This is the last post in a series looking at behavioural psychology. It is a summary of the previous posts that looked at what behavioural psychology is, the research and implications.

pavlov

Ivan Pavlov

I have wanted to write a blog post on behavioural psychology for some time now, but every time I sat down the task seemed so epic. There is so much complexity in this area that one post was not going to get the job done. I have instead opted to do a summary post with lots of links to more detail around previous research, rhetoric and research findings that are relevant to education and beyond.

Behaviourism is (roughly) a branch of psychology that looks at how organisms learn through interactions with their environment. Historically the main principles of behaviourism are Classical and Operant conditioning. Both of these have been and are still used by psychologists and specialists to support positive change in behaviours. The problem that I have with these principles is that they are seen to be used in a very narrow way (namely students who fall at the outer edges of the bell curve or to modify/control behaviour in some way).

When thought of in this way, its not hard to see why there seems to be a prevailing view that behavioural principles are synonymous with extrinsic motivation and behavioural ‘management’ in the classroom (I address this term later on).

Current research being conducted at The University Of Auckland however paints a very different picture and has a much larger range of impact and scope than I believe is generally understood.

Current research

There are so many areas that behaviourists study, but I will just mention a few here. For more detail see this post.

  • A big area of behavioural research looks at addictive behaviours and relapse. One of the main findings is that contexts matters as they act as cues for certain behaviours. This area has significantly helped people with substance abuse and eating disorders.
  • Most people have heard of the marshmallow test which looks at delayed gratification. This is based on research in the area of Delay Discounting, which shows we often prefer smaller rewards sooner, than larger rewards later. What this tells us is we need commitment strategies for the larger later win to help reduce the temptation to give into that smaller, sooner reward.
  • We also know from extensive research that punishment doesn’t work and can have negative ongoing effects. This also casts doubt on the use response cost initiatives like time out. New research is suggesting that specific stimuli in the environment act as cues guiding our behaviour. We need to start thinking differently about how we deal with challenging behaviours.
  • The latest research around how we make choices (behave one way or another) shows that when our environment changes more rapidly, we get more change in choice behaviour. This has interesting implications because in these environments we can change negative contingencies quickly to positive ones. It also shows that unexpected events can cause big changes in behaviour (the same findings in cognitive science).
  • Other areas of study include concept formation, memory and even how we solve problems and reason (there is a ton more but am running out of runway here)

Mythbusters

There are quite a few misconceptions around behavioursim, but one I firmly want to knock on the head is the idea that using behavioural principles is just about extrinsic motivation and manipulating behaviour change.

Every minute, of every day, of every year, we are being shaped through interactions with our environment. I learn that when I touch a hot stove I get burnt. I learn that when I put effort into my studies I get good grades and that makes me feel good because I have worked hard and achieved something. That ‘feeling good’ is reinforcement and motivates me – but it is not extrinsic motivation. We are reinforced by many things – a smile, acknowledgment of work done or achievement or even scratching an itch! The smile, the grade, or the scratch, are no different to a sticker or other reward. It is still an environmental event that influences behavior. The difference is the MEANING that that environmental event has to a person.

The problem that this poses is substantial because what is reinforcing for one person may not be for another. A smile may make an autistic child feel uncomfortable; getting a good grade might mean alienation from your peer group. Also reinforcement can happen when a teacher thinks they are punishing a student. For example, a child that is sent to sit outside the principal’s office for playing up in Maths time is escaping from the painful experience of struggling through a subject they don’t like. A smiley face on the board might be reinforcing for some kids but not others. So behaviour is complicated and the very best thing we can do is to really know our learners.

