From cultural awareness to intercultural awareness: culture in ELT
Cultural awareness (CA) has emerged over the last few decades as a significant part of conceptualizing the cultural dimension to language teaching. That is, L2 users need to understand L2 communication as a cultural process and to be aware of their own culturally based communicative behaviour and that of others. However, while CA has provided a vital base of knowledge in relation to the cultural aspects of language use and teaching, it is still rooted in a national conception of culture and language. This is problematic given that English is now used as a global lingua franca. Intercultural awareness (ICA) is presented here as an alternative ‘non-essentialist’ view of culture and language that better accounts for the fluid and dynamic relationship between them. Key components of ICA are discussed along with their relevance to ELT practices and suggestions as to how they can be translated into classroom pedagogy.
For the full-text version of the article, please click here.
Receptivity to Learner-driven Feedback in EAP
by Clare Maas
There is still debate surrounding what constitutes the most effective feedback on EFL learners’ writing, particularly in English for Academic Purposes (EAP) settings. Unanswered questions are found in the literature on topics such as the best formats for feedback, the role of technology, authors’ authority over written texts, and ways of helping learners develop into autonomous writers. This study explores students’ receptivity to an approach to giving feedback on essays which I have developed to address learners’ preferences, include various delivery formats, and help students develop into independent academic writers: learner-driven feedback (LDF). In LDF, the feedback is given to the students by the teacher, but the learners ‘direct’ how and on what they receive feedback comments. The findings from the detailed survey data highlight a high level of student receptivity, and several other compelling reasons for piloting LDF on EAP writing courses, many of which may also justify trialling the approach in other ELT classrooms.
For the full-text version of the article, please click here.
DECEMBER 2017 – JANUARY 2018
“What do you really, really wish your professors understood?”
I’ve been posing that question to students in my remedial-writing courses over the past few semesters. At two-year colleges, we’ve collected plenty of statistics on the challenges facing underprepared students. But we haven’t spent much time seeking their perspectives on teaching and learning. When given license to “talk back” — in any terms they wished — what did my developmental-writing students want to say to those of us at the front of the classroom?
Their responses were thoughtful, insightful, and, to my mind, laser-focused on exactly the needs that make teaching those students such a distinctive, textured, and, in the end, rewarding experience.
Show some emotion. My students wanted us to understand that most of them had entered the developmental classroom disappointed, if not outright depressed. They told poignant stories of realizing — as high school ended and classmates went off to fancy colleges — what “not being good at school” meant for their immediate futures.
As a huge booster for my own community college and for the two-year sector in general, I love the idea that we are a first chance for some students, a last chance for others, and increasingly, a prudent and vibrant option for those in between. But that’s not how my students saw it: Most of them confessed that they were envious of academically successful classmates and would rather be somewhere other than here. Equally poignant were their tales of placement-exam woes — the dread they felt about taking them and the blow it was to be told that they weren’t good enough for “regular” coursework.
First and foremost, my students suggested, developmental instructors need to make room for students’ feelings, and recognize that their feelings (as messy and intimate and seemingly extra-academic as they are) will always influence classroom performance. As one student put it, “If we don’t seem motivated, it might be because you don’t seem to care how we actually feel.” Note that the emphasis there is on whether the professor listens — and responds — to students’ feelings, and not on the emotional persona projected by the faculty member.
But on that front, my students were clear as well: The most meaningful faculty persona is positive, but not falsely so. Developmental students seem particularly attuned to false promises and sensitive to disappointment, so empty cheerleading won’t be much appreciated. What they want instead is something more practical and realistic — a pathway, a plan, a step-by-step route to college-level work. “Show us the way out of the mess we’re in,” as one student put it. Well-defined action plans and clear benchmarks are highly appreciated by students who don’t always intuit unspoken rules but have often been burned by them.
Don’t take our failures personally. I was surprised to hear that remark — or perhaps to hear it put so bluntly — but the student who said it nearly got a standing ovation from classmates.
My students readily admitted that they often screwed up or failed to meet expectations. They turned work in late, unfinished, or not at all. They racked up too many absences. They lost focus and sometimes took the easy way out. When that happened, they wanted their professors to maintain equanimity and balance — and not read those errors as defections, treason, or revenge.It is bad enough, they suggested, to fail. But to be hated for failing (and some did use the word “hate”) was a burden they felt they could not bear. More than one student reported slinking away from a course after some relatively innocuous flaw, out of fear of facing a professor’s outraged disappointment. Instead they suggested that we begin a corrective statement — either actually or at least mentally — with something like, “I’m not mad at you, but … [you missed the deadline].”
It might also help, my students said, if we tried to understand how overwhelmed they often are, not just by their classes but also by work and life. “I have four different bosses besides my actual boss,” one student keenly declared. “Hopefully, when this is all over, I will never have these many bosses again!”
They recognized — but also somewhat resented — that we tend to hold a deep love for our subject and unconsciously affirm it above all other demands. But students have fragmented, split lives, with many competing priorities, including finding transportation, maintaining housing, and putting food on the table.
“Sometimes, something’s got to give,” my students agreed. And from time to time, that thing might be our assignments. But teachers should never assume that students aren’t trying, or even that they don’t appreciate the professorial passion. The best developmental instructors simply recognize that academic consistency is, in part, a gift of privilege, and not purely a matter of personal effort or will.
Give us multiple, and varied, chances to succeed. Never is teaching less “one-size-fits-all” than in the land of developmental coursework. And my students agreed. Many suggestions came down to the idea that instruction, so much as possible, ought to be individualized. “Don’t only lecture” was a common refrain, as was the notion that whole-class activities need not necessarily be the default.Many developmental students identify as learning disabled or special needs, and some have had years of diagnostics that have helped them discover how they, personally, learn best. For that population, it is disappointing to have all that self-knowledge (“I’m a visual and kinesthetic learner, and will do better if given a chance to physically and graphically organize my note-taking”) thrown out the window by a professor who insists on completely standardized assignments.
Traditional forms of testing were also almost universally despised, as many of these students were, in fact, placed into developmental coursework because they do poorly on high-stakes tests. In general, my students asked — begged — for both formative and summative assessments of their learning, and for the chance to not only concentrate on weaknesses but also to support and celebrate strengths.
Finally, my students wanted us to consider giving them multiple chances to succeed, even if that meant (yes) accepting late work for reduced credit (which all of my students agreed was fair), allowing for retests and revisions, providing extra or optional assignments that might allow a struggling student to earn more points, or moving closer to a standards-based, contract-grading model, in which, again, the requirements for passing were unambiguous but accommodating to multiple routes. “If I don’t succeed at first,” one student asked, “why can’t I try again, without having to start over with a whole new class?” Students envisioned, instead, a sort of “completion camp” model — a space and a place where, if they were only a few standards shy, they could concentrate on the skills they’d missed rather than fail the entire class and have to start from the beginning again.
At the end of a semester, we routinely hand out course-evaluation forms that basically ask students, “How did I do?” It’s a question likely to inspire shallow answers (sometimes polite, sometimes not). I would encourage more faculty members — and developmental educators in particular — to instead ask students, “What do you really wish that I knew or understood?” The question, posed that way, leaves a lot more to be said, and it offers a greater chance of bridging the gap between teacher and learner.
Nicole Matos is an associate professor of English at the College of DuPage. She writes about topics including higher education and special-needs parenting.
Over the course of my over forty years as an educator and researcher, I’ve learned that teachers are often incredibly altruistic and devoted to making a positive difference in children’s lives. But too many of them are not well prepared for the social and emotional demands of today’s classroom. Stressful conditions—like high-stakes testing or students with severe psychological problems—can lead us to feel discouraged, burnt-out, and ready to quit.
To access the full article, you can click here.
