, feedback from the practice activities, instructional strategies, and assessments. Essentially, now that an analysis of your students is complete, what are the best learning tools to implement? Depending on the class demographic, certain tools may be beyond comprehension, or too basic.

D) The development phase is considered to be the most important of all. The development phase is the step where all the data collected from the design phase gets put together. For example, certain class groups will show more comfort with project based learning as opposed to the standard learn and regurgitate model. So knowing this, how does the teacher develop projects into their lesson plan?

I) The Implementation phase begins once the school year begins. The implementation phase bears a whole lot of trial and error. Although the teacher might have gone into the school year with this group thinking they would respond to project based learning, perhaps it was discovered with exposure to the lesson plan that the students appear to learn best from discussion and debate. Alter the development plan accordingly. No need to go all the way back to square one, just use the data collected from analysis and design to approach the class in a different development pattern.

E) Last comes the evaluation phase. The evaluation phase consists of two parts: formative and summative. Formative evaluation is present in each stage of the ADDIE process. Constant revision of the ADDIE model. Summative evaluation consists of tests designed for getting feedback from the users. The “users” are the students, as well as the administration. It’s always good to see if your ADDIE model can be used to help other teachers. (instructionaldeign.org,2013)

I believe that the ADDIE method of instructional design should be implemented across all divisions of education, but it is especially effective when implemented in a middle school classroom. It depends a lot on teachers working together, and it seems time consuming, but I think that it would only really be a hassle for the first few years of implementing it into a classroom. The first few years would be the experimental phase where the teacher gets a feel for what has worked in the past three years and what hasn’t. From there, lesson plans will only require minor modification for each consecutive class.

Active Learning in Middle School Fosters Higher Order Thinking For Life. 

My research on active learning, and its benefits on developing a good concept of higher order thinking and metacognition later on in adolescence, is some of the best research I conducted in the whole nine days of class. I want to preface this section by acknowledging the fact that metacognition and higher order thinking are not possible in the majority of thirteen to fourteen year old students, but the introduction of active learning in middle school can provide a student with the scaffolding required to approach higher order thinking and metacognition when they are intellectually ready.

What is active learning? Active learning is simply applying the standard curriculum to a system of education in which there is more engagement from the students, and less rigid participation in the lecture -> notes -> revision -> standardized testing format of traditional education. Traditional education has a focus on finding the easiest, and most efficient way to educate children. The truth is that designing a classroom that involved active learning would not take that much more time! Especially when you consider the benefits of how much more learning gets done when teachers choose to promote active learning. (Li & Sethi, 2006)

The best academic articles for active learning are the ones that seek to quantify how much more useful active learning is over the traditional model. Van Amburgh, et al. wrote an academic paper titled “A Tool for Measuring Active Learning in the Classroom.” The article’s introduction states that the researchers involved in the paper already believed that active learning was superior to the traditional model in place. The reachers still carried an interest in figuring out exactly how successful active learning was in the education of a  student. The group of researchers developed a fairly simple mechanism called the Active Learning Inventory Tool that was tested and re-tested in nine different post-secondary classrooms, each with over 100 students. Seven of the instructors were interviewed following their lecture using a scripted interview guide to elicit perceptions of their lesson that included: their definition of active learning, the perceived merits of active learning in the classroom, the types of active-learning activities used in the lecture, the rationale for the use of the specific active-learning activities chosen, the estimated amount of class time that was devoted to active-learning activities, the estimated time required to prepare the lesson and active-learning activities, any perceived barriers to the use of active learning, and the impact of using active-learning
techniques on the amount of content covered. The following outcomes were used to measure agreement among the observers using the Active-Learning Inventory Tool and between the observers and each instructor: number of active-learning episodes used, time per active-learning episode, and the number of different active-learning episodes included in each lecture. (Van Amburgh, et al. 2007)

psych pp

Using the results of the experiment, the researchers were able to create this Active Learning Inventory Tool, which is able to be used at any educational level (primary, secondary, post secondary), and if performed by the administration of the school, can be used to evaluate exactly how well this new system is working. The ALIT also compiled the active learning methods that were most effective for the intake and memorization of information.

Now that I have demonstrated that active learning is indeed empirically superior to lecturing, I want to share the active learning tools I would implement in my classroom. I will do this by first presenting the kind of learning I wish to target. There are four levels of learning. The two most basic levels are the ones focused on in traditional education. How do we reach level three and four?

To begin, level one of learning is recall. This is put to test by your basic multiple choice test. Standardized testing weeds out the students who are best at recall. These students are able to shoot all the way to post secondary with relative ease. The second level of learning is represent. This takes the student through the process of short and long answer style test questions. In my experience, many students dislike this sort of question style because it allows them to “have to think”.  Representation is only a step above recall because you can memorize and regurgitate this style of question too.

The last two kinds of learning are much more in depth, and focus on developing the students’ higher order function. The third step is seldom involved in a middle school classroom, let alone a post-secondary institution. Level three is analyze/reason. Grade twelve reading comprehension tests come the closest in standardized testing to achieve analysis and reason. “Given the following passage, write an essay on the connection between character and consciousness.” Now we’re getting somewhere. Here’s an extended list of questions that can be asked at the middle school level to develop this level of learning: Compare and contrast, Determine patterns, analyze relationships, analyze viewpoints, construct argument, evaluate, infer, deduce. The fourth level of learning is seldom even reached. The fourth level of learning is apply. This fosters higher-order thinking. Other examples are: generating ideas, problem solving, decision making, investigating, experimentation. (learningfocussed.com, 2014)

In a grade seven or eight classroom, I would only focus on the activities mentioned in analyze/reason. I want the students to prepare themselves intellectually to be able to participate in the “apply” level of learning in later adolescence.

