Reflection: Transformational Reading Exercise

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See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: A Promising Pedagogy: Linking Learning and Caring Article in Academic Exchange Quarterly · May 2011 CITATIONS READS 0 19 1 author: Cherie A. Mccollough Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi 19 PUBLICATIONS 24 CITATIONS SEE PROFILE Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects: Family Science Learning Events View project ETEAMS - NSF MSP View project All content following this page was uploaded by Cherie A. Mccollough on 22 April 2016. The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file. Cherie A. McCollough, Ph.D. KEYWORD– SCHOLAR 2 A Promising Pedagogy: Linking Learning and Caring Cherie A. McCollough, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, TX McCollough, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Science Education in the College of Science and Technology, Department of Life Sciences. Abstract The current era of accountability in education includes testing requirements from legislation such as No Child Left Behind requiring effective measurement and analysis of student achievement data. A second emphasis is the recommendation to have student-centered approaches to teaching and learning. This study reports how teachers have made the standards movement more compatible by coupling the How Students Learn (Donovan & Bransford, 2005) approach to science teaching and learning with an ethic of care, creating a Pedagogy of Promise (McCollough, 2005). Introduction This study explores efforts by exemplary high-school science teachers who creatively employed student-centered instruction in their classrooms despite pressure resulting from the completion of the mandated state standardized science examination - the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) exam. The mixed-methods study describes how science teachers in low socioeconomic high schools employed classroom strategies that included the tenets found in the How Students Learn: History, Mathematics and Science in the Classroom (Donovan & Bransford, 2005) theoretical framework. This approach to learning and instruction was coupled with teacher’s practicing an ethic of care that included high expectations, an empathetic attitude, and respect for their students. Students were more actively engaged in learning, increased their appreciation for science and were taught to think critically, internalizing scientific concepts rather than memorizing disconnected, fragmented science content. Standardization and Accountability The demand for education standardization and accountability measures has intensified over the past 30 years. Beginning with the release of A Nation At Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983), a document which equated the alleged “mediocrity” of schools to “an act of war,” a series of continual attacks has been leveled at the public education system. In 2001, legislation entitled No Child Left Behind (U.S. Department of Education, 2002) increased accountability for states, school districts, and schools. Together, the increasing use of standardization in educational programs and the accountability practices that measure educational accomplishment through outcomes measures are restructuring public education. 2 How Students Learn How Students Learn: History, Mathematics and Science in the Classroom (HSL) (Donovan & Bransford, 2005) is a synthesis of the findings, conclusions, and opinions of educational researchers and theorists in the learning sciences and includes four important pillars of learning. Schools and classrooms in the HSL model must first be learner-centered. Learner-centered environments include teachers who are aware that learners construct their own meanings with the beliefs, understandings, and cultural practices they bring to the classroom. Second, knowledgecenteredness gives attention to what is taught, why it is taught, and what skills mastery comprise the subject matter. Thirdly, HSL defines assessment-centeredness through the use of formative and summative assessments that are accompanied by frequent feedback. Finally, HSL classrooms should be community-centered, fostering the development of relationships between the classroom, school and community as well as providing connections to the outside world in supporting core learning values. The HSL classroom model furnishes learning contexts for students to “learn to see” a problem like an expert, providing multiple opportunities for knowledge revision and examples of expertise. Students are able to integrate their new knowledge with existing knowledge in a constructivist process, continually monitoring their learning and problem solving. Some teachers have moved away from the traditional, prescribed curriculum to a more dynamic, student-centered curriculum with pedagogy that incorporates HSL four pillars of learning. Instead of simply progressing through a scope and sequence chart, teachers strive to expose students to the major features of a subject domain through authentic problem contexts. However, tensions will inevitably occur as teachers “teach against the grain” (Cochran-Smith, 2001; Spalding, Klecka, Lin, et al., 2010 ). Student-Centered Classrooms: Teaching for Understanding Education literature supports student-centered teaching where students have a choice in learning what is most relevant and meaningful. Theorists believe people should teach each other using a process of open dialogue, avoiding memorization of facts only to regurgitate them later, and experience authentic learning contexts (Darling-Hammond & Friedlaender, 2008). While teaching for meaning is an engaging idea, it often becomes impractical when applied to content standards and high-stakes testing. For example, curriculum guides reflect efforts to increase scores as pressure increases to improve standardized test results (Meier, 2002; PerkinsGough, 2004). The imposition of high-stakes tests for K-12 students often leads to narrow, testdriven curricula that focuses attention on basic skill instruction, excluding critical thinking (Darling-Hammond & Friedlaender, 2008; Wiliam, 2010). The Importance of Structures for Caring According to Noddings “ethic of care” model, caring involves “stepping out of one’s own personal frame of reference and into the other’s” (Noddings, 1984, p. 24) during teacher-student encounters. What must happen for real caring to occur is a willingness on the part of the “one caring” – the teacher – to give primacy to the “cared for” – the student (Noddings, 1984, 2005). 