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The term student-centred learning (SCL) is widely used in the teaching and learning literature. Many terms have been linked with student-centred learning, such as flexible learning (Taylor 2000), experiential learning (Burnard 1999), self-directed learning and therefore the slightly overused term ‘student-centred learning’ can mean different things to different people. In addition, in practice it is also described by a range of terms and this has led to confusion surrounding its implementation. The concept of student-centred learning has been credited as early as 1905 to Hayward and in 1956 to Dewey’s work (O’Sullivan 2003). Carl Rogers, the father of client-centred counseling, is associated with expanding this approach into a general theory of education (Burnard 1999; Rogoff 1999). The term student-centred learning was also associated with the work of Piaget and more recently with Malcolm Knowles (Burnard 1999). Rogers (1983a:25), in his book ‘Freedom to Learn for the 80s’, describes the shift in power from the expert teacher to the student learner, driven by a need for a change in the traditional environment where in this ‘so-called educational atmosphere, students become passive, apathetic and bored’. In the School system, the concept of child-centred education has been derived, in particular, from the work of Froebel and the idea that the teacher should not ‘interfere with this process of maturation, but act as a guide’ (Simon 1999). Simon highlighted that this was linked with the process of development or ‘readiness’, i.e. the child will learn when he/she is ready (1999). The paradigm shift away from teaching to an emphasis on learning has encouraged power to be moved from the teacher to the student (Barr and Tagg 1995). The teacherfocused/transmission of information formats, such as lecturing, have begun to be increasingly criticised and this has paved the way for a widespread growth of ‘studentcentred learning’ as an alternative approach. However, despite widespread use of the term, Lea et al. (2003) maintain that one of the issues with student-centred learning is the fact that ‘many institutions or educators claim to be putting student-centred learning into practice, but in reality they are not’ (2003:322). This chapter aims to: • • Give an overview of the various ways student-centred learning is defined, Suggest some ways that student-centred learning can be used as the organising principle of teaching and assessment practices,
Explore the effectiveness of student-centred learning and Present some critiques to it as an approach.
What is student-centred learning?
Kember (1997) described two broad orientations in teaching: the teacher centred/content oriented conception and the student centred/learning oriented conceptions. In a very useful breakdown of these orientations he supports many other authors views in relation to student-centred view including: that knowledge is constructed by students and that the lecturer is a facilitator of learning rather than a presenter of information. Rogers (1983b:188) identified the important precondition for student-centred learning as the need for: ‘... a leader or person who is perceived as an authority figure in the situation, is sufficiently secure within herself (himself) and in her (his) relationship to others that she (he) experiences an essential trust in the capacity of others to think for themselves, to learn for themselves’. Choice in the area of the learning is emphasised by Burnard, as he interprets Rogers’ ideas of student-centredness as ‘students might not only choose what to study, but how and why that topic might be an interesting one to study’ (1999:244). He also emphasises Rogers’ belief that students’ perceptions of the world were important, that they were relevant and appropriate. This definition therefore emphasises the concept of students having ‘choice’ in their learning. Harden and Crosby (2000:335) describe teacher-centred learning strategies as the focus on the teacher transmitting knowledge, from the expert to the novice. In contrast, they describe student-centred learning as focusing on the students’ learning and ‘what students do to achieve this, rather than what the teacher does’. This definition emphasises the concept of the student ‘doing’. Other authors articulate broader, more comprehensive definitions. Lea et al. (2003:322) summarises some of the literature on student-centred learning to include the followings tenets:
1. ‘the reliance on active rather than passive learning, 1. an emphasis on deep learning and understanding, 1. increased responsibility and accountability on the part of the student, 1. an increased sense of autonomy in the learner 1. an interdependence between teacher and learner, 1. mutual respect within the learner teacher relationship, 1. and a reflexive approach to the teaching and learning process on the part of both
teacher and learner.’ Gibbs (1995) draws on similar concepts when he describes student-centred courses as those that emphasise: learner activity rather than passivity; students’ experience on the course outside the institution and prior to the course; process and competence, rather than content; where the key decisions about learning are made by the student through negotiation with the teacher. Gibbs elaborates in more detail on these key
decisions to include: ‘What is to be learnt, how and when it is to be learnt, with what outcome, what criteria and standards are to be used, how the judgements are made and by whom these judgements are made’ (1995:1). In a similar vein in earlier literature, the student-teacher relationship is particularly elaborated upon by Brandes and Ginnis (1986). In their book for use in second level education (post-primary), entitled ‘A Guide to Student-Centred Learning’, they present the main principles of student-centred learning as: • • • • • • The learner has full responsibility for her/his learning Involvement and participation are necessary for learning The relationship between learners is more equal, promoting growth, development The teacher becomes a facilitator and resource person The learner experiences confluence in his education (affective and cognitive domains flow together) The learner sees himself differently as a result of the learning experience.
The theoretical standing of student-centred learning is often surprisingly absent in the literature. However, it appears to relate primarily to the constructivist view of learning in the importance it places on activity, discovery and independent learning (Carlile and Jordan 2005). Cognitive theory also highlights activity but in a different form than that supported by the constructivists (Cobb 1999). The cognitive view supports the idea that the activity of learning is computed in the head, or as often described ‘in the mind’. The constructivist view of activity is related more to performing physical activities, for example, projects, practicals. Student-centred learning has some connections with the social constructivist view, which emphasises activity and the importance of communities of practice/others in the learning process. However, the definitions of SCL do not necessarily highlight the importance of peers in learning (Cobb 1999; Bredo 1999). In summary, it appears from the literature that some view student-centred learning as: the concept of the student’s choice in their education; others see it as the being about the student doing more than the lecturer (active versus passive learning); while others have a much broader definition which includes both of these concepts but, in addition, describes the shift in the power relationship between the student and the teacher.
How can you implement student-centred learning?
Learning is often presented in this dualism of either student-centred learning or teacher-centred learning. In the reality of practice the situation is less black and white. A more useful presentation of student-centred learning is to see these terms as either end of a continuum, using the three concepts regularly used to describe student-centred learning (See Table 1 ). Table 1: Student-centred and teacher-centred continuum
Teacher-centred Learning Low level of student choice Student passive Power is primarily with teacher
Student-centred Learning High level of student choice Student active Power primarily with the student
In examining how you might look at this in practice, it is worth thinking how far up the continuum you are able to move within the contextual barriers in your teaching situation. The next sections will present some ideas for your practice to aid you in making that progression. Implications for curriculum design In relation to curriculum design, student-centredness includes the idea that students have choice in what to study, how to study. However, to what extent can this be carried out in the structures of today’s Universities? Modularisation, which will be expected in all European undergraduate courses by 2006, provides a structure that allows students an element of choice in what modules they study. Donnelly and Fitzmaurice (2005) in their chapter in this collection on ‘Designing Modules for Learning’ highlight the importance of attempting to focus on the needs of the students at the early stage of curriculum design. Choice in the curriculum is not without its difficulties and Edwards argues about the dangers of individuality in the concept of the social learner and how this can in a seemingly contradictory way lead to disempowerment (2001). One student-centred approach to curriculum design, Problem-Based Learning (PBL), allows for some choice within a programme of areas that students may study. It allows students to set some of their own learning objectives/outcomes, dependent on prior knowledge. Problem-Based Learning, through the use of problems/issues/triggers, encourages the students to develop their own learning goals, thereby filling in the gaps in their knowledge or understanding (Boud and Feletti 1997). This element of choice or control is referred to in many of the definitions of student-centred learning. This aspect of responsibility aligns with the Lea et al. (2003) view that student-centred learning involves ‘increased responsibility and accountability on the part of the student’. Problem-based learning is higher up the student choice aspect of the SCL continuum in Table 1 , than the usual problem-solving or problem-oriented exercises performed in a lecture/tutorial. These approaches are more controlled by the teacher in their presentation and outcome (Davis and Harden 1999). However, they are useful in addressing the active learning aspect of student-centred learning. Other approaches to curriculum design also support the idea of student choice and activity in learning, for example, the systems-based approach, resource-based learning, and experiential/ personal relevance approach (Toohey 2000).
You may consider. fieldwork. in striving to reduce the amount of lecture contact hours for more student-centred formats.A growing practice in course design internationally is the writing of learning outcomes/objectives focusing on what the student will be able to do. rather than content. A third strategy is a focus on interaction. The final strategy is the focus on transferable skills. This practice is an example of the move towards student-centred learning in the curriculum and helps to shift the emphasis on the learner as opposed to a coverage model by the teacher. Table 2: Learning Outcomes and Student-centred Learning Student-centred Learning Outcomes: Some examples By the end of this modules: you (the student) will be able to: Recognise the structures of the heart Critique one of Yeats’ poems Implications for teaching/learning methods The University of Glasgow (2004) identified four main strategies in a study on student-centred learning practices in their University. This is also reflected in Gibbs’ (1995) definition. i. where possible. an emphasis on the process and competence. use of CAL (computer assisted learning) packages etc. rather than on the content being covered by the teacher (UCD Centre for Teaching and Learning 2005). Donnelly and Fitzmaurice (2005) re-iterate the importance of this shift in emphasis. Table 3: Examples of student centred learning/teaching methods Outside of the lecture format Independent projects Group discussion Traditional Learning Outcomes/Objectives The course will cover: The anatomy of the heart A selection of Yeats poems In the Lecture Buzz groups (short discussion in twos) Pyramids/snowballing (Buzz groups continuing the discussion into larger groups) . This last strategy is not mentioned in other definitions of the student-centred learning but does look beyond the immediate course requirements to other benefits to the student in later employment. The second strategy was to make the student more aware of what they are doing and why they are doing it. however. Table 3 highlights a sample of student-centred learning/teaching methods and includes some ideas for lecturers both within (more teacher-centred) and outside of the lecture format. such as the use of tutorials and other discussion groups. The first strategy was to make the student more active in acquiring knowledge and skills and might include exercises in class.e. Table 2 presents some examples of student-centred learning outcomes.
Black 1999:126). where a student is ’controlled through a system ’micro-penalties’. i. Table 4 presents practical examples of student-centred assessments as presented by Gibbs (1995). Further details of some of these assessments can be seen on the UCD Centre for Teaching and Learning website ( http://www. He also explains the concept of self-assessment as essential activity to help students ‘take responsibility for their own learning’. By developing more formative assessment in your courses you can provide a focus for the student by highlighting their learning gaps and areas that they can develop. the constant giving of marks which constitutes a whole field of surveillance’ (cited in Broadfoot 1999:88). written comments on assignments.ucd. which emphasises feedback to students on their learning. b) pupils are compared with one another which highlights competition rather than personal improvement.ie/teaching). an assessment for judgement or accreditation. The addition of more formative assessment. 1997. while the giving of advice and the learning function are under emphasised. Light and Cox 2001:170). learning journals Computer assisted learning Choice in subjects for study/projects Writing newspaper article Portfolio development Cross-overs (mixing students into groups by letter/number allocations) Rounds (giving turns to individual students to talk) Quizes Writing reflections on learning (3/4 minutes) Student class presentations Role play Poster presentations Students producing mind maps in class Implications for assessment practices Black (1999) summarised some of the difficulties highlighted in the literature in the area of assessment. would ‘enhance their (student) learning’ (Brown et al. an important aspect of SCL (Benett 1999. The addition of more formative assessment encourages a more student-centred approach. a) that the giving of marks and grades are over emphasised. The use of the written examination is still a strong practice in today’s Universities and is primarily a summative assessment. Table 4: Examples of student-centred assessments (Gibbs 1995) .e.Peer mentoring of other students Debates Field-trips Practicals Reflective diaries. Foucault argued that the examination was a technique of power. for example. grades during the year that do not add to end of year mark and multiple-choice questions/answers for feedback only. Examples of formative assessment include feedback on essays.