The Last Section Will Be Elaborated Upon In Depth in my Final Project. This Section is Titled “Every Teenager is an Underdog: How to Bridge the Gap Between High and Low Ability Students:

Sternberg and Davidson wrote a book called “Conceptions of Giftedness”, which covers the way Gifted Children programs are viewed by administration, teachers, parents, and the gifted students themselves. This book is definitely pro-gifted children program, but the authors present perspectives on gifted education from both sides of the proverbial fence  of the argument. Chapter Six is titled “Permission to be Gifted” and shows how gifted students who are identified and entered into these programs feel about being labeled “gifted”. Data collected in high, or medium income communities varied drastically from children who were from more humble upbringings. Children that were taken aside from their peers and friends in low income communities and proclaimed gifted faced trouble – especially at the onset of puberty – when it came to fitting in with their peers. When a child is proclaimed “gifted” among a group of children who dislike school, it can create isolating barriers between students and cause a depletion to the child’s self-esteem. As mentioned in my last blog, low self-esteem can lead to disinterest in school, which is the opposite outcome of a gifted program. (Sternberg, 2005)

Being a gifted child in a group of friends who are non-academic can lead to underachievement by gifted students. In an article by Dowdall and Colangello, it was revealed that the group’s with the highest incidence rates of underachievement in gifted students were by females in male dominated classrooms, and by males of colour. A chart below shows the difference in attributes between underachievers, average achievers, and gifted underachievers. Gifted underachievers are dubbed socially immature, anti-social, and have low self-esteem. (Dowdall & Colangelo, 1982)

psychblog

After researching and analyzing the information on gifted programs, such as the Code 80 program here in Alberta, it became clear that the problem in administration is not getting gifted children the extra stimulus they need to fulfill their intellectual buckets, but the way “gifted” students are separated from the rest of the class and made to feel as if they are odd or disliked because of their differences. So how do we re-frame Code 80 to ensure a positive outlook on students who take part in it? In the article by Dowdall and Colangello, there were two experimental tools for underachieving or disinterested gifted children. The first experimental tool was to seek counselling for the students with low self concept. This was a direct method of solving isolated problems, but it doesn’t solve the institution already in place.  The second experimental tool was to manipulate the classroom environment. This experimental tool is more in line with what we are trying to do in this course. It involves A) intervening in elementary school (before the child has a chance to get too comfortable in their self doubt) and B) altering attitudes of collective students on how they view both gifted students, and students with low academic success alike. By fostering a classroom model based on kindness, acceptance, and acknowledgment of intellectual ability (such as  the Value Education Program mentioned in my previous blog) Gifted, regular, and under-performing students alike can all find self confidence that comes from respect, or validation.

 

My Academic Sources: Compilation. On my Final Project, this will be alphabetized all together.

 

Being a Good Teacher

Frenzel, A. C., Goetz, T., Lüdtke, O., Pekrun, R., & Sutton, R. E. (2009). Emotional transmission in the classroom: Exploring the relationship between teacher and student enjoyment. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(3), 705–716.

Halverson, R. R., & Clifford, M. A. (2006). Evaluation in the Wild: A Distributed Cognition Perspective on Teacher Assessment. Educational Administration Quarterly: EAQ, 42(4), 578–619.

Rotgans, J. I., & Schmidt, H. G. (2011). The role of teachers in facilitating situational interest in an active-learning classroom. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(1), 37–42.

Bridging the Gap Between Low and High ability Students
Code 80. 2012. “Code 80 Information”. Retrieved from: http://www.lss.ecsd.net/gifted/code80.html on August 18, 2017

Dowdall, C. B., & Colangelo, N. (1982). Underachieving Gifted Students: Review and Implications. The Gifted Child Quarterly, 26(4), 179–184.

Marsh, H. W., Chessor, D., Craven, R., & Roche, L. (1995). The Effects of Gifted and Talented Programs on Academic Self-Concept: The Big Fish Strikes Again. American Educational Research Journal, 32(2), 285.

Sternberg, R. J. (2005). Conceptions of Giftedness. Cambridge University Press.

Creating a Constructive Lesson Plan
http://www.instructionaldesign.org/models/addie.html

https://learningforward.org/docs/default-source/elearning/higher_order_thinking_1hr_conf_pres_feb_15_2016.pdf?sfvrsn=2

Martin, F. (2011). Instructional Design and the Importance of Instructional Alignment. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 35(12), 955–972.

Sulaiman, T., Ayub, A. F. M., & Sulaiman, S. (2015). Curriculum Change in English Language Curriculum Advocates Higher Order Thinking Skills and Standards-Based Assessments in Malaysian Primary Schools. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences. https://doi.org/10.5901/mjss.2015.v6n2p494

Active Learning/ Higher Order Thinking
Li, M., & Sethi, I. K. (2006). Confidence-based active learning. IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 28(8), 1251–1261.

Rotgans, J. I., & Schmidt, H. G. (2011). The role of teachers in facilitating situational interest in an active-learning classroom. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(1), 37–42.

Settles, B. (2012). Active Learning. Morgan & Claypool Publishers.

