Transforming Education for Every Child: a Practical Handbook : A Practical Handbook [1 ed.] 9781855397842, 9781855391154

This companion volume to "Personalizing Learning: Transforming education for every child" provides a complete

141 104 7MB

English Pages 161 Year 2006

Report DMCA / Copyright

DOWNLOAD PDF FILE

Recommend Papers

Transforming Education for Every Child: a Practical Handbook : A Practical Handbook [1 ed.]
 9781855397842, 9781855391154

  • 0 0 0
  • Like this paper and download? You can publish your own PDF file online for free in a few minutes! Sign Up
File loading please wait...
Citation preview

Personalizing Learning

Transforming Education for Every Child

ft practical Urutofl*-

Published by Network Continuum Education PO Box 635, Stafford, ST16 1BF www.networkcontinuum.com www.continuumbooks.com An imprint of the Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd First published 2006 © John West-Burnham and Max Coates ISBN 13: 9781855391154 ISBN 10: 1 85539 1155

The rights of John West-Burnham and Max Coates to be identified as the authors of this work have been asserted in accordance with Sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any other means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying (with the exception of pages 12-17, 22-25, 32-38, 44-49, 54-55, 61-64, 72-73, 84, 91-98, 101-110, 119-121, 126-132 and 135-142 which may be copied for use in the purchasing institution), recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the Publisher. This book may not be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise disposed of by the way of trade in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published, without the prior consent of the Publisher.

Managing editor: Dawn Booth Layout: Marc Maynard, Network Continuum Education Cover design: Marc Maynard, Network Continuum Education Printed in Great Britain by Ashford Colour Press, Gosport, Hants

Contents Introduction

4

1

Understanding personalization

5

2

Why personalize?

19

3

Understanding learning

27

4

Reviewing learning and teaching strategies

39

5

The thinking curriculum

51

6

Learning styles

57

7 Assessment for learning

65

8

Learning to learn

75

9

Mentoring

85

10

Personal learning plans

99

11

Student voice

113

12

Personalizing schools

123

13

Implementing personalization

133

14

Understanding learning: a glossary of concepts

143

References

148

Index

150

3

Introduction This book is a companion volume to Personalizing Learning: Transforming education for every child. Taken together, the two books offer a detailed and systematic introduction to the principles and practice of personalizing learning - although each works in its own right. In this Handbook we have included some of the figures from the companion volume in order to assist you in completing the activities. We have also sought to: •

summarize the debate about the nature of personalization



provide an overview of the key components of personalizing learning



provide activities to support personal, team and whole-school understanding



describe practical strategies to support the movement towards personalization.

Chapters 1, 2 and 3 provide a summary of the debates around personalization and set out the broad principles influencing the debate about the nature of learning in schools. Chapters 4-12 outline the practical implications of what are recognized as the critical components of personalization. Chapter 13 provides resources to support the implementation of personalization and Chapter 14 provides a glossary of key terms associated with learning. There is no best way to introduce personalization. It is very important to stress our belief that some degree of personalization already exists in every school. However, it is usually implemented only on the basis of the commitment and professionalism of individual teachers. A substantial number of schools are, however, already implementing a range of the strategies outlined in Chapters 4-12. One area where we believe personalization is genuinely understood and applied in high-quality professional practice is in special education. Long established best practice in special needs schools ensures that all students have individual learning plans, appropriate specialist staff is deployed, well chosen and appropriate resources are available for each student, and access across the curriculum according to individual needs is available. In many ways, personalizing learning is the long-held aspiration of every teacher and school. It is also the basis on which all parents approach the education of their children and is increasingly the expectation of every student. It is a paradox that early years education is founded on the learning of the individual child as it is, to a significant extent, in higher education. It is the schools that appear to have the greatest difficulty in starting with the individual, and designing structures and processes to meet personal needs. Personalizing learning may well prove to be one of the key factors in transforming schools for the future. We are very aware that many of the approaches we describe and advocate in this Handbook are, in varying degrees, emergent in terms of proven efficacy in practice. However, there is nothing in this book that is not currently being used in schools somewhere. Doubters may well fall into the category of those who accept that a strategy works in practice but are sceptical that it will work in theory. We are very grateful to our publishers for their support and encouragement and to our editor, Dawn Booth, for her meticulous professionalism. Our greatest thanks go to Ingrid Bradbury for her skill, patience, perseverance and good humour in managing the production of the manuscript. John West-Burnham Max Coates

4

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

Chapter 1

l^rutersfowutwy personalization he purpose of this chapter is to provide an introduction to the concept of personalization. Personalizing learning represents a monumental challenge to many of the prevailing orthodoxies about education that are expressed through a focus on schools. Personalization switches the emphasis to the learning of the individual. It deals with three main issues:

T •

the origins of the personalization of learning



the components of personalizing learning



the implications of personalizing learning.

The origins of the personalization of learning For a generation, the dominant principle informing school leadership and management has been the linked theories of school improvement and school effectiveness. Permutations of these two approaches have informed national policies, school-based strategies, and our definition of leadership and management in education. They have become so fundamental to our thinking that it is easy to forget that they are derived from one very simple proposition - the way that schools are organized can make a significant difference to student outcomes. The extent of the difference is highly debatable, but it is now almost a common-sense proposition that school leadership and management, and culture and strategies informing teaching, are significant variables that can be influenced. In other words, 'schools do make a difference'. The multiple variations on the school improvement theme have all been focused on three imperatives: •

ensuring equity and consistency



sustaining and extending excellence



securing effectiveness and efficiency.

These imperatives have been the subject of numerous interpretations and permutations, but they all shared one distinctive characteristic - the need to enhance institutional systems. The argument has been: enhance the institution and the individual will benefit. This strategy has been generally successful - schools, by a wide range of indicators, are more effective now than they have ever been.

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

5

Chapter 1

However, there is an increasing sense of unease about the prevailing orthodoxy for a number of reasons: •

It is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain improvement - performance is reaching a plateau.



Decades of school improvement strategies have failed to significantly address the issue of equity - educational success remains wedded to social and economic factors.



The focus on institutional effectiveness has tended to diminish the significance attached to individual outcomes.



The very notion of school improvement is redundant in an age when the concept of the school is being questioned.



New thinking about the nature of our civic society that focuses on the idea of the citizen as client, in other words moving the public sector from a bureaucratic benefactor model to a client focused service.

Leadbeater (2004) distils the essence of this last point for the public sector in general and education in particular: Public service reform should be user centred. It should be organized to deliver better solutions for the people who use the services. But it must also, in the process, deliver better outcomes for society as a whole, (page 6) and

That is why we need a new framework to show how personal needs can be taken into account within universal equity and excellence in education, (page 6) The challenge is to find a strategy that promotes and reconciles the three key imperatives in education: •

equity



excellence

• efficiency. In other words, we need an education system that promotes the highest standards for all, while making the best use of public funds. For Leadbeater (2004) we can only achieve this:

... by putting the needs and wants of individual learners at the heart of the system, (page 6)

6

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

Understanding personalization

What this implies is the personalization of public services and, according to the then Minister for School Standards, David Miliband (2004), this means:

... shaping teaching around the way different youngsters learn; it means taking the care to nurture the unique talents of every pupil.

and

Personalizing learning demands that every aspect of teaching and support is designed around a pupil's needs. (Miliband, 2003, quoted in Hargreaves 2004: page 4 )

Personalizing learning demands that every aspect of teaching and support is designed around a pupil's needs. Personalizing learning can be seen as a manifestation of an increasingly consumerist and market oriented society We expect choice - our criterion for quality is the extent to which our personal needs are met - and we expect the health service 'to treat us as a person, not a patient'. Our expectations in the private sector are increasingly being transferred to the public sector. Equity, excellence and efficiency are to be achieved in the future through personal responsiveness rather than generic provision - it is the movement away from 'one size fits all'. Hargreaves (2004) identifies the challenge thus:

Personalization may be treated as a version of what is called customization in the business world, (pages)

The challenge is to understand what personalizing learning actually means. How does it differ from individualized programmes, learner centredness and the desire of every educational professional to respond to the personal needs of each learner?

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

7

Chapter 1

On the basis of the broad principles outlined above, it may be possible to identify some core propositions about the nature of personalization: •

Services are designed in response to the defined needs of clients.



Clients are active participants in the management of services.



The internal structures and processes of services are designed to facilitate access and engagement by clients.



Clients are partners in the design and development of future provision.



The primary accountability of providers is to clients.

The components of personalizing learning The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) (2004) has identified the following components of personalizing learning: •

assessment for learning



effective teaching and learning strategies



curriculum entitlement and choice



school organization that supports high-quality teaching and learning



strong partnership beyond the school.

Hargreaves (2004: page 7) extends this list in his 'nine gateways' to personalizing learning: •

learning to learn



assessment for learning



new technologies



advice and guidance



mentoring



student voice



organization



workforce



curriculum.