. describes the range of choices available to students in relation to assessment as: ‘. emphasising ‘ an increased sense of autonomy in the learner’ as noted in Lea et al. how the judgements are made and by whom these judgements are made’. depending on their learning gaps. This can add choice in what to study and. Learning contracts/negotiated contracts are goals set by the student.. (2003) in their definition of student-centred learning.. The contract can also highlight the manner in which the student would like to be assessed in order to demonstrate that they have reached the goals. logs and journals Portfolios Peer/self assessment Learning contracts and negotiated assessment • • • • Projects Group work Profiles Skills and competencies Peer and self-assessment both give some control and responsibility back to the student. In practice. what criteria and standards are to be used. which are in turn negotiated with the lecturer (Knight 2002). Table 5: Assessment process and student-centred learning Involving students at the stage when the task is set: • • • • Choosing the assessment task Setting the assessment task Discussion the assessment criteria Setting the assessment criteria Making self-assessment comments Making peer-assessment feedback comments Suggesting self-assessment grades/marks Negotiating self-assessment grades/marks Assigning self-assessment grades/marks Assigning peer-assessment grades/marks Involving students at the stage after the task is completed: • • • • • • . The concept of negotiation of learning also addresses the unique change in relationship between lecturer and student noted by Lea et al. in addition.. (1994) highlight a range of suggestions on how lecturers can involve students in the assessment process: (Table 5 ).. as mentioned earlier. Choice is one of the key terms in relation to studentcentred learning.• • • • Diaries. Gibbs (1995:1).’s definition of student-centred learning (2003). how do we give students some autonomy and decision-making in an area such as assessment? Brown et al.. choice in how the student will be assessed.
Students in a UK University elaborated on the impact of student-centred learning on them. however is it an effective approach to learning? Lea et al.(Brown. and each requires a specific pedagogical approach appropriate to him or her and to no other. may in fact drive some of the sociability out of the learning process if care is not taken to emphasise the importance of peers. Simon (1999) describes that student-centred learning. the construction of an all embracing pedagogy or general principles of teaching become an impossibility’ (Simon 1999:42). the belief system of the students and staff. they felt there was more respect for the student in this approach. The main critique of student-centred learning is its focus on the individual learner.e. Equally. 94% of the students would recommend it to others over the more conventional approach (Hall and Saunders 1997). In addition. therefore. In relation to this individuality. Student-centred learning. found that the activating group developed better study skills and understanding. the resources needed to implement it. and Gibbs 1994) The suggestions in Table 5 above may seem a large jump from your current practices. Edwards (2001:42) also highlights the dangers associated with student-centredness in adult education where in empowering an individual there is a potential danger of ‘a person’s physical isolation from other learners’. (2003) reviewed several studies on student-centred learning and found that overall it was an effective approach. in the School system. i. The concept of being an independent learner choosing his/her own route of learning. Lea et al. which compared traditional and activating instruction. despite its popularity. but were slower in their study initially (Lonka and Ahola 1995). In addition. and students’ lack of familiarity with the term.’s study on psychology students highlighted their concern over being abandoned or isolated from other supports in a student-centred learning approach (2003). can be in danger of focusing completely on the individual learner and taken to its extreme does not take into account the needs of the whole class. that it was more interesting. Simon highlights the point that ‘if each child is unique. motivation and grades in a first year information technology course (1997). A six-year study in Helsinki. The effectiveness and critiques of student-centred learning The use of student-centred learning appears to be reflective of today’s society where choice and democracy are important concepts. 2003). is not without its critics. i. and it boosted their confidence (Lea et al.e. . An example of a small but significant change is to provide a choice of essay topics and exam questions as a manageable starting point. Rust. there are some difficulties in its implementation. The importance of the social context of learning and the value of interaction with peers is emphasised in the socio-cultural view of learning (Bredo 1999). Hall and Saunders found that students had increased participation. you might consider moving your assessment practice slightly up the teacher/student-centred continuum. exciting.
Student-centred learning is not without some criticism but in general it has been seen to be a positive experience. It can be equally hard at times to see how the approach can be economical in the large classes associated with many current University undergraduate courses. It is used very commonly in the literature and in University policy statements. is taken to a progressive step in which learner-centred approaches mean that persons are able to learn what is relevant for them in ways that are appropriate. such as Namibia. students’ familiarity with the term can be poor. Waste in human and educational resources is reduced as it suggested . and this they believe is often down to class sizes. for example.O’Sullivan (2003) described student-centred learning as a Western approach to learning and may not necessarily transfer to the developing countries. This study highlights that even during the University years. They found that. Summary The changing demographics of the student population and the more consumer/client-centred culture in today’s society have provided a climate where the use of student-centred learning is thriving. students can change their view on learning and as they move through the years so to may their views on student-centred learning change. choice in learning. Students who value or have experienced more teacherfocused approaches. by the University of Glasgow. Finally. In this study they found that studentcentred learning (SCL) was more prevalent in the later years of the student degrees. They found that lecturers with a teacher-centred approach to teaching held views that students should accommodate information rather than developing and changing their conceptions and understanding. 60% of the students had not heard of the term. The interpretation of the term ‘studentcentred learning’ appears to vary between authors as some equate it with ‘active learning’. Perry’s work on the development of University students highlights how students move from a dualistic view that knowledge is right or wrong to a relativist view that all answers are equally valid (Perry 1970). Prosser and Trigwell’s work in higher education emphasises the different belief systems held by staff and students (2002). Lea et al. Another concern regarding student centred learning is the belief that students hold in relation to their learning. may reject the student-centred approach as frightening or indeed not within their remit. In support of Perry’s work. (2003) conducted a study on 48 psychology students in the University of Plymouth on students’ attitudes to student-centred learning. on the use of student-centred learning with full-time undergraduate students (2004). Stevenson and Sander (2002) highlighted that 1st year medical students were suspicious of the value of student-centred learning methods. but this has not necessarily transferred into practice. and the shift of power in the teacher-student relationship. despite a University studentcentred policy. where there are limited resources and different learning cultures. The reverse was true for those with more student-centred approaches to their teaching. while others take a more comprehensive definition including: active learning. A comprehensive study was conducted in 2004. Edwards (2001) emphasises the value of student-centred learning: ‘Placing learners at the heart of the learning process and meeting their needs.
and assessment of program quality to satisfy McCombs & Whisler's essential factors. Learner Characteristics Learner-Centered Approach An essential factor for a learner-centered approach is placing the learning characteristics of all learners under the microscope with specific emphasis on low-performing learners. students can be observed working individually or in pairs and small groups on distinct tasks and projects. 1997). She said that the culture of the learning context is as important to learning as the content and the . She defined learner-centered. educational renewal. (Edwards 2001:37). . and needs. McCombs & Whisler. thinking-centered learning. McCombs (1997) explained that the focus in a learner-centered approach is on individual learners' heredity. and styles. Learner-centered classrooms place students at the center of classroom organization and respect their learning needs. Although recognizing that it is not necessarily an easy task. this article examines whether moving from a teacher-centered to a learner-centered approach requires a transition or a paradigm shift. nor what they are uninterested in’. [paragraph] 2). diverse student needs and populations. • Purpose The premise--one teaching and learning approach fits all--is not working for a growing number of student populations and has prompted this researcher to examine what is required to move from a teacher-centered to a learner-centered approach. perspectives. Milambiling (2001) extended the learner-centered definition by characterizing learner-centered education as context-sensitive. By contrasting the use of reflective inquiry. from a research-based perspective. how individual students learn. interests. often resulting in limited learning or no learning. problems occur when teaching styles conflict with students' learning styles. Altan and Trombly (2001) offer learnercenteredness as a model for countering classroom challenges because of its viability for meeting diverse needs. strategies. 1998. talents. teacher-centered curriculum to meet the increasingly diverse needs of students and make the required increases in achievement gains. School violence. The transition from teaching the entire group to meeting individual learner needs involves extensive planning and task-specific classroom management. and technological advances place demands on teachers in areas for which they were formally held accountable. Introduction Twenty-first century classrooms challenge traditional. as a foundation for clarifying what is needed to create positive learning contexts to increase the likelihood that more students will experience success (Defining "Learner-Centered". McCombs & Whisler (1997) identified two essential factors for a learner-centered approach to education: (a) characteristics of the learner and (b) teaching practices. experiences. With teacher educators. In learner-centered classrooms. backgrounds. capacities.learners no longer have to learn what they already know or can do. Cultural factors impact the connection teachers must make to scaffold students' learning (Singham. The focus is on metacognition. it is hoped that this chapter has gone some way to providing evidence and ideas to move you higher up the continuum towards a more student-centred practice.
McDonald (2002) clarified the definition by saying that the work of teachers depends upon the abilities. Student achievement is at the forefront of teacher centered curriculum. 2001) distinguished between the expert and the novice teacher. Teachers in a teacher-centered environment focus on making relationships with students that are anchored in intellectual explorations of selected materials. Teacher-Centered Approach The teacher-centered approach is associated chiefly with the transmission of knowledge. A utilitarian approach to teaching that seeks assimilation into society for minorities and supports the acquisition of behaviors is required by the prevailing economic system and bureaucracies. That system should detail approaches for giving teachers information about how they provide instruction and orchestrate student learning. but teachers are driven to meet accountability standards and often sacrifice the needs of the students to ensure exposure to the standards. A system should be implemented to measure the effectiveness of methods and strategies. The issue. is whether those impromptu responses are a clear match for the learner who is having difficulty. knowledge of information stored in their memory banks. 2003). Similarly the onus for achieving is shifted to the student.methods used. Boyer (as cited in Perkins. Futrell. Milambiling recommended curricula which address the culture of the learner within specific learning contexts. McDonald (2002) explains that it is difficult to believe in children's capacity if one lacks a sense of how to work with it. • Teaching-Centered Environments Direct instruction is the predominant instructional practice used in the teacher-centered approach. Teachers provide a variety of instructional methods and techniques for helping learners construct their learning and develop a system for applying knowledge and theory. They have amassed a store of impromptu responses for capturing teachable moments. Deciding how to use what is learned from the telling of teacher narratives. and present case studies about hard-toteach students. however. The second essential factor. skills and efforts of their students. They focus more on content than on student processing. Berliner (as cited in Scherer. . and discussing what prompts them to try different approaches is a more appropriate measure of the quality of programs. 1997). teaching practices. The teacher-centered approach places control for learning in the hands of the teacher. determining how teachers know students are learning. places more of the responsibility for knowing individual learner capabilities and creating an environment where learners can make learning connections. The learner-centered approach. He explained that expert teachers have case knowledge. Both approaches recognize the student as a key factor in improving student achievement. teachers need supportive feedback. visit each others' classes. choosing what to do when students are not learning. however. The effort to get to know the learner and how he processes information is secondary. this approach perpetuates inequities (Blackwell. and Imig. Instructional schedules and urgency to comply with legislation do not allocate time for teachers to pose open-ended questions or to work on problem-based projects. Berliner emphasized that when teachers study one another's lessons. generates data for measuring the appropriateness of teacher behavior for positive student learning (McCombs & Whisler. The teacher uses her expertise in content knowledge to help learners make connections. that allows them to compare situations and respond accordingly. the quality of professional growth will improve.
Teachers do not participate in the crafting or implementation of curriculum. • In both approaches. • Reflective Inquiry One approach to making learner characteristics become both a priority and a collective goal is engaging educators in reflective inquiry. teachers decided what students would learn and how. Usually. Rarely do students construct their own learning. students' characteristics become the data that teachers use to match learning. and learning profiles. Teacher narratives and the emphasis on learner characteristics make the learner-centered approach a viable alternative for matching teaching practices with learner needs. Content and methods are handed down to teachers in the teachercentered approach.1993) reported that one percent of instructional time is devoted to questions that invite thoughtful responses. to theorize how assumptions and feelings are associated with practice. teachers bring command of content knowledge but design flexibility for learners to construct their learning. narrative. although often commercially developed. Conversely. Educators' levels of knowledge and approaches for instruction reflect how they learned and what they feel comfortable teaching. What is needed are approaches that operate in a manner to transform the school culture from one that focuses on processing to one that focuses on invention in the interest of Differentiated instruction meets the needs of diverse student populations by coupling student needs with a focus on content. Tomlinson (2000) explained that approaches that lose sight of the soul of teaching and learning make it difficult to attend to individual differences. Traditionally. achievement is measured on objective tests. 38). Individual inquiry must occur and then be shared with the larger group to effect contextual cControlling how instruction is provided distinguishes teacher-centered from the learner-centered approach. Henderson and Hawthorne (2002) explained that reflective inquiry is the process of engaging teachers and leaders in thoughtful instruction. Orchestration in traditional classrooms is limited because student interaction is basically responding to teacherdirected questions. Reflective inquiry allows an individual to analyze and identify assumptions and feelings associated with practice. However. Tomlinson (2000) describes the regiment of the factory model as a paint-by-number template that does not fit student needs. and pose questions that students can use to create meaning. Learner needs and characteristics take precedence over knowledge of facts and skills. and to act on the basis of the resulting theory of practice (p. they are given directions by people who are not involved in instructing children and who often never knew or have lost sight of the dynamics that diverse populations place on classroom practice. process. Similarly. and empowerment (p. assessing the quality of the programs and learning that is an integral part of the learner-centered approach are ignored in the teacher-centered approach. is endorsed by the faculty. teachers provide background data and content. in the learner-centered approach the curriculum. research. They see the big picture and have a command of the content. the diversity of teaching methodology. With the learner-centered approach. 40). However. the expertise that teachers bring to the learning context cannot be underestimated. they make decisions about . the emphasis is on engaging learners in learning for understanding and thinking. to theorize whether assumptions and feelings are functionally or dysfunctionally associated with practice. to help them build their own interpretations.