3 Environments that attend to students as individuals are characterized by respect and caring rather than by demeaning interactions, threats and sanctions. The more students perceive a caring attitude from their teacher, the more the students will care about and appreciate the class and the instructor. This is because caring teachers create more positive learning environments (Teven & Hanson, 2004). Dozens of studies confirm that motivation, positive behavior, and learning are enhanced by strategies that support students’ natural drives toward competence, self-esteem, and selfresponsibility. Likewise, reliance on extrinsic rewards and punishments undermines learning and psychological development because it reduces risk-taking, decreases willingness to complete challenging work, and stifles the development of motivation and self-discipline. Rather than making decisions that are based on needs of students, teachers often feel compelled to make decisions based on concepts covered by the high-stakes tests (Au, 2009; Sloan, 2005). Standardsbased reform is an alienating force placing teachers and students at crossed purposes, looking at each other over a policy divide. For some teachers this chasm takes the form of weakened emotional bonds between adults and children. For others, students’ perceptions of their teachers as caring individuals worthy of their respect is eliminated (Teven, 2007; Valenzuela, 1999). Methods The study sample includes four high-school science teachers evaluated by the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) standardized 10th grade science exam each year in two low socio-economic high schools. These teachers were identified as “exemplary” through a series of surveys and interviews from administrators, parents and students. Data for this mixed-methods study (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2004) included: (a) teacher and student semi-structured interviews, (b) audiotapes/videotapes/transcripts of classroom observations, (c) Constructivist Learning Environment Survey (Johnson & McClure, 2004) completed by teachers and their students, (d) field notes, and (e) pre/post content tests. Qualitative data analysis and coding was performed with NVivo software using the HSL (Donovan & Bransford, 2005) framework in a cross-case study methodology to identify themes and patterns. Quantitative data was statistically analyzed and a p value ≤ 0.05 was accepted as significant. Results Evidence of Learner-Centeredness The literature refers to student/learner-centered environments as “culturally responsive,” “culturally appropriate,” “culturally relevant,” and “culturally compatible” (Banks & Banks, 2010; Ladson-Billings, 1995). Teachers who have learner-centered classrooms recognize the importance of incorporating the conceptual and cultural knowledge that students bring with them, rather than being subtractive or assimilative and replacing this knowledge with that of the “culture of power” (Banks & Banks, 2010; Valenzuela, 1999). Learner-centered environments include teachers who are aware that learners construct their own meanings and that these begin with student’s beliefs, understandings, personal interests and cultural practices. Participating teachers teach more than science content and discuss “lifelessons”, stressing the elements of personal responsibility, making the right choices, and “being the best you can be.” These teachers provide an ethic of caring by personally engaging with their students (Noddings, 1984; 2005). Research tells us that when students connect with their 4 teachers in interpersonal ways, student achievement and learning increase (Fisher & Khine, 2006; Fraser, 2007). Evidence of Knowledge-Centeredness An emphasis on knowledge-centeredness includes the degree to which instruction begins with students' current knowledge, skills and developmental level, rather than simply presenting new facts about the subject matter. Knowledge-centered questions include those that develop ideas, make comparisons, analyze and synthesize data, and evaluate possible solutions. Curricula that emphasize an excessively broad range of subjects run the risk of developing disconnected rather than connected knowledge (Donavan & Bransford, 2005). Although the impact of externally mandated testing varies, research indicates that school and classroom practices do change in response to these tests (e.g., Crocco & Costigan, 2007; Sloan, 2005; Valenzuela 1999). Kohn (2000) reports that standardized tests “cannibalize the curriculum” and discusses the disenfranchisement of teachers when the conceptualization of instruction and curriculum are separate. Sloan (2005) describes narrowing of curriculum and telescoping around material that is specifically covered on standardized tests. The teachers in this study, however, provide scaffolds or structured steps that support the learning process as students apply their knowledge to authentic tasks. Lectures are rich in detail, analogies are frequently used, and students are able to grasp difficult concepts through instruction. Because learning is an active process, teachers acknowledge students’ attempts to make sense of their experiences and help them confront misconceptions. Evidence of Assessment-Centeredness Research strongly demonstrates that skilled use of feedback to