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Why Dont Students Like School_Pt2

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Why Dont Students Like School_Pt2

  1. 1. Why Don’t Students <br />Like School<br />A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the MindWorks and What It Meansfor the Classroom<br />By Dr. Daniel T. Willingham<br />
  2. 2. Why Is It So Hard for Students to Understand Abstract Ideas?<br />
  3. 3. Cognitive Principle #4:<br />We understand new things in the context of things we already know.<br />
  4. 4. A major goal of schooling is for student to apply learning to a new situation. <br />Problem is that the mind doesn’t care for these abstractions, the mind prefers the concrete. So the more concrete your teaching the better.<br />“Understanding is remembering in disguise. No one can pour new ideas into a student’s head directly. Every new idea must build on ideas that the student already knows.”<br />There are different levels of comprehension….shallow to deep and it will vary from student to student. <br />One example does not make for comprehension and transfer is difficult. Many examples and practice applications are what is needed.<br />“Rote knowledge or shallow knowledge might lead to giving the right response, but it doesn’t mean the student is thinking”<br />
  5. 5. The depth of the knowledge has to do with how well student can relate it to old ideas (those already in long term memory)<br />Transfer is hard because as we seek to find the connection to “old” information we often see the surface connections not the deep structural connections (often beyond student’s ability). <br />Example:<br /> Experiment where treating a tumor with lower intensity radiation from multiple areas to prevent damage. Then compare to a problem where army is trying to overcome a castle but large troop mass could set off mines. What strategy could they use? <br /> Not many students were able to make that connection based on deep structure…typical thinking would be doctor and an army what does that have to do with anything.<br />
  6. 6. For the teacher….<br />Always make deep knowledge your goal, but recognize that shallow knowledge will come first.<br />To Help Student Comprehension, Provide (Many) Examples and Ask Students to Compare Them<br /> Practice in thinking about and using an abstract idea is critical to being able to apply it.<br />Make Deep Knowledge the Spoken (and Unspoken) Emphasis<br /> Do your test questions really measure deep knowledge or simply factual recall?<br />Make the Expectations for Deep Knowledge Realistic<br /> Not everyone will reach deep knowledge at same rate, shallow knowledge is a step towards deep knowledge<br />
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  8. 8. Is Drilling Worth It?<br />
  9. 9. Cognitive Principle #5:<br />Proficiency requires practice.<br />
  10. 10. Some things are so important that they must be committed to memory, available for instant recall. Doing so frees up the working memory for other processes…remember it has limited capacity. <br />Without extended practice one will not become proficient. <br />For ex. When a player starts soccer they concentrate on how hard to kick the ball, where to place it on their foot, the rules of the game. At some point these processes must become automatic so more advanced processes can be enacted…such as game strategy, studying your opponents tendencies, etc. <br />We practice to gain competence and to improve<br />We also need to practice skills that we may have mastered. We do this to: reinforce basic skills needed for more advanced skills, protects against forgetting, and it improves transfer.<br />Direct correlation to size of working memory and scoring well on a reasoning test. <br />
  11. 11. Working memory is a fixed quantity so it is important to free up working memory as much as possible via mnemonics, chunking, and getting more into long term memory and practicing them to build automatic recall. <br />How can I get students to practice without boredom?<br />Shouldn’t the goal of homework be practice of essential skills then?<br />Teachers must decide what material is important enough to warrant practice…because not everything is equally important.<br />Reading automaticity relates to large sight vocabulary. Experienced reader reads common words in a less than a quarter of a second.<br />“Finding a fact in long-term memory and putting it into working memory places almost no demands on working memory”<br />Currently “the only way to develop mental facility is to repeat the target process again and again and again.”<br />
  12. 12. “It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copybooks and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.” <br />Alfred North Whitehead<br />
  13. 13. We forget much (but not all) of what we have learned, and the forgetting is quite rapid (without practice)<br /><ul><li>Practice makes memory long lasting
  14. 14. More practice (more classes on advanced math) leads to less forgetting. If you practice something long enough you reach the point where you don’t forget it</li></li></ul><li>For the Teacher….<br />Cramming for a test versus studying the same amount of minutes over time has been studied. A crammer may get a better score but they own the knowledge for a shorter period of time.<br />Practice improves transfer…making you more likely to connect similar problems and apply what you already know<br />What Should be Practiced?<br /> The building blocks of a subject area…the things one does again and again, the prerequisites for advanced study. Reading would be sight words, math would be facts, SS might be pivotal dates to maintain a context, science might be big ideas or universal concepts.<br />
  15. 15. Space Out the Practice<br /> Some concepts take years to be learned deeply…for example, imagery in poetry and its appreciation takes years. That doesn’t mean it can’t be studied, it just won’t be mastered and the relative experience of the child needs to be taken into account.<br />Fold Practice into More Advanced Skills<br /> For example, a teacher can use a simple text to practice basic sight words while exposing the student to new ideas (nonfiction type background knowledge) Reading AZ/picture book is a great idea for this.<br />
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  17. 17. What’s the Secret to Getting Students to Think Like Real Scientists, Mathematicians, and Historians?<br />
  18. 18. Cognitive Principle #6:<br />Cognition is fundamentally different early and late in training.<br />