Teacher education colleges were assisted to focus on training teachers in this tradition. teachers try to make sense of constraints imposed by curriculum standards and legislation alone or in fragmented groups. To support a learner-centered approach. O'Neil The move towards active learning and student-centered approaches is a world wide trend. and involved commitment of everyone involved under the broad umbrella of curriculum. stakeholders must support the ideology. thinking-centered learning. RN only programs best address the needs of adult learners. assistance. the mechanics of creating and operationalizing such a program are a complex matter and require the ongoing support. a government educational policy which established active learning and a problem solving approach was issued in 1994. A student-centered curriculum is possible to design which does not compromise quality. where each element of the curriculum can be tailored expressly to match learning style. creating thinking-centered learning. 2003). There must be a commitment to reflection. Incorporating reflective inquiry. Commitment from the top down and the bottom up is not routine. teacher guides. Curriculum and Pedagogy Revisited: The Shift Towards Active Learning and StudentCentered Approaches in Ethiopian Primary Education By: Teshome Nekatibeb. and assessment of program quality requires a paradigm shift. and the historical context of educational practices cannot be automatic.what is appropriate for their learners and select strategies that will work for their learners. In Ethiopia. In the teacher-centered environment. alternative pathways to teaching. and constantly assessing the quality of instructional programs. Dr. Issues of societal change. However. and activity books were prepared and distributed. The policy indicates that this task would be carried out by curricular and teacher education reforms and through research and development. Professional development . Developers of learner-centered curricula are committed to seeing that teachers help students achieve and that teachers are provided experiences to help them grow professionally. For these reasons. Given the highly specific learning needs of RRNs. The rationale for the new approach has been the need to improve student learning. They feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the students' problems (Haycock. Covering material takes precedence over teaching deeply so that students can use learning in different situations. To this end. new text books. Assessment of Program Quality hange. Ernest D. Teachers tend to follow the waves rather than charter courses. RRNs describing the attributes of RN only designed programs cite the support of independence that is the hallmark of such programs. a student-centered curriculum is most easily implemented in an RN only program.
activities were carried out in cluster schools and their satellites. in International Comparative Education from Stockholm University. is how much active learning has been attained in the classroom. curriculum theory and practice. NORARD and UNFPA. educational policy and innovations. educational theories. The relevance and availability of learning materials. United States Agency for International Development Ethiopia . Collected data will be analyzed using relevant statistical packages and qualitative methods. He received his Ph. The purpose of this study is to explore the shift towards active learning and student-centered approaches in Ethiopian Primary Education. and the extent to which teachers have been prepared as reflective practitioners. teacher questionnaires. Teshome Nekatibeb Monitoring. school leadership. Nekatibeb served as an Assistant Professor and Chairman of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction of the Faculty of Education. student learning assessment. the quality and the extent to which teachers do action research are other issues of major concern. Research and Policy Analysis technical advisor of AED/BESO II in Ethiopia. the availability and relevance of curriculum materials supporting active learning and the extent to which action research has been practiced in primary education. Dr. The study will take place in a sample of cluster primary schools and primary teacher education colleges. He has been a consultant and advisor to several international institutions including UNICEF. and teachers were also trained in carrying out action research. AED/BESO II Project Ministry of Education Addis Ababa. Research and Analysis Advisor. however. gender and education. Inc. The particular focus is on student participation in classroom lessons. Ethiopia Teshome Nekatibeb is a Monitoring. Classroom observations. Sweden. teachers training as reflective practitioners. It is hoped that this study will provide an adequate understanding of the transformation of the curriculum and pedagogy of primary schooling in Ethiopia.UNESCO-IICBA. Dr.D. Ernest D. The question. O'Neil Chief of Pary. Evaluation. the Addis Ababa University. observation checklists and interviews will provide the necessary data. Prior to joining AED. His research covers a wide range of areas including educational media and information systems. These efforts are certainly indicatives of the move towards a new direction. The Academy for Educational Development. Global Education Center AED/BESO II Academy for Educational Development. Evaluation.
wider community. His holds a BS from the St. Bonaventure University.the job of parents. and all he or she may come into contact with. Research Associate with the Ministry of Education and College Director. He has extensive experience in Ecuador as a Peace Corps Volunteer.GROWTH STAGES - . Ref: L06P0519 [↑] A NEW CHILD-CENTERED CURRICULUM FOR EDUCATION .but this is just the clay we have to work with. educators and the whole. Ernest O’Neil is the Chief of Party of the Academy for Educational Development/Basic Education Strategic Objective (AED/BESO II) Project which is a joint initiative between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ministry of Education in Addis Ababa. To find the kind of things each one can do best. university professor and college dean in the various states and within the University of Texas System for over four decades.. This is the reason I am offering a new concept for a core curriculum.PRENATAL TO ADULTHOOD The discussion of the creation of adult human lives can be most fascinating . It is the real task we have as educators. .Dr. in International and Development Education from the University of Pittsburgh. The format is very simple. He has been a teacher. being based on human mental growth steps. and how well it is done can make such an enormous difference to each individual. or seven stages of cognitive development. with the most satisfaction. which can be then molded to the optimum `shape' for the well-being of the individual. teacher educator.D. to the families and communities who make up our world. He has served in similar positions in Jamaica and Bolivia. Of course. as follows.. hereditary factors have a part ... MS from The State University of New York at Albany and a Ph. is something we all would be glad to have happen to us.
persecuted by other jealous pupils (heard of nerds?). mischief making. Surely education should have the goal of developing the individual to the point where young people are ready for successful entry into adult life. Note that some aural (sounds) and emotional stimulation can happen pre-birth. yet I know many of the very highest achievers who have such a hard time at school.each stage is built upon the last the next stage will involve the previous activities plus the new ones. the universe 5) Ages 11-15: self and relationships study (puberty) 6) Ages 15 -17: Development of personal gifts and interests 7) Ages 16-adult: career. This is supposed to make life wonderful.to see people highly educated. although this is not a well explored area. . Both may lack the confidence to find and train in work that is satisfying and challenging to them. Creative people such as actors. So few of them leave school feeling sure of what they want to do. Academic people can improve how we live. So. non-academic practical people may feel they are failures..1) Conception to mobility: explore and develop the five sensory and innate perceptions 2) Pre-school: physical exploration of familiar environment 3) Ages 4-7: developing communication skills 4) Ages 7-11: general studies . day-dreaming. At the other end of the scale. making life more comfortable. the curriculum activities are cumulative . in different ways (excluding actual brain damage). basing development on a non-linear scale of intelligence. We need people working at tasks that involve good hand-to-brain function. The different kinds of intelligence are valuable and needed. or even what they can do.A NEW MODEL FOR INTELLIGENCE Looking again at the last three stages of cognitive development. employment exploration The age ranges are will overlap and build on what has already taken place. successful. resulting in boredom.creative. and open the door on what is to come. and rich. Not recognising the value and worth of creative and practical intelligence. and not being extended by busy teachers.. we would die. I propose a radical concept. academic and practical. . yet without practical people. High IQ people display the irony of the supposed goal of education . is why I see the school system failing just about everybody in terms of discovering and developing individual capabilities. It is the progression that's important. overlapping areas . and second-class citizens. even worth living. for the practical tasks that occur in the life sustaining requirements of food.exploring creation. less dangerous. but most children will be working on these topics at the about these ages. writers and musicians make life interesting. clothing and shelter. It declares that all of us are intelligent. I perceive there are three basic.
We think that the higher up the scale we are. To read a more detailed. and honored. building homes.so that practical ability was bred out of the human race . -ADVANTAGES OF THE NEW CURRICULUM But the beauty of this curriculum is that activities for each stage are developed on a wide basis according to the ability of the child. see my article online called: A New Model for Intelligence.in a variety of ways . respected. but in the end.. However. makes more sense than spending most teacher time on fixing weaknesses . an artificial environment. or to a highly complex level. This means whether a child is gifted or handicapped. all are needed..low or high IQ. No.either just the rudiments..and having everybody end up with mediocre ability. If we were able to choose the genetic makeup of our children . not better or worse than each other. I see extremely gifted children working with others via e-mail. various languages and literature . It may seem an easier task to box everyone into school rooms.Each person has gifts and intelligence . Human abilities are as diverse as human needs. no one fails. caring for farm animals. The classroom is after all. For this way. All children will feel they will have a place in the world..we would have serious problems in finding people who are able to enjoy and be good at the work involved in planting and harvesting crops. The following thoughts are filling out and developing some of ways it can be applied.but you may like to take at look at what is on it)The article is now on my site .so that all did well in our present academic school system . I see practical children setting up gardens. we need to approach intelligence with a much wider focus. with a HiQ adult as majordomo. (sorry. the more likely we are to succeed. . Readiness to move to a more complex level is determined by a perception of the child's level of interest and occupation in the activities. society as a whole will be poorer. I can see each age range working at a widely varying depth of study.the internet is a must. I have outlined the major thoughts in the new concept. they will cover each stage . and tiny farms and businesses with local business people helping on occasion. Life proves this wrong time and time again. and their physical ability to be able to participate in them for increasing lengths of time. sewing clothes. At the first level of schooling I see a practical child gain basic number and written language skills. a child-centered curriculum. whilst a HiQ student explores university level mathematics.they are different. somewhat light-hearted article on this crucial concept. it is no longer available on this high IQ site .A New Model for Intelligence.. The reason we have done this is because we only see intelligence on a linear scale . it should be evident that finding out what each person does best.
. accepted and important. From this healthy position. So. aunts.particularly in the school situation.DEVELOPING THE BLUEPRINT So what we have here is a "roadmap" And from here. This will enable more teacher time to assist the really needy children to gain communication skills. the positive atmosphere will be a great help in discipline. for a healthy outlook on the world.the latter will be . The first two pre-school stages require parents as teacher. .and some of that will involve making mistakes and learning what isn’t safe.which is the job of parents. in making school an enjoyable place to learn. need ideas of how to stimulate and develop the five senses . and this will decrease with maturity. and provide a healthy emotional atmosphere .(shapes and colors.for everybody's sake! The child needs to be given time and attention.that can be made available online. This means that the child's needs come first. 1/ Newborn to two year old. if the right amount is given at the right time. plus needed resources. and aims gradually to teach the child to teach themselves . However. they can begin to explore and to manipulate their environment . but grandparents. and a mix of company and solitary play. smells). extended family.lesson plans .HOW DOES IT WORK? LESSON PLANS AND CONCEPTS . Not all of them of course. much more than by experience! They need to learn that some things (which include other people) are not to be manipulated . some of the discipline problems will disappear. day-care centres etc.PRESCHOOL The curriculum is child-centered. what can be done at each stage to enhance our children’s learning ... and feel they can get good at.to feel safe. friends etc should all have their input. relatives. in the main. textures. But it will be up to specialists in different areas to create expansion studies.which is where the carer has to be firm . is part of what a child needs to learn. sounds. hopefully from the carer. It will require some new kinds of teaching material and methods. I have enjoyed working on a few of the beginning areas. The child’s most basic emotional needs are:. taste.. . or in private schools. we need a huge pool of activity ideas . Parents. but then the parent/ carer can take some time for themselves or others. This kind of balance.I feel that when children are doing things they enjoy. But in homeschooling situations. it can start working immediately. and it can begin even before birth. educators and the wider community? It is simple. human nature being what it is! And there will always be problems brought from home.