Hargreaves is at pains to stress that the items on this list are not a hierarchy - they are multiple entry points: doorways off a corridor: ... starting from one gateway soon leads to one or more of the others ... The fact that these gateways are interlinked is an advantage, for though networks of schools or teachers may start in one gateway, they are soon led to different ones, from which other networks started their innovation journey, (page 10)

8

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

Understanding personalization

Using the models developed by the DfES and Hargreaves, and building on the discussion in WestBurnham and Coates (2005), we offer our view of the components of the strategies needed to support personalizing learning: 1. The diagnosis and profiling of learning styles, aptitudes, dispositions and preferences supported by the development of metacognitive understanding. 2. The development of a 'cognitive curriculum', for example cognitive strategies problem solving, analytical thinking, creativity, reasoning, organizing information, memory, persistence and, crucially, negotiation and choice. 3. The development of social learning skills, for example listening, co-operation and collaboration, small group learning, team learning and negotiation. 4. Access to mentoring and coaching, and development as a mentor and coach. (Use of all adults in the school as mentors plus non-school based adults and students.) Mentoring to focus on the management of individual learning plans (pathways). 5. Extending choice in the curriculum by changing the definition of a curriculum to a range of learning processes rather than formalized content. 6. Use of information and communications technology (ICT) to ensure continuous access to learning. 7. Building flexibility into the school experience so that there is choice as to what, when, where and how something is learned. 8. The creation of sophisticated monitoring, consultative and participatory strategies to ensure student engagement in learning and student voice in the development of learning-centred schools. 9. The development of flexible assessment strategies and assessment for learning. As with Hargreaves, we would argue that each of these components has individual integrity but when taken together offer a coherent and integrated model of the components of a strategy to personalize learning. It is now possible to offer a definition of personalizing learning that summarizes and integrates all of the elements listed above:

' Personalizing learning is the deliberate and systematic process of focusing all of a • school's resources to ensure that each leamer is able, with support, to decide what

they:tearftv^^tN^^ta^'wrttw t$®y team and wh® tttay learnwith*

The implications of personalizing learning The Department for Education and Skills (2004) has identified a range of principles to inform dayto-day practice. For students it means: •

having their individual needs addressed, both in school and extending beyond the classroom into the family and community;



co-ordinated support to enable them to succeed to the full, whatever their talent or background;



a safe and secure environment in which to learn, with problems effectively dealt with;



a real say about their learning.

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

9

Chapter 1

For parents and carers it means: •

regular updates, that give clear understanding of what their children can currently do, how they can progress and what help can be given at home;



being involved in planning their children's future education;



the opportunity to play a more active role in school life and know that their contribution is valued.

For teachers it means: •

high expectations of every learner, giving each one the confidence and skills to succeed;



access to and use of data on each student, thus informing teaching and learning, with more time for assessment and lesson planning;



opportunities to develop a wide repertoire of teaching strategies, including ICT;



access to a comprehensive continuing professional development (CPD) programme.

For schools it means: •

a professional ethos that accepts and assumes every child comes to the classroom with a different knowledge base and skill set, as well as varying aptitudes and aspirations;



a determination for every young person's needs to be assessed and his or her talents developed through diverse teaching strategies.

On the basis of what has been argued so far, it becomes possible to identify a range of traditional aspects of school life that will be vulnerable as personalization emerges as a significant factor in our understanding of how education might work in the future: •

The idea of the school year divided into terms.



The concept of the school day divided into periods.



The idea of the lesson with one teacher working with a (notionally) homogeneous group on a common topic, theme or activity.



The tradition of generic, age-related chronological progression from year to year.



The diagnosis of personal learning strategies and learning needs being limited to those with learning 'difficulties'.



Mentoring and coaching being options available to the fortunate few.



Assessment being teacher determined and directed.



The use of ICT for presentation.



Student involvement being limited to social and domestic issues.



The school as the dominant centre for learning.

Of course none of this means that teachers will not teach lessons, that there will not be a curriculum focused on developing progressive understanding or that students will not come together for a wide range of social activities. What it does mean is that places of learning will be designed from the starting point of maximizing the effective learning of each individual - student, teacher or member of the broader community.

10

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

Understanding personalization

Whittle (2005) provides a powerful summary of the changes required: Let me give you some of what the new truths of school design might be. Let's focus on five: L

2. 3. 4.

5.

Learning accomplished through individual effort, or through working in small teams, is 'stickie' (better retained) than that 'served up' in any group, no matter what size. Learning can come in many forms, and the size of the learning group can vary greatly without any penalization of effect whatsoever. Children are capable of tremendous focus and responsibility on their own, and they can be taught these traits earlier than you might think. Variety also matters in learning. Too much of any one thing, like sitting reactively in a classroom for twelve years, has rapidly diminishing returns. (And teachers need variety, too.) Children can teach as well as learn. Has your child ever taught you anything? Has your older child ever taught one of your younger ones? (page 103)

If students don't understand the importance of education enough to take charge of their own, it is because the schools we have designed don't spend any real time helping them understand this. Worse, because it has been so long since we examined the real rationale of our schools, perhaps schools themselves don't even understand why we are teaching as we do. (page 105)

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

11

Chapter 1

Activity 1.1

Justifying Personalization

What is your response to the following propositions about personalizing learning taken from this chapter?

Proposition

Response

Public service reform should be user centred.

(The public sector) should be organized to deliver better solutions for the people who use the services.

... we need a new framework to show how personal needs can be taken into account within universal equity and excellence in education.

It means shaping teaching around the way different youngsters learn; it means taking care to nurture the unique talents of every student.

Personalizing learning demands that every aspect of teaching and support is designed around students' needs.

Personalization may be treated as a version of what is called customization in the business world.

]2

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

© John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Understanding personalization

•iPfamiggilE Principles and implications What are the implications of the DffiS principles to inform day-to-day practice?

Principles

implications

For students it means: • having their individual needs addressed, both in school and extending beyond the classroom into the family and community; • co-ordinated support to enable them to succeed to the full, whatever their talent or background; • a safe and secure environment in which to learn, with problems effectively dealt with; • a real say about their learning. For parents and carers it means: • regular updates, that give clear understanding of what their children can currently do, how they can progress and what help can be given at home; • being involved in planning their children's future education; • the opportunity to play a more active role in school life and know that their contribution is valued. For teachers it means: • high expectations of every learner, giving each one the confidence and skills to succeed; • access to and use of data on each student, thus informing teaching and learning, with more time for assessment and lesson planning; • opportunities to develop a wide repertoire o teaching strategies, including ICT; • access to a comprehensive CPD programm For schools it means: • a professional ethos that accepts and assumes every child comes to the classroom with a different knowledge base and skill set, as well as varying aptitude and aspirations; • a determination for every young person's needs to be assessed and his or her talents developed through diverse teaching strategies.

© John West-Burnham and fAax Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

13

Chapter 1

HRgMifflRH Definitions of learning Consider the definition of learning on page 9:

Personalizing learning is fife deliberate and systematic process of focusing all of a school's resources to ensure that each leamer is able, with support, to decide what

they:tearftv^^tN^^ta^'wrttw t$®y team and wh® tttay learnwith*

What would be an appropriate definition for use in your school?

14

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

© John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Understanding personalization

RffoVHjHlEB The components of personalizing learning Classify A, B or C for each of the components of personalizing learning outlined in the chapter, according to the extent to which it is: A: well established in principle and practice across the whole school. B: emergent practice in parts of the school. C: not yet a feature of school practice. What are the practical implications of your scoring?

Component

Score

Implications

1. Learning styles and learning to learn

2. The cognitive curriculum

3. Social learning skills

4. Mentoring and coaching

5. Choice in the curriculum

6. Use of ICT to support learning

7. Flexibility in learning strategies

8. Monitoring, consultation and participation

9. Assessment for learning

©John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

]5

Chapter 1

Activity 1.s

Priorities

On the basis of your analysis in Activity 1.4, what are the priorities for your school in terms of: •

reinforcing current practices?



modification of some practices?



creating new practices?

Componen t

Action

Reinforcing current practices

Modification of some practices

Creating new practices

16

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

©John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Understanding personalization

liBfaroiggilBH The implications of personalizing learning What are your personal and professional responses to the possible changes that personalizing learning might bring about?

Possible change

Response

1. The loss of the school year and terms (any-time learning).

2. The loss of the generic, structured school day.

3. The end of one teacher, one class, one lesson.

4. The end of grouping by age and automatic cohort progression.

5. Responding to individual learning styles.

6. Spending a lot of time as a coach and mentor.

7. Negotiating assessment.

8. Using ICT as the key learning resource.

9. Students as partners in school leadership and management.

10. The end of the school as the dominant centre for learning.

©John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

]J

This page intentionally left blank

Chapter 2

(0(uj personalize? ersonalizing learning has its roots in one simple, fundamental premise - the uniqueness of each learner. Personalizing learning can be justified from a range of perspectives - moral, professional, social and scientific. Essential to all of these is a recognition of the individual and personal rights of each learner - similar to what we have known for many years, that each of us has a unique set of fingerprints. We now know that our DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) profile distinguishes us from every other human being who has ever lived. We live in a society that is based on the underlying principle that the rights of every individual are expressed through personal choice. Personalizing learning is an attempt to reconcile scientific understanding and moral principles, and to create educational experiences based on deep respect for the individual.

P

This chapter explores the justification for personalizing learning from three perspectives: •

the moral case for personalizing learning



the nature of the learning process



the nature of the curriculum process.

The moral case for personalizing learning Education is a moral activity - it is the practical and tangible expression of the fundamental values of a society. National educational policy, curriculum design, the nature of individual schools and the experience of the classroom are all the product of ethically based decisions. The propositions that might be used to justify personalizing learning could include the following statements: •

Giving every single child the chance to be the best they can be, whatever their talent or background. (DfES, 2004: page 7)



High quality teaching that is responsive to the different ways students achieve their best. (DflES, 2004: page 7)



A system that responds to individual pupils, by creating an education path that takes account of their needs, interests and aspirations. (DfES, 2004: page 7)



To both enhance the individual's learning and provide the vehicle to deepen, enrich and sustain that individuality. (West-Burnham and Coates, 2005: page 18)

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

19

Chapter 2



Rooted in a deep respect for the integrity, dignity and validity of each person. (West-Burnham and Coates, 2005: page 18)

• Possessing different kinds of minds, individuals represent information and knowledge in idiosyncratic ways. (Gardner, 1999a: page 245) Every school has a statement of values and aims; a mission statement that, in theory, informs planning and policy Personalizing learning requires that the generic principles used in a school are refocused on to the individual so that the actual concrete experience of every pupil is consistent. The challenge is to translate principles into practice for every individual.