Van Amburgh, J. A., Devlin, J. W., Kirwin, J. L., & Qualters, D. M. (2007). A tool for measuring active learning in the classroom. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 71(5), 85.

 

Review

When I heard this summer session was only going to take place over nine classes, I wasn’t sure how it was going to function. I was so used to writing a carefully put together blog over a week, and I couldn’t imagine writing nine blogs of that caliber in so little time. It ended up being easier than I thought. This class definitely taught me how to consolidate my research and writing time to one fifth of the time it took me to write them last semester.

It also helped because this class had far better group cohesiveness than last semester, so I got a lot more out of this nine day session than I did out of an entire semester. Everybody seemed very friendly and intelligent, and our discussions were full and productive. I always woke up wanting to go to class.

This class on psychology of education was so interesting, I almost wanted to be a teacher just to implement my learning strategies and see if they would work.

I think Jesse was right this morning about not interjecting so much into the discussion. I think the odd comment is fine, but fostering an environment of learning means that us as peers have to be the ones to call each other out when someone presents something that doesn’t seem relevant, or is a little bit left field. When Jesse says that someone is wrong (while he is correct) the discussion does indeed stop, and no one really challenges that authority. So I guess for future classes, act as more of a course facilitator, and interject when it really seems like the discussion is getting off topic.

That’s all! I hope to take future classes! Just keep changing the course name, Jesse!

Why Implementing Higher Order Thinking in Middle School is Always a Good Thing

It is true that the brain is not ready to perform metacognition, and other higher order cognition skills until mid-adolescence. Around the age of fifteen or sixteen. Studies (Weil, et al. 2013) show that only about 45% of fifteen or sixteen year old adolescents actually use higher order thinking skills when thinking about a problem that ahs been assigned to them. This same paper, however, stated that although the other 55% of students do not use higher order thinking skills, and while some of the 55% will not be able to perform higher order thinking even into their twenties, the majority of the 55% have the brain development needed for healthy higher order cognition, but were simply never taught how to deal with problems in an in depth way. This is due to our current system of education which focuses on only the two most basic levels of higher order thinking: recalling information, and representing information. Very rarely in middle school will teachers focus on higher order thinking strategies such as analyze/reason, and application of knowledge.

My classroom of choice falls within the realm of a grade seven/eight middle school classroom. The age range of these kids is between 12-14. This is one to two years earlier than the optimal time to use higher order thinking skills in the classroom, as only as few as 20% of grade seven and eight students will be able to use higher order thinking to their advantage at all. I propose, however, that the fundamental issue in traditional education is that the majority of elementary and secondary school teachers do not prepare their students with the kinds of questions they will need to ask when it comes time to be able to use their higher order thinking skills. In lay men’s terms, we can teach kids to perform higher order thinking exercises long before the neural architecture has been developed.

In general the discussion based learning style we have been exploring over the past week can foster higher order thinking as long as certain questions are being asked. As a former thirteen year old boy myself, I loved asking questions in hopes that it would spark a class discussion. If there had been higher order thinking exercises implemented into our lesson plan, I would have got a lot more out of middle school. A dissertation written by Murray (Murray 2012) explored “The Concept of Higher Order Thinking in Middle School Mathematics”. She writes that when teachers implement pedagogy that helps develop students’ higher thinking skills, they are able to improve student achievement. She goes on to state that learning tools such as problem solving, conjecturing, and explanation and justification of ideas that were applied to the study of middle school mathematics gave students a better attitude towards the subject, and were more likely to take advanced math in higher level classes.

Murray addresses an issue raised in our discussion in class, which was why teach higher order thinking when not all students will understand the methods being implemented. Murray claims that some teachers are skeptical to teach higher order thinking practices when lower ability students may find them frustrating. Murray states that higher order thinking involves a lot more group work and question time, and that a middle school class that implements higher order thinking will only be as good as the teacher teaching it. It is the teacher’s responsibility to grasp who is not understanding, and intervening before the student falls behind. What higher order thinking does teach, even for those students who don’t benefit from the knowledge, is what skills the students will need when they tackle higher order thinking in an older grade. In summation, using higher order thinking in a grade seven or eight lesson plan will give all the students the scaffolding to really be able to make use of higher order thinking in grades nine and above. As for the 20% who are ready for the challenge of higher order thinking, teachers can foster that intellectual curiosity at an earlier age to help them continue to be stimulated by school.

Resources:

Murray, E. C. (2011). Implementing higher-order thinking in middle school mathematics classrooms. Dissertation
Submitted to Graduate Faculty of The University of Georgia, Georgia. Tersedia di: https://goo.gl/BfTS0Y

Weil, L. G., Fleming, S. M., Dumontheil, I., Kilford, E. J., Weil, R. S., Rees, G., … Blakemore, S.-J. (2013). The development of metacognitive ability in adolescence. Consciousness and Cognition, 22(1), 264–271.

The Way Lesson Planning Can Foster Higher Order Thinking

Higher order thinking is something that only a very small percentage of students actually know how to do upon leaving high school. Because of the traditional educational model, which focuses much more on getting a C and pushing kids to the next grade, we are raising a generation of children and young adults  who do not know how to use higher order thinking to their advantage. The solution is not to enroll them in fancy schools that offer the chance  to provide a better education as long as you can pay for it, but for making three basic alterations to the traditional academic lesson plan.