textures of all sorts ... ask the simple questions.anything from classical music to motor noises smells . The home and backyard have endless possibilities for discovery and manipulation . behind the couch.. the beach.. cats.to develop knowledge of the everyday world.the hut things inside and out .some will need to be arranged .the picnics at home. animals etc. but parents will need to have some control over this e. Out to the park.some things you clean.like the rustle of shiny black plastic strips that catch and hide the light. the beach and river and mountain .take them out to touch trees and leaves and flowers.. are safe to interact with!] The child will begin to physically explore and endeavor to manipulate what they can get to.anything from orange peel to leather to smelly shoes!. rocks .colors . and leave where they can get into them. low levels of tension around the baby... the workplaces.... who can perceive both physical and emotional states.. The child needs to know "Am I safe?" and "How can I affect my world?" and the balance of these will springboard them for the next step. talk the language.introduce them to the librarian. 2/ The young child . in the cupboard things . mirrors . vegetables....a good one . the local store.. the factory.and from there.. and with binoculars. tissues. practical.. physical learning. pine cones. the shops. doctor's surgery. sounds . they can explore their neighborhood. microscope. learning words..talk to lots of neighborhood people about themselves ..each stage should carry through to the next stage and on into life..shapes. the library.do the under the bed. park... touch ... taste and smell..like a visit to a milk processing plant. factory. and to talk.. ice.etc. some things are set up for this . building site. to open the doors for the exploration.variations .sand paper.mostly involuntary learning.3-5 year olds need to learn about their environment ..... This is just the beginning . Stimulate and develop the five senses : visuals .shops.. ideas. the whole orange to touch. zoo. the critter thing . THE FORMAL EDUCATION SYSTEM . Starting with home .. that are in the home. the marae.g..torches . the school . The parent's job is to help them learn the safety issues.magnifying glass. the rivers. taste .let them get into the pot cupboard... They need to begin exploring the familiar environment: [including which human beings. the zoo. the child can explore where things have come from. And then there's combinations . garage . the plasicware . the earth . the hospital.see above. grass. some things you watch them with ...explore the grass. the stars at night.. talk. This is a stage of hands on.. and about people and what they do. farm.
.Readiness for each stage may be determined by both observation. All the basic skills should be there by age seven . The rest of the day can be given to facilitated learning at each child‘s level.brain damage.in which case. The child's own historical/ non-English cultural background should be drawn upon here.. so that children have a pool of decoding skills. the need will be to keep giving them steps 1 & 2 in the classroom. Passes will be gained by reaching a certain standard. They also should learn how to speak. speak clearly. Communication skills development in early school communication studies begin with the five "R's" . And although spirituality is not usually able to be included in the state school program. dyslexia. For older children. write and listen well...phonics should be taught along with the `look and say' method. Each day should have some set activities. thepersonal computer. or others. where deeper things cannot be avoided. write.. complex toys. or a language that can be used in a local cross-cultural situation.or number language.with children learning to teach .an introduction to various sciences. rather than competing with other students in any particular school. where children connect a picture with a word shape.reading. 4/ 7-11 year olds: Applying communication skills to learn about the universe. listen carefully. I think. Here in New Zealand. arithmetic. a much wider range of subjects and credits should be offered. where students gain credits in a wide range of subjects towards a National Certificate of Education Achievement.. which are designed to be passed well by most people. . and entry mastery tests.unless there's actual learning problems . spell.these can be teacher assisted projects .. so an exercise program and a sport of choice needs to be part of the curriculum. that classes or individual pupils should be allowed to work through things in their own way. etc mean too many overweight young ones. for a number of reasons. aural and oral. There are difficult times in everyone’s life. . with support from the teacher. where for an hour an appropriate age-range principle is presented. for a holistic approach. if appropriate. history. Physical fitness is also important in education. emotional disorders .now it's learning to read. a reform of the examination system is taking place. geography . This will do a great deal towards improving literacy standards. writing. Wider ranging television and video games access. I think it should be respected and discussed in an open way.the kind of things children want to know . 3/ School entry: 5-7 year olds. Each of these has a great deal of extension possibilities which can carry through to the next stage as soon as a useful level of ability is reached. Rudiments of other languages can also be taught to most children while their tongue/ear/mind connection is still flexible. They will already have lots of words . and basic arithmetic . Numeracy and literacy will form part of the standard necessary for a level one pass. especially these days where children have so much of interest to keep them indoors.. and basic arithmetic/ number communication. in the case of death of friends or family.
and don't need to limit it to a few means of expression .why does frozen water get lighter when everything else gets heavier when it becomes solid? And then some geology fun ... if they are introduced with simplicity and enthusiasm.. grass hair.. read it. birds. and there's so much scope. anthropology.. and find out interesting things about them.use imagination/ stories.extension can also be through trips to more technical/ complex places.matter.help them think of the questions.it's up to the teacher to think of different ways .." And itis true. And plant biology . who said he was studying to find out "how God made the universe. pollination. bean sprouts.. atmospheres.. and write it. gardens . amphibians. The "5 R’s" can be incorporated into these activities rather than in repetitive. and self designed personal and group projects. animals. "creeping things". with some guidance and encouragement from their tutors. cacti. waterfalls . at the same time. geology. clouds. chemistry :.take them out to explore banks and cliffs . and metamorphic earthquakes.sea plants . vegetables.. talk. even a senior school might have fun showing young ones some things. and the seeds get into his droppings. and talk. and an new tree grows and a bee puts pollen in a flower to make a new apple complete with actions of course!] And here.themselves at their own pace.answer some of the `whys' etc. . how little . seeds . . not holding back those who are gifted.Have children make name labels for plant collections e... .. Talk it. Start with light/ heat/ waves/ sound . This will give more time to teach communication skills to those having difficulty. astronomy. As you start to teach them how to teach themselves . History.experiments. plant biology. with an endless supply of books. visit a laboratory. irrelevant exercises . How many different species of plant/tree can they find in your locality? . tornadoes. With the sciences . underground caves. river systems. energy.and put order into it .. fish. the water cycle and the atmosphere.. [I've kept kindergarten children enthralled with a story about what happens when a fox eats an apple. thunderstorms.g. talk. literature..social. Calling this stage "learning about the universe" is a quote from Einstein. cacti. time. draw it. songs. the internet and other resources.the foundations of our earth.. evidence of earthquakes in layering. sedimentary. the child who is taught to teach him/herself can come into their own.volcanic rocks. lots of science experiments of the most basic sort. the first chapter of Genesis is a useful list covering all topics. they can go as far as they wish to at their own speed..flowers. then on to ecological systems. There are the sciences involved in light production: physics.they can keep diaries. snow.what do plants eat? How do they grow? How big. caves and the sea.strange plants . models.... sociology. Children can learn the basics of all of these sciences. life sciences. the arts etc . you'll never run out of material. dinosaurs. floods . tidal waves. and then people studies ... look for the volcanic extrusions..orchids. dramatization. Then the water cycle.It can all be used again...
..'Am I practical.this isn't hands on! This is where you get all the books. balancing accounts. microbes and creepy crawlies .. visits and visitors to help develop awareness of strengths and weaknesses.yuck!) And now for people .plus opportunities need to be given to try all the crafts. Get them to suggest ways they might want to remember.physical and psychological .. and keep it varied .(which is valuable for everyone to have some knowledge of..some of the positive and negative ways used to encourage people into a wholesome lifestyle.art.html . The child needs to know where he/ she fits into the scheme of things.. try their food. childcare.they would tell it all again to their parents!] 5/ 12-14 years: Learning about oneself .stretching the mind. theirpersonality profile. They need to discover their gifts.a very generalized but full-on approach to the budding adult .ac. crime and punishment. It is an intensely self-focused and personal time in our lives. The range should be across all types of intelligence.get them to write careful reports . and computer/ video learning . home crafts .. music. give them challenges .teach them new words like habitat. Some more biology . carpentry. a report on a science experiment. To do this. award systems. film making.experiencing all kinds of activities. or write stories.and take them on night trips to the observatory. . creative. Get them to draw diagrams and labels and do graphs and layouts . [Yes . respect differences.these make a good list to ask the people from other places as you invite them in . Some are just an exploration of various kinds of activities that may be used in terms of a career .what would you want to know if you went and stayed with some people in another country? Food.note it down. abilities. and lots of discussion groups.Space . electronics.there is a need to relate the maturation process to each individual. ecosystem. Sports. creating a newspaper. or draw. and videos .. it can be a time when various diagnostic activities can take place.edu ..to do class books.the story of man . instructing others.carterobs. etc.. Can you set up a telescope? Here's a couple of internet sites http://www. -Mechanics. first aid and other simple medical procedures. whales. Test what kind of learning style the child has. Help them dissect a dead animal (fresh off the road .a class timeline with pictures and labels that they note down as you tell the story . and cultural events. their language.some might want to make models. houses. tigers... games etc . helping agencies. academic or a combination?' Plus social skills . their songs. on dinosaurs. abilities. and learning how to control and emotions.I've been a teacher and my class of 711 year olds loved these kind of activities .get out the books on fish and birds.history .nz/carter. discussion groups. driving skills. interests . in any case).. And geography .. and http://hubble. There should also be some learning and discussion of social skills and activities ..And then there's museums.stsci. life cycle.self exploration and discovery: This has to be more than human biology .
V. and laying them out before the children. and where to go to. This stage may take only a short period for the practical minded... and do the best we can to achieve it. and enjoy doing . and auntie thinks boys shouldn't cook.the morning being taken up with set reading and mathematics subjects .. along with a list of topics they could choose to work on . I remember getting all the books I could find on the subject matter. 6/ 14-15 years: Study of many kinds of skills and how they can be applied for the good of yourself and others . but it is much better to aim at something high.employment studies. and career or work options which can use what you're good at. These were 7-11 year olds. . So the ideas may well be of use as out of school activities. medical school etc. we are trying to find the optimum use of the basic genetic material.. It is then.This can be a stage where the door can begin to open to the adult world. as well as their obvious gifts. and personal circumstances.. In fact. rather than trying to fit in with family expectations. This is an idealistic approach. a time to discover personal placement options.surely the best kind of educating.where over a year. preparation and entry into employment. where things that the child feels are of interest are pursued. He may enjoy cooking. and will finish when the young adult moves into the workplace. to use those skills. CLASSROOM EXAMPLES I’ve been thinking of my experience as a teacher . maybe there should be a system where special needs children only attend school part of the day?. maybe the adult may write a program that can create original recipes! 7/ 16+: Discovering and choosing a career path and beginning to learn the skills that will be needed.Yet.. grand-dad can't stand computers.. and much longer for the academic.. with university. a small class of 15-20 pupils.mapping these choices. rather than exclusive.. and be ready to step into the desired field by having interviews. It should mean that no-one leaves the education system unemployable.. These may seem too disparate to pursue . having a C. with a range of options to follow according to the vagaries of the job market. and all its joys and pitfalls. It could be that.. finding out who to see.. I got my class to teach themselves .and work experience or further specialized education in the chosen course if necessary. for instance..a private school situation. I’ve been trying to analyze how I did that. . or in a group. This area should have a broad approach. also. and so would try and influence the child.but there must be an inclusive attack here.individually. ready . Remember. and be very good at computer studies. I didn't have much time to work with . even if they are not quite so interested. This stage is one where employment types and opportunities are actively pursued...
