Pedagogy Science | Pedagogical Reflections

    • Teachers and educational organisations need to ensure that the pedagogy which we  employ and condone is grounded in evidence-based research.
    • Pedagogy needs to become more scientific
    • Hattie looks to ‘highlight that which truly makes a difference’ and identifies  particular practices which – backed by extensive research – are most likely to  enhance student learning. His first point, however, establishes the role of  teachers as a key source (30%) of variance in student achievement – second only  to the student themselves (50%). This means that, according to Hattie, the home,  school, principal and peers make very little difference to student achievement.
    • Hattie then goes onto list the influences in order of effect on student  achievement:

      Influence Effect  Size Source of  influence


      Students’ prior cognitive ability


      Instructional quality


      Direct instruction


    • Apart from students’ prior cognitive ability, the top influences on student  achievement – feedback, instructional quality and direct instruction –  are  all sourced from the teacher themselves.
    • What I am saying, though, is that perhaps we need to focus on our teaching  practices and what teachers actually DO in a lesson –  particularly around the elements of how we provide feedback to students, how we  ensure quality of our instruction / productive pedagogies and that we embed  components of explicit teaching in our day-to-day.
    • Rowe takes a swipe at student-centred, inquiry-based teaching practices when  he states  “the widespread and mostly unquestioning adoption of  constructivist orientations towards teaching  in most areas of the curriculum in Western, English-speaking schools  and higher education institutions is problematic, and especially in the teaching  of mathematics.”

    • constructivism is a theory of learning, not a theory of  teaching.
    • What I’ve taken this to mean here is that just because a student may learn  through inquiry and may socially-construct knowledge through play and  exploration, this doesn’t mean that I, as a teacher, setup an environment for  this to occur and then dust my hands and consider my job done.
    • Direct instruction (DI) – sometimes referred to as  explicit instruction – “is a systematic method for presenting  learning material in small steps, pausing to check for student understanding,  and eliciting active and successful participation from all students”  (Rosenshine, 1986, p. 60). DI modes of instruction are well grounded in findings  from evidence-based research in cognitive science, and give little attention to  the ‘causes’ of under-achievement, learning difficulties, or to students’  underlying abilities (Casey, 1994; Coltheart, 2005). Thus, DI programs are  designed according to what, not  who, is to be taught. Individual differences  among students are allowed for through different entry points, reinforcement,  amounts of practice, and correction strategies (see: Engelmann, 1999;  Hempenstall, 1996).

    • students need to have a high level of explicitly-taught basic literacies   in order to learn effectively through social-constructivism
    • Students need to progress through Remembering, Understanding and Applying
    • all of which require a teacher to “fill the empty vessel” in a cognitivist way.  The skills “delivered” may well be thinking skills. By no means will every  student graduate from these lower order thinkings skills, but Direct Instruction  (or its close cousin Direct Interactive Teaching which) will help more of them  reach into the higher order skills progression: Analysing, Evaluating,  (Creating.) THIS is where carefully considered, thoroughly scoped and scaffolded  arenas are made available for constructivism to come into play, under the  influence and supervision of a teacher.
    • Reading the Rowe article I was dismayed by the assertion that teacher training  for primary schools is dominated by constructivist classroom activities. The  analogy which came to mind is of teaching a pilot to fly. In the model I assumed  applied, the pilot would be trained in an established progression of necessary  knowledge and skills under close supervision (cognitivist approach) to the point  where she takes her first solo flight under careful supervision from the  tower(constructivist approach). If the article is accurate in its assertions,  primary schools are trying to teach their students to fly by handing them a  succession of progressively more powerful aeroplanes while standing by and  watching.

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