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Quality Learning

A Definition and Methodology

 

To define high quality learning we must have some concept of what actually is happening when a person is acquiring knowledge and understanding. The following diagram is my adaptation of Ham’s Tree of Knowledge that I feel demonstrates the learning process.

As teachers we must be must be aiming to develop in our pupils:

§         the growth of knowledge and understanding

§         the ability to apply knowledge and understanding in real life situations

§         the ability to make valid, appropriate and insightful decisions,

§         the ability to share competently their understandings, opinions and ideas.

 

DEFINITION

Quality Learning is learning that fosters the individual’s ability to be acquire, knowledge and understanding which is then utilised within real situtions to make valid, informed decisions, and also enhances the individual’s ability to be positively involved in the sharing of ideas, understanding and opinions.

A methodology 

How then do we make high quality learning happen?

We Can’t! Each individual is ultimately responsible for his or her own learning.

But we can provide an environment that fosters and encourages quality learning.

There are three factors that are mandatory for us to include in any learning experience we provide for our pupils here in New Zealand.

These can be identified by the ASK acronym. Each learning activity must incorporate

1.      The learning activity must incorporate the development of Attitudes and Values.

ERO in their website confirm the intent of the new NAG 1 revision in terms of attitudes and values. “Attitudes and values are now mandatory insofar as each board must incorporate them in all teaching programmes”. NB that this does not mean a separate focus on attitudes and values but that they become an integral part of the whole curriculum.

2.      The learning experience must incorporate the development of 1 or more of the Essential Skills.

The Ministry of Education states in their website:

All the essential skills are important if students are to achieve their potential and to participate fully in society, including the world of work. In planning learning programmes, schools need to ensure that all students have the opportunity to develop the full range of the essential skills to the best of their ability”.

These skills cannot be developed in isolation. They will be developed through the essential learning areas and in different contexts across the curriculum.”

3.      The learning experience must involve knowledge from 1 or more of the Essential Learning Areas from our National Curriculum. The Ministry of Education state in their website on ‘Sharpening the Focus’ that “Schools may achieve a balanced and broad curriculum in a number of ways; for example, by organising their programmes around subjects, by using an integrated approach, or by using topics for thematic approaches. Schools have the flexibility to plan programmes to meet their particular needs. …. In whatever way programmes are organised, they must incorporate the knowledge and understanding described in all seven learning areas”. The document then states “The essential learning areas are broad, recognisable categories of knowledge and understanding. They provide the context within which the essential skills, attitudes, and values are developed”. This highlights the intent of the framework document which states clearly that the learning areas are actually the context within which we are to teach, develop and extend the essential skills, attitudes and values.

The other vital factors which need to be provide are:

 

Engages the learner in a manner that is Relevant and interesting in terms of:

Prior knowledge

Culture                                         (child centred, pupil orientated)

Context

Today

Caters for different learning styles                     (individual differences)

Quality reinforcement and feedback                   

(teacher and peers and external audience)    *Hattie

Involves 1 or more of the higher thinking skills, preferably in co-operative problem solving environments                                          (context)

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Hattie (1999) states “the most powerful single moderator that enhances achievement is feedback;” It is when we move pupils into the situations where they have to collaboratively form opinions, solve problems and meet needs that we simply and easily create a learning environment that contains the majority of the factors listed above.

Setting Up 

In creating a quality learning experience we must pay particular attention to two crucial aspects of setting up and preparation:

§   Setting the learning experience up to focus on Higher Thinking Skills

§   Setting the learners up for success

 

Setting up Higher Thinking Activities.

If we are to structure Higher Thinking Activities we need some tool to help us develop the right sort of questions or tasks for our pupils. We need to avoid the low level tasks that only require our pupils to gather information and present it to us in some form. We need to push them into the Higher Thinking Levels.

Bloom’s Taxonomy provides such a tool. However it is important to be aware of the revision to Bloom’s Taxonomy as outlined below.

 

Bloom's Original Taxonomy              Anderson's Revised Taxonomy

Knowledge                                          Remembering

Comprehension                                    Understanding

Application                                          Applying

Analysis                                               Analysing

Synthesis                                             Creating 

Evaluation                                           Evaluating    

 

§   The names of six major categories were changed form noun to verb forms to reflect the idea that thinking is an active process and verbs describe actions

§   The knowledge category was renamed because knowledge is a result of thinking not a form of thinking.  This level of thinking relates to recall and memory.

§    Comprehension and synthesis were renamed understanding and creating in order to better reflect the nature of the thinking that takes place in those categories. http://www.modsthps.sa.edu.au/Brain/blooms.htm

Category Description
Remembering Ability to recall previously learned material
Understanding Ability to grasp meaning, explain, restate ideas
Applying Ability to use learned material in new situations
Analysing Ability to separate material into component parts and show relationships between parts
Creating Ability to put together the separate ideas to form new whole, establish new relationships
Evaluating Ability to judge the worth of material against stated criteria
The easiest way to utilise the Taxonomy as a tool for creating High Level Tasks is to focus on the type of thinking you want to move the pupils into and then use relevant verbs from the appropriate levels in structuring the task.