. we did a timeline . or a visit behind the scenes at the local shops. dyslexia.g. There are socialization factors such as patience and tolerance. Discovering useful links to areas of interest through search engines is usually. schooling & health. rather than their intelligence the range there was marked as well .. and will also enjoy practical manipulation tasks such as cooking or clay work. animals. which can always be gained from mixed groups THE INTERNET AS A CLASSROOM AND COMMUNITY This is an area of particular interest to highly academically gifted children . WHAT ABOUT MAJOR EXCEPTIONS? There will be some extremes such as the intellectually handicapped. They came up with great questions of the really important stuff . appearance. with just a few children . ate strange food. It needs to be supervised . for even a gifted child may not know something obvious in every area. it is important that each of the stages are covered. games/ hobbies. tried clothing on. I called it "Visiting round the world" and invited people from other cultures into the class . The cards were displayed on the class wall afterwards. work. The children loved it and would go home and repeat it all to their parents . sometimes knowing more than their teachers do..from very bright to intellectually handicapped. language. but not always a useful thing to do.you can actually go to people's homes even better! I expect the internet would be great as well. with creatures. for the sake of being balanced in development. was write and perform a musical . houses....this time they had to do sketches and notes as I lectured them [story style].for instance. and the guests had a great time too. They also added an original picture. For history.as will a handicapped child. or those impaired in a certain area e. titled it with the animal name. We learnt songs in other languages. The difference in the pupils work was marked .and rules/government. . activities and family life. food. appearance.and did great on props and the actual performance.a bit more difficult but they had a go at the writing .food. and had to fill out a list of subtitles : habitat. countryside. Lots of books again for them to look at was the key.I gave them a format . Yet even with such children. .[now how often does that happen with school work! My three boys never did!] Of course. e.g. they made up an A5 card.but first the class discussed what we would want to know if we went visiting another culture.... There are also to be considered those that could be called severely gifted.who often have a difficult time in normal school. clothes. a different learning situation again. And one other thing we did. and they had to choose to develop their sketch into a proper picture and label and paste it correctly in place. who can read Shakespeare at the age of three. and then we made up a timeline on continuous feed computer paper. For geography... in their specialist subjects.but by the length of time I had had them in my class.
than with others that have no reason to care so much. Subject centered approaches are often easier to approach when planning for instruction.. Focusing on behaviour. and not expecting the impossible.. If the instructor determines that will be the approach used."We can protect and provide for our children.we'll have to look after them all our lives". we are creating adult human beings here! Peace. and "It's a race .Wait a few minutes and ask me again in a more friendly way" . that is followed by breaking down the content into .for stage 2.or at least a normal part of life .who can do the most!" it can be done.. grace and joy in your work Deb #298965 There are distinct differences between these two types of curricula When addressing curriculum development it is essential to determine if one is philosophically predisposed to a subject centered or student-centered approach to instructional planning. The aim with discipline is to gradually teach children to internalise it . using words like "Well done.. I like that. but if we don't train them ... It can be fun . for instance with tidying up. A wise lady once said .or "Bad person!" if they misbehave.where everyone does what they can to make things nice and comfortable.pick up the toy and hold it in their hand as you take it the toybox. It is jolly hard . Because it's better that they learn that adults are humans with needs and tolerance levels too .and everyone does what they can to help . it is simply a function of determining the x-amount of content to be disseminated by a target date..as soon as they are capable with a lot of encouragement and praise. There is a need to help them see that the world goes better for them when they behave in healthy ways . Children need to feel they are an important part of the family . which can put too much pressure on."Forgot to say please? .[it's a long time for a little one ..THOUGHTS ABOUT DISCIPLINE ..self discipline. After all. It is helpful to use creative ideas like: .'Doing to others what they want them to do to them" I think that the children need to learn that Mom isn't `all that pleasant to be around' when they don't behave..with you ..but start by working with them to tidy up .and you don't want them to go hungry/ thirsty] It is all worth it in the long run.. what a good helper!" is better that "Good person" .
this program may assist the spirit of change emerging in those Swiss medical schools that are considering ways to reform their approach to traditional undergraduate medical training and to adopt a more community-oriented and PBL perspective.more manageable deadlines. The solution is contrasted with the other key considerations when planning for instruction. However. where each element of the curriculum can be tailored expressly to match learning style.” Throughout the curriculum. Switzerland's first master's program in public health was established in the fall of 1990 at the University of Geneva School of Medicine. It is essential that one determine the prior to beginng to plan the curriculum as it will completely affect the overall curriculum. the first cohort of students was certified as competent public health specialists who have acquired relevant professional skills as well as a holistic “public health culture. a student-centered curriculum is most easily implemented in an RN only program. assistance. is well accepted by students and staff. Instructional planning and expected outcomes will likewise be affected. the mechanics of creating and operationalizing such a program are a complex matter and require the ongoing support. and evaluate projects related to health problems they have encountered in their own employment as health professionals. around which the program is designed. For these reasons. Beyond its internal objectives. A very brief overview of key considerations when determining whether the curriculum will be subect. The 3-year program is fully learner centered and community oriented. In the summer of 1993. students plan. implement. and involved commitment of everyone involved under the broad umbrella of curriculum. RN only programs best address the needs of adult learners. RRNs describing the attributes of RN only designed programs cite the support of independence that is the hallmark of such programs.or stucent-centered. and brainstorming sessions with the program's specially trained facilitators allow students to identify and achieve individual educational objectives while working on community-related health projects. The process of problem-based learning (PBL). What is this? By OTA .Overall OTA Rating A student-centered curriculum is possible to design which does not compromise quality. Individual and group work. discussions and seminars with teachers and other students. . Given the highly specific learning needs of RRNs.
and knowledge • Examples from the Food for Plants Materials ○ ○ ○ ○ • • • • • • • • • Concluding Remarks References Table 1. 2001 Outline • • Introduction Becoming a curriculum developer ○ ○ Roots in teaching A researcher’s perspective Examples for providing a sense of purpose Examples for taking account of student ideas Examples for developing and using scientific ideas – building a case Examples for promoting student thinking about phenomena. Selected teacher pages from Food for Plants (PDF. 827 KB) Appendix E. 2001 American Association for the Advancement of Science Washington. experiences. Pages from the Introduction to the Teacher (PDF. 964 KB) Appendix F. Project 2061 Criteria for Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Support Appendix B. D. Roth Michigan State University February 25. Comparing student conceptions and ways of thinking with scientists’ conceptions and ways of thinking about plants and their food Appendix A. Student-Focused Curriculum Materials Development: The “Food For Plants” Story Kathleen J. 848 KB) . Selected student pages from Food for Plants (PDF. 815 KB) Appendix D. Food for Plants pretest (PDF.C. Content organization and background for the Food for Plants unit Appendix C.AAAS Conference on Developing Textbooks That Promote Science Literacy February 27-March 2.
this alternative text and teacher’s guide puts students’ thinking and experiences at the center of the development process. 2001 My experiences as a teacher and a researcher convince me that traditional science textbooks are not useful learning tools for the majority of students. if we take seriously the research on student thinking and learning about particular ideas in the science curriculum (AAAS. Food for Plants. There are two purposes for this paper. Chapter 15).Student-Focused Curriculum Materials Development: The “Food For Plants” Story Kathleen J. This research knowledge about student thinking on specific topics in the science curriculum makes it possible to create curriculum materials that better support students in developing genuine understandings of important science ideas. 1999) looked for evidence that curriculum materials were making use of this research base and found scant evidence that such research was playing a central role in the development of science textbooks and teacher’s guides.Building a case Synthesizing ideas over time Providing practice Promoting Student Thinking about Phenomena. that addresses some of the Project 2061 curriculum materials analysis criteria. In addition to writing the text. Using research about students’ thinking and learning about how plants get their food. Experiences. But textbooks and teacher’s guides can be improved. In addition traditional teacher’s guides do not provide sufficient support to help teachers guide students in developing real understandings of science concepts. This research convinced me of the particular importance of the following Project 2061 criteria in science curriculum materials (see Appendix A for a complete list of the Project 2061 criteria): Providing a Sense of Purpose Conveying unit purpose Justifying lesson sequence Taking Account of Student Ideas Alerting teacher to commonly held student ideas Assisting teacher in identifying own students' ideas Addressing commonly held ideas Developing and Using Scientific Ideas -. Using knowledge about students’ thinking and learning in science. . The first purpose is to describe how my experiences as a teacher and a researcher led me to these conclusions about the limitations and potential of science curriculum materials. Roth Michigan State University February 25. The second purpose is to provide examples showing how this research was used to create an alternative text and teacher’s guide.. I also taught the unit and did a series of in-depth studies of student learning throughout the unit. Researchers working on the Project 2061 Curriculum Materials Analysis Study (Roseman et al. and Knowledge Encouraging students to explain their ideas Guiding student interpretation and reasoning Encouraging students to think about what they've learned The theme running through all of these criteria is eliciting and guiding student thinking about particular content ideas. 1993.
instead. which included my experiences as a teacher of science and my work as a researcher studying classroom teaching and learning in science. The paper is organized in two major sections. And it did not seem to help to read the text together in class.. “Convincing” students involves gathering evidence that will challenge them to reconsider and change their common ideas that plants get their food from the soil or from water or from the air. “Convincing” students also involves paying attention to students’ experiences and their ideas. in particular. But I could never figure out a way to make it interesting and helpful to my students. and my students dutifully (for the most part) answered the questions and defined the words. 28). However. The earth science text was the kind of text I was familiar with as a student myself —full of text definitions and explanations. one with my seventh grade life science students and another with my eighth grade earth science students. they attempt to convince students through a connected series of activities and experiences that the idea of photosynthesis makes sense. it was as if they had never read the text at all. How could you determine which things are necessary and which are not necessary for photosynthesis to occur?” (Abraham et al. I used two different textbooks. In my teaching of middle school science. words in bold print. This was one of the texts created during the post-Sputnik era of NSF-funded science curriculum development efforts.and about their understandings of plants. In class. and supporting and guiding students’ attempts to make sense of these experiences. The materials begin by eliciting students’ ideas and experiences about plants and food. The materials are not about presenting content to students. Becoming a Curriculum Developer Roots in Teaching As a middle school science teacher. the chapter about photosynthesis was framed as an investigation of interactions between plants and the environment. This text was an interesting and helpful resource to me in planning units of instruction. p. I will first describe key experiences that influenced my curriculum materials development work. this text—Interaction of Man (sic) and the Biosphere (Abraham et al. The questions guiding the chapter were: List things “that you think might be involved in this interaction between green plants and their physical environment. I will then provide examples from the Food for Plants materials. I assigned reading and check-up questions as homework. For example. the teacher is supported in continually assessing student thinking and understanding (and misunderstanding) and in guiding and supporting students’ development of important science ideas. each chapter or unit started with a “big” question—a question focused around a major theme in biology. In fact. I was frustrated with science textbooks. presenting carefully selected and sequenced experiences with phenomena and new ideas. The seventh grade text was quite different from the typical text. the materials attempt to engage students in constructing a reasoned understanding about plants and food. 1975. The rest of the chapter included a series of readings and laboratory activities that were used to help . diagrams to memorize. As the unit proceeds. 1975)—had very little narrative text compared to traditional textbooks. Instead. And it was this frustration that eventually led me to develop “alternative” curriculum materials designed to help 5th-6th grade students understand how plants get their food. I wrote the Food for Plants student text and teacher’s guide.. illustrating how they address the Project 2061 criteria listed above. it was clear to me that this text was not communicating clearly to my students. endof-chapter words to define and questions to answer. Thus.
they were the core of the text. A Researcher’s Perspective As a graduate student. thrown in to make things a little more interesting. Because I wasn’t having students read traditional text. This nontraditional text changed my way of thinking about science teaching in three important ways. This contrasted with my assumption that the main part of teaching was the presentation of clear explanations of science content and that student activities were nice extras. the students are engaged in gathering evidence to “build” a basic equation for photosynthesis: Green plants + CO2 + light + chlorophyll —produce→ Sugar and starch Thus the text attempted to build an argument. Students conducted experiments to gather evidence that sunlight and carbon dioxide are necessary for photosynthesis and that sugar and starch are produced in the leaves of the plants. Consistent with a large body of research on students’ thinking and learning about science concepts. or case. Second. As a researcher. In this view. my own research provided critical insights about why it is so difficult for students to develop useful. comparing the goal conceptions of the unit (those consistent with the thinking of the scientific community) with the experiencebased conceptions that students bring to the classroom. West and Pines. it helped me reimagine science teaching as a process of engaging students actively in building ideas using evidence. I had the opportunity to sit in classrooms with my attention focused on the students: How are they making sense of this lesson. it helped me understand science in new ways. For example.and posttests. this science activity. 1989. This process is called photosynthesis.answer the framing question. for the content ideas (see Project 2061 criterion IVa). would they be disadvantaged when they took high school science courses where they would be expected to read content-dense textbooks? Should I use traditional textbooks so that I can help students learn how to use these textbooks? Or should I abandon the textbooks and teach in the ways that seemed to be most effective in helping students understand the science ideas? It was these questions that eventually led me to graduate school and into the world of research. 1987. They examined Priestley’s historical experiment with the mouse and a plant under a bell jar to provide evidence that oxygen is produced in photosynthesis. student activity was central in the development of ideas. and analyzed their written responses on pre. Roth. Throughout the chapter. Third. These experiences in tracing student thinking transformed my views about teaching. it was the first time I had seen a text attempt to engage students in building an argument. this unit of study? I interviewed students at critical points throughout a unit of study about how plants get their food. These experience-based ideas are often in direct conflict with the scientific conceptions. 1985). I participated in a research study of 5th grade science teaching and learning (Roth. scientists believe that plants get their food energy by taking non-energy containing matter (water and carbon dioxide) and combining them in the presence of light energy to create high-energy food matter (in the form of sugars and starches). and Smith. It shook my belief that content was largely lists of terms to memorize and focused my attention instead on the big ideas in science and their conceptual connections. and it . Table 1 presents some key findings from this research. conceptual understandings of many of the subjects they are taught in school (Anderson and Roth. 1984). But this nontraditional text also posed some problems for me as a teacher. The lab activities were not optional. Anderson. First.