Insider Reflections on the British Council Report: The EMI Perspective
Aylin S. Dewan-Türüdü, Hale Kızılcık, Deniz Şallı-Çopur
Introduction: Background & Purpose
In 2015, in cooperation with Turkish Economic Policy Research Foundation (TEPAV), British Council (BC) conducted a study investigating the tertiary level English language teaching in Turkey. Being one of the largest studies done at tertiary level, the study included 38 universities located in 15 different cities in Turkey. Around 400 teachers and 4,300 students were given surveys, 65 lessons were observed, more than 350 teachers were interviewed in focus groups and over 72 interviews were done with senior managers. To share the findings of the study, BC published the report (The State of English in Higher Education in Turkey) revealing some systemic and pedagogic problems along with relevant recommendations including ones that focus on bridging the identified gaps.
The British Council Report presents many questions and explores the strengths of and the challenges faced by teachers and learners of English in higher education institutions in Turkey. In terms of its impact, the report stands as a contribution to the development of national quality standards for language teaching, and a support for the formation of the local accreditation board for language teaching (DEDAK). It also leads to policy changes initiated by YÖK through putting out a call for recommendations on how to improve the processes around Foreign Language Education in the higher education context, and through introducing new standards for EMI lecturers in English Medium Universities (British Council, nd).
Upon reading the report, we planned to conduct a study which focuses on the main findings and recommendations in the BC report by exploring the opinions of the Turkish academics from different universities. Our study aims not only to provide insiders’ reflections highlighting certain contextual factors but also to expand the recommendations that might guide policy makers in improving tertiary level English language teaching. Besides, it intends to formulate an action plan and to provide a data triangulation baseline for institutional program evaluation studies. Thus, this study has two research questions: (i) What are participants’ opinions regarding the main recommendations included in the British Council Report: The state of English in higher education in Turkey? (ii) What other recommendations do participants offer?
Please click here to access the full-text version of the article.
For the March-April issue, we are posting an Internet article by Paul Ashwin (2015) and a report published by ELT Jam and Pearson (2016) below in PDF format about the myths in language learning and teaching. So please scroll down to see more about the topic.
Seven Myths of University Teaching
Teaching is creative, intellectually challenging and rewarding, but it is also elusive and complex. This makes it rich territory for the development of myths that offer a damaging view of university teaching – myths that are often supported by the ways in which teaching is presented, evaluated and rewarded. Here are a few:
- Teaching is about the inspiring performance of individuals
This is the view presented by most teaching awards and Hollywood – the spontaneous and brilliant teacher who enchants students, changing their lives for ever. It is largely nonsense. Life-changing teaching is a collaborative activity in which we draw on collective bodies of knowledge to design our curricula in discussion with colleagues, professional bodies and students. Degree programmes involve many different academics and need to include a range of activities that help students to develop personal engagement with disciplinary and professional knowledge. Captivating lectures are one, relatively minor, part of transformative teaching.
- Excellent teachers are always good, and the bog-standard never change
This is misleading on two counts. First, all teachers have experiences of teaching that are fairly disastrous and this can happen throughout our careers. What is important is to learn from these by thinking about what went wrong, based on evidence and discussions with supportive colleagues and our students. Second, this myth, reinforced by the mirage of “best practice”, implies that there is only one way to teach, whereas a key element of learning to teach is finding out what works for you. Students benefit from a variety of approaches to teaching, rather than fixed and standardised teaching practices.
- Good teaching is all about student-centredness
Teaching is about making particular aspects of knowledge accessible to particular groups of students. It is about having a three-dimensional understanding of your discipline, allowing you to view it in different ways and to decide which angles will offer students the best chance of developing understanding. So, taking students into account is one key element, but student-centredness without knowledge is process without substance. If you do not possess a rich understanding of your discipline that you can make accessible to your students, then students should rightly question the nature of your expertise.
- Different methods of teaching lead to different types of learning
We have been hearing about “the death of the lecture” for decades, but who really understands the difference between the small lecture and the large seminar group? When I examined students’ and academics’ perceptions of small group (one to 12 students) tutorials at the University of Oxford, some perceived them as an intimate exchange of ideas in which both the student and the tutor learned, while others saw them in essence as the transfer of information from the tutor to the student: the standard view of a lecture. Thus academics and students reinterpret teaching methods to fit with their idea of what they are trying to achieve. It is not the method that determines what students learn but the teachers’ and students’ understandings of the purposes of their interaction.
- Assessment should be left to the end and shrouded in mystery
Some teachers argue that if students learn deeply they should be able to tackle any assessment – without knowing what it will be. Otherwise, the argument goes, all we have done is prepare students for the test without their having developed any genuine understanding. But students will always think about what they need to do with what they are learning – it is an element of the way in which they develop an understanding. And “teaching to the test” is a problem only if we choose the wrong assessment. If the assessment requires students to show genuine understanding of what they have learned, then you can introduce assessment from the first day of a course to show students where they are going, and how they will be supported to get there.
- Student satisfaction tells us nothing meaningful about our teaching
In fact, if you ask students how satisfied they were with their course, their responses will relate to measures of the quality of their learning. Students can also distinguish between their satisfaction with their course and the satisfaction with their overall experience at a particular institution. Clearly, student satisfaction doesn’t tell us everything, but it gives us important information about our teaching.
- Students ain’t what they used to be
We often hear that today’s students are interested only in getting an easy route to a highly paid job. But there have always been students with an instrumentalist attitude, and there is plenty of contemporary evidence that students expect to be challenged by coming to university and want teachers who have high expectations of them. Given that we have been going to the dogs for millennia, perhaps the most remarkable thing is that we haven’t got there yet.
These myths present an unhelpful and untrue picture of university teaching. Instead of subscribing to them, we should remember that good teaching is something that develops over a career as we learn to make different aspects of our subjects accessible to different students. It is about thoughtful planning, and replanning, in the face of successes and failures – and this is what makes teaching so endlessly rewarding and fascinating.
Ashwin, P. (February 26, 2015). Seven myths of university teaching. Retrieved from https://www.timeshighereducation.com/comment/opinion/seven-myths-of-university-teaching/2018719.article
DECEMBER 2016-JANUARY 2017
“SWOT Analysis is a useful technique for understanding your Strengths and Weaknesses, and for identifying both the Opportunities open to you and the Threats you face.” A SWOT analysis will help us see ourselves and our institutions objectively and thus can be used as an important step for professional development.
Please find below the links to PDF versions of 3 documents discussing SWOT Analysis. In line with the focus of the mini survey for this issue, we wanted to draw your attention to this alternative method of needs analysis.
For the SWOT analyses of MLD instructors, please visit here..
Please find below the links to PDF versions of 6 articles discussing the concepts of teacher beliefs and teacher philosophy. In line with the focus of the mini survey for this issue, we wanted to draw your attention to this important area of research.
It is ironic that, with all we know about the benefits of collaborative, inquiry-based learning for students, we struggle to create the same rich learning opportunities for teachers. Reports like Reading Next and What Makes Middle Schools Work highlight the benefits of collaboration for both students and teachers, while emerging research suggests that inquiry-based approaches empower teachers to advance their practice and student learning. It follows that, if we want to develop educational practice and get better at meeting the needs of students, teachers need opportunities to inquire and learn together. In this article, our goal is to identify what is needed to create and nurture collaborative, inquiry-based professional learning for teachers.
Full web page is available at http://www.cea-ace.ca/education-canada/article/collaborative-inquiry
For Action Research Activity Templates, please click here.
Two themes will wind through this discussion. The first is the necessity of supporting students’ learning. Listening in another language is a hard job, but we can make it easier by applying what we know about activating prior knowledge, helping students organize their learning by thinking about their purposes for listening, and if speaking is also a goal of the classroom, using well-structured speaking tasks informed by research.