Implications and what’s possible

  • Creating positive environments and interactions between students, teachers and classroom activities is critically important for learning.
  • Know thy learner. It is so important to know the students learning and personal history and current situation. If we don’t have this understanding then not only can we not empathise with our students, but we can’t make changes to set up positive contingencies for them.
  • We need to know what the antecedents are (what is triggering behavior). What specific thing is causing the behaviour. Is it something in the classroom or something that happened at home? A good question to ask is what is it that the student needs. Going back to the example in an earlier post of the student who misbehaves during writing, the need to is to escape the situation. Knowing this we can change the contingency to make it a positive experience for them. If we can change the antecedent, we can change the behaviour.
  • Punishment doesn’t work as a behavior management tool. Instead give the students the responsibility to do the right thing and reinforce efforts towards good behavior. See table below for a differential on behavioural science for learning and classroom management.
  • Because punishers can become associated with particular stimuli we need to make sure those contingencies don’t stick. For example, a child repeatedly failing a Maths test will come to associate Maths with a negative bad feeling. Giving students opportunities for effortful success can change this contingency.
  • We also need to rethink contexts in classrooms. What does stimuli signal? What do the areas and objects and events in your classroom signal to the learners? Is this a quiet area, an area where we collaborate or work individually? Where are my safe spaces? When we change contexts we can change behaviour.
  • New research in choice behaviour suggests that we get faster changes in behaviour when the environment changes more rapidly – hypothetically this could reduce negative contingencies and allow faster adaptation to change*. This seems to support the idea of Individual learning plans where students plan when and how they achieve the set tasks. It also supports the idea of cross-curricular work as students are not locked into one genre for set periods of time.

*Two very important caveats for the last point (a) Emphasis on the ‘suggests that’ as this not been tested outside the lab yet. (b) There is a difference between using behavioural findings for understanding how we learn and classroom management. See this more below on this.

Behavioural management, I believe, is a misguided term to use; we are not managing behaviour, we are developing it. We are learning to understand how the environment shapes and guides our learning and behaviours. The more we learn and understand, the better we get at helping our students, ourselves and each other regulate behaviour for more positive outcomes. I think in education behavioural principles are often used to increase certain behaviours and decrease others and to enforce rules. These two applications often become muddled and so I have created a guide below to tease out the different meanings and applications. I hope that we can start to think about using behavioural principles beyond managing behaviour, to deeply understanding student’s needs and setting up environments to support their well-being and learning.

behavioural-table-2

I really feel like this is just the beginning of a conversation around how behavioural research can inform areas like education and help us to understand and improve our own behaviours. I think to get better at this Behavioural Analysts need to spend some time with schools and people to get a better understanding of exactly what their issues are and what support is needed. I have started a GDoc where you can leave suggestions for Dr Sarah Cowie who is part of the behvioural science unit at The University of Auckland. We would love to hear from you!

 

References

See previous posts for all references.

This is the second post in a series that looks at what behavioural psychology is, the research and some implications.

This post explores some of the rhetoric around behavioural principles and then talks about some new research findings and the implications of research from behavioural psychology. For the first post that looks at what behavioural psychology is and areas of research click here.

The rhetoric:

One I have heard a bit goes something like this: Using behavioural principles such as reinforcement to change behaviour is manipulative and encourages extrinsic motivation (which is bad because we want people to be intrinsically motivated).

Reinforcement

Image credit: opensource.com

Image credit:
opensource.com

Every minute, of every day, of every year, we are being shaped through interactions with our environment. I learn that when I touch a hot stove I get burnt. I learn that when I put effort into my studies I get good grades and that makes me feel good because I have worked hard and achieved something. That ‘feeling good’ is reinforcement and motivates me – but it is not extrinsic motivation. We are reinforced by many things – a smile, acknowledgment of work done or achievement or even scratching an itch! The smile, the grade, or the scratch, are no different to a sticker or other reward. It is still an environmental event that influences behaviour. The difference is the MEANING that that environmental event has for a person.

The problem that this poses is substantial because what is reinforcing for one person may not be for another. A smile may make an autistic child feel uncomfortable or getting a good grade might mean alienation from your peer group. Also reinforcement can happen when a teacher thinks they are punishing. For example, a child that is sent to sit outside the principal’s office for playing up in writing time is escaping from the painful experience of struggling through a subject that they think they can’t do. A smiley face on the board might be reinforcing for some kids but not others. So behaviour is complicated and the very best thing we can do is get to know our learners inside out and backwards.

Punishment

In many countries we have moved on from using physical punishment as a way of stopping certain behaviours. This is a good thing as research shows that punishment doesn’t stop unwanted behaviour and only has unwanted negative effects. But we still widely use time out and other response type punishers. New research shows that this is problematic and unwanted behaviours still return in most cases. We need to look for different ways to encourage appropriate behaviours.

New research

Behavioural Momentum theory tells us that behaviour that has had a very rich history of reinforcement persists for a very long time. While this can be a negative for removing unwanted behaviours, it has a positive side also. Experimental research has shown that not only will organisms orient their attention to the stimulus that has a higher rate of reinforcement, but also attention persists longer where there has been a richer history of reinforcement. Take for example a student who loves Art but hates writing. The act of creating a piece of art makes the student feel good which is reinforcing a love of the subject and the attention that may come from the work produced from teachers, parents and peers. But imagine writing! The art subject has a larger history of reinforcement and so there will be more persistence in behaviour in this area. This has important implications around helping students to persist in areas that they struggle with.

