learning skills, Testing, The Basics, training

Those Darn Potholes

I agree.  My topic and thoughts today sound odd.  I stand accused of thinking too much about educational challenges, even when sitting in a long line of cars out at the coast of Oregon.  A large section of Highway 101 was being repaired for potholes.  In the section I was at, it is only a two lane road and the wait ended up to be about 15 minutes going and coming.  I was not driving, so I looked up how much potholes cost the American people – billions of dollars.  AAA reports the cost of automobile damage resulting from potholes to be 6.5 billion dollars a year.

For learners in our educational system, the learning continuum has many potholes.  Learning numbers is easy, but letters and letter sounds is not.  Having a great story to write in our thoughts is never expressed in a timely fashion due to struggles with handwriting, spelling, or grammar.  Algebra comes more easily than geometry or the other way around.  Time spent studying for a test is met with low scores due to poor memory.  The history teacher is interesting to listen to, but reading from the history text is a painful experience of reading and rereading to comprehend the unfamiliar information and numerous facts.  The potholes in learning are as numerous as in our roads after a hard freeze.  Billions of dollars are spent in education on students who struggle to successfully navigate their way through education.

What does this failure to navigate successfully do to the self-esteem and motivation of our students?  What poor decisions are made by students out of frustration and repeated failure?  How many students turn off the main road and travel roads that lead to negative consequences?  How do you start the engine of motivation to learn when on empty?

The SOI (Structure of Intellect) Assessment of Learning Ability is the GPS system in learning.  We Continue reading “Those Darn Potholes”

Classrooms, learning skills

The Two Most Important Variables in Education

The entire movement toward teaching-to-the-test can be boiled down to two achievement variables:  comprehension and time – how much is learned and how long it took.

In almost every achievement metric, one of these variables is held constant – and the other is the variable of measure.  So, the prevailing paradigm in almost all formal education is to hold time constant and have comprehension be the variable.

An important corollary to the achievement axiom often goes unnoticed; namely, if the established education has opted for lock-step instruction, then it has already opted for the paradigm of holding time constant and letting comprehension vary.  Again, this is the prevailing paradigm in almost all formal education – teach a given unit to the entire class for a specified length of time.

Now, if the authorities infuse this system with a policy that ALL students must reach full comprehension by the end of the teaching schedule – all students must comprehend the unit by the end of the scheduled time – then there will be a conceptual shift throughout the institution:  comprehension will morph into passing-the-test; and practice will morph into teaching-to-the-test. Continue reading “The Two Most Important Variables in Education”