Category Archives: personal

Whatever Happened To the Dalton Plan?

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

When, where, and why did the Dalton Plan arise?

Begin with Helen Parkhurst. A 20th century educator much taken with the Progressive approach to schooling, she designed the Dalton Plan after World War I as a way of organizing instruction consistent with Maria Montessori’s and John Dewey’s ideas of individualizing all academic work and building school community. The core of the Plan was students making contracts with their teachers to study and learn content and skills.

Deeply concerned by the grouping and lock-step movement of children and youth in American schools, Parkhurst sought to reorganize classroom work so that teachers would be able to convert traditional age-graded schools and classrooms where whole-group teaching, 55-minute periods, textbooks, and tests prevailed into laboratories where individual students contracted with their teachers to work on topics that interested them. Students then would have to make decisions on what to study when, finishing assignments…

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Let’s get to work with productive learning strategies: Summarising

3-Star learning experiences

Paul A. Kirschner, Mirjam Neelen, Tine Hoof & Tim Surma

This blog is the first one in a series of eight blogs, originally written by Tine Hoof, Tim Surma & Paul Kirschner, and published on excel.thomasmore.be.

In 2015, Richard Mayer and Logan Fiorella published their book ‘Learning as a Generative Activity’ describing eight generative learning strategies. They’re called generative (also productive) because they allow/force learners to ‘remould’ the subject matter and based on that, create their own output, such as a summary or a drawing. In other words, as a learner, you generate/produce something yourself based on and that goes further than what you’ve learned. In addition to summarising, Mayer and Fiorella also discuss mapping, drawing, imagining, self-testing, self-explaining, teaching, and enacting.

Each strategy prompts learners to apply Mayer’s Selection, Organising, and Integrating (SOI) memory model. According to this model learners go through three processes during productive learning:

  1. selection

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Effectiveness of shared book reading on supporting preschool bilingual children’s second-language learning

Best Evidence in Brief Index

By Jun Wang, Johns Hopkins University

Young dual language learners are considered at higher risk than their monolingual peers in terms of language skills and school readiness. A recent cluster-randomized controlled study published in Child Development  investigated the effectiveness of a book-based language intervention – the Extend program – on bilingual children’s second-language skills in Norway.

The Extend program is a loosely scripted intervention intended to support children’s language skills including vocabulary, grammar, narrative skills, and perspective-taking. 464 children from 60 preschools, who spoke a variety of first languages, participated in the study. Teachers used 15 books in the classroom for this shared-reading intervention, and 4 were sent home so that parents could share them with their children in their preferred language.

The results indicated that the intervention had positive impacts on children’s second-language learning in general. In particular, the intervention had significant effects on second-language vocabulary (four indicators, ES=…

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Generative Learning Generates Learning

3-Star learning experiences

Paul A. Kirschner & Mirjam Neelen

In the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing several blogs on generative and productive learning strategies. In short, generative learning isn’t just ‘being actively involved with the subject matter’, but rather doing something with what you have to or want to learn. It’s generative when you produce new things like making a concept map or a drawing about the subject matter. In this introductory blog, we discuss two studies examining the effectiveness of two generative strategies – explaining and producing questions.

In traditional learn-by-explaining research, explaining as a learning activity is usually about learners giving “instructional explanations” to their peers, with the explicit intention of giving them some sort of interactive lesson. Sometimes it involves learners at the same ‘learning’ level and other times it’s done with learners who are at different levels. If the latter is the case, older pupils who are one or…

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March 12, 2021 · 4:05 pm

Motivation and Online Learning: Part II

3-Star learning experiences

Wouter Buelens[1], Paul A. Kirschner, & Mirjam Neelen

Last week, we discussed the relationship between motivation and learning in general. This week’s blog investigates whether the principles of motivation that apply in face-to-face learning contexts also apply in the context of online/blended learning. We then describe a number of effective learning and instructional strategies that enhance learning and can increase motivation. How can we implement these strategies in shaping (partially) online learning?

motivation1Image by needpix.com

It’s a humongous challenge to keep learners motivated during (forced) distance education or online learning. Interestingly, at the same time, the idea that blended learning should have a permanent place in both compulsory and higher education now and in the future, is gaining popularity. A blended form of instruction or learning usually means a mix of ‘in-class contact instruction’ and a certain degree of online learning outside the ‘physical building walls’. The…

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Motivation and Online Learning: Part I

3-Star learning experiences

Wouter Buelens[1], Paul A. Kirschner, & Mirjam Neelen

A great deal of attention is rightly being devoted to how online learning can be effectively designed or how technology can contribute to instruction and promote or enhance learning. With this, interest in intrinsic motivation of learners and how to strengthen it during (independent) online and/or blended learning seems to have peaked.