Image by Paul L Dineen

Image by Paul L Dineen

Choice behaviour looks at why we choose to do one behaviour over another at any given moment. The newest research on Choice Behaviours using Local Analysis is very exciting. What this research has shown is that behaviour is not just emitted based on where a person got their last reinforcer, but where next one is likely to come from. This calls into question Thorndike’s strengthening argument and has some interesting implications. For example one of the findings is that choice changes more rapidly in environments that change more frequently. More rapidly changing environments could be a way to change or deter negative contingencies forming with certain contexts or subjects. It also would equip students with the ability to adapt positively to change. An example of this is teachers who use Individual Learning Plans. Students know what they need to complete in the week and then they work out when, how and with whom they will complete the tasks. This changes week to week and adaptations can be made along the way.

We also have found that regardless of the rate of environmental change, reinforcers from the lower-rate alternative tend to produce larger changes in choice than do those from the higher-rate alternative. It’s almost as if unusual events are ‘surprising’ and produce a bigger change in behaviour. Interestingly this is exactly the same finding from cognitive science that novel events produce more engagement.

So What? What does all this mean and how can it inform us?

  1. Creating positive environments and interactions between students, teachers and classroom activities is critically important for learning.
  2. Know thy learner. It is so important to know the students learning and personal history & current situation. If we don’t have this understanding then not only can we not empathise with our students, but we can’t make changes to set up positive contingencies for them.
  3. We need to know what the antecedents are (what is triggering behavior). What specific thing is causing the behaviour. Is it something in the classroom or something that happened at home? A good question to ask is what is it that the student needs? Going back to the example in an earlier post of the student who misbehaves during Writing, the need to is to escape the situation. Knowing this we can change the contingency to make it a positive experience for them. If we can change the antecedent, we can change the behaviour.
  4. Punishment doesn’t work as a behaviour management tool. Instead give the students the responsibility to do the right thing and reinforce efforts towards good behaviour. See table in this post for a differential on behavioural science for learning and classroom management.
  5. Because punishers can become associated with particular stimuli we need to make sure those contingencies don’t stick. For example, a child repeatedly failing a Maths test will come to associate Maths with a negative bad feeling. Giving students opportunities for effortful success can change this contingency.
  6. We also need to rethink contexts in classrooms. What does stimuli signal? What do the areas and objects and events in your classroom signal to the learners? Is this a quiet area, an area where we collaborate or work individually? Where are my safe spaces? When we change contexts we can change behaviour.
  7. New research in choice behaviour suggests that we get faster changes in behaviour when the environment changes more rapidly – hypothetically this could reduce negative contingencies and allow faster adaptation to change*. This seems to support the idea of Individual learning plans where students plan when and how they achieve the set tasks. It also supports the idea of cross-curricular work as students are not locked into one genre for set periods of time.

*Two very important caveats for the last point (a) Emphasis on ‘suggests that’ as this not been tested outside the lab yet. (b) There is a difference between using behavioural findings for understanding how we learn and classroom management. See this more in this summary post on this.

 References:

Cowie, S., Elliffe, D., & Davison, M. (2013). Concurrent schedules: Discriminating reinforcer-ratio reversals at a fixed time. Journal Of The Experimental Analysis Of Behavior, 100, 117-134.

Shahan, T.A & Podlesnik, C. A. (2006). Divided attention performance and the matching law. Learning & Behavior, 34 (3) 255-261

 

 

This is the first post in a series that will look at what behavioural psychology is, the research and some implications.

Behavioural psychology: A background and historical perspective. What is behavioural psychology and what does the research say?

Behaviour_Interactive_logo So what is this thing called behavioural psychology or behaviourism? Roughly it is a branch of psychology that looks at how organisms learn through interactions with their environment.

Some assumptions the discipline make are: “(1) all activity of organisms is behaviour and (2) a primary influence of behaviour is the learning of relations between environments and behaviour” (Podlesnik, C). 

The main influences on behaviour are: The evolutionary and learning history of an organism and the current environment. According to behaviourists It is the interaction of all of these that gives rise to behaviour.