The nature of the learning process This topic is discussed in more detail in other chapters in this book and in West-Burnham and Coates (2005). At this stage it is appropriate to summarize a number of core propositions about the nature of learning that serve to reinforce the case for personalizing learning. 1. We are all unique: think of your answers to the following activities: What piece of music most inspires and uplifts you? What is the most significant work of literature in your life? Which movies have made you cry? What is the most beautiful landscape you have ever seen? When and where were you happiest? It is very doubtful that you could find another human being with the same answers as you. As learners we are each the product of a unique set of experiences, circumstances and responses to those situations. Even siblings with the same genetic inheritance and social environment will be remarkably different in their life choices, likes and dislikes, emotion responses and social dispositions. If we are serious about learning then we have to start with the learner as an individual - distinctive, special, idiosyncratic and different. 2. Leaning is neurological: although we still have much to learn about the functioning of the brain, we can be fairly confident that, at its most fundamental, learning is an electrical/chemical process. The process of learning is essentially the creation of neural pathways - the creation of an infinite number of combinations and interactions that make sense of the mass of data we are presented with every day. Studies of neurological development in infancy and the brain functioning of those who have suffered various forms of brain damage are helping us to understand how learning is a massively complex process that requires the optimum engagement of an astonishingly wide range of variables. We may come to see the role of the teacher as optimizing effective brain functioning. 3. Intelligence can be learned: given the first two propositions in this section it seems reasonable to argue that intelligence is not an inherited level of IQ (intelligence quota) but is rather an expression of capacity - the result of the interaction of the genetic legacy, the neurological health and the learning environment. In essence, intelligence is a function of the interaction between nature and nurture. It is widely understood that an infant who is raised in a linguistically impoverished home will be educationally disadvantaged and that intellectual activity in the elderly will ameliorate certain types of dementia. Intelligence and the capacity to engage in learning are not fixed. 4. Learning is an emotional experience: we can all remember lessons that filled us with fear and others that filled us with joyous anticipation. Equally, how some teachers were loved, others loathed and others regarded with bemused indifference. Our emotional engagement with the topics and personalities involved in learning are pivotal factors in

20

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

Why personalize?

success and achievement. Learning is a social process and the emotional integrity of the various learning relationships is a fundamental component of personalizing learning. Positive social relationships are elemental to effective learning as is a positive self-image. The nature of the learning process requires us to personalize - the greater the level of personalization the more likely it is that effective learning takes place. Most of us tend to feel most comfortable wearing clothes that we have chosen, eating food that we enjoy, doing things on holiday that we choose and listening to music that we prefer. We spend much of our lives creating distinctive experiences and opportunities - our satisfaction is proportionate to our sense of personal control.

The nature of the curriculum process A curriculum can be used to serve a multitude of purposes. In most societies the curriculum is a tension, if not an actual compromise, between ensuring an entitlement for every individual and transmitting socially desirable skills, information and values. The extent to which this complex and demanding balance is achieved is one of the great challenges facing any education system. Personalizing learning offers a powerful strategy to reconcile the needs of the individual with the broader generic imperatives of the curriculum. For Gardner (1999b) the way forward is to focus on understanding, in other words the ability of the individual learner to convert public information into personal knowledge. To move toward enhanced understanding, one must again adopt both cognitive and cultural perspectives. One must identify those internal representations in need of alteration; construct cultural practices that confront, rather than overlook, the obstacles to deeper understanding; and devise measures to determine whether the 'corrective cognitive surgery' has been effective, (page 123) Such understanding is best expressed through a number of areas in which personalizing learning can be justified and validated as a strategy that increases confidence for every individual in securing his or her entitlement to access, and benefit from, the curriculum. Traditional approaches to school improvement have sought to reconcile the twin imperatives of equity and excellence - with varying degrees of success. Personalizing learning focuses on these through the individual learner by stressing his or her moral status as an individual, focusing on the highly personal nature of the learning process and that access to the curriculum can only be assured through personal understanding.

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

231

Chapter 2

•JPMmMJBH The moral basis for personalization For each of the following principles of personalizing learning, consider a) how far it is currently covered by your school's aims and b) to what extent it is integrated into the actual experience of every student.

Principles of personalization

School principles

Student experience

Giving every single child the chance to be the best they can be, whatever their talent or background. (DIES, 2004: page 7)

High quality teaching that is responsive to the different ways students achieve their best. (DIES, 2004: page 7)

A system that responds to individual pupils, by creating an education path that takes account of their needs, interests and aspirations. (DfES, 2004: page 7) To both enhance the individual's learning and provide the vehicle to deepen, enrich and sustain that individuality. (West-Burnham and Coates, 2005: page 18) [A system that is] rooted in a deep respect for the integrity, dignity and validity of each person. (West-Burnham and Coates, 2005: page 18)

Possessing different kinds of minds, individuals represent information and knowledge in idiosyncratic ways. (Gardner 1999a; page 245)

^22 :

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

© John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Why personalize?

j^^^^^S Personalization and learning To what extent does your school's learning and teaching policy reflect the following principles?

1. We are all unique.

2. Learning is neurological.

3. Intelligence can be learned.

4. Learning is an emotional experience.

©John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

23

Chapter 2

mjM^Mgfl Developing understanding: a curriculum audit What evidence is there in your school's curriculum documentation of a commitment to develop the following understanding for every pupil? Understanding self

Understanding relationships

Understanding thinking

Understanding learning

Understanding creativity

Understanding values

Understanding the community

24

sforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

©John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006

Why personalize?

liftMWWJEM Auditing students' experience of the curriculum How confident are you that the following principles describe the educational experience of every student in your school? 1. Respect for the integrity of each individual as a learner. Low confidence

1

2

3

4

5

High confidence

3

4

5

High confidence

4

5

High confidence

4

5

High confidence

2. High-quality social relationships Low confidence

1

2

3. Building commitment, engagement and sustainability Low confidence

1

2

3

4. High aspirations and opportunities for success Low confidence

1

2

3

5. Allowing the full expression of personal potential and creativity. Low confidence

1

2

3

4

5

High confidence

3

4

5

High confidence

6. Commitment to parity of esteem and equity Low confidence

1

2

© John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Transforming Education for Every Ch ild - A practical handbook

25

This page intentionally left blank

Chapter 3

((rutersfowuiwy teaming

T

his chapter explores possible approaches to understanding the nature of learning, as opposed to the previous chapters which focused on the theme of personalization. Learning

is a highly contentious and problematic topic that is subject to many ideological pressures, and alternative belief and value systems. It is not the intention of this chapter to enter the academic debate, but rather offer the starting point for dialogue in schools to help them develop the confidence to hold conversations about learning involving students, their families, teachers and school leaders. This chapter explores the issue of learning from three perspectives: •

learning in everyday usage



towards a definition of learning



the variables influencing effective learning.

Learning in everyday usage Learning, as with so many complex concepts such as leadership, is subject to a wide range of uses and meanings all of which are valid according to time and context. Two of the challenges facing schools, in the context of personalizing learning, are to develop a common language and shared conceptual framework to allow for meaningful debate and discussion, and the consistent practice that focuses on student learning rather than alternative teaching strategies. A purely personal and subjective review produces the following permutations of usage. Learning as memorization: 1 want you to learn this for tomorrow.' In this case learning is being confused with memorization, which is one of its component elements. Memorization is an important component of any model of effective learning but in this context it is confusing learning with a single constituent process. Very often, memorizing information for a test is often described as rote learning. Learning as engagement with teaching: this is one of the most common usages and refers to the individual and collective predisposition to engage with the teacher. 'Readiness to learn' is often defined in terms of attention, engagement, concentration, behaviour and the willingness to carry out instructions. Again this is an important element of effective learning, but compliance and being biddable are essentially responses and reactions that offer a very limited and restrictive model of the student as learner. The emphasis is on teacher activity, which is

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

27

Chapter 3

probably the dominant usage, for example Tve just taught a brilliant lesson, it's a pity they weren't ready to learn.' Learning as success: in this usage learning is defined as being synonymous with success as defined by teachers. Learning is understood as the successful attainment of defined outcomes that, in the prevailing context, are usually expressed in quantitative terms. Learning as wisdom: in this context learning is a noun that describes the perceived accumulation of knowledge or wisdom. A person with a 'lot of learning' is perceived to be wise, well informed or expert. There is nothing 'wrong' with any of the above definitions - they all refer to elements or aspects of the learning process - but if they are not set into a broader context - an overarching definition then they will inevitably distort the integrity of the process. In the context of personalizing learning, it is essential to have a superordinate definition that articulates a comprehensive model of all the possible components of learning. Such a model requires a) an agreed definition of the nature of learning and b) an understanding of the variables that determine the success of the learning process.

Towards a definition of learning It is not our intention at this stage to offer a comprehensive and authoritative definition of learning. Rather we are offering a model that hopefully will serve to stimulate debate.

Shallow: what?

Deep: how?

Profound: why?

Means

Memorization

Reflection

Intuition

Outcomes

Information

Knowledge

Wisdom

Evidence

Replication

Understanding

Meaning

Motivation

Extrinsic

Intrinsic

Moral

Attitudes

Compliance

Interpretation

Challenge

Relationships

Dependence

Independence

Interdependence

(Single-loop learning)

(Double-loop learning)

(Triple-loop learning)

Figure 3.1 Modes of learning

28

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

Understanding learning

The model in Figure 3.1 illustrates that there are three modes of learning, each of which is valid and significant in the appropriate context. Equally there is no implicit academic hierarchy in the model - it is not intended to relate to chronological development or levels of academic attainment. Shallow learning is the dominant mode of learning in our society. It is characterized by the memorization and replication of information - accurate replication is the dominant model of assessment of such an approach. In many ways most of the dominant activities in schools can be classified as shallow learning - the emphasis of the curriculum is largely on information. We venerate those who display the capacity to memorize the most information - there are even television shows devoted to shallow learning, such as University Challenge. Deep learning is the outcome of the movement from replicating information to creating knowledge. Deep learning is characterized by the ability to demonstrate understanding; knowledge is information that is understood - moving from the ability to replicate accurately to the ability to explain, debate, exemplify and, crucially, translate into action. Deep learning requires intrinsic motivation, an act of personal engagement rather than complying with the rewards and sanctions of extrinsic motivation. Profound learning is the culmination of any effective learning process - it is when a skill, personal behaviour or body of knowledge becomes intuitive, which is fundamental to the learner. Think of somebody learning to play the piano moving from the ability to play the notes to constructing a confident melody, to playing with verve, style and passion. Profound learning is about driving a car with skill and intuitive 'road sense'; it is the skilled joiner, the sensitive counsellor and the subject 'expert'. Shallow learning may give us access to the vocabulary and rules of grammar of a foreign language, deep learning will allow us to engage in meaningful conversations - profound learning empowers us to engage in higher order debates, with poetry and philosophy. But profound leaning is also about the practical arts and skills - it is when we are able to work at the intuitive level. The implications of the shallow, deep and profound model for personalizing learning can be summarized as follows: 1. Individual learners need to understand the model, or an appropriate version of it, in order to be personally aware of the type of learning they are involved in. 2. There needs to be negotiation with learners about the mode of learning that is most appropriate to their needs. 3. Learners need to understand the means by which they will best progress from shallow, to deep, to profound. 4. Learning outcomes and assessment for learning need to be expressed in terms of shallow, deep and profound. If learning is to be truly personal then learners need to be full and active participants in every aspect of the learning process, including the type of learning they are involved in. A focus on deep and profound learning would produce the following definition of the learner, which in turn would support greater awareness by learners of what they might aspire to become.