they must find the new idea fruitful.  For further information about the content of this unit. in the end. & Hertzog (1982) used research about students’ ideas to develop a conceptual change theory of learning. Posner. They might memorize a definition of photosynthesis. that is. it is not worth the struggle to change conceptions. If they do not see the usefulness of the new idea. sunlight. that is.. Hewson. Often this was a difficult and confusing process. And finally. In my own research. What had gone wrong? This experience gave me a new appreciation of the difficult challenge both students and teachers face when they are trying to change deeply-held. they must find the new idea plausible. experience-based ideas that are in conflict with scientific explanations. carbon dioxide). there are three conditions that must be met before genuine conceptual change can occur. I was shocked by these results. I thought that the teacher had successfully helped them interpret the data in ways that would have convinced them that plants are very different from humans—that they have the unique ability to make their own food out of raw materials (water. First.” and they ended the unit with the same belief. Strike. Thus the majority of students did not show significant growth or change in their thinking about plants and food. they also added into their schema the idea that plants could also make their own food. But why do these student conceptions matter in the teaching of science? It matters. students must find a new idea intelligible. like people. have multiple sources of food that they take in from their environment. where both the teacher and the students were enthusiastically engaged in conducting a series of experiments with plants. they must be able to reconcile their own ideas with the new idea. I had observed the students actively engaged in the activities. that is. Quite to the contrary. However. Students began the unit holding the belief that “light is needed for plant growth. they see evidence that plants are like people—they take in food from their environment. Building on Piaget’s ideas about the importance of cognitive conflict in the learning process. Those few students who were successful in changing their personal theories and in understanding and accurately using the idea of photosynthesis had to use a variety of higher-level thinking skills. the students’ posttests were not significantly different from their pretests. The research shows that students (and adults!) will hang on tenaciously to the ideas they have built from experience. At best. which includes the pages in the Teacher’s Guide that describe the content goals of the unit. They drink water and they suck up nutrients and minerals from the soil. They began the unit asserting that plants get their food from the soil or from the water in the soil. the teacher skillfully guided students in collecting data about plants’ growth under varying conditions and supported them in graphing and summarizing data. see Appendix B. because it is not easy for students to give up or change their commonsense ideas about plants. Using the Science Curriculum Study materials (Knott et al. However. students cannot see any evidence in their everyday life that plants make their food. 1978). Only plants can make their own food. including rich discussions about their explanations of the results. they must be able to understand what the new idea is proposing. In their view. Second. but this does not fundamentally change the way they think about plants. and all other life ultimately depends on this energy-capturing process done by plants for their own sources of food. They continually tried to use new information to explain and make predictions about plants and their needs. and they ended the unit still clinging to these core beliefs.represents an essential difference between plants and animals. they must be able to see the usefulness of the new idea in a variety of real-world contexts. I watched students in an active science classroom. They believe that plants. as students encountered areas where their .
give students enough practice in using the new ideas in a variety of contexts (IVg). and c) plants get their food ONLY by making it. In my initial study of the SCIIS curriculum materials. then why does my Mom water her plants?”). I did not expect students to undergo any significant conceptual change from just reading a text. I developed the hypothesis that the materials had failed to: • • • take students’ ideas into account (II). Only one student out of 12 students who read the traditional texts used a conceptual change reading strategy and developed a solid understanding of the key concepts. In contrast. 6 out of 7 students using the Food for Plants text used a conceptual change reading strategy and developed a solid understanding of the three key concepts: a) plants make their food (and do not take it in). air. I wanted to help the less successful students go through that same complex process of conceptual change as the few top students had experienced. and then understanding it.’s terms. and water to make food (Iva). the SCIIS materials met the following Project 2061 criteria for analyzing science curriculum materials: • • • • • provided a clear sense of the unit purpose (Ia). . synthesized ideas over time (IVd). The study looked at middle school students who were reading traditional textbooks about plants and food as well as students who read the Food for Plants text. In Posner et al. the findings were dramatic. These students were metacognitively active. The results of the study surprised me. I wanted to find out whether students’ processing of text would be any different if the text anticipated and interacted with students’ ideas more explicitly. included a variety of vivid experiences with phenomena (IIIa and b). using it once.4 through post high school. and used the activities to build a case that plants need light. Such conflicts led to analyses of the differences between them and to restructuring of the student’s personal conceptual frameworks. the materials made the ideas intelligible.knowledge was incomplete or in conflict with the ideas presented. the students reading the experimental text included students with reading levels ranging from grade 3. however. However. The research goal was to study student thinking as they read about how plants get their food. b) plants need light to make their food. they developed conceptual understandings of photosynthesis that they could use to explain why plants in a cave will die or why we need to water plants and give them sunlight. And most students did not go through this process. I wrote an alternative science textbook to accompany the SCIIS activities (Roth. These students’ conceptual learning was not a straightforward process of hearing a new idea. provide enough support to help the teacher guide student interpretation and reasoning of the experiments they conducted. In the end. 1984). Similar to the students reading the traditional texts. In this regard. For my dissertation study. This led to a decision to provide more opportunities for students to practice using the new ideas. I believed that the SCIIS activities had laid out a solid plan for “building a case” that plants make their own food. each clearly linked to the next (Ic). laid out a strategic sequence of activities. Examining the materials in the context of the student learning data. monitoring their developing understandings and resolving areas of confusion (“If water isn’t their food.
writing the Food for Plants text with a focus on student thinking and learning forced me to consider each Project 2061 criterion from the students’ perspectives. I describe the ways I went about writing an alternative text that seriously kept students’ ideas. and Knowledge Encouraging students to explain their ideas Guiding student interpretation and reasoning Encouraging students to think about what they've learned But I want to preface this section with a caveat. Convinced that paying attention to students’ thinking had transformed my teaching and contributed to high levels of student learning. experiences. However.The dissertation study convinced me of the power of taking students’ ideas seriously in writing curriculum materials. teaching the science. I took on a teacher-researcher role. the research studies I had . For example. supplementing it with additional activities for students and adding a Teacher’s Guide that paid particular attention to helping teachers to guide student interpretation and reasoning (Project 2061 criterion Vb). and thinking as the central focus in making decisions about activities and tasks for the students and about notes to help the teacher guide and support student learning.Building a case Synthesizing ideas over time Providing practice Promoting Student Thinking about Phenomena. I conducted a classroom-based research study of fifth grade students’ thinking and learning about science across the school year. The examples are organized around the criteria from the Project 2061 analysis of curriculum materials that I found to be most important in developing a studentcentered set of materials: Providing a Sense of Purpose Conveying unit purpose Justifying lesson sequence Taking Account of Student Ideas Alerting teacher to commonly held student ideas Assisting teacher in identifying own students' ideas Addressing commonly held ideas Developing and Using Scientific Ideas -. and studying student learning across the school year. their knowledge of these concepts remained strong in interviews at the end of the year. Experiences. using a conceptual change teaching approach. The Food for Plants unit was taught in this context. In this section. I revised the Food for Plants text. It is important to note that only the second Project 2061 criterion for analysis of curriculum materials (Taking account of student ideas) explicitly focuses on taking students’ ideas into account. Examples from the Food for Plants Materials My research and teaching experiences led me to the conclusion that it was essential to plan learning experiences for students (both in curriculum materials and in actual teaching) based on knowledge from research about students’ ideas and thinking about the particular topic being studied. Not only did students demonstrate a high level of conceptual growth during the plants unit in the fall. After the completion of my dissertation study. The Food for Plants text and teacher’s guide provides examples of the Project 2061 criteria that I believe are most important in taking students’ ideas seriously in writing curriculum materials.
It was one challenge for students to understand the new idea about photosynthesis (to find the new idea intelligible) (Posner et al. Thus. trees.conducted clearly indicated that these concepts about plants and food were not easy for students to grasp and that they needed a lot more practice using and applying new ideas in different contexts (Project 2061 criterion IVa). S7-9). Examples for Providing a Sense of Purpose: Does the material convey an overall sense of purpose and direction that is understandable and motivating to students? Does the material convey the purpose of each lesson and its relationship to others? Does the material involve students in a logical or strategic sequence of activities (versus just a collection of activities)? Both the student text and the teacher’s guide emphasize the unit purpose. They are asked: How does such a tiny seed grow into a huge tree with a trunk and branches and needles (or leaves) and many roots? What are YOUR hypotheses about how a TINY seed can change into a HUGE tree? Where does all the stuff in the tree trunk come from? Talk with your partner or group about your ideas. S5-6). In the “Seed and the Log” activity (pp. flowers. Teacher pages are located in Appendix F. And it was yet another challenge to find the idea useful (fruitful) in a variety of contexts and therefore. 3. Traditional textbooks communicate that learning happens with one reading and a few follow-up questions. students examine some pine tree seeds and a large piece of a tree trunk. The unit begins with a central question. A discussion follows that engages students in thinking about why people cannot live by eating dirt or water alone. 1982). . “How do plants get their food?” Three activities frame this question initially for students and engage them in generating hypotheses about how plants get their food. In the original Food for Plants text. 2. 1. etc. grasses. worth the struggle to understand.. “Our Inquiry: What is food for plants?” (pp. Listen to their ideas. I knew that teachers were not likely to recognize how students need to struggle with new ideas in multiple contexts before they will really understand the new idea. explicitly states the unit questions: In our investigations about plants we will focus on questions about how plants get their food: What is food for plants? How do plants get their food? How does their food help plants live and grow? Do they need food in the winter? How can plants use food to change from tiny seeds into large plants (bushes. Tell how your ideas are different from someone else in your group. Draw a picture showing your ideas about how a tiny seed can become a huge tree. NOTE: Cited Food for Plants pages can be seen in full in Appendix E. It was another challenge to find the idea plausible in relationship to their entering ideas—to reconcile or accommodate their ideas about food coming from the soil with ideas about plants making food (photosynthesis). the teacher pages are located opposite the corresponding student pags. Then write down your ideas about how a tiny seed can become a huge tree. “providing practice” became central in writing this studentfocused text.)? The activity continues by providing a scientific definition of food as containing energy that living things need to live and grow. The next activity. I wanted to challenge this assumption and to help teachers realize how difficult and complex learning about plants can be for students. the Project 2061 criterion.