Behavioural analysts study the output (behaviour) of an organism as the result of its interactions with the environment. Practitioners then use that research to help animals and humans. Dr Sarah Cowie gives a researchers view: “One of my most favourite things about this area of psychology is that understanding how things in our immediate environment affect behaviour gives us so much power to change behavior effectively”

The two main principles used in Behavioural psychology are Classical and Operant conditioning:

Classical conditPavlov's_dog_conditioning.svgioning is the process where an unconditioned stimulus (that elicits an unconditioned response) gets paired with a neutral stimulus, which then elicits that same response. Confused yet? Examples are much better so here goes: It is your first day at school, 3pm rolls around and the teacher says you can go home. You are happy. Home time is an unconditioned stimulus and your unconditioned response is happy and excited to see mum and dad. Enter the school bell. The school bell goes just before (usually) the teacher says you can go home. The bell is a neutral stimulus. When the bell and home time are paired the bell comes to predict home time and the resulting feeling of happiness. The bell on its own becomes a conditioned stimulus that elicits a happy response.

Operant Conditioning on the other hand consists of a three-term contingency: Antecedent. Behaviour. Consequence. Antecedents are just stimuli or events in the environment.

Example: Antecedent = Hunger. Behaviour = Crying. Consequence = Gets milk.

Another example is a spelling test (antecedent) a student saying they are ill (behaviour) Student misses out on test (consequence). The thing with the three -term contingency is that consequences that are favourable to the student are more likely to be repeated than an unfavourable consequences. Also how close that consequence is to the behaviour will impact on behavioural change or lack of it. The three-term contingency is really useful for understanding why our students behave the way they do, but also has another implication. It tells us that when we give feedback to students matters a great deal. The further apart we give feedback or reinforcement to students, the less likely of an impact it will have because the association between behaviour and consequence gets weaker as time goes on.

 

Why study behaviour?

Research from behavioural analysis has contributed widely and significantly to the area of problem behaviours such as drug and alcohol abuse. The research shows it is better to extinguish an unwanted behaviour in the same context as it was learned in (which goes against the idea of rehab centers). We can also apply this area of research to other behaviours such as tantrums, lateness and truancy. Why behaviour persists and relapse occurs is massive area beyond the scope of these posts, but the crux of the findings is that changes in context play a huge role in problem behaviours. One such experiment we ran at UOA seemed to suggest that fewer context changes and slowly fading out reinforcement increases the chances of replacement behaviours persisting and reducing relapse of unwanted behaviours. An example of this might be when a student has ongoing difficulty with aggression and lashes out at others. We give the student an alternative behaviour to perform when they get angry (say squeezing a ball or going for a run) and the alternative behaviour gets reinforced. We know from the research that the alternative behaviour needs to be accessible in all contexts where aggression occurs and the reinforcement must be faded out slowly.

A lot of the research has been used to help people with learning difficulties and harmful behaviours. Typically Applied Behavioural Analysts will use Classical or Operant principals as the basis of their work. This is probably the area most educators are familiar with, working with specialists in supporting positive behaviours.

Behavioural research also gives us an insight into how we make choices. Using mathematical models we can predict a close match of rates of responding to reinforcement rates. We also use these models to look at how people reason and solve problems. Check out the Monty Hall problem and this clip on problem solving with New Caledonian crows.

Research in the area of Delay Discounting shows we often prefer smaller rewards sooner, than larger rewards later. An example of this is setting the goal of getting up early to go for a run each morning to lose some weight and get fit. Morning rolls around and we hit that snooze button repeatedly! We choose the short-term win of sleeping in over the long-term win of losing weight. The classic example of this is the Marshmallow test. Commitment strategies for larger later win can help reduce the temptation to give into that smaller, sooner reward.

Punishment

Punishment is generally defined as an event that decreases behaviour. Obvious punishers are things like getting an electric shock or physical violence, but things like time out or response costs where a child might lose a sticker earned to buy a toy can also be punishers. Skinner’s (1938) research showed that punishment only temporarily decreased behaviour and he concluded that punishment only ‘suppresses behaviour’. Punishment has an array of negative effects such as freezing, increased aggression and avoidance of a punisher (kids who hide in classrooms to avoid the bully at lunchtime..) So if punishment doesn’t decrease behaviour and has lots of negative effects, why are we using it? Most often we can change behaviour using reinforcement and get the same if not better results than using aversive methods.