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

29

Chapter 3

The autonomous learner The autonomous learner knows how to learn and has a disposition to do so. She can identify, on her own, and/or with others, a problem, analyse its components and then marshal the resources, human and non-human, to solve it. She continuously questions herself and others as to whether she is employing the best methods. She can explain the processes of her learning and its outcomes to her peers and others, when such a demonstration is required. She is able to organize information and, through understanding, convert it into knowledge. She is sensitive to her personal portfolio of intelligences. She knows when it is best to work alone, and when in a team, and knows how to contribute to and gain from teamwork. She sustains a sharp curiosity and takes infinite pains in all she does. Above all, she has that security in self, built through a wide and deep set of relationships and through her own feelings of worth fostered in part by others, to be at ease with doubt, and to welcome questioning and probing of all aspects of her knowledge. (This definition was developed by Christopher Bowring-Carr.)

The variables influencing effective learning If a shared definition of learning can be achieved, then it becomes necessary to identify the factors that are most likely to enable and enhance deep and profound learning. This goes to the heart of personalizing learning - it is the interplay of variables that is most likely to determine successful learning outcomes. Figure 3.2 obviously gives a totally false sense of balance and harmony. The reality is that each variable will have very different levels of significance for each individual. As well as each variable being different for every learner, so his or her interaction will also differ. Personalizing learning requires both the learner and those who support his or her learning to have an increasingly sophisticated understanding of the way that these variables inform personal growth. Each of the elements occurs throughout this Handbook and they are dealt with in detail in West-Burnham and Coates (2005). What follows is a summary of the optimum criteria for each variable. Social relationships: •

self-awareness and intrapersonal intelligence



interpersonal skills



interdependence and trust



effective communication



mutual regard and esteem.

30

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

Figure 3.2 The variables influencing effective learning

Understanding learning

Family and community: •

effective family life



parental commitment and involvement



living in a community with high social capital



shared norms and values



economic security



personal safety.

Health and well-being: •

physical and psychological health



balanced and appropriate diet



sleep



exercise



play

The individual as learner: •

developing metacognitive awareness



growing understanding of self as a learner (for example learning-style profile)



development of a personal repertoire of learning strategies.

Neurological factors: •

awareness of brain-based learning



understanding the importance of the other factors listed above



interventions to support cognitive development.

The learning culture: •

high aspirations and expectations



mentoring and coaching



teaching strategies to support learning



assessment for learning



opportunities for recognition and success.

Intelligence: •

recognized as emergent not fixed



not limited by models of 1Q



the focus of enrichment strategies.

In many ways this model encapsulates the heart of personalizing learning - it is only when all of the above factors are taken into account that it becomes truly possible to focus on the individual.

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

31

Chapter 3

uJQuyKlB Learning in ever Consider the ways that your school talks about learning. Provide examples and/or definitions from the following sources:

1. School aims or mission

2. Staff handbook

3. School policy documents

4. Departmental policies

5. Your own lesson planning and classroom practice

How clear is the usage of learning as a concept in your school? How consistent is the usage? To what extent does policy inform practice?

32

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

© John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Understanding learning

KfloRfwl^l Shallow, deep and profound learning (1) Using the information in this chapter and, in particular, Figure 3.1, consider examples of shallow, deep and profound learning: a. in your personal experience; b. in your professional experience.

Your personal experience

Your professional experience

Shallow

Deep

Profound

What conclusions do you draw about the factors that lead to deep and profound learning?

©John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

33

Chapter 3

fgflMfllEfcB Shallow, deep and profound learni Deep learning might also be described as 'learning for understanding'. Review a lesson you have taught recently using the criteria of learning for understanding. a. What strategies did you use to ensure that your students understood the topic? b. What evidence do you have that your strategies worked?

Component

Strategy

Evidence

Explain

Exemplify

Apply

Justify

Compare and contrast

Contextualize

Generalize

The above list is based on Perkins (1992: page 77).

34

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

© John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Understanding learning

Activity 3.4

The effective learner

Personalizing learning requires a very different model of the effective learner. Students, parents, teachers and school leaders will need to develop a shared model of the behaviours, knowledge and qualities of the effective learner. Review the following definition of the effective learner in terms of behaviours, knowledge and qualities: The autonomous learner The autonomous learner knows how to learn and has a disposition to do so. She can identify, on her own, and/or with others, a problem, analyse its components and then marshal the resources, human and non-human, to solve it. She continuously questions herself and others as to -whether she is employing the best methods. She can explain the processes of her learning and its outcomes to her peers and others, when such a demonstration is required. She is able to organize information and, through understanding, convert it into knowledge. She is sensitive to her personal portfolio of intelligences. She knows when it is best to work alone, and when in a team, and knows how to contribute to and gain from teamwork. She sustains a sharp curiosity and takes infinite pains in all she does. Above all, she has that security in self, built through a wide and deep set of relationships and through her own feelings of worth fostered in part by others, to be at ease with doubt, and to welcome questioning and probing of all aspects of her knowledge. (This definition was developed by Christopher Bowring-Carr.)

Behaviours

Knowledge

Qualities

The above definition is abstract and academic. What might a definition for use with your students look like?

© John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

35

Chapter 3

Activity 3.5 The variables influencing effective learning (1) Think of a student that you know well. For each of the variables listed below summarize the level of your knowledge about this student.

Variable

Your knowledge

1. Social relationships

2. Family and community

3. Health and well-being

4. The individual as a learner

5. Neurological factors

6. The learning culture

7. Intelligence

36

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

©John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Understanding learning

Activity 3.6

The variables influencing effective learning j

What strategies do you use in your classroom to ensure the optimum environment for effective learning?

Variable

Strategy

1. Social relationships

2. Family and community

3. Health and well-being

4. The individual as a learner

5. Neurological factors

6. The learning culture

7. Intelligence

©John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

37

Chapter 3

Activity 3.7

The variables influencing effective learning (3)

How effective are your school policies and strategies in relation to the following? 1. Social relationships N

effective

2

3

4

5

Highly effective

T

T

A

*

Highly effective

2

3

4

5

Highly effective

2

3

4

5

Highly effective

2

3

4

5

Highly effective

1

2

3

4

5

Highly effective

1

2

3

4

5

Highly effective

1

2. Family and community Not

effective

i

3. Health and well-being N

effective

1

4. The individual as a learner N

effective

1

5. Neurological factors Not

effective

1

6. The learning culture N

effective

7. Intelligence N

effective

38

Transformimng Education for Every Child - A Practical handbook

John West-Bumham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Chapter 4

Kevtevotnj teawtfuj and teacktfuj strategies In

n essence, personalizing learning is the movement from teacher direction to learner

participation. It does not mean each learner working on his or her own with no role for teachers. In many ways, personalizing learning enhances and extends the role of the teacher, focusing on those areas that teachers often argue give them the highest satisfaction - interaction with and support for effective learning. Personalizing learning is about flexibility, informed choice, active engagement, negotiation and participation in the learning process. This chapter identifies the range of learning and teaching strategies, and explores the issues involved in ensuring that each learner has the optimum learning experience. Every day in every school, teachers and students make a range of conscious and not so conscious decisions about how they will work and interact. The choice at present is largely determined by the teacher and the evidence of an effective lesson is mainly in the extent to which the teacher has chosen correctly from a complex range of variables. The basic options are illustrated in Figure 4.1.

Figure 4.1 The variables informing learning and teaching strategies

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

39

Chapter 4

The decision about the mode of learning and teaching will be the result of choices: making judgements about the following: •

students: perceived ability, motivation, behaviour, relationships, age, prior learning;



teachers: preferred teaching strategies, confidence, external accountability pressures;



topics: complexity, challenge.

When the right balance is achieved then optimum effectiveness is found in the lesson. This does happen on a regular basis and there are many examples of skilled teachers making very skilful choices, thus optimizing the possibility of learning taking place; however, this is always on the basis of the teacher teaching a class - not on the basis of high confidence that every individual is learning for understanding. The choices about learning and teaching strategies that are made each day in most schools can be better understood in the model of learning and teaching offered in Figure 4.2.

Schooling

Personalizing learning

Passive

Active

Generic

Personal

Teacher led

Learner led

Information transmission

Knowledge creation

Monologue

Dialogue

Delivery

Construction

Broad aims

Personal outcomes

Content

Metacognition

Replication

Problem solving

Abstract

Experiential

Figure 4.2 Options influencing teaching and learning

Any model such as this will create an artificial polarization - the truth, as always, lies somewhere in the middle. Equally, it could be argued that the classification of schooling in the model is a caricature of reality. We would argue that for some students, for at least part of the time, it is a very real daily experience. The implications of the model can be explored in a number of questions: 1. To what extent are students active participants in the design and organization of their learning? 2. How far is the student experience personal to each one as an individual? 3. What proportions of students' activities are determined by them or by teachers? 4. What is the ratio of information transmission (listening, copying and so on) to knowledge creation (authentic problem solving)? 5. Are interactions between teachers and students monologues or genuine dialogues?