  19. 19. What is the difference between my students and an expert?Experts background knowledge is much greater than the novice. “experts think in functions or deep structure not surface structure that a novice thinks in”<br />Willingham talks about teachers trying to structure a history program so students can think like historians. ie Study the Civil War and then decide as a historian what the causes are. Willingham doesn’t believe that is a task that a student is cognitively capable of tackling. Students know much less than experts and the knowledge they have is organized and used differently than that of an expert.<br />Chessboard experiment …expert and novice shown a chess game in process and then asked to reproduce what they saw. Experts placed the pieces back in clusters. Those clusters were based on the relation of the pieces to each other…what piece threatens what piece. The novice pieces were placed based on a corner or part of the board.<br />Novice teacher will look towards a student for misbehavior/ie what was done. An expert teacher will go deeper, what caused the behavior, why was it done.<br />
  20. 20. For the Teacher….<br />Strive for deep understanding in your students, not the creation of new knowledge<br />Students are ready to comprehend but not create knowledge(how does this fit with Bloom’s model?)<br />Experts not only understand their field, they add new knowledge to it. Goal for a student should be understanding and then deeper understanding to help make more learning possible. <br />Activities that are appropriate for experts may be appropriate for students, but not because they will do much for students cognitively. These project types can still be good because they are motivating but not much new learning will result.<br />“The great minds of science were not distinguished as being exceptionally brilliant, as measured by standard IQ tests; they were very smart, to be sure, but not the standouts that their stature in their fields might suggest. What was singular was their capacity for sustained work. Great scientists are almost always workaholics.”<br />
  21. 21. Experts think differently than novices so their methods may not be appropriate for a novice<br />Beginning reader<br />Advanced reader<br />
  22. 22. Recently a “10 year rule” has been studied in the research. One cannot become an expert in any field in less than ten years.” 10,000 hours.<br />
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  24. 24. How Should I Adjust My Teaching for Different Types of Learners?<br />
  25. 25. Cognitive Principle #7:<br />Children are more alike than different in terms of learning<br />
  26. 26. After nearly fifty years of research related to learning based on learning styles or multiple intelligences (not as long) no consistent evidence supporting such a theory has been found. This doesn’t mean all learners should be treated the same, rather there are not different “types” of learners.<br />Cognitive ability vs. cognitive style<br />One student may show an ability to learn math more readily than another student; a style would show a bias to acquire that new learning in a particular way (that is what doesn’t exist)<br />Example of auditory vs. visual learner has not been backed up by research: give one student audio of the words will lead to more learning than using pictures<br />How does erroneous idea perpetuate? Professors and teachers surveyed overwhelmingly believe in this theory. It is a neat and tidy theory and allows us to see students as unique. But the research doesn’t support it.<br />
  27. 27. Confirmation bias also explains it: Once we believe something we unconsciously interpret ambiguous situations as being consistent with what we already believe.<br />For the teacher….<br />Knowledge of students’ learning styles is not necessary. The extra work to prepare/present differently to different students isn’t worth it. Not that repeated exposure in different ways might not help…as it is extra “practice” but don’t think one way is better than another for a particular student.<br />Multiple intelligences by Gardner is based on theory not research. No studies have shown that someone with musical ability or excellent control of their body (kinesthetic) learns math better by playing a song or playing a sport. <br />My graduate work was based on Gardner’s stuff so it was hard for me to read. Gardner is looking at intelligence and trying to place an order to it….a way of looking at intelligence. Other people took his ideas and said to use “intelligences” as conduits for the best learning.<br />
  28. 28. For the Teacher…<br />Once again…it doesn’t mean the teacher should treat everyone the same. The teacher still has to know the student and connect with the student.<br />Think of lesson content, not student differences, driving decisions about how to teach.<br />Change Promotes AttentionTeacher should rely on same type of teaching all the time. Change it up…after a long lecture, use United Streaming. Or if you have done an activity with deductive thinking change it to associative at some point. Expose kids to multiple types of processes has value. Even just getting up and moving from one part of the room to another after a certain number of minutes is good.<br />There is Value in Every Child, Even if He or She is Not “Smart in Some Way”He does not believe in the statement every child is smart in some way…we just have to find the way they are smart. Yes, it appeals to everyone’s fairness, but it also assigns value based on intelligence which we shouldn’t.<br />
  29. 29. Every child is unique and valuable, whether or not they are intelligent or have much in the way of mental ability. <br />“I admit that being the father of a severely mentally retarded child probably makes me sensitive on this issue. My daughter is not intelligent in any sense of the word, but she is a joyful child who brings a lot of happiness to a lot of people.”<br />Don’t Worry – and Save Your Money“If you have felt nagging guilt that you have not evaluated each of your students to assess their cognitive style, or if you think you know what their styles are and have not adjusted your teaching to them – don’t worry about it. There is no reason to think that doing so will help. And if you were thinking of buying a book or inviting someone in for a professional development sessions on one of these topics, I advise you to save your money.”<br />How do we account differences in abilities then?Background knowledge is the only way to improve abilities because it is background knowledge that better allows new learning to take place.<br />

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