Thus teacher support gradually fades. we will explore what food is for plants and how plants get their food. students are given many opportunities to use. or apply. I want you to listen carefully to other scientists’ ideas. It is used to guide the sequence of activities. S11). The text then guides the teacher and students in having a “scientific discussion” about these hypotheses. This question is repeatedly posed to students in each lesson as they accumulate evidence across lessons to support and/or challenge different hypotheses about plants and their food. The teacher supports students in reconciling this new idea with their entering ideas. students need less and less explicit support from the teacher. This learner-centered instructional model is explained to teachers in the introductory pages. or hypotheses. Van Helmont – Is soil food for plants? The entire lesson sequence is designed to address this central question. the idea of photosynthesis is introduced to them during the “Explain Scientific Concepts” phase. As they become more confident in their understandings of the new concept. Do you have evidence to challenge or support their ideas? Do you agree or disagree? Why? Are you clear about what the other person is saying? Can you ask a question to get clearer about what someone else is saying? (Teacher guide. the instruction moves to an “Explore and Challenge” phase. central questions of the unit: Student Text: In this unit. “Beginning Ideas About the Question: What is food for plants?” (p. As we go along. A chart showing the main instructional function . even the activity titles communicate this ongoing exploration of the question about plants’ source of food: Activity Six: Are seeds food for plants? Activity Eight: Is water food for plants? Is soil food for plants? Is sunlight food for plants? Activity Nine: Dr.In the next activity. We will test our hypotheses to find out how plants get food that contains energy that they can use to live and grow. emphasis added) Teacher’s Guide: A Possible Teacher Narrative: “Let’s see how many ideas. the idea of photosynthesis in different real-world situations. emphasis added) But the central question is not limited to the introductory lessons of the unit. where students are given opportunities to explore their ideas and to consider challenges to their ideas. explorations. p. T12. It is introduced in comparison with the students’ hypotheses. (Student text. After students’ ideas have been challenged to the point where they are beginning to wonder whether their original hypotheses adequately answer the question. At first. I will keep a list of our ideas on the board/overhead/poster. “Challenge” activities are designed to produce cognitive conflict—to call students’ attention to ways in which their original hypotheses might be limited. They draw arrows on a diagram of a plant to show how food moves inside the plant. In the next phase of instruction. again beginning the discussion with reference to the framing. students are asked to write down their own ideas about how plants get food. See how your ideas change and grow. compare what you find out with what you have just written. we have about how plants get their food. and students are asked to consider whether it makes sense in light of the data gathered so far. following a model of science instruction that begins by engaging students in considering the central question and eliciting their ideas. Throughout the unit. For example. they need strong guidance and support (coaching) from the teacher to reason successfully through these problems. S12. there are activities designed to support students in reflecting on their own learning and to raise questions and new connections. p. After this initial phase.
however. Alerting teacher to commonly held student ideas: Does the material alert teachers to commonly held student ideas (both troublesome and helpful) such as those described in Benchmarks Chapter 15: The Research Base? The introductory pages of the text provide some background information about students’ ideas and the importance of making the students’ ideas central in science teaching. (T11) In another example. Four specific barriers to students’ developing understanding of photosynthesis are then described: 1) everyday vs. 3) the challenge of thinking about invisible particles and processes. Equally important. to the “baby plant” to describe . for example. In a section titled. plant food sticks. Instead of bringing these goal ideas and terms into the discussion. Some students tend to think about anything plants need as food for the plant. Typically. S16). This chart suggests to the teacher that students should not be expected at this point to hypothesize that the embryo gets food from the food stored in the cotyledon. Many students list multiple sources of food for plants. T11. “Common Student Responses. the teacher is given a description of the research on students’ ideas about plants and their food. These comments are highlighted on the Teacher Pages under the heading. In addition to these common student ideas. a range of possible student responses is given. Still others identify only fertilizers or minerals as food for plants. the teacher is provided with a range of possible responses that students might give to the question: “Write down YOUR ideas about [how] plants get their food. and 4) students’ satisfaction with explanations that fall short of explaining “why” or “how”. or even that the seed is a source of food. 2-8 Teacher Introduction. 2) the challenge of understanding the abstract concept of energy. Others think that whatever plants take into their bodies (“eat”) is food for plants. students dissect seeds and observe the seed parts. For example. the guide provides the teacher with some commentary about the patterns of student responses: Water is one of the most common responses. They are then asked whether they think the seed is food for the plants (p. A chart of “Common Student Responses and Suggested Teacher Interpretations and Actions” appears on p. on p. The teacher is given guidance about the significance of different types of anticipated student responses and suggestions for how to react.of each activity is included in the introductory pages for the teacher. or a combination of these. “Starting with the Students: Students’ Ideas about Plants and Ways of Thinking” (pp. Activities are listed as falling into one of the following instructional phases: Establish the Problem and Elicit Students’ Ideas Explore Activities to Challenge Students’ Ideas Explain Scientific Concepts Apply Activities to Practice Using New Concepts in relationship to students’ preconceptions Examples for Taking Account of Student Ideas The Food for Plants text addresses all three of the Project 2061 criteria in this category: 1.” These possibilities (all of them contrast with the goal concept about photosynthesis) include water. see Appendix D). soil. scientific definitions of “food”. the Teacher’s Guide provides commentary throughout about anticipated student responses. T16. and the anticipated responses focus on “incorrect” responses as much as they do on “correct” responses. the teacher should let the students use their own ideas and words— referring.” This is a regular feature of the activities. sunlight.
Which living things take in their food from their outside world (their environment)? 14. They had food cause they had [that the man planted in a closet]? air and water. But plants need light. which indicate that she believes that plants have multiple sources of food that they take in from their environment and that anything they take in is food (just like anything humans eat is considered food): Question 4. the teacher can diagnose each student’s entering ideas about plants and food. The pretest (Appendix C). The questions are primarily open-ended questions. Which living things make their own food? Circle any of the following that you think is food for plants. 11. water Both plants and animals Humans Soil. stuff in the soil 7. Many of them provide scenarios for students to explain. What do you think happened to the seeds They died. many students begin the unit believing . Describe what food is for plants Response Air. carbon dioxide. Most plants get food from… 13. [Draws arrows going in the roots and up the plant and also going from the air into the leaves] Soil. For example. Assisting teacher in identifying own students' ideas: Many questions posed to students in the Food for Plants text are designed to elicit the students’ ideas. 2. air. air. too. so that the teacher can learn about the particular ideas and experiences of his/her own students. They should also make sure that all students observed the “baby plant” since many are likely to have missed it. plant food you buy at the store 3. soil. Addressing commonly held ideas: Does the material attempt to address commonly held student ideas? Many of the activities in the Food for Plants unit were selected because of their potential to challenge and address particular commonly held ideas that students bring to the science classroom. The questions are designed to elicit students’ own ideas and experiences. By looking at the pattern of answers across items.the embryo. a student might give the following pattern of responses. and they didn’t have light. is an example of assisting the teacher in finding out about his/her own students’ ideas about plants and how they get their food. water. For example. water. oxygen. along with its associated analysis strategies. 9. fertilizer. Draw arrows to show how food moves in a green plant.
sunlight. Later on in the unit. The activity is structured around the hypothesis that “Plant food or minerals and fertilizers are food for plants. Examples for Developing and Using Scientific Ideas -. the students observe as the teacher tries to burn a peanut. .Building a case 1. Early on. vitamin pills.that plants get food from water or from fertilizers and minerals in the soil. Synthesizing ideas over time: Does the material provide a logical sequence of encounters with the key ideas and tie them together? The Food for Plants unit begins with a clear framing of a central question: How do plants get their food? Each activity in the unit is then clearly linked to this central question.” Students are challenged to find evidence to support and challenge this hypothesis. but not for humans. This activity raises doubts about water in some students’ minds. high-energy foods burn longer than lowenergy foods. S40). and minerals contain no calories—no food energy. but was created in response to continuing confusion among students about the role of minerals and fertilizers. a series of activities attempt to challenge students’ ideas that water is food for plants. They realize that they will quickly run out of energy and die. Students learn that calories are a unit used to measure the amount of food energy in a substance. a plant food stick. and a vitamin pill. Only the peanut burns. using air. vitamin pills. even if they continue to drink lots of water. The food label analysis activity was designed specifically to address the common and persistent idea held by many students that plants get their food from minerals and fertilizers we put in the soil. They also learn that calories are determined by how long a substance burns. and “plant food. Among the items they test are a variety of high-energy foods. but others are not convinced. This is strong evidence to support their ideas that both water and plant food are food for plants! But in fact. And each activity plays a role in challenging students’ initial hypotheses and in building a case for the idea that plants make their own food. but also included are non-energy containing water.” They find that water. the water and the minerals and the fertilizer do not provide food energy to the plants—that can only come from the energy-rich sugars that are created during photosynthesis. But an activity does not stand alone. Three examples will illustrate this criterion. and water. It was not in the original Food for Plants text. They argue that water DOES provide energy for plants. students act out how they would feel if they had only water and no other “food” (S9 and T9). In addition to reading ingredient and nutrition labels. They have watched their parents add both water and “plant food” (bought at the store) to make plants grow better. They then examine nutrition and ingredient labels on various substances to determine whether they are energy-containing matter (S36-38. Each activity is linked to the others to help students synthesize ideas across time. so that students understand that they are not just studying about plants but that they are trying to figure out how plants get their food. for example. the ideas that water and minerals are food for plants are challenged in another way. How might the curriculum materials help challenge and support students in changing their ideas about water and minerals and fertilizers? In the Food for Plants text. A series of questions (S40 and T40) structure students’ efforts to interpret these observations.
The text provides a chart to help students summarize their findings about what goes into plant leaves and what is produced by the leaf. and 2) stored food in the cotyledon feeds the growing embryo. S42). This demand for explanation begins with one of the first activities. and minerals in the soil are or are not food for plants (p. justify.” Thus. an amaryllis bulb. and represent his/her ideas? In the Food for Plants text. After a narrative summary of the key ideas. students are helped to put two ideas together: 1) plants make their food. and to contrast his or her ideas with someone else in the group. Encouraging students to explain their ideas: Does the material routinely include suggestions for having each student express. S48-S49. It takes many application opportunities to enable most students to change their ideas and use the new idea regularly and effectively. or food energy. nor plant food minerals are food for plants. 2) van Helmont’s experiment showing that soil is not food for plants. The text models how to reason from the findings of these three experiments to conclude that neither soil. pp. students are guided in synthesizing the findings from these three activities. In a reflection activity on p. Another synthesis activity occurs on p. Examples for Promoting Student Thinking about Phenomena. S5-S6. Where did the stored food in the cotyledon come from? It was made by the adult plant during photosynthesis. What does the bean seed have to do with photosynthesis? Through a cartoon and series of guiding questions. 2. and Knowledge 1. water. On p. S65. clarify. soil. Experiences. students are directed to create a skit or a concept map to model what they have learned about how plants get their food. . where the text helps students build a link between an experiment and the idea of photosynthesis. An earlier experiment had demonstrated that growing bean embryos get their food from the cotyledon. students are regularly asked to explain their thinking and to justify their positions with evidence. the text challenges students to “use these ideas to explain the following situations. S47. Students are first encouraged to talk with their group about their ideas about how a tiny pine tree seed could grow into a huge pine tree. S41. After discussing their ideas in small groups. A series of application questions are included on pp. The problem situations that students are asked to explain include seeds in a cave. The Seed and the Log. to draw his or her ideas. the text first provides a structure for synthesizing ideas and then presents two scenarios for students to explain using the synthesized information. each student is asked to write down his or her ideas. S41. and maple sugaring. S67S72. a pine tree in winter. plants getting food at night. Providing practice: Does the material provide tasks/questions for students to practice skills or use knowledge in a variety of situations? The Food for Plants text provides numerous opportunities and contexts for students to use their new ideas about photosynthesis. and 3) a food analysis activity that demonstrated that water and plant food do not contain any calories. students are guided in connecting together their findings from three different activities: 1) a grass experiment where they grew plants in the light and the dark. A third synthesis activity occurs on pp.On p. for example. Students are then asked to consider whether they are convinced that water.
Are students really convinced that water. Note that the second question on p. Instead of simply describing the van Helmont experiment and its results. The tree did not use any of the soil to grow bigger. soil. students are asked to write individually their explanations about the bean seed experiment: Why did some seed parts grow and others did not? With the grass seed experiment. and the food analysis activity. S28. S27 they are asked to explain their predictions for the experiment. and on p. there are a wide range . and S30 they are asked to write out their explanations of the experimental results. S20. 2. students are asked to make predictions about the experiment: A small tree is planted in a bucket of soil. on pp. In fact. as traditional texts might do. In addition. the tree (like all living things) needs ________________ that is in food. The text then prompts students to make sense of these surprising findings through a series of carefully structured questions. Think about our scientific definition of food. After the completion of the grass plant experiment. if they have not already done so: 1. the text engages students in reasoning about this historical experiment. van Helmont: Is soil food for plants?”. Van Helmont decided that soil is NOT a food for plants. S34 guides students to consider the “correct” conclusion. but the weight of the soil stays essentially the same. On p. These suggestions are derived from the research about student learning about this particular topic. What do you think van Helmont concluded? Is soil a food for plants? Why or why not? 2. S32-S33. It is watered and given sunlight over a period of five years. S29. they are directed to give reasons. most students in my research make this prediction. the van Helmont experiment. to explain their positions and their thinking. titled “Dr. Guiding student interpretation and reasoning: Does the material include tasks and/or question sequences to guide student interpretation and reasoning about experiences with phenomena and readings? The teacher’s guide pages in the Food for Plants text regularly provide specific suggestions to the teacher about how to guide student interpretation and reasoning. students are asked on p.On p. In order to grow bigger. provides a good example of the guidance provided to both students and the teacher. Activity Nine. S34. again with a focus on the research about commonly held student ideas that might get in the way of their understanding of the concept of photosynthesis. students are also asked to explain their ideas. the student text pages are structured in ways that guide student reasoning. On p. and minerals are not food for plants? As usual. Does van Helmont’s experiment give us evidence to say that soil is or is not food for plants? Explain your thinking. S42 to write about their thinking about the conclusions from all of these experiments. Will the weight of the tree go up or down? Will the weight of the soil go up or down? Why? The teacher’s guide (T33) points out that students who believe that plants get some or all of their food from the soil will predict that the weight of the tree will go up and the weight of the soil will go down. In this case. First. The teacher’s guide helps the teacher anticipate unexpected student responses as well as the desired response to these questions. the students see what to most of them is a surprising result: The weight of the tree goes up.