More recent research suggests a particular stimulus in the environment acts as a cue that something good or bad is going to happen and we behave accordingly. An example of this is when Azrin and Holz (1996), showed when a green light was paired with extinction (removal) of reinforcement, behaviour decreased dramatically and when the green light was removed behaviour increased again. The light was associated with the removal of reinforcement and acted like a punisher. The same experimenters showed that punishers can lose their effectiveness when they become associated with reinforcement. A real life example of this would be when parents put their child in time out and then feel bad so go over and give the child a hug. What we have done here is ended up reinforcing the bad behaviour and making it more likely to occur again.

I want to finish by mentioning shaping. Shaping is the process of reinforcing successive approximations to a desired behaviour. Shaping can be really useful way to get reluctant students to learn new behaviours and skills. Shaping involves breaking a large task (or what seems large to the learner) into really small steps. Say you have a child who will not join in the swimming lessons. We can start by having them sit by the pool. Then next day into togs, next day sit with feet in the water, then waist in and so on.

There are so many areas like Memory, Concept formation and problem solving that I would love to go into but am pushing word or should I say attention limit as it is! You can click here to find a summary of research, implications and examples.

Newer research and findings can be found in this post.

References

Azrin, N.H & Holz, W.C. (1996). Punishment. In W.K. Honig (ED). Operant behavior: Areas of research and application. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Bouton, M. E., Winterbauer, N. E., & Todd, T. P. (2012). Relapse processes after the extinction of instrumental learning: Renewal, resurgence, and reacquisition. Behavioural Processes, 90, 130-141.

Hineline, P.N  & Rosales-Ruiz, J. (2013). Behavior In Relation To Aversive  Events: Punishment And Negative Reinforcement. APA Handbook of Behavior Analysis: Vol. 1.

Podlesnik, C. A., Jimenez-Gomez, C., & Shahan, T. A. (2006). Resurgence of alcohol seeking produced by discontinuing non-drug reinforcement as an animal model of drug relapse. Behavioural Pharmacology, 17, 369-374

Podlesnik, C. A.  (2015). University Of Auckland lecture slides.

Skinner, B.F. (1938). The behaviour of organisms. New York: Appleton -Century-Crofts.

 

 

 

 

IMG_4262

While on a recent trip to the states I visited a school called The Willows in Los Angeles. Gary Stager had recommend this school as being one that is leading the way in maker education. I was delighted to be met by three grade 5 (year 7 students) who excitedly informed me of what they were doing in class. The girls walked me into the STEM room where students were planning their next projects.

Design thinking:

The design thinking process is used to plan and prototype their designs. The girls explained that they could work on their own or work collaboratively using the resources that were available. What I liked was that everyone was doing something unique and different. Students first had to write a plan and draw what they wanted to make. Then they got materials and made prototypes of their designs, finally they could print, build, create and make their designs. The best moment was hearing one boy shout for joy when his design finally worked after repeated attempts, fails and iterations. What I noticed was that their teacher Amy Dugre, skillfully knew what information to give them and what to make them figure out on their own. She worked as a guide, asking clever questions to get the students to think for themselves. One question that came up several times was “who does [this design] benefit?” This some will recognise as the empathy aspect of design thinking. Empathetic or ethical thinking was very evident school wide, an example of this was the project called Our House. This project was student driven with the older students guiding and mentoring the younger ones. Students had to design a house and all the contents in it along with a list of expected behaviours and dispositions expected of the residents. High up on the list was how important it was to the students that they all treated each other with care and kindness – this is the world they want. Students made all the components in the house covering most curriculum areas as they created their house. I love the idea of students of all ages, teachers from all departments and the wider community coming together to learn, The Willows do this through their School-Wide Theme projects.

Learning lunches:

One of the initiatives I loved at this school was ‘learning lunches’. There are four learning lunches a month with the aim being to spark further research or growth. Week one involves a talk or video with week two being a follow up of sharing what staff learnt and what was tried in the classrooms. These lunches were always tied to the curriculum and had a ‘purpose’.

Making as a mindset:

One of the things that was most obvious (and most important in my view) was that making was a mindset for the teachers in this school. When we IMG_4265went into the music room the teacher had made the artwork on the walls and all the props in the room. The caretaker had redesigned a sand sifter to make it work more efficiently – even the science teacher had a very hands-on approach. The picture shows the material provided for students to recreate strands of DNA. When I asked Amy about integrating maker into the school, she explained that change takes time and had started with having the teachers come along when she took the students for technology class. This way the teachers were learning as well.