40

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

Reviewing learning and teaching strategies

6. To what extent are lessons concerned with the delivery of right answers or with the collaborative construction of knowledge? 7. How far are students able to manage their learning in terms of personally valid outcomes? 8. What is the ratio between the delivery of content and developing personal understanding of the learning process? 9. How much student activity is focused on replication of 'right answers' and how much on genuine problem solving? 10. To what extent are students learning experientially or purely in the abstract? These specific questions can be subsumed into one fundamental challenge:

To what extent is the student experience based on effective teaching or effective

learning

we need to be as confident about effective learning as we are (increasingly) about effective teaching. Teaching is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for learning. The emphasis on schooling has given undue status and significance to the work of the teacher personalizing learning seeks to redress the balance. As was argued in Chapter 3, schooling tends to emphasize teaching that leads to shallow learning because of a range of powerful imperatives: •

the inherited teacher-focused culture in many schools;



the content dominated curriculum;



'high stakes' accountability based on restricted outcomes;



challenging students;



parental expectations.

The combination of these factors, which can often come together in a very powerful and dominating way, can often explain, if not justify, the focus on teaching lessons rather than enabling the learning of the individual. The tension between the various imperatives outlined in this chapter so far is summarized in Figure 4.3.

Control

Delegation

Teacher dominated Hierarchical Low trust

Empowerment

Subsidiarity

Learner dominated Participatory High trust

Figure 4.3 The continuum of learning and teaching

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

41

Chapter 4

The central proposition of this model is that schools in general and teachers in their classrooms have choices about the nature of the teaching and learning relationship. In the context of personalizing learning, the imperative is to move across the continuum from teacher control to learner control. However, the imperatives listed above may well compel schools and teachers to stay on the left-hand side of the continuum. The features of each component part of the model may be described thus: Control: the teacher determines the content, mode and delivery of the lesson. Students are essentially passive recipients and the main activities will be listening to the teacher, writing (usually copying) and very limited interaction between students. There will be a heavy emphasis on behaviour, for example silence and compliance. Access to resources will be controlled by the teacher. Students are required to seek permission for every movement. Delegation: at this stage the teacher is still in control but some element of choice is available to students in terms of what is done and how it is done. However, content and mode of learning are still dominated by the teacher. There is a higher level of interaction between students but it is always at the teacher's behest. Students are expected to be self-managing in the context of prescribed criteria. Empowerment: students have significant choice in what they do and how they do it. Outcomes are negotiated and students have significant choices as to the strategies they adopt. There is a strong emphasis on 'learning to learn' and the quality of personal relationships in the classroom. Students are active participants in the assessment process and are encouraged to provide feedback on their learning experiences. Subsidiarity: this is a concept developed by Charles Handy (1994) and might be best understood as federation: individuals working with high autonomy within an agreed set of organizational principles. This is the basis for personalizing learning individuals exercising high degrees of choice within agreed and negotiated guidelines. Students decide what they learn, how they learn, when they learn and who they learn with, in accordance with established principles and protocols. There are numerous formulations of the teaching and learning strategies available for use in schools. The following list is purely for illustrative purposes - it is not intended to be exhaustive. What is significant is the understanding of the implications for personalizing learning of each strategy. 1. Teacher talk. 2. Dictation of notes. 3. Copying from books, whiteboards, overhead transparencies and computer presentations. 4. Comprehension exercises. 5. Worksheets. 6. Individual writing tasks. 7. Teacher designed group tasks. 8. Student-led negotiated group tasks. 9. Individual tasks differentiated by ability.

42

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

Reviewing learning and teaching strategies

10. Class-led design of learning outcomes, tasks, timings and assessment activities. 11. Group-led design of learning outcomes, tasks, timings and assessment activities. 12. Individually negotiated pathways. 13. Teacher-led permutations of all the above. 14. Student-led permutations of all the above. It will be immediately obvious that the above list moves from teacher control, through consultation, to student participation, and the possibility of student choice and control. Most teachers will move through these options according to the age ability and behaviour of the students. The nature of the topic will also be a significant factor in determining the strategy. However, the principles of personalizing learning require a move into a mixed portfolio of strategies, with the emphasis on building students' capability to assume increasing responsibility for their own learning. A key component of the movement from control to subsidiarity is the growth of trust. Personalizing learning is fundamentally about the development of high levels of trust, such that the learner is increasingly able to work without direction or control. Bryk and Schneider (2005) identify four components of trust: respect, competence, personal regard for others and integrity. If these traits are found in all relationships in the school then, according to Bryk and Schneider, there are significant implications for the academic performance of the school: Schools reporting strong positive trust levels in 1994 were three times more likely to be categorized eventually as improving in reading and mathematics than those with very weak trust reports. By 1997, schools with strong positive trust reports had a one in two chance of being in the improving group. In contrast, the likelihood of improving schools "with very weak trust reports was only one in seven, (page 111) Trust is the fundamental quality needed to function in modern societies; it is the basis for all effective personal, community and business relationships. If schools are about preparing young people for adult life then it seems axiomatic that they should model and demonstrate trust in their daily workings. It has to be recognized that the model in Figure 4.3 will change over time and according to context. The skilled and experienced teacher working with several classes will be in a different position on the continuum for each class. There are occasions when control is appropriate, if only for safety reasons, but personalizing learning requires a deliberate and systematic strategy to move from control to subsidiarity. This can only be achieved by two parallel strategies: building student capacity and changing teacher behaviour. Building student capacity is the central theme of this book and is synonymous with the key components of personalizing learning: •

developing an understanding of self as a learner;



learning to learn;



mentoring;



assessment for learning;



personal learning plans;



active participation.

It may well be that teacher behaviour will change through involvement in implementing these strategies. This issue is discussed in more detail in Chapter 13.

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

43

Chapter 4

MoffluEnl The variables informing learning and teaching strategies Think of a lesson that you have taught recently. Analyse the variables that led you to teaching the lesson the way that you did.

Students

You

The topic

How did you teach the lesson? What alternative strategies might you have used?

44

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

© John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Reviewing learning and teaching strategies

MjRfttlKI Options influencing learning and teaching For each option, mark an X on the line where you perceive yourself to be most comfortable as a teacher.

Schooling

Personalizing learning

Passive

Active

Generic

Personal

Teacher led

Learner led

Information transmission

Knowledge creation

Monologue

Dialogue

Delivery

Construction

Broad aims

Personal outcomes

Content

Metacognition

Replication

Problem solving

Abstract

Experiential

What are the implications of your overall profile for you moving towards personalizing learning? What are the implications for your students? Where would a colleague place you on each continuum? Where would your students place you on each continuum?

© John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

45

Chapter 4

H|Mffl||^a Student learning in the classroom For each of the following questions consider: a. your response; b. the view of a colleague who has observed you teaching; c. the views of your students. 1. To what extent are students active participants in the design and organization of their learning? a. b. c.

2. How far is the students' experience personal to them as individuals? a. b. c.

3. What proportions of a student's activities are determined by him or her or by teachers? a. b. c.

4. What is the ratio of information transmission (listening, copying and so on) to knowledge creation (authentic problem solving)? a. b. c.

5. Are interactions between teachers and students monologues or genuine dialogues? a. b. c.

Continued 46

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

© John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Reviewing learning and teaching strategies

9mSJKmm Student learning in the classroom (continued) 6. To what extent are lessons concerned with the delivery of right answers or with the collaborative construction of knowledge? a. b. c.

7. How far are students able to manage their learning in terms of personally valid outcomes? a. b. c.

8. What is the ratio between the delivery of content and developing personal understanding of the learning process? a. b. c.

9. How much student activity is focused on replication of 'right answers' and how much on genuine problem solving? a. b. c.

10. To what extent are students learning in the abstract or experientially? a) b) c)

©John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

47

Chapter 4

Activity 4.4

Control

Building trust

Delegation

Empowerment

Teacher dominated Hierarchical Low trust

Subsidiarity

Learner dominated Participatory High trust

Figure 4.3 The continuum of learning and teaching

Using the model in Figure 4.3 and the information on page 42 reflect on the positive and negative aspects of each of the four components of it, focusing on the manifestations of trust and your own classroom management strategies.

Positive

Negative

Control

Delegation

Empowerment

Subsidiarity

48

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

©John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Reviewing learning and teaching strategies

Activity 4.5

Learning and teaching strategies

For each of the following strategies, consider the extent to which it is: A: a strategy that 1 use regularly with confidence and success. B: a strategy I use only occasionally and with some concern. C: a strategy 1 would not normally contemplate using.

A

B

C

1. Teacher talk. 2. Dictation of notes. 3. Copying from books, whiteboards, overhead transparencies, hand computer presentations. 4. Comprehension exercises. 5. Worksheets 6. individual writing tasks. 7. Teacher designed group tasks. 8. Student-led negotiated group tasks. 9. Individual tasks differentiated by ability. 10. Class-led design of learning outcomes, tasks, timings and assessment activities. 11. Group-led design of learning outcomes, tasks, timings and assessment activities. 12. Individually negotiated pathways. 13. Teacher-led permutations of all the above. 14. Student-led permutations of all the above.

© John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

49

This page intentionally left blank

Chapter 5

Tde tkuikwy cumcukrn, he idea of a thinking curriculum appears to be tautological - any curriculum, by definition, must involve thinking. What we want to stress in this chapter is the importance of explicitly identifying the skills, strategies and behaviours that are usually considered implicit. In the context of personalizing learning, these attributes have to be available to the learner to use with confidence on his or her own initiative. Virtually everything listed below is known and understood to teachers, and is usually done by them for their students. A cursory examination of many textbooks shows that most exercises involve the sort of strategies that are listed. However, in the case of both the taught lesson or the private study with a textbook the strategies are assumed or implied - they are not understood, selected or applied by learners.