Another theme will be motivation. Because listening is so challenging, teachers need to think carefully about making our activities successful and our content interesting.
Both themes are united by a focus on the students. We need to capitalize on the knowledge and interests they already possess. Then we need to help them apply that knowledge and those interests so they can become effective listeners.
Principles Guiding Vocabulary Learning Through Extensive Reading
Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand
Extensive reading is one of a range of activities that can be used in a language learning course. Ideally, the choice of activities to go into a course should be guided by principles which are well supported by research. Similarly, the way each of those activities is used should be guided by well-justified principles. In this article, we look at the principles justifying the inclusion of extensive reading in a course, and then look in detail at a set of principles guiding how extensive reading can best be carried out to result in substantial vocabulary learning. Extensive reading can result in a wide range of learning outcomes, but in this article we narrow our focus on vocabulary learning (for similar analyses of a wide range of vocabulary learning activities see Webb and Nation [in preparation]).
10 Characteristics of Highly Effective EF/SL Teachers
The question of what makes someone a good teacher is relevant for all teaching contexts but it is especially important in the field of English as a Foreign or Second Language (EF/SL) where
teachers can be hired simply for being a native speaker with a bachelor’s degree (Darn, 2004 as cited in Thompson, 2007, p. 2). Most people, if asked, would be able to express an opinion on what makes a teacher good or effective, based primarily on their own experiences in the classroom as students (McDonough & Shaw, 1993). When prompted, most people would offer up adjectives like caring, fun, interesting, and flexible (Thompson, 2007, p. 2).
Teaching email politeness in the EFL/ESL classroom
Writing status-congruent emails is a skill that requires high pragmatic competence and awareness of the politeness conventions and email etiquette that need to be followed. Planning and composing such emails pose a greater challenge for EFL learners who use English in lingua franca communication (ELF), as they not only often struggle with grammatical accuracy but might also be faced with a clash between English L1 norms and lingua franca norms,
especially when finding themselves living in the L1 speech community. This study discusses the need for explicit email instruction in the EFL/ESL classroom by examining how a number of authentic emails, written by Greek-Cypriot university students in English, are perceived by a group of British English native
speaking university lecturers. The article aims to highlight the unwelcome potential effects of EFL emails and to offer a number of practical suggestions and recommendations for pedagogical intervention.
10 Ways to Sabotage Your Classroom Management | MiddleWeb
By Jennifer Gonzalez
You know the basics: Establish clear rules and consequences, be consistent, keep students engaged. But even with all that in place, the small things you do could be wreaking havoc on your whole system.
Here are some habits you might have developed that are messing with your classroom management, along with more effective alternatives.
1. Smiling at the Wrong Times: This was a big problem for me. I thought my students were pretty funny people, so when a kid took those first steps to get us off-track, I couldn’t help but smile. And that just encouraged him to continue. The irony was that five minutes later, I would be yelling at the whole class for getting too wild. Duh. Alternative: Make a conscious effort to hold a neutral, “on-task” facial expression when you need your class to be focused. I still think it’s important to show students you have a sense of humor and appreciate theirs, but everyone needs to learn that there’s a time and place for it. Have a private conversation with your class clowns, letting them know that there will be times when you won’t react to their jokes – that will be your signal that it’s a “serious” time.
2. Handling Problems Publicly: Addressing student misbehavior in a public way risks embarrassing the student, and if she is prone to being oppositional, she’s likely to talk back and dig herself into a deeper hole. You retaliate, and before you know it, a full-scale war has erupted. Alternative: Whenever possible, address off-task behavior in private. Some teachers silently place a post-it note on the student’s desk to signal that a problem has occurred, then add a check mark for every subsequent infraction. Others just speak in a quiet voice by the student’s desk or call the student up to their own. The method isn’t terribly important; just aim for a bare minimum of spectacle.
3. All Sound, No Sight: So many behavior problems start with students simply not understanding what they are supposed to do. This is especially true when teachers only give verbal directions instead of making them visual. Alternative: Provide visual cues for what students are expected to do. If you want them to do steps 1-4 of today’s lab, then clean up their materials, then read silently for the rest of the period, go to the board and make a quick list: step 1-4, clean up, read. Simply writing those steps on the board will save you from having to remind students or reprimand them for not following the plan.
4. Not Waiting for Quiet: When I observe teachers, I see this mistake more often than any other: They start talking to the class before everyone has completely stopped talking. To be fair, they often wait until almost everyone is quiet, but allowing that last bit of chatter to linger causes problems: Students who don’t hear what you say will either (a) turn to a neighbor to ask, or (b) follow instructions incorrectly. It’s easy to blame kids for being poor listeners, but the problem could actually be the teacher’s timing. Alternative: Before addressing your class, force yourself to wait a few extra seconds (about five) until everyone – everyone – is completely quiet.
5. Making Students Choose Between Listening and Reading: When you distribute a handout to students, do you give them quiet time to actually read it? Or do you keep talking, “going over it” and constantly interrupting them to the point where they can’t process any of it? When you do this, you guarantee that students will either skip over something important on the document, or miss a vital bit of information you gave verbally. The brain can’t do both at once. Alternative: If you have preliminary remarks to make before giving students written material, do your talking first, then pass out the papers. Once students have the document in hand, tell them you’re going to give them a few minutes to read it. Then…BE QUIET. If you must interrupt, have students turn their papers face-down and look at you, then give the announcement.
6. Only Speaking in “Don’ts”: If I tell you not to think about a hot fudge sundae, what do you think about? Yep, a hot fudge sundae. Similarly, if you tell a seventh grade boy not to tap his pencil, he still has pencil tapping on the brain. Alternative: Tell students what to do. These directives can address the problem at hand (Jake, put your pencil under your textbook until I tell you to use it) or distract the student with another activity altogether (Jake, read number 4 for me, please).
7. Taking Too Long: When a student gets off-task, an ineffective teacher will waste five minutes lecturing her about it. This not only makes you lose valuable instructional time, it also annoys the heck out of the other students, who are forced to sit and watch. Alternative: Just becoming aware of this problem will help you improve it. Remember, you don’t have to settle every issue right away; when an interaction drags on, tell the student you’ll finish talking after class.
8. Staying Up Front: Proximity is a huge key to stopping misbehavior before it gets going. If you’re always at the front of your classroom, you can’t pick up on trouble in the early stages. By the time you notice a problem, it’s already gained momentum, making it much harder to stop. Alternative: Move around while you teach. Do it so casually and so regularly that students just expect it.
9. Focusing on the Problems: It’s natural to give your energy to misbehaviors, to only comment when something goes wrong, but you’ll get more cooperation if you give equal (or more) attention to the good behaviors, especially when it comes to students who have trouble with self-control. Alternative: You’ve probably heard of “catch them being good,” but actually doing it takes concentration. For some students, you have to wait a while before the desirable behavior happens! Watch Daniel, the pencil-tapper: After you tell him to set his pencil down, does it stay there for a few minutes? Before he grabs it again, go over and say, “Thanks for keeping that pencil down.” Nine times out of ten, that will lengthen the time it takes for him to pick it up again.
10. Taking Things Personally: No matter what’s going on, taking student misbehavior as a personal affront can only make things worse. But not taking it personally is a lot easier said than done. Alternative: A mental trick I used to help me step away from those hurt feelings was to think of myself as a service provider – like a dentist – and my students as patients. If my patient got a cavity, I would treat it as best I could, but I wouldn’t take it personally. If things don’t always go well, it doesn’t have to be about me. Classroom management is so complex, it can take years to develop a style and a system that works. By replacing these habits with more effective practices, you’ll build a better classroom for everyone.