1.Make sure a classroom has a flawless instructional design:

What is instructional design? Instructional design can be defined as the science of creating detailed specifications for the design, development, evaluation, and maintenance of instructional material that facilitates learning and performance. The efficiency of  the instructional design of a class can be evaluated by following the ADDIE process. ADDIE stands for analysis, development, design, implementation, and evaluation. (Martin,2011)

A) During the analysis phase, it is up to the teacher to find out where each individual student falls on their existing knowledge, and to set a realistic goal for each individual student to achieve by the end of the class year.

D) The design phase documents specific learning objectives, the instructional material, practice activities, feedback from the practice activities, instructional strategies, and assessments. Essentially, now that an analysis of your students is complete, what are the best learning tools to implement? Depending on the class demographic, certain tools may be beyond comprehension, or too basic.

D) The development phase is considered to be the most important of all. The development phase is the step where all the data collected from the design phase gets put together. For example, certain class groups will show more comfort with project based learning as opposed to the standard learn and regurgitate model. So knowing this, how does the teacher develop projects into their lesson plan?

I) The Implementation phase begins once the school year begins. The implementation phase bears a whole lot of trial and error. Although the teacher might have gone into the school year with this group thinking they would respond to project based learning, perhaps it was discovered with exposure to the lesson plan that the students appear to learn best from discussion and debate. Alter the development plan accordingly. No need to go all the way back to square one, just use the data collected from analysis and design to approach the class in a different development pattern.

E) Last comes the evaluation phase. The evaluation phase consists of two parts: formative and summative. Formative evaluation is present in each stage of the ADDIE process. Constant revision of the ADDIE model. Summative evaluation consists of tests designed for getting feedback from the users. The “users” are the students, as well as the administration. It’s always good to see if your ADDIE model can be used to help other teachers. (instructionaldeign.org,2013)

2.  Take some time away from standardized testing to focus more on collaborative activities that challenge students to participate:

I could refer the reader to several well written blog posts from my peers on collaborative activities. I’m going to focus more on the third and final point.

3. There are four levels of learning. The two most basic levels are the ones focused on in traditional education. How do we reach level three and four? 

To begin, level one of learning is recall. This is put to test by your basic multiple choice test. Standardized testing weeds out the students who are best at recall. These students are able to shoot all the way to post secondary with relative ease. The second level of learning is represent. This takes the student through the process of short and long answer style test questions. In my experience, many students dislike this sort of question style because it allows them to “have to think”.  Representation is only a step above recall because you can memorize and regurgitate this style of question too.

The last two kinds of learning are much more in depth, and focus on developing the students’ higher order function. The third step is seldom involved in a middle school classroom, let alone a post-secondary institution. Level three is analyze/reason. Grade twelve reading comprehension tests come the closest in standardized testing to achieve analysis and reason. “Given the following passage, write an essay on the connection between character and consciousness.” Now we’re getting somewhere. Here’s an extended list of questions that can be asked at the middle school level to develop this level of learning: Compare and contrast, Determine patterns, analyze relationships, analyze viewpoints, construct argument, evaluate, infer, deduce. The fourth level of learning is seldom even reached. The fourth level of learning is apply. This is what we do in Jesse’s class. Take what we have learned in these academic articles, write a comprehensive blog post, and share what you have learned with the greater psychology 3850 class. They give you feedback, and you answer questions they ask you. This fosters higher-order thinking. Other examples are: generating ideas, problem solving, decision making, investigating, experimentation. (learningfocussed.com, 2014)

References:

http://www.instructionaldesign.org/models/addie.html

https://learningforward.org/docs/default-source/elearning/higher_order_thinking_1hr_conf_pres_feb_15_2016.pdf?sfvrsn=2

Martin, F. (2011). Instructional Design and the Importance of Instructional Alignment. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 35(12), 955–972.

Sulaiman, T., Ayub, A. F. M., & Sulaiman, S. (2015). Curriculum Change in English Language Curriculum Advocates Higher Order Thinking Skills and Standards-Based Assessments in Malaysian Primary Schools. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences. https://doi.org/10.5901/mjss.2015.v6n2p494

 

Teacher Cognition

In class this morning, Jesse brought up the idea that by the time we’ve reached a certain grade in school, we as students can already gauge the difference between a good and a bad teacher. What are the markers of a good teacher? What are the markers of a bad teacher? When designing the ideal classroom, it is important to think, not just about what the children learn, not just about how the children learn, but also about the responsibility educators have to be the best they can be for the benefit of their students.

The first article describes the account of researchers who adapted distributed cognitive theory ( a theory  of learning wherein cognition and knowledge are not confined to an individual, but instead distributed across objects, individuals, artifacts, and tools in the environment) to provide a detailed account of how school leaders use  knowledge of the new programs, existing initiatives, and school contexts to guide policy implementation knowledge of the new programs, existing initiatives, and school contexts to guide policy implementation. The study focuses on two facets: A district design of a teacher evaluation policy, and a principal’s idea to use this evaluation program with teachers in their respective schools. “The authors found that the design of the policy required teacher evaluators to address the tensions between summative and formative evaluation implicit in the program design. In this case, the principal relied heavily on her discretion to determine which features of the teacher evaluation policy would be emphasized with different teachers. The case also provided insight into how the principal reconciled the demands of evaluation with ongoing instructional and personnel demands.” In other words, it was an accurate way for the principal to determine whether the teacher’s teaching and lecture methods were good enough to establish proper concentration and academic performance in the teacher’s students. (Halverson and Clifford 2006)