students is a powerful means of improving learning outcomes (Darling-Hammond & Friedlaender, 2008; Donovan & Bransford, 2005). Participating teachers provide opportunities for revision and encourage students to revise their work. Feedback is motivational as teachers do not promote a spirit of competitiveness. When adults communicate high expectations, encourage challenging activities, praise specific accomplishments, and provide helpful feedback, students demonstrate more confidence in their achievements. While research reports that teachers are tempted with incentives to focus excessive amounts of time on “test-preparation” activities (Nichols & Berliner, 2007), these teachers continued to use assessment instruments that require student incorporation of problemsolving skills and calculations. Participating teachers manage teaching-to-the-test tensions by being flexible and when necessary, remaining autonomous as they instruct and assess according to their students’ needs, not district mandates. Students corroborated this point by reporting in interviews that the teachers seldom, if ever, mention the TAKS science test, yet all study sample students successfully passed the exam. Evidence Community-Centeredness The importance of collaboration in classroom is well documented by research and practice. All participating teachers encourage collaborative environments when implementing laboratory activities, completing assignments, working on project-based activities, and at other times. Classrooms had a continuous low-level hum of student conversation, including during lecture. Communication between parent and teacher is crucial as schools need to develop ways to link classroom learning to other aspects of students' lives. Engendering parent support for the core learning principles and parent involvement in the learning process is of the utmost importance in 5 this process. All teachers have open communication with their students’ parents including sending e-mails, inviting them to the school, making telephone calls, and frequent parent conferences. Students repeatedly mentioned their appreciation of the time teachers took to establish these relationships during interviews. Evidence of Caring Teachers Caring is a foundational pillar for effective instruction. Teachers who care are demanding but facilitative, supportive, accessible, kind, adaptable and optimistic (Gay, 2000). These teachers are “warm demanders” (Kleinfeld, 1975) who create classroom climates of emotional warmth, consistently and clearly demand high-quality academic performance, spend time establishing interpersonal relationships between themselves and their students, and communicate with students through nonverbal cues such as smiles, teasing, and establishing a “kinesthetic feeling of closeness” (1975, p. 322). Academic demands are complemented with emotional support and facilitative instruction, using coaching and cajoling rather than a dictatorial style of teaching. Accountable for Learning If teachers expect students to be high or low achievers, they will act in ways that cause this to happen. Caring teachers are therefore distinguished by their high performance expectations, advocacy and empowerment of students, as well as by their use of pedagogical practices that facilitate school success. These teachers demonstrate the ethic of caring as an essential element to instructional effectiveness, not merely a theoretical underpinning. When combined with pedagogical competence, caring becomes a powerful ideological and praxis pillar of culturally responsive pedagogy for students. Employing a Closed-Door Policy All teachers involved in the study value classroom autonomy, “closing the door” and teaching in a way best suited for their particular students even when administration dictates otherwise. The tendency to simplify instruction by fragmenting knowledge, the desire to suppress controversy by omitting potentially volatile topics, the temptation to mystify subjects to hide what a teacher does not know and/or does not believe students could understand without effort – such strategies are not practiced in these classrooms. These teachers resist resorting to non-student centered practices and instead push their students to think critically, thus “going against the grain” and creating their own Pedagogy of Promise (McCollough, 2005). Conclusions Teachers struggle with a daily dilemma as they try to “select teaching and assessment strategies that support the development of student understanding and nurture a community of science learners” (National Academy of Sciences, 1996, p.30) while responding to content coverage demands of state and federal testing programs. The teachers in this study responded to both pressures by employing a variety of formative and summative techniques to assess understanding while teaching with relevant and authentic, problem-based curriculum that utilized culturally relevant teaching strategies. They taught their science content deeply and in a connected fashion within a classroom that was both collaborative and inclusive of parents in creating a community of learners. These teachers also exhibited a caring, supportive, accessible and empathetic persona to their students who appreciated the respect they given and returned that respect by being cooperative and responding in a positive manner to the academic challenges they were given. In 6 short, by successfully blending the four pillars in How Students Learn with a caring demeanor, these teachers seldom addressed, either in the classroom or as a personal concern, the dilemma of “teaching to the test”. They knew, and results continued to support the fact that their students would be successful in passing this standardized exam. More importantly, their students both engaged in and enjoyed science in these classrooms. Interviews consistently revealed how much the students felt they learned, how supported they felt during the process of learning, and how they would remember these teachers as their trusted mentors and advisors. These teachers resisted resorting to non-student centered practices and instead push their students to think critically, thus “going against the grain” and creating their own Pedagogy of Promise (McCollough, 2005). References Au, W. (2009). Unequal By Design: High-Stakes Testing and the Standardization of Inequality. New York, NY: Routledge. Banks, J. & Banks, C. (2010). Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives. 7th ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley and Sons. Cochran-Smith, M. (2001). Learning to Teach Against the (New) Grain. Journal of Teacher Education, 52 (1), 3-4. Crocco, M. & Costigan, A. (2007). The narrowing of curriculum and pedagogy in the age of accountability: Urban educators speak out. Urban Education 42 (6), 512-535. Darling Hammond, L. and Friedlaender, D. (2008). Creating Excellent and Equitable Schools. Reshaping High Schools, 65 (8), 14-21. Donovan, S., & Bransford, J. (2005). How Students Learn: History, Mathematics, and Science in the Classroom. Washington DC: National Academies Press. Fisher, D.L. & Khine, J.S. (Eds.) (2006). Contemporary Approaches to Research of Learning Environments. Singapore: World Scientific. Fraser, B. J. (2007). Classroom Learning Environments. In S.K. Abell & N. G. Lederman (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Science Education (pp. 103-144). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Gay, G. (2000). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice. New York: Teachers College Press. Johnson, R.B., & McClure, R. (2004). Validity and reliability of a shortened, revised version of the Constructivist Learning Environment Survey (CLES). Learning Environments Research, 7, 65–80. Johnson, R. B. & Onwuegbuzie, A.J. (2004). Mixed methods research: A research paradigm whose time has come. Educational Researcher, 33(7), 14–26. Kleinfeld, J. (1975). Effective teachers of Eskimo and Indian students. School Review, 82(2), 301–344. Kohn, A. (2000). Burnt at the high-stakes. Journal of Teacher Education, 51 (4), 315– 338. Ladson-Billings, G.J. (1995). Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. American Education Research Journal, 35, 465-491. McCollough, C. A. (2005). The creation of pedagogy of promise: Examples of educational excellence in high-stakes science classrooms. Ph.D. dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin, United States-Texas. Retrieved April 18, 2010, from Dissertations & Theses: Full Text.(Publication No. AAT 3217125). Meier, D. (2002). In Schools We Trust. Boston: Beacon Press. 7 National Academy of Sciences (1996). National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. National Commission on Excellence in Education (1983). A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform. United States Department of Education. Retrieved 01/13/08. Nichols, S. & Berliner, D. (2007). Collateral Damage: How High-Stakes Testing Corrupts America’s Schools. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. Noddings, N. (1984). Caring. Berkeley: University of California Press. Noddings, N. (2005). The Challenge to Care in Schools: An Alternative Approach to Education. New York: Teachers College Press. Perkins-Gough, D. (2004). The eroding curriculum. Educational Leadership 62 (1), 84-85. Sloan, K. (2005). Playing the logic of the Texas accountability system. In A. Valenzuela, Ed. Leaving Children Behind: How “Texas-style” Accountability Fails Latino Youth. NY: State University of New York Press, pp. 153–178. Spalding, E., Klecka, C.L, Lin, E., Odell, S. J. & Wang, J. (2010). Social Justice and Teacher Education: A Hammer, a Bell, and a Song. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(3): 191– 196. Teven, J. (2007). Teacher Caring and Classroom Behavior: Relationships with Student Affect and Perceptions of Teacher Competence and Trustworthiness. Communication Quarterly, 55 (4), 433-450. Teven, J. J., & Hanson, T. L. (2004). The impact of teacher immediacy and perceived caring on teacher competence and trustworthiness. Communication Quarterly, 52, 39-53. U. S. Department of Education (2002). Public Law 107-110. No Child Left Behind. Retrieved February 12, 2010. Valenzuela, A. (1999). Subtractive Schooling: U.S. Mexican Youth and the Politics of Caring. NY: State University of New York Press. Wiliam, D. (2010). Standardized Testing and School Accountability. Educational Psychologist, 45 (2), 107-122. View publication stats
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Transformational Reading Exercise- A Promising Pedagogy: Linking Learning and Caring
This paper explores and reviews findings from a research conducted by McCollough
where the aim of the study was to determine how student-centered learning can be implement by
schools and teachers in an environment where there many competing needs. According to
evidence from this study where four exemplary high-school science teachers were involved in
the study, the researcher was able to establish that despite pressure from the completion of the
mandated state standardized science examination –the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and
Skills (TASKS) exam, it is possible to achieve student centered instruction (McCollough, p.1).
Even in cases where schools and teachers do not have the requisite resources to establish studentcentered learning, it is possible to achieve this if an environment of high expectations,
empathetic attitude and respect for students is cultivated. With respect to this, the question that
everyone needs to understand is the basis for student-centered learning as way of achieving
accountability in learning.
Student-Centered Learning and Accountability
Legislation of “No Child Left Behind Act of 2001” which passed to ensure accountability
practices measures in the public education sector where...

Very useful material for studying!


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