 

 BEHAVIORAL VERBS APPROPRIATE FOR EACH LEVEL OF BLOOMS’ TAXONOMY
(Cognitive Domain)

Knowledge

Comprehension

Application

Analysis

Synthesis

Evaluation

Define
Identify
List
Name
Recall
Recognize
Record
Relate
Repeat
Underline

Choose
Cite examples of
Demonstrate use of
Describe
Determine
Differentiate between
Discriminate
Discuss
Explain
Express
Give in own words
Identify
Interpret
Locate
Pick
Report
Restate
Review
Recognize
Select
Tell
Translate
Respond
Practice
Simulates

Apply
Demonstrate
Dramatize
Employ
Generalize
Illustrate
Interpret
Operate
Practice
Relate
Schedule
Shop
Use
Utilize
Initiate

Analyse
Appraise
Calculate
Categorize
Compare
Conclude
Contrast
Correlate
Criticize
Deduce
Debate
Detect
Determine
Develop
Diagram
Differentiate
Distinguish
Draw conclusions
Estimate
Evaluate
Examine
Experiment
Identify
Infer
Inspect
Inventory
Predict
Question
Relate
Solve
Test
Diagnose

Arrange
Assemble
Collect
Compose
Construct
Create
Design
Develop
Formulate
Manage
Modify
Organize
Plan
Prepare
Produce
Propose
Predict
Reconstruct
Set-up
Synthesize
Systematize
Devise

Appraise
Assess
Choose
Compare
Critique
Estimate
Evaluate
Judge
Measure
Rate
Revise
Score
Select
Validate
Value
Test

http://www.clat.psu.edu/homes/bxb11/Objectives/bloom.htm

Setting up activities for higher thinking is then relatively easy.

Setting up for SUCCESS

The most common failure area is when learners can’t find information relevant to the activity that has been set. It is vital to ensure that our pupils have access to relevant, appropriate resources that they can locate and refer to as they build up the information on which they will build their decisions.

This comes in two stages.

  First find information resources that are relevant and usable in terms of the task and material that is at a reading level appropriate for your pupils.

Sadly this is the most difficult aspect. With all the money we spend on our libraries it is surprisingly difficult to locate relevant information that can be used to solve a problem or meet a need. It is easier to find suitable resources and then structure topic and task based on the available material.

Some hints:

§         Use a good search engine e.g. http://google.com      http://dogpile.com  

§         Use Boolean based searching methods

+ when looking for more than two things e.g.  +fire +causes

Incorporate k12 for educational material e.g. +fire +causes +k12

To lock the search into lower academic levels take 5 away from the general age level you want and search on tat number with K  e.g. I want material suitable for 10 year olds on space so 10-5 = 5, my search will be                        +space +k5

§         Look for webquests on the topic. Webquests are activities structured by teachers for use within classrooms, they should link to appropriate resources.

E.g.    +space +webquest

§         Don’t forget to tighten searches by using phrases

A phrase is two or more words bound together.

Eg. I might be wanting resources on night and day.

Search on         +”night and day” +k12

Secondly set your pupils up for success in locating and accessing relevant information. Do this by embedding in the task the key words and phrases that will lead your pupils to the appropriate resource.

Don’t give them the journal with the article in it, rather give them access to the journal search and ensure that when they use key words and phrases from the task it will lead them to the relevant information. Do this with web resources, cd resources and library resources.

Sergiovanni (1995, p191) states “Knowledge is limited or generative. Limited knowledge leads nowhere. It is simply accumulated stored and recalled. Generative knowledge leads to more learning, new learning, more expansive learning and the transfer of learning.”

 Hopefully these notes will help you to move your pupils into generative knowledge

 

References

  Education Review Office (NZ), Evaluation Criteria.

http://www.ero.govt.nz/AcctRevInfo/ERO_BOOK_AS_HTML/ERO_CONTENTS_HTML/Contents.html

 

Hattie, J. 1999. “Influences On Student Learning”. Inaugural Lecture: Professor of Education.University of Auckland. August 2, 1999.

http://www.arts.auckland.ac.nz/edu/staff/jhattie/Inaugural.html

 

Ministry Of Education (NZ), NAG, National Administration Guidelines Frequently Asked Questions.

http://www.minedu.govt.nz/web/document/document_page.cfm?id=5133

 

Ministry Of Education (NZ), NAG, The National Education Guidelines.

http://www.tki.org.nz/e/governance/negs/guidelines/index.php

 

Ministry Of Education (NZ), NAG, The New Zealand Curriculum Framework.

http://www.tki.org.nz/r/governance/nzcf/index_e.php

Sergiovanni, T.J., (1995). The Principalship:  Reflective Practice Perspective (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon

Tyson, Harriet. March 1990. Reforming Science Education/Restructuring The Public Schools: roles for the Scientific Community, (22, 24). Prepared as a background paper for the New York Academy of Sciences and the institute for Educational Leadership Forum on restructuring K-12 education. New York; Academy of Sciences.

For More Information Contact:
Trevor Bond, ICT adviser
Email  tbond@clear.net.nz