My second article discusses “Emotional Transmission in the Classroom: Exploring the Relationship Between Teacher and Student Enjoyment.” I think this article was important to include because the previous article accounted for how administrators evaluated teacher cognition. What  is most important for this course is to evaluate how students evaluate teacher cognition. the authors examined the relationship between teacher and student enjoyment. Based on social– cognitive approaches to emotions, they hypothesized (a) that teacher enjoyment and student enjoyment within classrooms are positively linked and (b) that teacher enthusiasm mediates the relationship between teacher and student enjoyment. You hear all the time older students who look back and think “*insert here teacher* really made me hate this particular subject in school.” While in most cases it is the student themselves who made the class harder, there are definitely cases where you meet a teacher who you can just feel is steering you in the wrong direction. This article focuses on a research topic that is not necessarily discussed when it comes to teacher cognition: Enjoyment! The researchers empirically tested their theory that student enjoyment  is directly related to teacher enjoyment. An excited teacher will foster excited students.

psych fuck em

enjoyment in Grade 8, which was r .38. In addition, teacher reported enjoyment was positively linked to average perceived teacher enthusiasm in Grade 8 (r .34), and perceived teacher enthusiasm and student enjoyment also were positively linked (r
.40 at the individual level; r .58 at the class level). These initial analyses provided preliminary evidence supporting the hypothesis that teacher enjoyment, student enjoyment, and perceived teacher enthusiasm are all positively linked. (Frenzel et al. 2009)

This evidence proves that a little joy goes a long way. The saying “If momma ain’t happy, no one’s happy” really seems to apply in the classroom as well. In elementary school, everyone always had the one teacher in the next grade up that they really wanted. This teacher was usually fun, light, and energetic, and brought a whimsical tone to the classroom. I am definitely going to implement this in my class structure because I believe that a good teacher is an enthusiastic teacher.

Academic Sources:

Frenzel, A. C., Goetz, T., Lüdtke, O., Pekrun, R., & Sutton, R. E. (2009). Emotional transmission in the classroom: Exploring the relationship between teacher and student enjoyment. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(3), 705–716.

Halverson, R. R., & Clifford, M. A. (2006). Evaluation in the Wild: A Distributed Cognition Perspective on Teacher Assessment. Educational Administration Quarterly: EAQ, 42(4), 578–619.

 

 

Social Adjustment in Adolescents Entering Middle School

Early Adolescence is a period of self-doubt, strange hormone imbalances, and definitely caring more about that moment before third period when your crush waved to your best friend instead of you. To be honest, academic achievement is pushed to the wayside to make room for these adolescent foibles. A middle school teacher should have tools that they bring to the classroom knowing these things, and perhaps make their classroom a safe haven amidst the emotional turmoil they may or may not be going through.

My first source discusses the possibility that the reason that the need for so much social adjustment in so little time is the exact age at which this change is occurring. The transfer from elementary school to junior high happens around the age twelve or thirteen. The source claims that this disruption makes the adjustment period much longer than it has to be. Many school systems across the United States has actually already put this practice to test. In many other places, junior high starts in Grade Six, and not Grade Seven. While you still have the youth who hit puberty earlier, it allows the majority of middle school students to adjust smoothly before hitting the tidal wave that is puberty. (Blyth, et al. 1983)

The same article discussed how going through the turmoil of social adjustment in secondary school could help the individual when dealing with issues later on in their life. It’s explained by the process of building muscle: When you start working out to get sick biceps, you have to break the muscle fibers and build them back up again. The scholars claim that by going through adolescent traumas, it sets you up to deal with harder traumas later on in life. Regardless,  they state that while this trauma is going on, it leaves little room for absorbing information. What is efficient for emotional development is not necessarily efficient for education.(Blyth, et al. 1983)

My second academic article discusses school climate and the social adjustment that occurs within the climate. The researchers used an already established scale called the School Climate Survey (SCS), which was a way to establish a contrast between the school climate that the students observed, versus the school climate the admin and teachers thought they were providing. The information that the students provided was organized by hierarchical multiple regression equations that first accounted for the effects of demographic variables (ethnicity, social class, household composition), and then accounted for the variables correlating to the students’ school climate perceptions (self-esteem, academic self concept, exposure to stressful events, and academic performance) The results  hypothesized that more positive perceptions of school climate would be associated with fewer externalizing and internalizing problems for boys and girls. Analyses were carried out separately for boys and girls, because research has shown differences in their expressions of maladjustment.

psych bing bogggooo

 

Uni-variate tests showed that girls earned higher grades than did boys and reported more positive school climate perceptions, but did not differ from boys on self-worth, academic self-concept, or stressful events. What this evidence tells us is that the perceived school climate has a heavy involvement in establishing social adjustment in adolescents. A solution to improving the school climates is taking the results of the surveys and actually doing something constructive with them. Use the feedback of the SCS to provide better for your school’s population of adolescent students. Focus on low self concept if that is an issue at a specific school. Then focus on the destructive impact that cliques can have on young minds, and try to address and talk about cliques with the kids to discuss how better to include people. (Kuperminc, et al. 2010)