noting that this confusion can be resolved after the idea of photosynthesis has been introduced: Addressing the Nutrients Issue Students may have questions about what minerals and fertilizers do for the plant if they are not “food. There is no one single activity that will convince students otherwise. They argue that maybe it doesn't have energy for people. Your students. small group problem solving or concept mapping task. may be ready to consider a more complicated definition of food….of unexpected responses to consider. however. and individual writing/drawing in a science journal. by providing students with a more complicated definition of food. On p. T35).” Why do people spend so much money on fertilizers and minerals? Don't they help plants grow? With some students it is better to set the nutrient issue aside and keep the focus on the energy issue. the guide helps the teacher to accept student confusion at this point. focusing on how students are making sense. (Teacher’s Introduction. but that minerals have no weight. about minerals and fertilizers. In addition. but it does for plants.” These sections prompt the teacher and students to reflect on what they are learning and to make connections from one lesson to the next. The guide suggests how the teacher might choose to address the first issue. students will likely still be holding onto two commonly-held student ideas (p. S46. Some students will argue that the tree did get its food from the soil. and others assert that the tree DID “eat” the soil but it pooped out its waste products so that is why the weight of the soil did not change. small group discussion. I'm confused. The teacher’s guide provides interpretations of these responses. Encouraging students to think about what they've learned: Does the material suggest ways to have students check their own progress? The Food for Plants Student Text and Teacher’s Guide routinely includes a section called “Reflect and Connect. Telling them that water does not have energy in it is not very convincing to them. questions help students think about what they have just learned about . The strategy employed in this unit is to repeatedly raise questions about the water. the teacher’s guide explains that despite the instructional activity. p. but water does not provide energy to living things so water cannot be the food.. This questioning stance towards water will enable them to hear photosynthesis as a way to solve the puzzle they are experiencing: “Water must be food for the plants because they cannot live without it. Regarding the water issue.” Confusion is a good sign at this point! 3. Addressing the Water Issue Most students are reluctant to abandon the idea that water is food for the plants. As the Teacher’s Guide introductory pages state: Each lesson should support students in reflecting on their thinking processes: Have today’s activities given you any new ideas about our central question? What is confusing? How did you do today in thinking and acting in scientific ways to explore ideas about our central question? Do you have any new evidence to support or challenge any of our hypotheses about how plants get their food? This reflection can take many different forms including class discussion. 15) Examples of these “Reflect and Connect” sections appear in almost every activity. so that students are at least questioning their original certainty that water is food.
And. However. . Additionally. It is almost impossible to know all of the literature that has been published. and then craft the curriculum to support a knowledge base that is learner-centered and emphasizes quality reading. A learner-centered curriculum based on award-winning literature A learner-centered focus in reading creates a dialogue between students and teachers. Richards (1994) stated that many teacher preparation programs did not provide instruction on using literature in the curriculum and. This focus in classrooms can heighten awareness of the needs of individual readers. S73-74). this research base is incomplete. providing the impetus for teacher knowledge of the literature itself. In this activity students are guided to reread what they initially wrote about how plants get their food and to now write about their new understandings about this question. While there is much yet to be learned about the learning process and the role of curriculum materials in that process. Thinking about what they have learned. but knowing about many different genres will assist teachers. I propose that new partnerships between researchers and curriculum developers be developed so that teachers and students can have access to the best quality curriculum materials. Toward the end of the unit. but also an extensive repertoire of perfect books. not just the perfect book. teachers have been asked to become literature experts. teachers at the middle and high school levels need to develop knowledge of young adult literature. Teachers need knowledge about the subjects they teach. students are expected to describe how the plant is getting its food at each stage of development (p. almost overnight. curriculum materials development needs to include research activities. it would be unfortunate if what we already know about student learning fails to make its way into the curriculum materials development process. S50). Taking the Project 2061 criteria seriously means paying attention to research on student thinking about particular topics in the science curriculum. Therefore. Teachers must continue to develop professionally if they want to maximize their students' learning. knowing the perfect book for every situation. There are many topics in the science curriculum that have not been studied carefully enough. Concluding Remarks Textbooks can be improved using the Project 2061 guidelines for analyzing curriculum materials. students are asked to look at a book with photographs of bean plants at different stages of development. but teachers at the elementary level especially need a broad knowledge of children's literature.photosynthesis and to connect that with their initial ideas about how plants get their food. The entire unit ends with a Reflect and Connect activity titled. It may be impractical for publishers to conduct the in-depth studies of student learning and thinking that would be required. This research on students’ ideas can provide the central focus in the development of learner-centered curriculum materials. every reader and every curriculum area. “Revisiting Your Initial Ideas” (p. In these cases. Lack of children and adolescent literature knowledge is problematic in many schools.
Books that provide pleasure and lead to discoveries about literature. Elementary teachers need to know a wide variety of authors and illustrators and their works. Books with literary quality that can be used effectively. In today's schools many teachers are confronted with children who are depressed and often stressed. and value to literature (1983). it is not enough for teachers to understand the literacy elements. many children have differing views on reading. which causes students to turn to books instead of away from them (Norton. Teachers are not always prepared to work with literature based language arts curriculums (Beach. 4. Books may offer possible solutions to problems or even present the solution that could lessen a person's inner turmoil and thus break many attitudinal barriers to learning. and promotes language development and fluency in reading. Jalongo states that there are three criteria to be used in selecting books for bibliotherapy: potential for controversy. 2. The Caldecott Medal and Newbery Medal books are excellent books to begin searching for materials. teachers should be aware of various types of literature in the classroom. Not only must a philosophy be developed by the individual teacher. Books that elicit thoughtful responses from children. Karrer (1985) lists the criteria used in Teachers' Choices For Choosing Quality Literature: 1. as educators. 3. 1983). Therefore. Selecting books for the classroom and guiding children in their reading require an understanding of the literacy elements of children's literature. they also must appreciate and demonstrate excitement about the literature they use. 5. Books that contain elements that children could grasp with guidance. but a practical action plan must be developed to integrate literature into the elementary language arts curriculum. These books have been judged as some of the best books in children's literature. Invariably the purpose of teaching literature includes both increasing students' appreciation of it and developing other attitudes. 1993). but it should be fun. Children who are considered as excellent readers . Books with aesthetic or literary qualities which might be neglected by their readers without help from a knowledgeable and sympathetic guide. Reading should not only be required. Teachers who are not familiar with their teaching materials will not use them correctly. This situation would be easier to acknowledge if the teacher had knowledge of books considered as bibliotherapeutic literature. Ouzts (1994) stated that. Greater appreciation of literature increases pleasure in reading. accuracy or credibility. The International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English have recommended that literature courses be required in all teacher education programs (1993). One must realize that bibliotherapy is not the only reason that teachers should be familiar with literature. we must sensitize children to themselves and to others through books. Ouzts (1984) defines bibliotherapy as therapy through books and says that it is an effective technique that can be used to help children cope with their problems and thus promote mental health. Teachers who have knowledge of a wide variety of books will be able to impart success to their students. Routman (1988) states that literature allows meaning to dominate in the classrooms.Using literature in the classroom has many advantages. The best chance of breaking attitudinal barriers is through the use of literature. Additionally. However. Research indicates that children use the language they hear and read. Unfortunately. and need to know how to prepare relevant activities based on this literature. It is important that a teacher be able to select bibliotherapeutic books.
and Pang. Reflections of the cultural values of the characters. High literary quality. and . but one must understand that positive gains can be made in using this literature. 1987). The way that teachers can break through this barrier is to make reading fun. including strong plots and well-developed characterization. Multicultural children's literature is extremely important in the elementary school. The classrooms that are able to accomplish this have many commonalities. accessible library centers. presented literature daily. Overall. Contemporary as well as historical fiction that captures changing trends in the roles played by minority groups in America. 7. 4. Children must be able to coexist with various ethnic and cultural groups. and a social activity (Lamme. a private pleasure. This almost impossible feat requires a large library of books. Conversely. Tran and Barba (1992)). since illustrations can have a strong impact on children. the teacher must be knowledgeable about literature. to avoid stereotypes of a particular cultural group. Multicultural literature should contain: 1. 5. and a source of status (1987). Teachers should not only be interested in literature that they enjoy. Harada (1995). Selecting quality multicultural children's literature presents many problems. Colvin. 3. established attractive. The teachers: 1. 2. One part of teaching literature is keeping the student's attention long enough to develop a genuine interest. Kruise (1990) stated that quality literature is essential to an effective language arts program. This will benefit the children of the particular ethnic group because by reading stories about their own culture they are able to see life through other people who share their experiences. created opportunities for students to practice reading skills through self-selected reading during an allotted time 2. children in low reading groups think that reading is saying the words correctly. Pluralistic themes to foster belief in cultural diversity as a national asset as well as to reflect the changing nature of this country's population. 3. Teachers who are knowledgeable about children's and adolescent literature can increase their students' performance in school. The teacher must build a classroom library where books are easily accessible. but also literature that children in their classes can enjoy. 6. Historical accuracy when appropriate. Settings in the United States that help readers build an accurate conception of country and the legacy of various minority groups (Beilke (1986). These suggestions are very useful for teachers selecting multicultural literature and are appropriate for classroom use. Additionally. Authentic illustrations to enhance the quality of the text. 8.believe that reading is a way of learning. Harris (1991). Benner (1992) stated that the failure of professionals to acknowledge and value diversity has historically contributed to the poor school performance of minority children. These books need to be of high literary quality and interesting to the students. Positive portrayals of characters with authentic and realistic behaviors. doing schoolwork.
magnifying. serious attention.4. To provide children with pleasure through the joy of language. presented literature daily. Ouzts conducted research in the area of children and young adult literature knowledge. while less than one-third of the sample population recognized the Newbery Award Books. of events. These students often become lifelong readers. if any. . To develop children's awareness of language as a powerful means of human expression as they experience the skillful use of imagery. including an awareness of people and other living things. and teachers often become enthusiastic about using literature in the classroom. These goals are as follows: 1. In order for teachers to see the importance of literature. and of ideas not present in their own life experience. This increased enjoyment provides opportunities to read and share books. and values into sharper focus through active comprehension by examining and contrasting the many aspects of life represented through literature via language. and devised two surveys to test teacher knowledge of both the Caldecott and Newbery books. To bring children's prior knowledge. drama. The data show that many teachers may not have current knowledge of many of the Caldecott and Newbery award-winning books. life experience. The surveys and the results of the surveys are listed. To provide children with a range of literature experiences that builds on and extends their knowledge base. and provides instructional practices that make differences in what students learn as well what teachers actually teach. 1981). Ouzts (1994) analyzed teacher knowledge of award-winning children's literature. From this research one can conclude that fewer than half of the sample population recognized the Caldecott Award Books. provided time to engage in book-related activities (1981). These behaviors were indicative of successful classrooms. "slices of life" for aesthetic observation. or contrasting. and to encourage the appreciation of life experience by isolating. humor. This training should revolve around five basic goals of a literature-based program. and 4. There were specific behaviors that facilitated a student's quest for literary knowledge. discussed books with children. and pathos (Ruddell. 1995). and to feel comfortable about it. 4. To develop children's self-understanding through insight into their own behavior as they encounter a broad range of human behavior. Tieman (1987) discussed the lack of serious study of children's literature in elementary schools across the country and stated that the study of literature is given little. Research indicates that children's literature is extremely important to a child's overall language development. The teachers: 1. displayed books attractively and provided ample time for children to read 2. develops a knowledge of genres. 5. Many teachers who have taken numerous reading courses still have limited knowledge of children's literature. provided literature-related activities (Hickman. more extensive training must occur. 2. 3. The teachers were not immediately able to develop a learner-centered curriculum based on literature without initially developing their classroom's image and their literature knowledge base. 3. Using children and young adult literature offers benefits to many children and adolescents.
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