Gonzalez, J. (2015). 10 Ways to sabotage your classroom management. Retrieved from http://www.middleweb.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/10-Ways-Sabotage-Class-Mgmt.pdf
What Motivates Language Teachers: Investigating Work Satisfaction and Second Language Pedagogy
Max Praver and William Oga-Baldwin
One of the most overlooked areas of second language acquisition is the motivation level of the teacher. Although there is an abundance of research on learner motivation, data and material on language teacher motivation is rather scarce. Language teachers often find it difficult to maintain their instrinsic motivation to teach due to numerous external factors, such as the work environment and student response to instruction. Especially important to this issue of EFL/ESL teacher motivation, is the recognition and appreciation of the teacher’s home culture and value for her and his skill as a teacher. In this study, the authors will first define and discuss instrinsic and extrinsic motivation, as well as identify direct obstacles to motivation affecting the field today. Next, the more indirect internal and external motivating factors will be further discussed in the form of autonomy, self-realization, institutional support, and relationships. The authors will then consider the factors that not only motivate teachers through their ideal levels but also their perceived levels of job satisfaction. Finally, based on the writings discussed, the authors will suggest a number ıf general guidelines that institutions and employers can use to motivate their teachers and increase pedagogical quality.
What Motivates Language Teachers – Full Text
“New ways of motivating foreign language learners: Generating Vision”
University of Nottingham
In 2005, I proposed a new approach to the understanding of second language (L2) learning motivation (Dörnyei 2005; for more detail, see Dörnyei & Ushioda 2009, and especially Dörnyei 2009), conceived within a ‘L2 Motivational Self System’, which attempts to integrate a number of inuential L2 motivation theories with ndings of self research in psychology. Within contemporary psychological research on the self, one of the most powerful, and at the same time the most versatile, approach of linking the human self with human action is the notion of ‘possible selves’, which represent the individuals’ ideas of what they might become, what they would like to become, and what they are afraid of becoming (Markus & Nurius 1986). Thus, possible selves involve a person’s specic image of oneself in future states, and they are therefore similar in many ways to dreams and visions about oneself. It is this aspect of possible selves that I have found highly relevant to the concept of language learning motivation, and this article outlines the practical potential of the new approach.
The L2 Motivational Self System
From the point of view of education, one type of possible self, the ideal self, appears to be a particularly useful concept, referring to the representation of the characteristics that someone would ideally like to possess (i.e. representation of hopes, aspirations or wishes) (see Higgins 1987, 1998). A complementary selfguide that also has considerable educational relevance is the ought self, referring to the attributes that one believes one ought to possess (i.e. representation of someone’s sense of personal or social duties, obligations or responsibilities). The tripartite construct of the L2 Motivational Self System adapts these two dimensions to the study of a L2 and adds a third component that is related to the specic learning environment:
-Ideal L2 Self, which concerns the L2-specic facet of one’s ideal self: If the person we would like to become speaks a L2, the ideal L2 self is a powerful motivator to learn the L2 because we would like to reduce the discrepancy between our actual and ideal selves.
-Ought-to L2 Self, which concerns the attributes that one believes one ought to possess to avoid possible negative outcomes, and which therefore may bear little resemblance to the person’s own desires or wishes.
-L2 Learning Experience, which concerns situation-specic motives related to the immediate learning environment and experience (e.g. the positive impact of success or the enjoyable quality of a language course).
Thus, the L2 Motivational Self System covers the internal desires of the learner, the social pressures exercised by signicant or authoritative people in the learner’s environment and the actual experience of being engaged in the learning process.
Generating and enhancing a vision for language learning
Motivational strategies have been described in detail before (e.g. Dörnyei 2001), but the new motivation theory outlined above opens up a novel avenue for motivating learners by focusing on the creation of an attractive vision of the learners’ ideal language self. This motivational programme consists of six components:
1. Construction of the Ideal L2 Self:
Creating the vision. The (obvious) prerequisite for the motivational capacity of future self-guides is that they need to exist. Therefore, the rst step in a motivational intervention that follows the self approach is to help learners to construct their Ideal L2 Self – that is, to create a L2-related vision. The term ‘constructing’ the Ideal L2 Self is, in fact, not entirely accurate because it is highly unlikely that any motivational intervention will lead a student to generate an ideal self out of nothing – the realistic process is more likely to involve awareness raising about and guided selection from the multiple aspirations, dreams, desires, etc. that the student has already entertained in the past. Thus, igniting the vision involves increasing the students’ mindfulness about the signicance of the ideal self in general and guiding them through a number of possible selves that they have entertained in their minds in the past, while also presenting some powerful role models to illustrate potential future selves.
2. Imagery enhancement:
Strengthening the vision. Even if a desired self image exists, it may not have a sufcient degree of elaborateness and vividness to be an effective motivator. Methods of imagery enhancement have been explored in several areas of psychological, educational and sport research in the past, and the techniques of creative or guided imagery can be utilised to promote ideal L2 self images and thus to strengthen the students’ vision. (For reviews and resources, see for example, Berkovits, 2005; Fezler, 1989; Gould et al., 2002; Hall et al., 2006; Horowitz, 1983; Leuner et al., 1983; Singer, 2006; Taylor et al., 1998). Undoubtedly, further research is needed in applied linguistics to review the imagery enhancement techniques New ways of motivating foreign language learners: Generating vision 4 http://www.cilt.org.uk/publications/bulletins/links Links Issue 38 | Winter 2008 utilised in other elds with regard to their potential applicability to promoting L2 motivation and the vision to master a foreign language. The details of an effective ‘language imagery programme’ are still to be worked out, but let there be no doubt about it: ‘Our capacity for imagery and fantasy can indeed give us a kind of control over possible futures!’ (Singer, 2006, p.128)
3. Making the Ideal L2 Self plausible:
Substantiating the vision. Possible selves are only effective insomuch as the learner perceives them as possible, that is, conceivable within the person’s particular circumstances. Thus, in order for ideal self images to energise sustained behaviour, they must be anchored in a sense of realistic expectations – they need to be substantiated, resulting in the curious mixed aura of imagination and reality that effective images share. This process requires honest and down-to-earth reality checks as well as considering any potential obstacles and difculties that might stand in the way of realising the ideal self. Inviting successful role models to class can send the powerful message to the students that although everybody faces certain hurdles in reaching their ideal selves, it can be, and has been, done.
4. Developing an action plan:
Operationalising the vision. Future self-guides are only effective if they are accompanied by a set of concrete action plans. Therefore, the ideal self needs to come as part of a ‘package’ consisting of an imagery component and a repertoire of appropriate plans, scripts and self-regulatory strategies. Even the most galvanising self image might fall at without ways of operationalising the vision, that is, without any concrete learning pathways to channel the individual’s energy into. This is clearly an area where L2 motivation research and language teaching methodology overlap: An effective action plan will contain a goal-setting component (which is a motivational issue) as well as individualised study plans and instructional avenues (which are methodological in nature).
5. Activating the Ideal L2 Self:
Keeping the vision alive. Very little is said in the literature about activating and re-activating the ideal self, but this is an area where language teachers have, perhaps unknowingly, a great deal of experience. Classroom activities such as warmers and icebreakers as well as various communicative tasks can all be turned into effective ways of keeping the vision alive, and playing lms and music, or engaging in cultural activities such as French cheese parties or ‘Cook Your Wicked Western Burger’ evenings can all serve as potent ideal self reminders. Indeed, good teachers in any subject matter seem to have an instinctive talent to provide an engaging framework that keeps the enthusiasts going and the less-than-enthusiasts thinking.
6. Considering failure:
Counterbalancing the vision. For maximum effectiveness, the desired self should be offset by the feared self: We do something because we want to do it and also because not doing it would lead to undesired results. In language teaching terms this process of counterbalancing the vision would involve regular reminders of the limitations of not knowing foreign languages as well as regularly priming the learners’ Ought-to L2 Self to highlight the duties and obligations they have committed themselves to.