One more academic paper focuses on an issue that is rather selective, but if applied to the larger demographic of anti-social students could ease the process of social adjustment in post-secondary. A paper written by the academics Wolters, et al. titled “Social Adjustment of Deaf Early Adolescents at the Start of Secondary School: The Divergent Role of Withdrawn Behaviour in Peer Status” discusses the issue of including students, particularly deaf students, into the cohesiveness of the adolescent classroom and prevent the staggering statistics that state that deaf students are more likely to be anti-social. Like I said, the results of this study can be used to exrapolate on other anti-social students, reguardless of the reason behind their loneliness. In this article, the solution to including deaf adolescents was for the teacher to take into account the introduction of a deaf member into their classroom, and get other kids to learn how to communicate in order for the deaf student to feel more included. This process worked by introducing the student on the first day in class in sign language, and then getting the rest of his/her peers interested in communicating with them too. The teacher sent home a workbook of sign language so that the kids could pick up some basics on sign language. Even just knowing how to say “hi” “good morning” and “how are you” drastically changed the deaf student’s middle school experience. I stand to reason that dealing with other groups of anti-social teens is no different. If the teacher can pick out the students who are most likely to fall into anti-social patterns at the beginning of the school year, they can create more activities for the class specifically doctored to make those students feel special. The result is that anti-social teens make friends this way, and have an outlet for all their unresolved angst. (Wolters, et al. 2014)

 

Academic Sources:

Blyth, D. A., Simmons, R. G., & Carlton-Ford, S. (1983). The Adjustment of Early Adolescents to School Transitions. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 3(1-2), 105–120.

Kuperminc, G. P., Leadbeater, B. J., Emmons, C., & Blatt, S. J. (1997). Perceived School Climate and Difficulties in the Social Adjustment of Middle School Students. Applied Developmental Science, 1(2), 76–88.

Wolters, N., Knoors, H., Cillessen, A. H. N., & Verhoeven, L. (2014). Social Adjustment of Deaf Early Adolescents at the Start of Secondary School. Exceptional Children, 80(4), 438–453.

 

Active Learning: A Proposed Solution to Traditional Education

Sometimes it is difficult researching topics in the psychology of education to generate enough information to write a blogs. This was not one of those topics. Active learning in the classroom has become somewhat of a fad in primary and secondary education, and because of this, more and more research is being conducted in this area of psychology. It was during the research portion of this blog that I realised that Psych 3850-C was based on an active learning format. While many traditional educators have stuck to their guns, claiming that there isn’t any time in the curriculum for what is proposed in active learning, many other educators find active learning to be a very useful tool to put the enjoyment and intrinsic ideologies back into education.

What is active learning? Active learning is simply applying the standard curriculum to a system of education in which there is more engagement from the students, and less rigid participation in the lecture -> notes -> revision -> standardized testing format of traditional education. Traditional education has a focus on finding the easiest, and most efficient way to educate children. The truth is that designing a classroom that involved active learning would not take that much more time! Especially when you consider the benefits of how much more learning gets done when teachers choose to promote active learning. (Li & Sethi, 2006)

The best academic articles for active learning are the ones that seek to quantify how much more useful active learning is over the traditional model. Van Amburgh, et al. wrote an academic paper titled “A Tool for Measuring Active Learning in the Classroom.” The article’s introduction states that the researchers involved in the paper already believed that active learning was superior to the traditional model in place. The reachers still carried an interest in figuring out exactly how successful active learning was in the education of a  student. The group of researchers developed a fairly simple mechanism called the Active Learning Inventory Tool that was tested and re-tested in nine different post-secondary classrooms, each with over 100 students. Seven of the instructors were interviewed following their lecture using a scripted interview guide to elicit perceptions of their lesson that included: their definition of active learning, the perceived merits of active learning in the classroom, the types of active-learning activities used in the lecture, the rationale for the use of the specific active-learning activities chosen, the estimated amount of class time that was devoted to active-learning activities, the estimated time required to prepare the lesson and active-learning activities, any perceived barriers to the use of active learning, and the impact of using active-learning
techniques on the amount of content covered. The following outcomes were used to measure agreement among the observers using the Active-Learning Inventory Tool and between the observers and each instructor: number of active-learning episodes used, time per active-learning episode, and the number of different active-learning episodes included in each lecture. (Van Amburgh, et al. 2007)

psych pp

Using the results of the experiment, the researchers were able to create this Active Learning Inventory Tool, which is able to be used at any educational level (primary, secondary, post secondary), and if performed by the administration of the school, can be used to evaluate exactly how well this new system is working. The ALIT also compiled the active learning methods that were most effective for the intake and memorization of information.

The last source I found also took their research of active learning to the next level. In tandem with the agreement that active learning works, the researchers realized that active learning will only be as successful as the teacher who utilizes it. In other words: a crappy teacher is still going to yield crappy results, regardless of the teaching method being used. Rotgans & Schmidt measured the students’ as well as administrators’ evaluations of the teachers’ performance based on social
congruence, subject-matter expertise, and cognitive congruence, and how much these subject areas contributed to students’ situational interest. It turned out that social congruence and subject matter expertise are not directly related to situational interest, but are two variables that do contribute to the teacher’s cognitive congruence (or how well they are able to get students to understand the concepts that are being taught). Not surprisingly,  being friendly, socially and emotionally connected with the students as
well as having a large body of knowledge about a topic are highly predictive of how cognitively congruent a teacher is. (Rotgans & Schmidt, 2010)

psych poopoo

The findings of Rotgans & Schmidt revealed two conclusions. First, their data suggests that teacher characteristics and in particular teacher’s cognitive congruence have a significant influence on students’ situational interest; they explained about 20% of the
variance in situational interest. Second, there are ways to correct a teacher with poor cognitive congruence. Either adjust the teacher’s social congruence, or the way they relate to the kids, or increase the teacher’s expert knowledge. Because situational interest is so formulaic, it stands to reason that correcting X or Y could change the result of Z.