T

It is essentially the difference between putting together a self-assembly piece of furniture and learning to be a joiner. Self-assembly is easy, cheap and leads to a standardized product. It can still go wrong - if a piece is missing, if the assembly diagram is held upside down and so on - but it leads to an artificial sense of creativity and a usually useful product. This is a classic example of the shallow learning discussed in Chapter 3. The thinking curriculum is concerned with the skills of the joiner, however basic, to plan, analyse, review and make choices in order to construct something that is personally valid and significant. The following outline of the thinking curriculum is taken from West-Burnham and Coates (2005): Analysis and synthesis includes: •

classifying information according to explicit criteria;



developing a conceptual framework appropriate to the data being considered;



being able to justify the sorting and prioritizing of information;



demonstrating the internal logic and coherence of the analysis;



presenting an integrated and valid synthesis.

Applying learning includes: •

translating theory into practice;



demonstrating understanding of the practical implications of knowledge;



showing confidence in using knowledge in differing contexts;



being able to revise understanding in response to experience.

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

51

Chapter 5

Causality includes: •

showing understanding of the internal logic of an argument;



understanding the principles of inductive and deductive reasoning;



being able to demonstrate fallacies in arguments;



recognizing the difference between positivist and naturalistic statements.

Choosing and prioritizing includes: •

developing criteria to justify decision making;



being able to recognize, explain and defend criteria for prioritizing;



recognizing the implications of choices and priorities.

Creativity and innovation includes: •

demonstrating the ability to think laterally;



understanding the techniques and strategies that support creativity and innovation;



understanding how social interaction can support creativity.

Critical thinking includes: •

evaluating information for appropriateness, accuracy, validity and authenticity;



developing the confidence to challenge, question and interrogate sources of information;



being comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty;



recognizing bias and prejudice;



demonstrating appropriate scepticism and iconoclasm.

Demonstrating understanding includes: •

being able to: explain, exemplify, apply, justify, compare, contrast, contextualize and generalize (Perkins, 1992: page 77);



having the confidence to present and defend an argument;



being comfortable with a wide range of assessment strategies.

Design and planning includes: •

understanding the importance of procedures, processes and structures in managing a project;



understanding the portfolio of investigative techniques;



having the confidence to explore alternative approaches and modify strategies;



being able to explain and justify the strategies adopted;



reviewing the project and understanding the implications for future projects.

Managing information includes:

52



understanding the range of types of information and alternative sources;



being confident in the use of libraries, ICT and people in gathering data;



being able to structure, collate and present information in appropriate formats;



understanding conventions governing the use of information.

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

The thinking curriculum

Memory includes: •

understanding the neurological basis of memory;



using the techniques to improve the retention of information.

Negotiating includes: •

understanding the social process involved in collaborative learning;



using a range of strategies to ensure effective communication and interpersonal effectiveness;



recognizing the importance of influencing skills to secure consensus;



having the confidence to challenge and question.

Problem solving includes: •

being comfortable and confident when faced with challenges and problems;



being able to diagnose the exact nature of a problem;



being able to analyse the component parts of a problem;



developing a range of options and being able to evaluate their relevance;



reviewing the effectiveness of the chosen strategy.

Review and reflection includes: •

understanding the importance of review and reflection in the learning process;



being able to review a process and accept feedback;



being open and honest about personal strengths and areas for development;



understanding and monitoring the factors influencing personal performance and being able to take appropriate action;



recognizing the importance of being as honest and objective as possible about self;



being able to recognize and celebrate success as well as understand failure;



understanding the factors and people contributing to success.

Self-management includes: •

having a realistic and evidence-based model of self as a learner;



developing resilience, optimism and self-belief;



having high personal aspirations and expectations;



maintaining focus and being persistent;



understanding self in relation to others;



having a compelling personal vision, dream and awareness of 'who and what I want to be'.

The taxonomy above is essentially about empowerment - giving every learner the knowledge, skills and qualities to move from dependence to independence. Personalizing learning will work only if schools actively strive to enhance the capacity of young people to engage in the learning process as partners. For Sizer and Sizer (1999) it is a fundamental moral issue: What the young people should not experience is sustained hypocrisy. The school which claims that 'everyone can be "what he can be' but which demonstrably discriminates or silently tolerates discrimination imposed by higher authorities sends a devastating message: Do as I say but not as I do. No message is more corrosive, especially for teenagers, (page 117)

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

53

Chapter 5

Activity5.1

the thinking curriculum910

For each of the component parts of the thinking curriculum: 1. Review the extent to which it is currently used in your school A: widely understood and consistently used B: limited understanding and usage C: very little understanding and usage. 2. What resources and practices are currently available in school to support these components?

Component

Score

Resources

Analysis and synthesis Applying learning Causality Choosing and prioritizing Creativity and innovation Critical thinking Demonstrating understanding Design and planning Managing information Memory Negotiating Problem solving Review and reflection Self-management

54

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

©John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

The thinking curriculum

terggflTCgMEJ The thinking curriculum (2) Using the review in Activity 5.1, analyse the current status of the thinking curriculum in your school. A. What aspects of the effective learning are embedded in your school's practice? B. What are the areas that might be developed? C. What are the areas for major development?

A Widely understood and consistently used

B Limited understanding and usage

©John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

C Very little understanding and usage

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

55

This page intentionally left blank

Chapter 6

Uarauy sfojtes

t has long been accepted that each of us has a unique set of fingerprints; we now know that our DNA profile is similarly unique. Philosophically and legally we are clear about our status as individuals: there is less consensus about the extent to which it is possible to classify, in a meaningful way, our unique identities as learners. There is a vigorous and often acrimonious debate about the criteria by which it might be possible to classify how people learn, the means by which such criteria might be applied to individuals and the integrity of any profile emerging from such a diagnostic process.

It

Experience has produced an intuitive resonance among teachers with the concept of learning styles. Attempts to standardize the curriculum, pedagogy and the way children dress in schools have not contained the belief that individuals differ in the ways in which they learn. Post-war education was based upon an unshakeable belief that there were some students who listened (auditory learners), those who were better with their hands (kinesthetic learners) and of course the few who had a predilection for art and were drawn towards bright colours, abstraction and, possibly, eccentric lifestyles (visual learners). Even within families, where the gene pool is inevitably more concentrated, discussions are as likely to focus on differences between their children as they are on their similarities. Learning styles remain theoretical constructs and are often underscored with strong philosophical commitments by their protagonists. They are representations of reality in the same way that a map is a representation of a particular geographical area. It is important to remember that the map is not the actual territory.

Learning styles Learning is a complex and creative process and there are many different theories, including: perceptual modality, information processing, personality patterns (Conner and Hodgins, 2000); and concrete sequential, concrete random, abstract random and abstract sequential (Gregorc, 1982). All of which are discussed fully in the main textbook (West-Burnham and Coates, 2005).

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

57

chapter

Applying learning styles to student learning Prashnig (2004) offers a detailed and systematic rationale for the use of learning styles in schools: Whether assessment instruments are good or bad, reliable or non-valid, it remains a fact that every human being has a learning style which can consist of contradictory components, often leading to inner confusion and uneasiness. Style mismatches between teaching and learning, physical learning environments not conducive to information intake and unmet physical needs during the learning process can lead to frustration, stress, learning problems, under achievement, low self-esteem, discipline problems among younger students, and dropoutism in high schools. ... students will always attempt to learn through their preferences. Despite the fact that students often have been heavily conditioned during their schooling years to learn according to general, traditional expectations in academic settings by listening, reading, discussing and writing, now enhanced through computer technology, they will revert to their personal preferences when learning is difficult for them, (page 69) It is worth highlighting a number of key points from Prashnig's argument: 1. Every human being has a learning style. 2. Learning styles can consist of contradictory components. 3. Failure to recognize learning styles can lead to frustration, stress, learning problems, underachievement, low self-esteem and so on. 4. Students will always attempt to learn through their personal preferences. She concludes her article by arguing: ... it has to be said that self-knowledge and understanding learning styles is becoming more important in our 'knowledge economy', not only for developing greater flexibility in adverse learning situations but also for self-management in educational contexts and later in work situations, (page 70) Learning styles are viewed as problematic for two main reasons: 1. They can over simplify and, indeed, caricature an individual's learning profile. 2. They are used to classify students rather than being seen as developmental. In the worst case scenario, a student is categorized as being high in linguistic and musical intelligence and is therefore given learning experiences that reinforce those dispositions. What should be happening is that those strengths are recognized but there is a deliberate and systematic strategy to enhance the learning potential in other areas. Mozart's extraordinary musical genius cannot be doubted, but he possibly could have done with some help with his interpersonal skills. In order to avoid stereotyping learners, it is vital to have a learning styles model that is open and inclusive which recognizes the complexity and contradictory nature of the learning process.

58

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

Learning styles

Prashnig (1998) offers a holistic approach to learning styles that recognizes the complex interactions of a range of factors: The LSA [learning style analysis] assesses 49 individual elements in the following six basic areas which are represented as layers of a pyramid. The first four of these layers seem to be biologically or genetically determined and the last two conditional or learned: 1.

LEFT/RIGHT BRAIN DOMINANCE: showing sequential or simultaneous brain processing strategies reflective or impulsive thinking styles and overall analytical or holistic/global learning styles

2.

SENSORY MODALITIES: including auditory (hearing/talking, inner dialogue) visual (reading, seeing, visualizing) tactile (manipulating, touching) and kinaesthetic (doing, feeling) preferences

3.

PHYSICAL NEEDS: identifying needs for mobility (preferences for moving or being stationary) intake (eating, nibbling, drinking, chewing, smoking) and time of day preferences (personal biorhythm)

4. ENVIRONMENT: revealing preferences for sound (needing music/sound or wanting to be quiet light (needing bright or dim lighting) temperature (needing a cool or warm learning environment) and work area (wanting formal or informal/comfortable setting and furniture) 5.

SOCIAL GROUPINGS: including preferences for working alone, in a pair, with peers, or in a team and authority (wanting to learn with a teacher and/or a parent or without them)

6.