 

 

 

 

Curricular integration.

One example of maker that I particularly liked was one where students used Logo to program a computer to make repeating patters. The students then 3d printed their objects and later used them in Art class as part of a project that involved joining them together to produce an installation. This interdisciplinary approach is business as usual for this school, you can read more about the approach here.

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Looping:

At the Willows they do a thing called looping. Looping is a philosophy that keeps students with the same teacher for two years. This allows teachers to really get to know their students and what their needs are.

My Takeaways:

A strong emphasis on students driving projects, self-regulation and agency that students had.

Everything had a purpose, technology is used out of a need linked to the curriculum, likewise for professional development.

Importance of empathy and ethics in our everyday learning.

Maker tools are nice, but mindset is key to transformational learning.

Keeping students with teachers long enough to allow for a deep understanding of learner’s needs.

Skilled, passionate teachers are a school’s best asset ( actually I already knew that, but it’s always worth reiterating whenever I can).

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Last word:

A huge thanks to everyone at The Willows school for having me and a special thanks to Amy for the time and care she gave me whilst I was there.

P.S: The Bell. They don’t have one.  It was such a pleasant experience to talk to teachers and students without the intrusion of the archaic school bell telling everyone when to start and stop learning! – I hope more schools follow suit…

 

 

 

Research. What is it good for?

Research Copy

Can the use of more research and evidence based practice be a good thing for education? In this post I want to explore why it could be a good thing to expand the use of research in the area of education.

So why might it be that research plays an important role in education?

Research and evidence based practice shows up in the NZ curriculum, so I am thinking that is a good place to start. The NZ curriculum suggests inquiry as being an effective way of improving teacher practice. “The teacher uses evidence from research and from their own past practice and that of colleagues to plan teaching and learning opportunities aimed at achieving the outcomes prioritised in the inquiry”.

Inquiry cycle from the NZ Curriculum

Inquiry cycle from the NZ Curriculum

So why is research important?

  1. Understanding and using research can help more accurately attribute causation to what is and what is not working in our classrooms and schools. This acts as a guide to what practices might need to change and what to keep. Example: We changed to mixed ability grouping in mathematics after looking at the research around ability groupings. Our maths data is generally very good, but we wanted to know what was working and what was not and how we could improve. Because our data was good it was an easy trap to fall into to think that all of what we were doing was good. But when we looked at what the research said, we could identify a variable to change to see if that had a positive impact. When we looked at the data after the intervention it showed there was improvement because of the changes we made.
  2. Research can empower teachers to become more autonomous and have more agency in their school. Having a good working knowledge of relevant research allows teachers to present strong arguments for why they want to implement change. This is an opportunity for the locus of control to shift from ‘leaders’ making decisions to teachers making more decisions about what happens in their classrooms.
  3. Engaging with research is part of building knowledge and improving practice. Knowing what does and doesn’t work helps inform future focused thinking as we are not circling round and round in what doesn’t work, but rather building on and innovating from what does.
  4. Confirmation bias – how do you know? Confirmation bias is the tendency to select and perpetuate information that aligns with our existing beliefs or practices. How much of what we do is collecting anecdotal evidence to support the status quo? Research is a way of testing our beliefs and assumptions about what is and isn’t working in our schools. It gives us a way of being more impartial and less bias about our practice.
  5. It matters. It matters that we know what we are doing in the classroom is having an impact. Research is another tool in the tool box to narrow down what it is exactly that is and is not having an impact. It matters because our kids matter and if we can do things better then we should.

What is possible?MindsetBook

Imagine using Carole Dweck’s research in the classroom 25 years ago – where would we be today with our kids?

Much of Dwecks work has been around for 25 – 30 years, imagine how great it would be to get that information sooner. With a culture that values research, knowledge would move faster through the channels into classrooms. What else is out there right now that we won’t see in classrooms for another 25 or so years?

I also think it is possible to raise the status of teachers and shift more power and autonomy to them through using more research.

I think though for me, the biggest ‘what’s possible’ is continuous consistent improvement in teacher practice that impacts on student learning outcomes.

Possible Problems:

Research behind pay-walls.

Perception that more work will be involved.

Reading and using research in itself is a skill.

*I am not advocating teachers as researchers. This is already an option with study leave and e-fellowships etc.. I am simply suggesting that a higher-level understanding and use of research could benefit education, teachers and students.

What do you think about research in education? Do you agree/disagree or do we need to think about research in education in an entirely different way?