The purpose of this blog was not to establish whether active learning is effective (the current research speaks for itself), but to instead investigate what the results of active learning is on our student population. At any academic level, it is important to be able to test the result of using a different educational model, and to be able to understand how to manipulate the learning outcomes of the different model for the best possible academic performance.

Academic Sources:

Li, M., & Sethi, I. K. (2006). Confidence-based active learning. IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 28(8), 1251–1261.

Rotgans, J. I., & Schmidt, H. G. (2011). The role of teachers in facilitating situational interest in an active-learning classroom. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(1), 37–42.

Settles, B. (2012). Active Learning. Morgan & Claypool Publishers.

Van Amburgh, J. A., Devlin, J. W., Kirwin, J. L., & Qualters, D. M. (2007). A tool for measuring active learning in the classroom. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 71(5), 85.

Alberta’s Code 80 Program: The Way We Handle Gifted Youth

When my eldest sister was in grade four, she was placed into a program through the Calgary Board of Education called “Code 80.” Code 80 is a code entered into the evaluation of the students that signifies that the student is, for lack of a better word, gifted. (Code 80 Information, 2012) Her grade three teacher had seen that she performed exceptionally well in the grade three class — far beyond the likes of any of her classmates. The grade three and four teachers had a meeting with my mother and grandmother (our caregivers), and together they decided that upon her entrance into grade four, she would be granted an aid to offer her more challenging work to do during and outside of class time, as my sister always finished assignments four times faster than the rest of her peers, and would spend the rest of her class time reading and for the most part, wasting her time. When grade four started, she was hauled into a room with three other students in her grade to explain the code 80 program that they were now a part of. From grade four on, my sister was in and out of the class room, working on advanced book reports, designing a mathematics curriculum that suited her intelligence better, and ultimately working on assignments that were different from the rest of her peers.

Much to my Mother and her teachers’ surprise, my sister hated the Code 80 program. It was designed as though other students wouldn’t even notice when she left the room, and yet, children are not stupid. To her, especially as she was entering junior high in Grades Seven and Eight, it felt like social stratification. Peers and friends alike would realize she was going out during class time, and they became petty that she was not stuck in the same class room working on the same work with the rest of them.

The purpose of this long-winded introduction is to illustrate what this program looks like when it is applied to actual students. This is very much a perspective piece, as I know that administrators are very proud of their Code 80 program. It is my belief, and also backed by solid scientific research, that the Code 80 programs, as well as other gifted child programs across Canada, the United States and the UK are counterproductive for the child’s actual learning. Extra assignments and projects catered to children who need more than the curriculum set up for them do not help the gifted children to learn more if the child them-self feel socially separated.

Sternberg and Davidson wrote a book called “Conceptions of Giftedness”, which covers the way Gifted Children programs are viewed by administration, teachers, parents, and the gifted students themselves. This book is definitely pro-gifted children program, but the authors present perspectives on gifted education from both sides of the proverbial fence  of the argument. Chapter Six is titled “Permission to be Gifted” and shows how gifted students who are identified and entered into these programs feel about being labeled “gifted”. Data collected in high, or medium income communities varied drastically from children who were from more humble upbringings. Children that were taken aside from their peers and friends in low income communities and proclaimed gifted faced trouble – especially at the onset of puberty – when it came to fitting in with their peers. When a child is proclaimed “gifted” among a group of children who dislike school, it can create isolating barriers between students and cause a depletion to the child’s self-esteem. As mentioned in my last blog, low self-esteem can lead to disinterest in school, which is the opposite outcome of a gifted program. (Sternberg, 2005)

Being a gifted child in a group of friends who are non-academic can lead to underachievement by gifted students. In an article by Dowdall and Colangello, it was revealed that the group’s with the highest incidence rates of underachievement in gifted students were by females in male dominated classrooms, and by males of colour. A chart below shows the difference in attributes between underachievers, average achievers, and gifted underachievers. Gifted underachievers are dubbed socially immature, anti-social, and have low self-esteem. (Dowdall & Colangelo, 1982)

psychblog

After researching and analyzing the information on gifted programs, such as the Code 80 program here in Alberta, it became clear that the problem in administration is not getting gifted children the extra stimulus they need to fulfill their intellectual buckets, but the way “gifted” students are separated from the rest of the class and made to feel as if they are odd or disliked because of their differences. So how do we re-frame Code 80 to ensure a positive outlook on students who take part in it? In the article by Dowdall and Colangello, there were two experimental tools for underachieving or disinterested gifted children. The first experimental tool was to seek counselling for the students with low self concept. This was a direct method of solving isolated problems, but it doesn’t solve the institution already in place.  The second experimental tool was to manipulate the classroom environment. This experimental tool is more in line with what we are trying to do in this course. It involves A) intervening in elementary school (before the child has a chance to get too comfortable in their self doubt) and B) altering attitudes of collective students on how they view both gifted students, and students with low academic success alike. By fostering a classroom model based on kindness, acceptance, and acknowledgment of intellectual ability (such as  the Value Education Program mentioned in my previous blog) Gifted, regular, and under-performing students alike can all find self confidence that comes from respect, or validation.