ATTITUDES: showing motivation (internally or externally motivated for learning) persistence (high, fluctuating, or low) conformity (conforming or non-conforming/rebellious) structure (being self-directed or needing directions, guidance from others) variety (needing routine/consistency or being change-orientated/needing variety) (pages 73-75)

Prashnig argues that diagnosis of learning styles by students (using age related questionnaires) leads to the following outcomes: Results can be used by students to: • gain important self-knowledge •

understand their strengths and weaknesses in learning, remembering and problem solving

• enhance study skills

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

59

Chapter 6



prevent misunderstandings between themselves and teachers or parents

• increase learning motivation •

raise self-esteem and confidence



create a learning environment suited to their true style preferences



allow them to learn and study 'their way'



plan their future careers.

Results can be used by teachers to: •

really understand human diversity in their classrooms



become aware of learning differences between male and female students



understand biological learning needs in students



recognize the separate styles of underachievers, slow and 'gifted' learners



improve communication with students and/or their parents



help design classrooms better suited to students' individual learning needs



carry out successful group-work in class



improve the 'team spirit' of students working together on projects



enhance interaction with their students



be better capable of matching teaching and learning styles



deal with at-risk students more successfully



use time management techniques based on personal styles and biological needs



reduce stress on a daily basis and in difficult classroom situations



improve teaching performance and job satisfaction.

Results can be used by parents to: •

understand how different their children are in their learning needs



support their children more successfully in their learning efforts



learn how to create a learning environment at home suitable for their children's styles



practise more tolerance with unusual style features of their children



accept that their children have their own unique learning styles



realize that their children are not clones of themselves (page 83).

(Full details about learning style analysis can be found at www.networkpress.co.uk) Google offers an intimidating 8,800,000 sites on learning styles (many of them claiming to be the most widely used in the world). There are numerous diagnostic tools on offer, ranging from the expensively arcane to the naively simplistic. It may well be that one of the critical activities of a school moving towards personalizing learning is to create an action learning/project management team to identify the most appropriate model of learning style analysis for the school.

60

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

Learning styles

HJffljM

Understanding differences in learning

Think of three students that you know well in the same class. For each student write a profile of his or her approach to learning.

Student A

Student B

Student C

What strategies did you use to recognize the different approaches to learning by each student?

©John West-Bumham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

51

Chapter 6

HMMMgfgfc

Learning styles analysis - results for students

For each of the following benefits for students, identified by Prashnig (1998: page 83), reflect on your confidence that it is found in your school. For low confidence score 1, for high confidence score 5.

Gain important self-knowledge

Understand their strengths and weaknesses in learning, remembering and problem solving

Enhance study skills

Prevent misunderstandings between themselves and teachers or parents

Increase learning motivation

Raise self-esteem and confidence

Create a learning environment suited to their true style preferences

Allowed them to learn and study 'their way'

Plan their future careers

What are the implications of your scoring?

62

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

©John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Learning styles

iWwiwM&

Learning styles analysis - results for teachers

For each of the following benefits for teachers, identified by Prashnig (1998: page 83), reflect on your confidence that it is found in your school. For low confidence score 1, for high confidence score 5.

Really understand human diversity in their classrooms Become aware of learning differences between male and female students Understand biological learning needs in students Recognize the separate styles of underachievers, slow and 'gifted' learners Improve communication with students and/or their parents Help design classrooms better suited to students' individual learning needs Carry out successful group-work in class Improve the 'team spirit' of students working together on projects Enhance interaction with their students Be better capable of matching teaching and learning styles Deal with at-risk students more successfully Use time management techniques based on personal styles and biological needs Reduce stress on a daily basis and in difficult classroom situations Improve teaching performance and job satisfaction

What are the implications of your scoring?

©John West-Burn ham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

53

Chapter 6

BaMMJIsK

Learning styles analysis - results for parents

For each of the following benefits for parents, identified by Prashnig (1998: page 83), reflect on your confidence that it is found in your school. .

For low confidence score 1, for high confidence score 5.

Understand how different their children are in their learning needs

Support their children more successfully in their learning efforts

Learn how to create a learning environment at home suitable for their children's styles

Practise more tolerance with unusual style features of their children

Accept that their children have their own unique learning styles

Realize that their children are not clones of themselves

What are the implications of your scoring?

§4

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

©John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Chapter 7

Ossessmenfc for learnuy

Introduction ny discussion of assessment is like crossing a minefield. It is a concept riddled with deeply held assumptions about its purpose and use; it is an area of competing and conflicting intentions, and often relates to views about the nature of education that are divergent. In England, and indeed in many other countries, it has strong links with a centralized and target driven educational system. Also, the dominance and consequences of assessment processes have a high impact on workload and morale.

A

Assessment of teaching is a denial of personalizing. If the process of personalizing is to have a significant impact on the nature and quality of learning then assessment for learning has to be at the heart of the process. Assessment for learning has been defined by the Assessment Reform Group (2002) as:

... the process of seeking and interpreting evidence for use by learners and their teachers to decide where the learners are in their learning, where they need to go and how best to get there.

This chapter will examine: •

assessment and learning



assessment for learning



strategies to support assessment for learning.

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

65

Chapter 7

Assessment and learning There remains a significant emphasis on summative assessment. In essence, this is the measurement of the output of the educational process typified by SATs' regimes at ages seven, 11, 14 and by GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) and AS and A2 examinations. These serve as 'gatekeeper' qualifications for students and, of course, are used to hold teachers, schools and local education authorities to account. The higher the stakes flowing from the testing, the greater will be the likelihood that teachers will teach to the test. Paul Black cites this quote from the last century: Not a thought was given, except in a small minority of schools, to the real training of the child, to the fostering of his mental (and other) growth. To get him through the yearly examination by hook or by crook was the one concern of the teacher As profound distrust was the basis of the policy of the Department, so profound distrust of the child was the basis of the policy of the teachers. To leave the child to find anything out for himself, to think anything out for himself, would have been regarded as incapacity, not to say insanity, on the part of the teacher, and would have lead to results which, from the percentage point of view, would probably have been disastrous. (Holmes, 1911, cited in Black, 1998: page 12) The focus is unashamedly on the essential contribution that assessment, particularly formative assessment, can make to the growth of confident and cognitively proficient learners; learners who understand mistakes to be stepping stones and not walls, and for whom constructive feedback is germane to their progression to becoming autonomous learners. Personalizing learning assessment acknowledges that assessment should occur as an integral part of teaching and learning, and that the information gained from assessment activities can be used to further shape the teaching and learning process. If learning is merely a transmission of information, then testing is about checking if the installation is correct, with the appropriate facts remembered. A key learning strategy must be memorization, and a key assessment strategy could well be the multiple-choice test. On the other hand, cons true tivist approaches are evident within classrooms to varying degrees. They are inherently linked to the development of deep learning, which is characterized by: •

an intention to understand material for oneself



interacting vigorously and critically with the content



relating ideas to previous knowledge and experience



using organizational principles to integrate ideas



relating evidence to conclusions



examining the logic of the argument (Entwistle, 1992).

If this pathway is followed and deep learning is held to be desirable, then development of such learning will require reflection on the processes by which new knowledge is being created. This process is termed metacognition. In this view of learning, process becomes the leading partner to content. The change in turn will require new assessment methodologies. Tests ought not to ask for demonstration of small, discrete skills practiced in isolation. They should be more ambitious instruments aimed at detecting what mental representations students hold of important ideas and what facility students have in bringing these understandings to bear in solving their problems. (Shepard, 1991: page 7)

56

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

Assessment for learning

Assessment for learning The argument has been made that learning is a complex process, which is personally constructed and non-linear. Further, that process is at least, if not more, important than content. Finally, that the skills for employment are related more to the activity of thinking than to the activity of remembering. To change the landscape there must be a committed journey by teachers to develop a community of practice around the understanding of learning. Schools should encourage the development of action learning sets that take an understanding of learning beyond mythology and engage with the changing horizons of cognition. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) have identified ten principles that should inform the use of assessment for learning: Assessment for learning should be part of effective planning of teaching and learning A teacher's planning should provide opportunities for both learner and teacher to obtain and use information about progress towards learning goals. It also has to be flexible to respond to the initial and emerging ideas and skills. Planning should include strategies to ensure that learners understand the goals they are pursuing and the criteria that will be applied in assessing their work. How learners will receive feedback, how they will take part in assessing their learning and how they will be helped to make further progress should also be planned. Assessment for learning should focus on how students learn The process of learning has to be in the minds of both learner and teacher when assessment is planned and when the evidence is interpreted. Learners should become as aware of the 'how7 of their learning as they are of the 'what'. Assessment for learning should be recognized as central to classroom practice Much of what teachers and learners do in classrooms can be described as assessment. That is, tasks and questions prompt learners to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and skills. What learners say and do is then observed and interpreted, and judgements are made about how learning can be improved. These assessment processes are an essential part of everyday classroom practice and involve both teachers and learners in reflection, dialogue and decision making. Assessment for learning should be regarded as a key professional skill for teachers Teachers require the professional knowledge and skills to: plan for assessment; observe learning; analyse and interpret evidence of learning; give feedback to learners and support learners in self-assessment. Teachers should be supported in developing these skills through initial and continuing professional development. Assessment for learning should be sensitive and constructive because any assessment has an emotional impact Teachers should be aware of the impact that comments, marks and grades can have on learners' confidence and enthusiasm and should be as constructive as possible in the feedback that they give. Comments that focus on the work rather than the person are more constructive for both leaning and motivation.