The L2 Motivational Self System suggests that there are three primary sources of the motivation to learn a foreign/second language: (a) the learner’s vision of oneself as an effective L2 speaker, (b) the social pressure coming from the learner’s environment and (c) positive learning experiences. This paper elaborated on the practical implications of the rst of these sources. I rmly believe that it is possible for teachers to consciously generate L2-learning vision in the learners and I would like to encourage colleagues to develop a repertoire of techniques to ignite and enhance this vision. The six main areas of relevant motivational strategies presented in this talk are intended to offer a framework for future language teaching methodological developments along this line.
Berkovits, S. (2005) Guided imagery: Successful techniques to improve school performance and selfesteem.
Duluth, MN: Whole Person Associates. Dörnyei, Z. (2001) Motivational strategies in the language classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dörnyei, Z. (2005) The psychology of the language learner: Individual differences in second language acquisition. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Dörnyei, Z. (2009) The L2 Motivational Self System. In Z. Dörnyei and E. Ushioda (Eds.), Motivation, language identity and the L2 self (pp.9-42). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Dörnyei, Z. and Ushioda, E. (Eds.). (2009). Motivation, language identity and the L2 self. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Fezler, W. (1989) Creative imagery: How to visualise in all ve senses. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Gould, D., Damarjian, N. and Greenleaf, C. (2002) Imagery training for peak performance. In J.L. Van Raalte and B.W. Brewer (Eds.), Exploring sport and exercise psychology (2nd ed., pp.49–74). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Hall, E., Hall, C., Stradling, P. and Young, D. (2006) Guided imagery: Creative interventions in Counselling and psychotherapy. London: Sage.
Higgins, E.T. (1987) Self-discrepancy: A theory relating self and affect. Psychological Review 94, 319–340.
Higgins, E.T. (1998) Promotion and prevention: Regulatory focus as a motivational principle. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 30, 1–46.
Horowitz, M.J. (1983) Image formation and psychotherapy. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson.
Leuner, H., Horn, G. and Klessmann, E. (1983) Guided affective imagery with children and adolescents. New York: Plenum.
Markus, H. and Nurius, P. (1986) Possible selves. American Psychologist 41, 954–969.
Singer, J.L. (2006) Imagery in psychotherapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Taylor, S.E., Pham, L.B., Rivkin, I.D. and Armor, D.A. (1998) Harnessing the imagination: Mental simulation, self-regulation, and coping. American Psychologist 53 (4), 429–439.
“Towards Student Involvement in Essay Assessment”
İzmir University of Economics
In language teaching, assessment is one of the most formidable challenges for both the students and the teachers. Especially, when the assessment of productive skills which are subjective by their nature are concerned, the “challenge” could very well turn into a “nightmare” for both parties. In order to avoid this undesired possibility, the attitude of the
grader and the students towards the evaluation rubric is as vital as the rubric itself.
This study describes the standardization process of the writing rubric for the assessment of essays, which is accepted both by the graders and the learners who are subject to this evaluation. The paper outlines the phases of rubric revision and describes student involvement in essay evaluation. Special emphasis is put on how students used the rubric as a learning tool while writing their essays, and how they benefited from being familiarized to the rubric. The results refer to the importance of inter-rater reliability, which is achieved by revising the assessment rubric in line with grader suggestions, and by checking consistency among graders of writing at certain intervals. The study also suggests that learner involvement in
assessment promotes the outcome.
For the full-text version, download the attachment below.
This booklet is a synthesis of principles of effective teaching that have emerged from research in classrooms. It addresses generic aspects of curriculum, instruction and assessment, as well as classroom organization and management practices that support effective instruction. It focuses on learning outcomes but with recognition of the need for a supportive classroom climate and positive student attitudes towards schooling, teach-ers and classmates.
Much of the research support for these principles comes from studies of relationships between classroom processes (measured through observation systems) and student out-comes (most notably, gains in standardized achievement tests). However, some principles are rooted in the logic of instructional design (e.g. the need for alignment among a curriculum’s goals, content, instructional methods and assessment measures). In addition, attention was paid to emergent theories of teaching and learning (e.g. socio-cultural, social constructivist) and to the standards statements circulated by organizations representing the major school subjects. Priority was given to principles that have been shown to be applicable under ordinary classroom conditions and associated with progress towards desired student outcomes.
The principles rest on a few fundamental assumptions about optimizing curriculum and instruction. First, school cur-ricula subsume different types of learning that call for different types of teaching, and so no single teaching method (e.g. direct instruction, social construction of meaning) can be the method of choice for all occasions. An optimal programme will feature a mixture of instructional methods and learning activities.
Second, within any school subject or learning domain, students’ instructional needs change as their expertise develops. Consequently, what constitutes an optimal mixture of instructional methods and learning activities will evolve as school years, instructional units and even individual lessons progress.
Third, students should learn at high levels of mastery yet progress through the curriculum steadily. This implies that, at any given time, curriculum content and learning activities need to be difficult enough to challenge students and extend their learning, but not so difficult as to leave many students con-fused or frustrated. Instruction should focus on the zone of proximal development, which is the range of knowledge and skills that students are not yet ready to acquire on their own but can acquire with help from their teachers.
- A supportive classroom climate
Students learn best within cohesive and caring learning communities.
Productive contexts for learning feature an ethic of caring that pervades teacher/student and student/student interactions and transcends gender, race, ethnicity, culture, socio-economic status, handicapping conditions and all other individual differences. Students are expected to manage instructional materials responsibly, participate thoughtfully in learning activities, and support the personal, social and academic well-being of all members of the classroom community.
To create a climate for moulding their students into a cohesive and supportive learning community, teachers need to display personal attributes that will make them effective as models and socializers: a cheerful disposition, friendliness, emotional maturity, sincerity, and caring about students as individuals as well as learners. The teacher displays concern and affection for students, is attentive to their needs and emotions, and socialites them to display these same characteristics in their interactions with one another.
In creating classroom displays and in developing content during lessons, the teacher connects with and builds on the students’ prior knowledge and experiences, including their home cultures. Extending the learning community from the school to the home, the teacher establishes and maintains collaborative relationships with parents and encourages their active involvement in their children’s learning.
The teacher promotes a learning orientation by introducing activities with emphasis on what students will learn from them, treating mistakes as natural parts of the learning process, and encouraging students to work collaboratively and help one another. Students are taught to ask questions without embarrassment, to contribute to lessons without fear of their ideas being ridiculed, and to collaborate in pairs or small groups on many of their learning activities.
References: Good & Brophy (2000); Sergiovanni (1994).
2. Opportunity to learn
Students learn more when most of the available time is allocated to curriculum-related activities and the classroom management system emphasizes maintaining their engagement in those activities.
A major determinant of learning in any academic domain is the degree of exposure to the domain at school. The lengths of the school day and the school year create upper limits on students’ opportunities to learn. Within these limits, the learning opportunities actually experienced by students depend on how much of the available time they spend participating in lessons and learning activities. Effective teachers allocate most of the available time to activities designed to accomplish instructional goals.
Research indicates that teachers who approach manage-ment as a process of establishing an effective learning environment tend to be more successful than teachers who emphasize their roles as disciplinarians. Effective teachers do not need to spend much time responding to behaviour problems because they use management techniques that elicit students’ co-operation and sustain their engagement in activities. Working within the positive classroom climate implied by the principle of a learning community, the teacher articulates clear expectations concerning classroom behaviour in general and participation in lessons and learning activities in particular, teaches procedures that foster productive engagement during activities and smooth transitions between them, and follows through with any needed cues or reminders.
