Showing posts with label OBE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label OBE. Show all posts

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Evidence based education vs OBE

Educational trends tend to go in cycles. From ultra conservative, tried and true methods (such as direct instruction from defined syllabus) to ultra experimental (such as the whole of language approach).

Recovering from the ultra experimental 'OBE' we are now heading towards the ultra conservative 'evidence based' approach.

Although the evidence based approach has merits and is a very attractive alternative after OBE, I would suggest caution. The consequences of evidence based education is already starting to slow educational change through the inability of educational practices to change in time with social change (by the time evidence is gathered, social change has again occurred).

Current practice would be to identify an educational need, and then find a current practice (with evidence) to use to fulfil this need. The obvious issue with this is that where we have a new social situation, no evidence exists and with current research practices - no evidence will ever exist as typically research today does not seek to find a solution, only observe existing practice (existing practice which we know is flawed or wouldn't require research).

Has the pendulum swung too far, now stifling the innovative approaches that could be researched and widely implemented? To avoid this I think a middle ground needs to be found, where innovative practices are encouraged and then researched before extensive implementation. To have one without the other is to invite poor practices or stifling of positive change.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Outcomes Based Education devaluing progress

One key issue with OBE was the devaluation of progress in outcomes not being immediately assessed. Combine this with marking that isn't normalised and it can demoralise a student.

For instance, a student starts totally disengaged and gradually becomes more involved with the classroom. The outcome for lessons are not achieved. The child does not achieve NAPLAN results. The child again gets an E for the term despite making large amounts of progress socially.

The main feedback for the student is that effort has no reward and he again becomes disengaged. The feedback for the teacher is that putting effort into a student like this is not worthwhile, more tangible/measurable results can be found with students that are already on learning paths. It is not fair, equitable or motivating for either party.

It is this sort of logic that we as a profession are facing at the moment and this is something that we need to consider if we still want an inclusive education system. We are heading towards a system where students that do not fit into mainstream profiles are being farmed into alternate programmes as they fall farther and farther behind, with little incentive for schools to investigate issues and try to re-integrate students.

I'm sure that this is not the right thing to do.

Sometimes as teachers we need to look at the whole picture and realise that we are achieving great things even when the measured results do not show them (especially when standardised reports don't measure what we are teaching!) - the seeds we plant in students may not germinate for many years yet are still worthwhile - a message may take many iterations to become active, developmentally change often requires multiple iterations by multiple people to become successful.

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:

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

Learning Factors:
D=Developmental level
P=Prior Knowledge
E=Environmental factors

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.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Outcomes Based Education

The experience of Outcomes based education in WA has been painful. Before being condemned as a failure in 2008 it raised the ire of many parents and teachers.

The main idea of outcomes based education is that teachers should teach students to actual outcomes. The outcome is important not what is scheduled to be taught. If the student is not ready, teach them something that they are ready for. Students within a class are learning different concepts based on their individual optimal learning requirements.

In an average class of 30 it is not likely that an inexperienced teacher will achieve anything like optimal learning using an Outcomes based method as they are unable to recognise when the learning point has been achieved or what the next logical learning point is. What seems to happen is that teaching of simple concepts is overdone and students start to "loaf" and are not stretched to their utmost. An experienced teacher may manage optimal learning but it takes many years to reach this level of skill. In today's workplace with people job-hopping I would suggest that this level of skill is in short supply and is only getting shorter.

Much of the issues with OBE was hidden from parents through ineffectual and confusing student reporting in "levels" which were so far removed from the traditional ABCD or F that parents could not discern how their students were performing and the information documented for future years became vague and useless.

A great step forward was the introduction of the K-10 Syllabus this year and the return to ABCDE reporting. The document has filled some of the gap for new teachers and the reintroduction of ABCDE has given some ability back to parents to read reports. If this had been done from the beginning and training courses had more content specific outlining correct scaffolding of concepts, much of the fuss about OBE I think would have been avoided.

Oh but for hindsight!