It’s commonplace to state that it’s a challenge to keep learners motivated, especially in an online context. These challenges can range from limited learner involvement during a single lesson – due, for example, to a lack of will power and persistence to make the necessary efforts towards learning goals – all the way to complete drop-out in online learning environments.

It’s already a humongous challenge to keep learners motivated in general, but it seems to be even more difficult during (forced) distance education or online learning. Interestingly, at…

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Thoughts on Teaching

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

In 2001, I retired from fulltime teaching and research at Stanford. The Dean invited me to give a talk to the graduates and their families that June. Here is an abridged version of what I said.

“I have thought a lot about the past 46 years I have spent in education. I have taught in urban high schools and Stanford for many years [in addition to being an administrator]. It is teaching–not administration or scholarship [however]–that has defined me as an adult….

Teaching has permitted me to be a lover of ideas, a performer, a lifelong learner, a historian, a writer, and a friend to former students and colleagues. For these reasons and because at this moment in our nation’s history teachers have moved to the top of the nation’s school reform agenda, I want to comment today on both the exhilarating and troubling aspects of teaching….

Two basic…

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Making a SMOCKery of Science

3-Star learning experiences

Paul A. Kirschner

In 2017, Mirjam Neelen and I wrote a blog entitled Truth or Truthiness in which we discussed whether a study is trustworthy or whether it only seems to be trustworthy. We used the term truthiness to describe the latter. Truthiness is a word that Stephen Colbert – American comedian – came up with. Roughly it means: something that sounds plausible and therefore people prefer to believe it and hold on to it, without taking facts, logic, or any contradictory evidence into consideration. Truthiness shouldn’t be confused with trustworthiness because the latter means that you can actually rely on something as being honest or truthful (i.e., you can trust it).

This morning I found an email in my inbox from Richard Clark with whom I wrote a few articles including the 2006 article[1] on inquiry learning and how it as well as its synonymic approaches to…

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Teacher Comments on Being Tech Skeptics

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

I am fortunate to have many readers who are classroom teachers. I have published posts over the past few years about my research on exemplary teachers who integrated technology into their lessons. Some of those posts triggered responses from teachers. Here are a few of their comments.

Louise Kowitch, retired Connecticut social studies teacher:

….The impact of technology can vary greatly depending on the subject matter (among all the other things you’ve addressed). While some pedagogical practices are universal, when “doing the work of the discipline”, content-specific practices,and by extension the impact of technology, might vary widely.

I mention this to say that as someone who lived through the IT revolution in the classroom (from mimeographs, scantrons, and filmstrips to floppy disks and CD-ROM, and finally to smart boards, Skype and Chromebooks), by the time I reached three decades as a full time classroom teacher, I was spending MORE time…

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Incremental improvement so all pupils are ‘cognitively active’ all of the time

Louis Everett

This post will share how important I believe incremental improvementwith a concerted effort from all teachers is to improving the quality of teaching across a school. I will also argue that increasing the time and extent to which pupils are ‘cognitively active’ across a school day should be a priority for whole-school teaching and learning.

This term we have begun using the term ‘cognitively active’ to encompass our aim of all pupils consistently thinking and challenged during a lesson. Doug Lemov’s Teach Like A Champion 2.0 talks of ‘ratio’ for pupil participation, rightfully pointing to the importance of pupils doing as much ‘cognitive work’ as possible. The importance of an explicit focus on pupil participation has been exacerbated by the greatly needed shift to knowledge-rich curricula and traditional teaching methods in recent times. I have seen many teacher-led lessons, where teacher explanations are very good, but pupil…

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