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Meghan Cureton

Can You Resist the Seductive Allure of Neuroscience? |Education & Teacher Conferences - 1 views

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Meghan Cureton

The Case Against Grades (##) - Alfie Kohn - 2 views

  • Collecting information doesn’t require tests, and sharing that information doesn’t require grades.  In fact, students would be a lot better off without either of these relics from a less enlightened age.
  • As I’ve reported elsewhere (Kohn, 1999a, 1999b, 1999c), when students from elementary school to college who are led to focus on grades are compared with those who aren’t, the results support three robust conclusions:
  • Grades tend to diminish students’ interest in whatever they’re learning.
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  • Grades create a preference for the easiest possible task.
  • Grades tend to reduce the quality of students’ thinking. 
  • For example, a grade-oriented environment is associated with increased levels of cheating (Anderman and Murdock, 2007), grades (whether or not accompanied by comments) promote a fear of failure even in high-achieving students (Pulfrey et al., 2011), and the elimination of grades (in favor of a pass/fail system) produces substantial benefits with no apparent disadvantages in medical school (White and Fantone, 2010).
  • Extrinsic motivation, which includes a desire to get better grades, is not only different from, but often undermines, intrinsic motivation, a desire to learn for its own sake (Kohn 1999a). 
  • Achievement:  Two educational psychologists pointed out that “an overemphasis on assessment can actually undermine the pursuit of excellence” (Maehr and Midgley, 1996, p. 7). 
  • There is certainly value in assessing the quality of learning and teaching, but that doesn’t mean it’s always necessary, or even possible, to measure those things — that is, to turn them into numbers.  Indeed, “measurable outcomes may be the least significant results of learning” (McNeil, 1986, p. xviii)
  • Once we’re compelled to focus only on what can be reduced to numbers, such as how many grammatical errors are present in a composition or how many mathematical algorithms have been committed to memory, thinking has been severely compromised.  And that is exactly what happens when we try to fit learning into a four- or five- or (heaven help us) 100-point scale.
  • Portfolios, for example, can be constructive if they replace grades rather than being used to yield them.  They offer a way to thoughtfully gather a variety of meaningful examples of learning for the students to review.  But what’s the point, “if instruction is dominated by worksheets so that every portfolio looks the same”? (Neill et al. 1995, p. 4).
  • It’s not enough to replace letters or numbers with labels (“exceeds expectations,” “meets expectations,” and so on).  If you’re sorting students into four or five piles, you’re still grading them.  Rubrics typically include numbers as well as labels, which is only one of several reasons they merit our skepticism (Wilson, 2006; Kohn, 2006).
  • It’s not enough to disseminate grades more efficiently — for example, by posting them on-line.  There is a growing technology, as the late Gerald Bracey once remarked, “that permits us to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn’t be doing at all” (quoted in Mathews, 2006).  In fact, posting grades on-line is a significant step backward because it enhances the salience of those grades and therefore their destructive effects on learning.
  • It’s not enough to add narrative reports.  “When comments and grades coexist, the comments are written to justify the grade” (Wilson, 2009, p. 60).  Teachers report that students, for their part, often just turn to the grade and ignore the comment, but “when there’s only a comment, they read it,”
  • It’s not enough to use “standards-based” grading.
  • Sometimes it’s only after grading has ended that we realize just how harmful it’s been.
  • To address one common fear, the graduates of grade-free high schools are indeed accepted by selective private colleges and large public universities — on the basis of narrative reports and detailed descriptions of the curriculum (as well as recommendations, essays, and interviews), which collectively offer a fuller picture of the applicant than does a grade-point average.  Moreover, these schools point out that their students are often more motivated and proficient learners, thus better prepared for college, than their counterparts at traditional schools who have been preoccupied with grades.
  • Even when administrators aren’t ready to abandon traditional report cards, individual teachers can help to rescue learning in their own classrooms with a two-pronged strategy to “neuter grades,” as one teacher described it.  First, they can stop putting letter or number grades on individual assignments and instead offer only qualitative feedback.
  • Second, although teachers may be required to submit a final grade, there’s no requirement for them to decide unilaterally what that grade will be.  Thus, students can be invited to participate in that process either as a negotiation (such that the teacher has the final say) or by simply permitting students to grade themselves.
  • Without grades, “I think my relationships with students are better,” Drier says.  “Their writing improves more quickly and the things they learn stay with them longer.
  • Drier’s final grades are based on students’ written self-assessments, which, in turn, are based on their review of items in their portfolios. 
  • A key element of authentic assessment for these and other teachers is the opportunity for students to help design the assessment and reflect on its purposes — individually and as a class. 
  • Grades don’t prepare children for the “real world” — unless one has in mind a world where interest in learning and quality of thinking are unimportant.  Nor are grades a necessary part of schooling, any more than paddling or taking extended dictation could be described that way.  Still, it takes courage to do right by kids in an era when the quantitative matters more than the qualitative, when meeting (someone else’s) standards counts for more than exploring ideas, and when anything “rigorous” is automatically assumed to be valuable.  We have to be willing to challenge the conventional wisdom, which in this case means asking not how to improve grades but how to jettison them once and for all.
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    HT @tedwards
Bo Adams