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

57

Chapter 7

Assessment for learning should take account of the importance of learner motivation Assessment that encourages learning fosters motivation by emphasizing the progress and achievement rather than failure. Comparison with others who have been more successful is unlikely to motivate learners. It can also lead to their withdrawing from the learning process in areas where they have been made to feel they are (no good. Motivation can be preserved and enhanced by assessment methods which protect the learner's autonomy, provide some choice and constructive feedback, and create opportunity for self-direction. Assessment for learning should promote commitment to learning goals and a shared understanding of the criteria by which they are assessed For effective learning to take place learners need to understand what it is they are trying to achieve - and want to achieve it. Understanding and commitment follows when learners have some part in deciding goals and identifying criteria for assessing progress. Communicating assessment criteria involves discussing them with learners using terms that they can understand, providing examples of how the criteria can be met in practice and engaging learners in peer and self-assessment. Learners should receive constructive guidance about how to improve Learners need information and guidance in order to plan the next steps in their learning. Teachers should: • pinpoint the learner's strengths and advise on how to develop them •

be clear and constructive about any weaknesses and how they might be addressed

• provide opportunities for learners to improve their work. Assessment for learning develops learners' capacity for self-assessment so that they can become reflective and self-managing Independent learners have the ability to seek out and gain new skills, new knowledge and new understandings. They are able to engage in self-reflection and to identify the next steps in their learning. Teachers should equip learners with the desire and the capacity to take charge of their learning through developing the skills of self-assessment. Assessment for learning should recognize the full range of achievements of all learners Assessment for learning should be used to enhance all learners' opportunities to learn in all areas of educational activity. It should enable all learners to achieve their best and to have their efforts recognized. (QCA, 2005)

68

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

Assessment for learning

While appropriate and carefully constructed tools are essential in developing formative assessment, studies also place great emphasis on the nature of the feedback. Black and Wiliam (1999) present formative assessment as:

... all those activities undertaken by teachers, and/or their students, which provide information to be used as feedback to modify teachins and learnins activities in which they are ensased. (page 7)

It has often been noted that not all feedback has significant impact in terms of taking learning forward. Sadler (1989) concludes that for feedback to be effective there must be a clear understanding of the intended goal or standard coupled with an understanding of how current performance relates to this and an awareness of the necessary strategies that will close the gap between the two. The process of giving feedback is problematical as it utilizes a complex skill set similar to that associated with mentor-coaching. At the heart of the process lie: empathy, active listening and the ability to ask questions rather than give answers. The professionally informed 'telling mode' is unlikely to promote deep learning, though it has its place in supporting legitimate shallow learning. A question might not be the appropriate response to 'Where are the safety goggles?' in a science lesson. Equally, a statement might not be the most enabling comment when asked 'How could I make the conclusion about the effect of light on the rate of photosynthesis in pondweed a better one?' Dialogue and reflection are powerful. I would suggest that there is also confusion in the minds of many teachers about the nature and impact of praise when giving feedback. We have come to be fascinated with self-esteem and its potential link with achievement. The assumption is that if we raise self-esteem then achievement will follow in its wake. The reality is much more complex, rather like the link between wealth and happiness: not having wealth may make you unhappy but equally having it does not guarantee happiness. Positive esteem does not guarantee high motivation, neither is it essential for self-motivation. Self-esteem is often thought of as something teachers can nurture in students by, for example, praising their good features and protecting them from their deficiencies. But this may just be pretending their difficulties do not exist and will not help them cope with setbacks. Focusing on self-esteem may only offer the student ways to avoid facing up to, and learning from, their problems and mistakes. Damage to self-esteem has adverse effects on everyone and we all want to avoid this. Trying to raise students' self-esteem directly, however, may have limited success as this ignores the fact that many of our feelings about ourselves come from what we do rather than cause us to do it. (McLean, 2003: page 48) Feedback related to formative assessment needs to avoid gratuitous praise, which can encourage the demonstration of ability rather than developing learning. The development of belief in change and progress through time will support confident learning, whereas inculcating belief that ability is allocated is unlikely to support autonomous confident learners. Carefully constructed, constructive and challenging feedback can communicate high expectations, while superficial praise for easy success can convey disinterest.

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

59

Chapter 7

David Cooperrider et al. (2003) cite the heliotropic hypothesis, which states that:

Human systems have an observable tendency to evolve in the direction of those positive imases that are brishtest and boldest, most illuminatins and promisins. (page 12)

They also contrast this with the nature of our inner dialogue. They suggest that all humans exhibit an ongoing internal film show or inner dialogue. In essence, we play a film show of future possibilities. Where this has an equal ratio of images of future possibilities of positive to negative, we move towards being dysfunctional, where the ratio exceeds two positives to each negative there is functional confidence. Feedback provides information about progress but it also supports the development of images of the future, which develop intrinsic motivation. Formative assessment, in its unadulterated form, stands outside the accreditation loop, in other words is not currently recognized as leading to the award of any qualifications. The focus is about supporting learners and their development. In this role, it cannot fail to engage in the support of personalizing learning. To be effective, three components must coincide in formative assessment; •

There must be a consensus about the objective of the learning activity. This may well include content and skills, and should include a clear focus on the elements of metacognition. Simply put, if we are uncertain about our destination we cannot pass comment on the route.



Appropriate strategies must be developed to support the formative assessment. These should be embedded in the learning process in its design phase. Formative assessment is not about expressing an opinion, it is about engaging in a rigorous professional activity that drives learning.



Feedback to students must be effective. Giving transformative feedback is challenging and is a competence that needs to be developed over time. It is unlikely to be an inherent personality trait in the assessor. Superficial feedback will not only be ineffective but could well prove detrimental, according to McLean (2003).

The impact of assessment of testing on motivating students to learn has been touched on earlier in the chapter. It seems, however, useful to provide here a summary of the work undertaken by Harlen and Deakin Crick (2002). In essence, this is a review of published research focused on summative assessment using the Evidence for Policy and Practice Institute's (EPPI) methodology. A widespread search found 183 studies that were potentially relevant. The focus was then narrowed down to 19, which were identified as providing sound and valid empirical evidence. The review concludes that there was strong evidence that summative assessment had a negative impact on students' motivation for learning. The reviewers commented that:

Many aspects of the impact have sisnificant consequences for pupils' future learnins, and thus have causes for concern. (Harlen and Deakin Crick, 2002: page 2)

70

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

Assessment for learning

Three of the areas emerged strongly. First, the particular detrimental impact that testing regimes had on pupils of low ability by confirming their own negative beliefs about learning. Second, that summative testing was causing teachers to teach to the test and inhibit the development of higherorder skills. Third, the tests were favouring students who are linear sequential thinkers. The review underscores the impact of testing on learning and teaching. At the level of national policy, it must also call into question how such models of testing relate to the emphasis on personalizing learning.

Strategies to support assessment for learning The essential components of assessment for learning are set out below. It is important to stress the interdependence of these elements - they will have the greatest impact when they are applied consistently and at the same time across the whole school. •

Clear identification of learning outcomes in terms of what is learned and how it is learned.



Negotiation of performance levels that are personal and meaningful to the learner.



Explicit criteria for the organization and presentation of work.



Strategies to support self-assessment as the first stage of the assessment for learning process.



Peer assessment to consolidate self-assessment.



Teachers using a range of sophisticated questioning techniques in the classroom to encourage review, deepen understanding and build confidence.



Marking that is based on formative comments, questioning and explanation of grading with explicit guidance on improvement.



Summative testing being used as the basis for diagnosis and formative strategies.



Teachers developing a rich and sophisticated vocabulary to explain, justify and demonstrate their judgements.



Review of assessment is central to monitoring development and personal learning plans.

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

71

Chapter 7

IJ2J5EZIBB Defining assessment Use the definitions of assessment for learning produced by the Assessment Reform Group (2002) to review the model of assessment used in your school.

.,. the pocfess of seeking and tatapnti^ francs Iorwst 1$ tamos .»nd thtir teachtrs to decide where tht ^i^isWfo gp^wi how best to get there.

What is your school's definition of learning? 1.

How does your school define learning?

2.

What use are learners able to make of assessment in developing their understanding of their learning?

3.

To what extent is assessment formative, developmental and supportive?

4.

How far is assessment responsive to the learning needs of the individual student?

72

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

© John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

Assessment for learning

tiftumwiifM The principles of assessment for learning For each principle, review the extent to which it is embedded in practice in your school. 1. Assessment for learning should be part of effective planning of teaching and learning. Not effective

1

2

3

4

5

Highly effective

5

Highly effective

2. Assessment for learning should focus on how students learn. Not effective

l

2

3

4

3. Assessment for learning should be recognized as central to classroom practice. Not effective

1

2

3

4

5

Highly effective

4. Assessment for learning should be regarded as a key professional skill for teachers. Not effective

1

2

3

4

5

Highly effective

5. Assessment for learning should be sensitive and constructive because any assessment has an emotional impact. Not effective

l

2

3

4

5

Highly effective

6. Assessment for learning should take account of the importance of learner motivation. Not effective

1

2

3

4

5

Highly effective

7. Assessment for learning should promote commitment to learning goals and a shared understanding of the criteria by which they are assessed. Not effective

1

2

3

4

5

Highly effective

5

Highly effective

8. Learners should receive constructive guidance about how to improve. Not effective

1

2

3

4

9. Assessment for learning develops learners' capacity for self-assessment so that they can become reflective and self-managing. Not effective

1

2

3

4

5

Highly effective

10. Assessment for learning should recognize the full range of achievements of all learners. Not effective

1

2

© John West-Burnham and Max Coates (Network Continuum, 2006)

3

4

5

Highly effective

Transforming Education for Every Child - A practical handbook

73

This page intentionally left blank

Chapter 8

Uarnuy to learn :V his chapter provides an overview of the skills, strategies and behaviours that are appropriate to effective learning. In essence it is the 'cognitive toolkit', the 'learning menu' or, more prosaically, a directory of learning strategies. A list of resources to support further investigation is provided at the end of each section. This is a huge area, and the resources and examples of practice are growing all the time. What is clear is that personalizing learning is impossible unless each learner develops an individual repertoire of strategies that allows him or her to work in a wide variety of ways with confidence. In many ways, personalizing learning is about giving the learner the strategies that are currently the monopoly of teachers. Obviously, not all strategies will apply equally to all learners, but it would be wrong to underestimate the capacity of young people to engage with complex abstract thinking. The movement from shallow to deep learning (see Chapter 3) is about learning for understanding, which requires the ability to think.

T

A powerful overview and summary of the fundamental components of learning to learn is provided by Costa and Kallick (2000) in their model of 'habits of mind' which they define as:

... dispositions displayed by intelligent people in response to problems, dilemmas and enigmas, the resolutions of which are not immediately apparent.