What makes great teaching? Review of the underpinning research by Coe et al. (A summary)

Coe, R., Aloisi, C., Higgins, S., & Elliot Major, L. (2014). What makes great teaching? Review of the underpinning research. London: Sutton Trust. Retrieved November 1, 2014 from http://www.suttontrust.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/What-Makes-Great-Teaching-REPORT.pdf

  1. What makes “great teaching”?
  2. What kinds of frameworks or tools could help us to capture it?
  3. How could this promote better learning?

Q1. What makes “great teaching”?

Effective teaching is that which leads to improved student achievement using outcomes that matter to their future success; student progress is the yardstick by which teacher quality should be assessed. [This statement makes several assumptions: that “achievement,” or grades, indicate learning; that so-called relevance – “outcomes that matter to … future success” – is the goal of learning (with what counts as success being undefined and “outcomes” of learning assumed to be what we should value) — Sean]

Strong evidence of impact on student learning:

  1. content knowledge
  2. quality of instruction

Moderate evidence of impact on student learning:

  1. classroom climate
  2. classroom management

Some evidence of impact on student learning:

  1. teacher beliefs
  2. professional behaviours

Q2: “What kinds of frameworks/tools could help us to capture great teaching?”

A formative teacher evaluation system (based on continuous assessment and feedback rather than a high-stakes test) must triangulate a range of measures, from different sources, using a variety of methods.

Moderate validity in evaluation:

  1. classroom observations by peers, “superiors” or external evaluators
  2. “value-added” models (assessing gains in student achievement)
  3. student evaluations

Limited validity:

  1. the judgement of superiors
  2. teacher self-reports
  3. analysis of classroom artifacts and teacher portfolios

Q3: “How could this promote better learning?”

Teacher learning can have a sizeable impact on student outcomes, especially when structured explicitly as a continuous professional learning opportunity in which

  1. the focus is kept clearly on improving student outcomes
  2. feedback is related to clear, specific and challenging goals for the recipient
  3. attention is on the learning rather than to the person or comparisons with
others
  4. teachers are encouraged to be continual independent learners
  5. feedback is mediated by a mentor in an environment of trust and support
  6. an environment of professional learning and support is promoted by the institution

And …

What doesn’t work?

Here are seven common teaching practices that are not backed up by evidence:

  1. Using lavish praise

Use praise that is valued by the learner

  1. Allowing learners to discover key ideas for themselves

Teach new ideas, knowledge or skills directly

  1. Grouping learners by ability
  2. Re-reading and highlighting

Teach students to test themselves at intervals to allow for productive forgetting

  1. Addressing issues of confidence and low aspirations

Enable students to succeed and their motivation and confidence should increase

  1. Teaching to a learner’s preferred learning style
  2. Active learners remember more than passive learners

Get students to think about what you want them to learn – “actively” or “passively”

Digital Caricature

A new article by Stephen Turner and me about the digitas published in DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly (link):

For Vilém Flusser, philosopher of technology, the advent of photography heralded the return of the image from its subjection to the linearity of written language. Here we extend his concept of the “techno-image” (successor of the pre-historical hand-drawn image and the historical printed word), to consider the digital image-text that today dominates reading and writing. Our question: Can we reader-writers think the digitas, or are we doomed to perform its functions in an “automati[c]” or “robotiz[ed]” fashion, as Flusser put it, so that, if anything, the digitas now “thinks” us? The short answer to our question is as follows: we can think the digitas, but only if we consider it, firstly, as a kind of writing (“digital orthography”) and, secondly, as a caricature of thinking, both impoverished and, dare we say it, funny (“digital caricature”).

Sommer, E. "Portrait Vilém Flusser". Vilém Flusser Archive. 2012. Reproduced by permission of Ed Sommer.

Sommer, E. “Portrait Vilém Flusser”. Vilém Flusser Archive. 2012. Reproduced by permission of Ed Sommer.

John Cage on the demilitarization of language

John Cage in a radio interview, August 8, 1974 (link):

I let it be known to my friends, and even strangers, as I was wandering around the country, … that what was interesting me was making English less understandable. Because when it’s understandable, well, people control one another, and poetry disappears — and as I was talking with my friend Norman O. Brown, and he said, “Syntax [which is what makes things understandable] is the army, is the arrangement of the army.”

So what we’re doing when we make language un-understandable is we’re demilitarizing it, so that we can do our living….

James Joyce by CageI found this via Kenneth Goldsmith in Rhizome:”Displacement Is the New Translation” (link).

Argos Aotearoa

The Argos Aotearoa hypertext site is up and running at http://argosaotearoa.org.

Argos aims to circulate writing about topical matters of public and political import that is local, critical and accessible. We believe critical intellectual conversation should be heard here in Aotearoa-New Zealand, not simply published for credit in international fora for more limited and specialised audiences. Of particular interest to us is writing that grounds its concern with the public or political good of place-making in theory or philosophy.

Navigate. Contribute.

And …

Argos Aotearoa #1 - The University Beside Itself

Argos Aotearoa #1 – The University Beside Itself

The first issue of the Argos print journal is available to read and share at Argos #1. Hard copies will be available soon.

The University Beside Itself

Out now, a new essay by Stephen and I, “The University Beside Itself,” from Re-imagining the Creative University for the 21st Century, ed. T. Besley and M. Peters (London: Routledge, 2013) 49-59:

[I]n and through seismotic construction, which is to say through attention to the unstable ground of the university, the nature of the class and classroom is reconstructed to form a new disposition. Such a practice, we suggest, places teaching – education, in fact – at the centre of the university, rather than research or management. Construction is not just a matter of learning learning; it makes the ability to ask after grounds the basis of being educated, and it makes being able to question a key social value of education. Without it, we think that a society lacks the wherewithal for self-transformation. The experience of transformation, or being transported, is to be beside oneself. And to be beside someone, as one is in a classroom, is to find one’s thinking transposed through a dialogic doubling. This is why classrooms matter, and cannot simply be replaced by downloaded notes or lectures. The “live” classroom, animated by open-ended dialogue rather than end- stopped programming, offers a creative and collaborative capacity that is chancy and risky, or, in any case, uninflected by the discursive consistency of the university template – how it is that you are supposed to meet the aims, objectives and outcomes of a course, or at higher levels, the mission statement and strategic plan of the university. (53-54)

It’s available through SpringerLink: http://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-94-6209-458-1.

Erratology and the Ill-Logic of the Seismotic University

Garden of Forking Paths

A new essay by Stephen Turner and myself, “Erratology and the Ill-Logic of the Seismotic University”:

With the tertiary education mantra of creativity, critical thinking and innovation in mind, we consider the critical-creativity of error. Taking the university to model social orthography, or “correct writing,” according to the norms of disciplines, we consider the role of error in the classroom. Error questions the norms governing norms and the instability of disciplinary grounds; it involves a mis-taking, or taking another way. By tracing the origin of error, we are able to reconstruct the social world in terms of which it is conceivable for a mistake of any kind to have been made. The university, we find, withholds worlds which are not new but are sources of creativity, and constitutes a pluriversity or poly-versity.

In short, we learn by making mistakes.

Download here (subscription required).