Showing posts with label educational output. Show all posts
Showing posts with label educational output. 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.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Striving for excellence vs achievement

I can think of four models for a school. These ideas underpin curriculum and pastoral decisions. Where a school understands its direction, it can drive staff and students accordingly. It is the major theme that governs the mission of the school.

Education based on excellence and opportunity (education driven)
School as a place where students strive for excellence - sights are set high and achievements on the way are celebrated. High expectation drives this system where teachers have to remind students of their successes whilst they pursue ever higher goals. Schooling is an esoteric activity - one without goals other than higher learning. This is a system driven by opportunity for education.

Education based on success (success driven)
School as a place where students find success and gain self worth. Students are only given situations where they are successful. A raft of factors is taken into account (the whole student picture) rather than just their intellectual capability to ensure students will succeed. This is a system driven by the need for further success.

Education based on vocational needs (workforce driven)
School as a place that provides key skills for the workplace. Students are streamed into interest areas and delivered to the workforce and tertiary providers already along a workforce pathway. This is a system driven by workforce needs.

Education based on student readiness (student driven)
School is a place that attends to individual student needs and presents information at a pace best suited to the student. As the student becomes ready for the new content, it is provided in a timely manner. This is a system driven by developmental readiness.

I think the success based schooling is based on an ill advised premise as motivation cannot be maintained on perpetual success. Success is only valued if the risk of failure is real. This is the same issue with the developmental approach. This is one reason why the entertainer rather than teacher is so necessary to maintain discipline in classes in WA where these two systems are the most common!! (without risk of failure and vague BMIS alternate measures are required to keep students on task).

Similarly, the vocational needs approach is subject to the vagaries of the workforce and naivety on the part of students and their career goals. To stream students into a career too early is to pigeonhole them and limit their future success without complete retraining. Motivation falters as students find their chosen field to be real work.

The whole Australian way was based on the fair go and the battler. Without the battle or the ability to get a fair go(opportunity), we are changing national ideals. Excellence and opportunity (with all it's inherent failings especially for unmotivated and/or low ability students) is still the better of three evils for the majority of students - with limited pockets of students where the other methods can have sensational results.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Setting goalposts for students

Once upon a time, in a land underneath our feet, students went to school. At the end of year 10 they reached a certain standard and were given a certificate. Some left for apprenticeships others went straight into the workforce and others stayed in school seeking their yr12 certificate or university entry. Class grades were generated on class norms and students that did not meet generally accepted standards repeated the year or left school. There was pressure and release for low and high performing students. Teachers focused on doing the greatest good for the greatest number of students.

Students today are carried to year 12 by their teachers and generally no longer repeat if unable to complete content. Schools are encouraged, at all costs, to get students to yr 12 and get their graduation certificate. Graduation rates and average TEE results are released in newspapers for individual schools. Statewide grades are given without taking into account socioeconomic factors. Students are now facing the inability to chose their subjects with their cohort and be prohibited occupations due to their geographical location. Students not able to achieve good TEE results are discouraged from sitting their TEE to preserve school scores and maximise scaling for 'good' students. Today, we have a focus on benchmarks, minimal performance levels and the performance of the top 10% of students. We are now much more focused on the social justice needs of outliers in our education system.

Which is the better system and which satisfies the needs of our society at this time?