There are more things worth learning than there is time avail-able to teach them, and so it is essential that limited classroom time be used efficiently. Effective teachers allocate most of this time to lessons and learning activities rather than to non-acad-emic pastimes that serve little or no curricular purpose. Their students spend many more hours each year on curriculum-related activities than do students of teachers who are less focused on instructional goals.
Effective teachers convey a sense of the purposefulness of schooling and the importance of getting the most out of the available time. They begin and end lessons on time, keep transitions short, and teach their students how to get started quickly and maintain focus when working on assignments. Good planning and preparation enable them to proceed through lessons smoothly without having to stop to consult a manual or locate an item needed for display or demonstration. Their activities and assignments feature stimulating variety and optimal challenge, which help students to sustain their task engagement and minimize disruptions due to boredom or distraction.
Successful teachers are clear and consistent in articulating their expectations. At the beginning of the year they model or provide direct instruction in desired procedures if necessary, and subsequently they cue or remind their students when these procedures are needed. They monitor the classroom continually, which enables them to respond to emerging problems before they become disruptive. When possible, they intervene in ways that do not disrupt lesson momentum or dis-tract students who are working on assignments. They teach students strategies and procedures for carrying out recurring activities such as participating in whole-class lessons, engaging in productive discourse with classmates, making smooth transitions between activities, collaborating in pairs or small groups, storing and handling equipment and personal belongings, managing learning and completing assignments on time, and knowing when and how to get help. The teachers’ empha-sis is not on imposing situational control but on building students’ capacity for managing their own learning, so that expectations are adjusted and cues, reminders and other managerial moves are faded out as the school year progresses.
These teachers do not merely maximize ‘time on task’, but spend a great deal of time actively instructing by elaborating content for students and helping them to interpret and respond to it. Their classrooms feature more time spent in interactive discourse and less time spent in solitary seat work. Most of their instruction occurs during interactive discourse with students rather than during extended lecture presentations.
Note: The principle of maximizing opportunity to learn is not meant to imply maximizing the scope of the curriculum (i.e. emphasizing broad coverage at the expense of depth of development of powerful ideas). The breadth/depth dilemma must be addressed in curriculum planning. The point of the opportunity-to-learn principle is that, however the breadth/ depth dilemma is addressed and whatever the resultant curriculum may be, students will make the most progress towards intended outcomes if most of the available classroom time is allocated to curriculum-related activities.
Note: Opportunity to learn is sometimes defined as the degree of overlap between what is taught and what is tested. This definition can be useful if both the curriculum content and the test content reflect the major goals of the instructional pro-gramme. Where this is not the case, achieving an optimal align-ment may require making changes in the curriculum content or in the test content, or in both (see next principle).
References: Brophy (1983); Denham & Lieberman (1980);
All components of the curriculum are aligned to create a cohesive programme for accomplishing instructional purposes and goals.
Research indicates that educational policy-makers, textbook publishers and teachers often become so focused on content coverage or learning activities that they lose sight of the larger purposes and goals that are supposed to guide curriculum planning. Teachers typically plan by concentrating on the con-tent they intend to cover and the steps involved in the activities their students will carry out, without giving much thought to the goals or intended outcomes of the instruction. Textbook publishers, in response to pressure from special interest groups, tend to keep expanding their content coverage. As a result, too many topics are covered in not enough depth; con-tent exposition often lacks coherence and is cluttered with insertions; skills are taught separately from knowledge content rather than integrated with it; and in general, neither the students’ texts nor the questions and activities suggested in the teachers’ manuals are structured around powerful ideas connected to important goals.
Students taught using such textbooks may be asked to memorize parades of disconnected facts or to practise disconnected subskills in isolation instead of learning coherent net-works of connected content structured around powerful ideas. These problems are often exacerbated by externally imposed assessment programmes that emphasize recognition of isolated bits of knowledge or performance of isolated subskills. Such problems can be minimized through goal-oriented curriculum development, in which curricular planning is guided by the overall purposes and goals of the instruction, not by miscellaneous content coverage pressures or test items.
In the classroom
A curriculum is not an end in itself; it is a means of helping students to learn what is considered essential for preparing them to fulfil adult roles in society and realize their potential as individuals. Its goals are learner outcomes–the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and dispositions to action that society wishes to develop in its citizens. The goals are the reason for the existence of the curriculum, so that beliefs about what is needed to accomplish them should guide each step in curriculum planning and implementation. Goals are most likely to be attained if all of the curriculum’s components (content clusters, instructional methods, learning activities and assessment tools) are selected because they are believed to be needed as means of helping students to accomplish the overall purposes and goals.
This involves planning curriculum and instruction to develop capabilities that students can use in their lives inside and outside school, both now and in the future. In this regard, it is important to emphasize goals of understanding, appreciation and life application. Understanding means that students learn both the individual elements in a network of related content and the connections among them, so that they can explain the content in their own words and connect it to their prior knowledge. Appreciation means that students value what they are learning because they understand that there are good reasons for learning it. Life application means that students retain their learning in a form that makes it usable when needed in other contexts.
Content developed with these goals in mind is likely to be retained as meaningful learning that is internally coherent, well-connected with other meaningful learning and accessible for application. This is most likely to occur when the content itself is structured around powerful ideas and the development of this content through classroom lessons and learning activities focuses on these ideas and their connections.
References: Beck & McKeown (1988); Clark & Peterson (1986); Wang, Haertel & Walberg (1993).
4.Establishing learning orientations
Teachers can prepare students for learning by providing an initial structure to clarify intended outcomes and cue desired learning strategies.
Research indicates the value of establishing a learning orientation by beginning lessons and activities with advance organizers or previews. These introductions facilitate students’ learn-ing by communicating the nature and purpose of the activity, connecting it to prior knowledge and cueing the kinds of student responses that the activity requires. This helps students to remain goal-oriented and strategic as they process information and respond to the questions or tasks embodied in the activity. Good lesson orientations also stimulate students’ motiva-tion to learn by communicating enthusiasm for the learning or helping students to appreciate its value or application potential.
In the classroom
Advance organizers orient students to what they will be learn-ing before the instruction begins. They characterize the general nature of the activity and give students a structure within which to understand and connect the specifics that will be presented by the teacher or text. Such knowledge of the nature of the activity and the structure of its content helps students to focus on the main ideas and order their thoughts effectively. Therefore, before beginning any lesson or activity, the teacher should ensure that students know what they will be learning and why it is important for them to learn it.
Other ways to help students learn with a sense of purpose and direction include calling attention to the activity’s goals, overviewing main ideas or major steps to be elaborated, pre-tests that sensitize students to main points to learn, and pre-questions that stimulate their thinking about the topic.
References: Ausubel (1968); Brophy (1998); Meichenbaum &
To facilitate meaningful learning and retention, content is explained clearly and developed with emphasis on its structure and connections.
Research indicates that networks of connected knowledge structured around powerful ideas can be learned with under-standing and retained in forms that make them accessible for application. In contrast, disconnected bits of information are likely to be learned only through low-level processes such as rote memorizing, and most of these bits either are soon for-gotten or are retained in ways that limit their accessibility. Similarly, skills are likely to be learned and used effectively if taught as strategies adapted to particular purposes and situations, with attention to when and how to apply them; but students may not be able to integrate and use skills that are learned only by rote and practised only in isolation from the rest of the curriculum.
In the classroom
Whether in textbooks or in teacher-led instruction, information is easier to learn to the extent that it is coherent–the sequence of ideas or events makes sense and the relationships among them are apparent. Content is most likely to be organized coherently when it is selected in a principled way, guided by ideas about what students should learn from study-ing the topic.
