Monday, October 12, 2009

Initial discussion on Pedagogy

The Pedagogy Underpinning The Big Picture

Written by Peter Lee

The Big Picture approach aims to enhance regionalisation through significantly increasing students’ opportunities to build relationships with teachers and other significant adults both in the student’s circle of influence and in the community. The ‘Big Picture’ approach will allow for
· face to face contact with Learning advisors
· mentorships both formal and informal
· internships
· cooperative learning
· direct teaching

We know from the research around Russell Bishop’s work with Te Kotahitanga schools that successful teachers focus on establishing effective relationships with students that are respectful, genuine, caring and culturally located. These teachers hold high expectations for students and use teaching strategies that assist students to learn. Learning is emotional as well as cognitive and relationships underpin student motivation and confidence to learn

However relationships alone will not make the difference. Quality teaching needs to be present.
The strategies shown to be particularly effective with Maori students (but in fact research indicates all students)
· Cooperative learning
· Effective feedback, feed forward
· Challenging goals
· Differentiated learning
· Effective questioning (students forming questions)

It is clear that our strategy around regionalisation and the Big Picture presents us with an opportunity to enhance relationships and apply more effective evidenced based teaching strategies proven to make a difference for students.

Most teacher interventions make a difference as the attached list from John Hattie’ work indicates. However clearly we need to focus on those that make a bigger difference!
I have highlighted the teaching strategies we are best able to apply using Regionalisation, the Big Picture Approach and with learning at a distance

What has the greatest influence on student learning?
The work of John Hattie, Professor of Education University of Auckland is very informative in this respect. He has analysed 200,000 ‘effect-sizes’ from 180,000 studies representing 50+million students and covering almost every method of innovation. This is just a summary, download Hattie's full paper 'Influences on Student Learning' from this page on his site:

He says ‘effect sizes’ are much the best way of answering the question ‘what has the greatest influence on student learning’. An effect-size of 1.0 is typically associated with:
· advancing learner’s achievement by one year, or improving the rate of learning by 50%,
· a correlation between some variable (e.g., amount of homework) and achievement of approximately .50.
· average students receiving that treatment exceeding 84% of students not receiving that treatment.
· A two grade leap in NCEA, e.g. from An achieved to Excellence C to an A grade.
An effect size of 1.0 is clearly enormous! (It is defined as an increase of one standard deviation)

Most innovations that are introduced in schools have an effect size of around .4. This is the benchmark figure and provides a "standard" from which to judge effects.
Most educational research on teaching effectiveness has been done in schools in Amercia

Comparison points for Effect sizes
When looking at the effect sizes that follow, compare them with these:
student maturation .10
a teacher in front of a classroom .24
innovations in schooling .40
Professor John Hattie’s average effect sizes.
Effect sizes above 0.4 are above the bold line. These are above the average for educational research. The ‘number of effects’ column gives the number of effect sizes of this type that have been averaged to create the ‘effect size’ in the next column.
Mean effect-sizes from over 500 meta-analyses of various influences to achievement. Professor John Hattie

Influence No. of effects Effect-Size
Feedback 139 1.13
Students’ prior cognitive ability 896 1.04
Instructional quality 22 1.00
Instructional quantity 80 .84
Direct instruction 253 .82
Cooperative Learning 241 .76
Acceleration 162 .72
Home factors 728 .67
Remediation/feedback 146 .65
Students disposition to learn 93 .61
Class environment 921 .56
Challenge of Goals 2703 .52
Bilingual programs 285 .51
Peer tutoring 125 .50
Mastery learning 104 .50
Teacher in-service education 3912 .49
Parent involvement 339 .46
Homework 110 .43
Questioning 134 .41
OVERALL EFFECTS 500,000+ .40
Peers 122 .38
Advance organizers 387 .37
Simulation & games 111 .34
Computer-assisted instruction 566 .31
Instructional media 4421 .30
Testing 1817 .30
Aims & policy of the school 542 .24
Affective attributes of students 355 .24
Calculators 231 .24
Physical attributes of students 905 .21
Learning hierarchies 24 .19
Programmed instruction 220 .18
Audio-visual aids 6060 .16
Individualisation 630 .14
Finances/money 658 .12
Behavioural objectives 111 .12
Team teaching 41 .06
Ability grouping/Streaming 3385 .05
Physical attributes of the school 1850 -.05
Mass media 274 -.12
Retention 861 -.15


  1. Authentic Learning and Black Holes

    The term Authentic learning crops up frequently in discussions on teaching and learning. When people asked what it actually means, a common answer has been "learning that relates to the student's world." Does this therefore mean that only learning that relates directly to the student's lifeworld constitute authentic learning? Would this mean that studying Shakespeare or learning about black holes can never by authetic learning because they are not part of the students everyday lifeworld experiences? I was interested to read a description by the Brazilian sociologist Paolo Freire in his pivotal book 'Pedagogy of the Oppressed'. According to Freire, authentic learning is simply learning that the learner has constructed him or herself rather than transmitted by a teacher. I agree with Freire in that if the learning is the result of personal construction of knowledge then it is authentic. Authentic learning therfore results from inquiry learning whereby the student has asked a question and followed up with inquiry and more questions. If a student, as a result of hearing or reading about black holes asks the question, "What is a black hole?" and follow's up with some inquiry, then understanding that he or she constructs as a result of that inquiry endeavour is authentic learning. The fact that the student has asked the question through wondering about something, makes the learning authentic in my view. The content may not be something that relates directly to the student's everyday experiences.

  2. The section on Effect Size is interesting. I first came across the term some years ago when I read the pivotal paper by Black and Wiliam 'Inside the Black Box'.

    Black and Wiliam used the term to show the comparitivley large effect of targeted feedback. There is more than one way of calculating Effect Size, so they don't all have the same value. With some the value ranges from 0 to 1 while others from 0 to greater than 1. The most common, and in my view the most straight forward, way of calculating effect size is given in this article by Robert Coe of Durham University:

    It is notable from the table of effect size's that the intervention with the largest effect on student learning is Feedback (1.13) - an intervention that TCS staff have focussed on as an aspect of what used to be called 'second phase teaching'. According to John Hattie feedback includes informing students on:

    what they have done well.
    what they need to do to improve.
    clarifying goals in relation to specific criteria.
    processes used to complete task.
    assessing their own learning.

    In other words, the intervention called 'feedback' is complex and multi-faceted. Geof Petty describes some high effect strategies as 'Russian Dolls' with other strategies inside.

    The same can be said of such high effect size interventions as Instructional Quality (1.00), Instructional Quantity (0.84) and Direct Instruction 0.82. There are also other so called interventions such as 'Home Factors' (0.67) that are beyond the control of teachers and schools. Other factors such as 'students' prior cognitive ability' (1.04) could be problematic if it means IQ or similar measures. Some simple interventions can have a high effect size but only for surface learning such as us of 'Mneumonics' (1.1).

    It is also important to realise that intervention Effect Sizes are not necessarily additive, but positive interventions, used in combination, will contribute more effective learning overall. Interventions with relatively small effect sizes (0.1 to 0.2)may still be worth implementing because the difference they make to learning is still significant.

    There are many factors for which an effect size would be useful to determine in TCS context. For example the Effect Sizes of: Regular Contact, Goal Setting, LT Visits, Exam Tutorials, Credit Working Bees, Supervision and Mentoring would be usefulto inform strategies for increasing student engagement and achievement.

    In summary Effect Sizes are a useful measure for the effectiveness of educational interventions, but they need to be used in context and with an understanding of context and limitations.