Landmark study finds positive impact of public Montessori programs - Furman News - 0 views

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    HT Alex Blumencranz
Jim Tiffin Jr

Feedback In Lieu of Grades - LiveBinder HT @JoyKirr - 0 views

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    Joy Kirr's incredible collection of inquiry/research around feedback as a replacement for grades.
Jim Tiffin Jr

Your Team Is Brainstorming All Wrong - 2 views

  • demonstrate that groups that use Osborn’s rules of brainstorming come up with fewer ideas (and fewer good ideas) than the individuals would have developed alone.
  • There are several reasons for this productivity loss, as academics call it. For one, when people work together, their ideas tend to converge. As soon as one person throws out an idea, it affects the memory of everyone in the group and makes them think a bit more similarly about the problem than they did before. In contrast, when people work alone, they tend to diverge in their thinking, because everyone takes a slightly different path to thinking about the problem.
  • Early in creative acts it’s important to diverge, that is, to think about what you are doing in as many ways as possible. Later, you want to converge on a small number of paths to follow in more detail.
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  • Many techniques use a structure like this. For example, in the 6-3-5 method, six people sit around a table and write down three ideas. They pass their stack of ideas to the person on their right, who builds on them. This passing is done five times, until everyone has had the chance to build on each of the ideas. Afterward, the group can get together to evaluate the ideas generated.
    • Jim Tiffin Jr
       
      The 6-3-5 technique summarized.
  • allow individual work during divergent phases of creativity and group work during convergent phases.
    • Jim Tiffin Jr
       
      Here is the key to the most productive brainstorming techniques.
  • First, it’s hard for people to describe spatial relationships, so any solution that requires a spatial layout is better described with pictures than with words. Second, a large amount of the brain is devoted to visual processing, so sketching and interpreting drawings increases the involvement of those brain regions in idea generation. Third, it is often difficult to describe processes purely in words, so diagrams are helpful.
  • It’s important that groups have time to explore enough ideas that they can consider more than just the first few possibilities that people generate.
  • Many brainstorming sessions involve people talking about solutions. That biases people toward solutions that are easy to talk about. It may also lead to solutions that are abstract and may never work in practice.
  • a combination of drawing and writing is ideal for generating creative solutions to problems
  • t is often important to spend time agreeing on the problem to be solved. A whole round of divergence and convergence on the problem statement can be done before giving people a chance to suggest solutions. 
    • Jim Tiffin Jr
       
      Wonder if there is a place for this in our HMW work?
  • To develop stronger ideas, you need to manage the conversation so that the team doesn’t converge on a solution before everyone hears what others are thinking.
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    "Early in creative acts it's important to diverge, that is to think about what you are doing in as many ways as possible. Later, you want to converge on a small number of paths to follow in more detail."
Jim Tiffin Jr

Pedagogy of Play | Project Zero - 0 views

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    A new (2016) research project coming out of Harvard. With play a component of the motivation cycle for innovators, this growing body of work may be worth following.
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    A new (2016) research project coming out of Harvard. With play a component of the motivation cycle for innovators, this growing body of work may be worth following.
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