When making presentations, providing explanations or giving demonstrations, effective teachers project enthusiasm for the content and organize and sequence it so as to maximize its clarity and coherence. The teacher presents new information with reference to what students already know about the topic; proceeds in small steps sequenced in ways that are easy to fol-low; uses pacing, gestures and other oral communication skills to support comprehension; avoids vague or ambiguous language and digressions that disrupt continuity; elicits students’ responses regularly to stimulate active learning and ensure that each step is mastered before moving to the next; finishes with a review of main points, stressing general integrative concepts; and follows up with questions or assignments that require students to encode the material in their own words and apply or extend it to new contexts. If necessary, the teacher also helps students to follow the structure and flow of the content by using outlines or graphic organizers that depict relationships, study guides that call attention to key ideas, or task organizers that help students keep track of the steps involved and the strategies they use to complete these steps.
In combination, the principles calling for curricular align-ment and for coherent content imply that, to enable students to construct meaningful knowledge that they can access and use in their lives outside school, teachers need to: (i) retreat from breadth of coverage in order to allow time to develop the most important content in greater depth; (ii) represent this important content as networks of connected information structured around powerful ideas; (iii) develop the content with a focus on explaining these important ideas and the connections among them; and (iv) follow up with authentic learning activities and assessment measures that provide students with opportunities to develop and display learning that reflects the intended outcomes of the instruction.
References: Beck & McKeown (1988); Good & Brophy (2000); Rosenshine (1968).
Questions are planned to engage students in sustained discourse structured around powerful ideas.
Besides presenting information and modelling application of skills, effective teachers structure a great deal of content-based discourse. They use questions to stimulate students to process and reflect on content, recognize relationships among and implications of its key ideas, think critically about it, and use it in problem solving, decision making or other higher-order applications. The discourse is not limited to rapidly paced recitation that elicits short answers to miscellaneous questions. Instead, it features sustained and thoughtful development of key ideas. Through participation in such discourse, students construct and communicate content-related understandings. In the process, they abandon naïve ideas or misconceptions and adopt the more sophisticated and valid ideas embedded in the instructional goals.
In the classroom
In the early stages of units when new content is introduced and developed, more time is spent in interactive lessons featuring teacher/student discourse than in independent work on assignments. The teacher plans sequences of questions design-ed to develop the content systematically and help students to construct understandings of it by relating it to their prior knowledge and collaborating in dialogue about it.
The forms and cognitive levels of these questions need to be suited to the instructional goals. Some primarily closed-end and factual questions might be appropriate when teachers are assessing prior knowledge or reviewing new learning, but accomplishing the most significant instructional goals requires open-ended questions that call for students to apply, analyse, synthesize or evaluate what they are learning. Some questions will admit of a range of possible correct answers, and some will invite discussion or debate (e.g. concerning the relative merits of alternative suggestions for solving problems).
Because questions are intended to engage students in cognitive processing and construction of knowledge, they should ordinarily be addressed to the class as a whole. This encourages all students, not just the one eventually called on, to lis-ten carefully and respond thoughtfully to each question. After posing a question, the teacher needs to pause to allow students enough time to process it and at least begin to formulate responses, especially if the question is complicated or requires students to engage in higher-order thinking.
Thoughtful discourse features sustained examination of a small number of related topics, in which students are invited to develop explanations, make predictions, debate alternative approaches to problems, or otherwise consider the content’s implications or applications. The teacher presses students to clarify or justify their assertions, rather than accepting them indiscriminately. In addition to providing feedback, the teacher encourages students to explain or elaborate on their answers or to comment on classmates’ answers. Frequently, discourse that begins in a question-and-answer format evolves into an exchange of views in which students respond to one another as well as to the teacher and respond to statements as well as to questions.
References: Good & Brophy (2000); Newmann (1990); Rowe(1986).
7.Practice and application activities
Students need sufficient opportunities to practise and apply what they are learning, and to receive improvement-oriented feedback.
There are three main ways in which teachers help their students to learn. First, they present information, explain concepts and model skills. Second, they ask questions and lead their students in discussion and other forms of discourse surrounding the content. Third, they engage students in activities or assignments that provide them with opportunities to practise or apply what they are learning. Research indicates that skills practised to a peak of smoothness and automaticity tend to be retained indefinitely, whereas skills that are mastered only partially tend to deteriorate. Most skills included in school curricula are learned best when practice is distributed across time and embedded within a variety of tasks. Thus, it is important to follow up thorough initial teaching with occasional review activities and with opportunities for students to use what they are learning in a variety of application contexts.
In the classroom
Practice is one of the most important yet least appreciated aspects of learning in classrooms. Little or no practice may be needed for simple behaviours such as pronouncing words, but practice becomes more important as learning becomes complex. Successful practice involves polishing skills that are already established at rudimentary levels in order to make them smoother, more efficient and more automatic, and not trying to establish such skills through trial and error.
Fill-in-the-blank worksheets, pages of mathematical computation problems and related tasks that engage students in memorizing facts or practising subskills in isolation from the rest of the curriculum should be minimized. Instead, most practice should be embedded within application contexts that feature conceptual understanding of knowledge and self-regulated application of skills. Thus, most practice of reading skills is embedded within lessons involving reading and interpreting extended text, most practice of writing skills is embedded within activities calling for authentic writing, and most practice of mathematics skills is embedded within problem-solving applications.
Opportunity to learn in school can be extended through homework assignments that are realistic in length and difficulty given the students’ abilities to work independently. To ensure that students know what to do, the teacher can get them started on assignments in class, and then have them finish the work at home. An accountability system should be in place to ensure that students complete their homework assignments, and the work should be reviewed in class the next day.
To be useful, practice must involve opportunities not only to apply skills but also to receive timely feedback. Feedback should be informative rather than evaluative, helping students to assess their progress with respect to major goals and to understand and correct errors or misconceptions. At times when teachers are unable to circulate to monitor progress and provide feedback, they should arrange for students working on assignments to get feedback by consulting posted study guides or answer sheets or by asking peers designated to act as tutors or resource persons.
References: Brophy & Alleman (1991); Cooper (1994); Dempster (1991); Knapp (1995).
8.Scaffolding students’ task engagement
The teacher provides whatever assistance students need to enable them to engage in learning activities productively.
Research on learning tasks suggests that activities and assignments should be sufficiently varied and interesting to motivate student engagement, sufficiently new or challenging to constitute meaningful learning experiences rather than needless repetition, and yet sufficiently easy to allow students to achieve high rates of success if they invest reasonable time and effort. The effectiveness of assignments is enhanced when teachers first explain the work and go over practice examples with students before releasing them to work independently, and then circulate to monitor progress and provide help when needed. The principle of teaching within the students’ zones of proximal development implies that students will need explanation, modelling, coaching and other forms of assistance from their teachers, but also that this teacher structuring and scaffolding will be faded as the students’ expertise develops. Eventually, students should become able to use what they are learning autonomously and to regulate their own productive task engagement.
In the classroom
Besides being well-chosen, activities need to be effectively presented, monitored and followed up if they are to have their full impact. This means preparing students for an activity in advance, providing guidance and feedback during the activity, and leading the class in post-activity reflection afterwards. In introducing activities, teachers should stress their purposes in ways that will help students to engage in them with clear ideas about the goals to be accomplished. Then they might call students’ attention to relevant background knowledge, model strategies for responding to the task or scaffold by providing information about task requirements. If reading is involved, for example, teachers might summarize the main ideas, remind students about strategies for developing and monitoring their comprehension as they read (paraphrasing, summarizing, tak-ing notes, asking themselves questions to check understand-ing), distribute study guides that call attention to key ideas and structural elements, or provide task organizers that help students to keep track of the steps involved and the strategies that they are using.
Once students begin working on activities or assignments, teachers should circulate to monitor their progress and provide assistance if necessary. Assuming that students have a general understanding of what to do and how to do it, these interventions can be kept brief and confined to minimal and indirect forms of help. If teacher assistance is too direct or extensive, teachers will end up carrying out tasks for students instead of helping them learn to carry out the tasks themselves.
