## Monday, August 25, 2008

### Outcomes based education

I thought I'd have a mathematical dig at OBE for a bit of fun.

Let's define a traditional learning environment in terms of mathematics:

Let
T=information taught;
L=student ability to learn;
K=student knowledge & skills;

Let us say that:
T * L = K;
T * L = 1; if a student learns everything taught.
T * L = 0; if a student learns nothing.

Examining Teaching and learning further:
Teaching Factors:
A=Teacher ability to teach content
R=Resources

Learning Factors:
D=Developmental level
B=Behaviour
P=Prior Knowledge
E=Environmental factors
M=Motivation
C=Competition/Collaboration

Substitute these to our equation:
(A*R) * (D*B*P*E*M*C)=K

In an outcomes based world T & K are written differently. What is taught is driven by the students and the knowledge required to be taught:
A = K ÷ (D*B*P*E*M*C*R)

So optimal learning ocurs at:
A = 1 ÷ (D*B*P*E*M*C*R)

Here is where the interesting things start to occur. One only has to wonder what happens if any one of DBPEMCR becomes zero. In the old equation K become zero, you could still teach but no learning occurred. In the new equation A becomes undefined and the ability to teach becomes impossible.

Similarly in traditional teaching one equation would fit the whole class and if the factors were affecting one student on any given day, the remainder of the class would still continue learning. Under the new model, one student with a factor at zero can cause complete disruption as you attempt to redress the factor impeding your teaching ability (and making your teaching equation undefined).

Furthermore, whereas delivering content from syllabus is under teacher control, understanding DBPEMCR and using it to drive the delivery of the teaching content makes the job of a teacher considerably more difficult in a heterogenous classroom especially as a new teacher with limited experience/ability/control over these factors. The smaller the value of DBPEMCR, the more difficult it is to establish a teaching moment.

Ok so it's all a bit fallacious but it does make one think.. perhaps sitting at home sick isn't the best time to philosophise and I'll go back to bed.

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