An interesting development in this area of education would be to put these tools to task in elementary and junior high schools. By no means should students who require additional assignments and materials be denied the chance to learn beyond the curriculum — I believe any initiative to break the bonds of standardized curriculum to be a good thing. The challenge is to continue the work being done in the Code 80 program, while still allowing students to maintain self-confidence, a positive self concept, and the ability to continue their intrinsic motivation to learn.

Academic Sources:

Code 80. 2012. “Code 80 Information”. Retrieved from: http://www.lss.ecsd.net/gifted/code80.html on August 18, 2017

Dowdall, C. B., & Colangelo, N. (1982). Underachieving Gifted Students: Review and Implications. The Gifted Child Quarterly, 26(4), 179–184.

Marsh, H. W., Chessor, D., Craven, R., & Roche, L. (1995). The Effects of Gifted and Talented Programs on Academic Self-Concept: The Big Fish Strikes Again. American Educational Research Journal, 32(2), 285.

Sternberg, R. J. (2005). Conceptions of Giftedness. Cambridge University Press.

 

Self Esteem and Academic Success

The current school system is designed in a very straight forward, almost formulaic manner. Follow the curriculum, complete the assignments, study and perform well on the exams, and proceed to the next grade if the grades met were satisfactory. Early adolescence is a period that places the student in a stew of erratic emotions, surging hormones, and unanswered questions. Thus, it is no surprise to find out that the black and white design of the current educational institution does not mesh with the adolescent process of brain and body development. While primary education establishes an environment that is caring and supportive (in most cases), it seems that teaching academic independence to prepare for high school takes precedent over catering to the valid emotions and changes that middle school aged adolescents are going through. It is the introduction to serious standardized testing, and as a result, the multiple ways of answering a problem in primary school gets whittled down to only using learning methods that cater to passing the standardized tests.

During the discussions that took place on Wednesday morning, a common trend in the conversation was how to foster self esteem in juvenile and adolescent students while still achieving academic success. During the conversation, there was a consensus that the object of education should be learning, and not being indoctrinated into a culture of confidence destroying academic success. A study from the University of Michigan states that at least eighty percent of first year university students based at least some of their self worth on grade performance. Surprisingly (sarcasm) even though the university students that were sampled from based their self worth on the grades they received, “having their self worth on the line didn’t help their performance.” (Dittman, 2002)

If first year, or “freshman” university students already base their self worth — and futher, their health– on academic grading, clearly it was a thought process that was planted in their brain earlier in their academic career. In the educator’s guide by Jeb Schenck on Teaching and the Adolescent Brain, he devotes a whole chapter to the emotional process of early adolescents, and ways that educators can start to cater their curriculum to work with these processes– not against them. Emotions affect learning, and learning is normally inseparable from emotion. Emotional changes within the body have varying degrees of intensity of intensity, but emotions can also range from pleasant to unpleasant. In turn, these emotions can be used to remember different lessons.

In a separate article more related to self esteem and academic success, it has been proven that children who perform poorly academically have large means of protecting their self-confidence. This is apparent in conversational phrases such as “I don’t care”, “I don’t know when I’m going to use this?” “This is boring.” These deflections are created to mask the deep rooted insecurity instilled by years of standardized testing and the traditional academic model. On the other side of the academic spectrum, when students who perform successfully in the traditional educational model face harder challenges and get lower grades than they were used to, they are not used to the academic “failure” so they have no masks in place to deal with the disappointment. What can occur instead is that the tendency to take it as a reflection on their self worth. (Alves-Martin, et al. 2002)

Uzunkul and Yel suggest that the solution to preserving self esteem in the current academic system is to scrap the traditional institution, and build something called a “value education program” instead. The purpose of the value education program is to base education on respect, responsibility, self-esteem, social problem solving skills, and empathy. While the hypothesis for the paper was based on the academic achievement of grade three students, I think the data collected can be used to re-test their hypothesis on an adolescent group of students. The experiment compared the academic achievement of grade three students who were being taught under the value education program, versus the traditional institutionalized program. It became apparent that not only did the grade three students in the experimental group perform better academically, they also graduated grade three with better interpersonal skills, reasoning, metacognition, and the rest of the values demonstrated by the teacher. (Uzonkol & Yel, 2016) One way this experiment could have been improved is that the experimenters found that when the value education system was put into place, some teachers would choose to teach certain morals and not others. The solution to this kind of harmful behaviour is using the actual values outlined in the value education system with out improvisation. Once guidelines are put into place, it is possible that this value education program could lead to decreased extrinsic motivation, decreased social loafing, and an increased chance to actually learn and absorb the content they are taught instead of the traditional binge and purge of information.

Academic Sources:

Alves-Martins, M., Peixoto, F., Gouveia-Pereira, M., Amaral, V., & Pedro, I. (2002). Self-esteem and Academic Achievement Among Adolescents. Educational Psychology22(1), 51–62. https://doi.org/10.1080/01443410120101242

Dittman, M. (2002). Self-esteem that’s based on external sources has mental health consequences. Journal of Social Issues (Vol. 58, No. 3). Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/dec02/selfesteem.aspx

Schenck, J. (2011). Teaching and the Adolescent Brain :An Educators’s Guide. New York, W.W.Norton &  Company.

Uzunkol, E., & Yel, S. (2016). Effect of value education program applied in life studies lesson on self-esteem, social problem-solving skills and empathy levels of students. Egitim Ve Bilim, 41(183) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.uleth.ca/docview/1904797801?accountid=12063