Teachers also need to assess performance for completion and accuracy. When performance is poor, they will need to provide re-teaching and follow-up assignments designed to ensure that content is understood and skills are mastered.
Most assignments will not have their full effects unless they are followed by reflection or debriefing activities in which the teacher reviews the task with the students, provides general feedback about performance, and reinforces main ideas as they relate to overall goals. Reflection activities should also include opportunities for students to ask follow-up questions, share task-related observations or experiences, compare opinions, or in other ways deepen their appreciation of what they have learned and how it relates to their lives outside school.
References: Brophy & Alleman (1991); Rosenshine & Meister (1992); Shuell (1996); Tharp & Gallimore (1988).
The teacher models and instructs students in learning and self-regulation strategies.
General learning and study skills as well as domain-specific skills (such as constructing meaning from text, solving mathematical problems or reasoning scientifically) are most likely to be learned thoroughly and become accessible for application if they are taught as strategies to be brought to bear purpose-fully and implemented with metacognitive awareness and self-regulation. This requires comprehensive instruction that includes attention to propositional knowledge (what to do), procedural knowledge (how to do it) and conditional knowledge (when and why to do it). Strategy teaching is especially important for less able students who otherwise might not come to understand the value of consciously monitoring, self-regulating and reflecting upon their learning processes.
In the classroom
Many students do not develop effective learning and problem-solving strategies on their own but can acquire them through modelling and explicit instruction from their teachers. Poor readers, for example, can be taught reading comprehension strategies such as keeping the purpose of an assignment in mind when reading; activating relevant background knowledge; identifying major points in attending to the outline and flow of content; monitoring understanding by generating and trying to answer questions about the content; or drawing and testing inferences by making interpretations, predictions and conclusions. Instruction should include not only demonstrations of and opportunities to apply the skill itself but also explanations of the purpose of the skill (what it does for the learner) and the occasions on which it would be used.
Strategy teaching is likely to be most effective when it includes cognitive modelling: the teacher thinks out loud while modelling use of the strategy. Cognitive modelling makes overt the otherwise covert thought processes that guide use of the strategy in a variety of contexts. It provides learners with first-person language (‘self talk’) that they can adapt directly when using the strategy themselves. This eliminates the need for translation that is created when instruction is presented in the impersonal third-person language of explanation or even the second-person language of coaching.
In addition to strategies used in particular domains or types of assignments, teachers can model and instruct their students in general study skills and learning strategies such as rehearsal (repeating material to remember it more effectively), elaboration (putting material into one’s own words and relating it to prior knowledge), organization (outlining material to highlight its structure and remember it), comprehension monitoring (keeping track of the strategies used to construct understand-ings and the degree of success achieved with them, and adjust-ing strategies accordingly), and affect monitoring (maintaining concentration and task focus, and minimizing performance anxiety and fear of failure).
When providing feedback as students work on assignments and when leading subsequent reflection activities, teachers can ask questions or make comments that help students to monitor and reflect on their learning. Such monitoring and reflection should focus not only on the content being learned, but also on the strategies that the students are using to process the content and solve problems. This will help the students to refine their strategies and regulate their learning more systematically.
References: Meichenbaum & Biemiller (1998); Pressley & Beard El-Dinary (1993); Weinstein & Mayer (1986).
Students often benefit from working in pairs or small groups to construct understandings or help one another master skills.
Research indicates that there is often much to be gained by arranging for students to collaborate in pairs or small groups as they work on activities and assignments. Co-operative learn-ing promotes affective and social benefits such as increased student interest in and valuing of subject matter, and increases in positive attitudes and social interactions among students who differ in gender, race, ethnicity, achievement levels and other characteristics.
Co-operative learning also creates the potential for cognitive and metacognitive benefits by engaging students in dis-course that requires them to make their task-related informa-tion-processing and problem-solving strategies explicit (and thus available for discussion and reflection). Students are likely to show improved achievement outcomes when they engage in certain forms of co-operative learning as an alternative to completing assignments on their own.
In the classroom
Traditional approaches to instruction feature whole-class lessons followed by independent seatwork time during which students work alone (and usually silently) on assignments. Co-operative learning approaches retain the whole-class lessons but replace part of the individual seatwork time with opportunities for students to work together in pairs or small groups on follow-up practice and application activities. Co-operative learning can be used with activities ranging from drill and practice to learning facts and concepts, discussion and problem solving. It is perhaps most valuable as a way of engaging students in meaningful learning with authentic tasks in a social setting. Students have more chances to talk in pairs or small groups than in whole-class activities, and shy students are more likely to feel comfortable expressing ideas in these more intimate settings.
Some forms of co-operative learning call for students to help one another achieve individual learning goals, for example by discussing how to respond to assignments, checking work, or providing feedback or tutorial assistance. Other forms of co-operative learning call for students to work together to achieve a group goal by pooling their resources and sharing the work. For example, the group might conduct an experiment, assemble a collage, or prepare a research report to be presented to the rest of the class. Co-operative learning models that call for students to work together to produce a group product often feature a division of labour among group participants (e.g. to prepare a biographical report, one group member will assume responsibility for studying the per-son’s early life, another for the person’s major accomplishments, another for the person’s effects on society, and so on).
Co-operative learning methods are most likely to enhance learning outcomes if they combine group goals with individual accountability. That is, each group member will be held accountable for accomplishing the activity’s learning goals (students know that any member of the group may be called on to answer any one of the group’s questions or that they will all be tested individually on what they are learning).
Activities used in co-operative learning formats should be well suited to those formats. Some activities are most naturally carried out by individuals working alone, others by students working in pairs, and still others by small groups of three to six students.
Students should receive whatever instruction and scaffold-ing they may need to prepare them for productive engagement in co-operative learning activities. For example, teachers may need to show their students how to listen, share, integrate the ideas of others and handle disagreements constructively. During times when students are working in pairs or small groups, the teacher should circulate to monitor progress, make sure that groups are working productively and provide any assistance needed.
References: Bennett & Dunne (1992); Johnson & Johnson (1994); Slavin (1990).
The teacher uses a variety of formal and informal assessment methods to monitor progress towards learning goals.
A well-developed curriculum includes strong and functional assessment components. These assessment components are aligned with the curriculum’s goals, and so they are integrated with its content, instructional methods and learning activities, and designed to evaluate progress towards its major intended outcomes.
Comprehensive assessment does not just document students’ ability to supply acceptable answers to questions or problems; it also examines the students’ reasoning and prob-lem-solving processes. Effective teachers routinely monitor their students’ progress in this fashion, using both formal tests or performance evaluations and informal assessments of students’ contributions to lessons and work on assignments.
In the classroom
Effective teachers use assessment for evaluating students’ progress in learning and for planning curriculum improvements, not just for generating grades. Good assessment includes data from many sources besides paper-and-pencil tests, and it addresses the full range of goals or intended out-comes (not only knowledge but also higher-order thinking skills and content-related values and dispositions). Standardized, norm-referenced tests might comprise part of the assessment programme (these tests are useful to the extent that they measure intended outcomes of the curriculum and attention is paid to students’ performance on each individual item, not just total scores). However, standardized tests should ordinarily be supplemented with publisher-supplied curriculum-embedded tests (when these appear useful) and with teacher-made tests that focus on learning goals that are emphasized in instruction but not in external testing sources. In addition, learning activities and sources of data other than tests should be used for assessment purposes. Everyday lessons and activities provide opportunities to monitor the progress of the class as a whole and of individual students, and tests can be augmented with performance evaluations such as laboratory tasks and observation checklists, portfolios of student papers or projects, and essays or other assignments that call for higher-order thinking and application. A broad view of assessment helps to ensure that the assessment component includes authentic activities that provide students with opportunities to synthesize and reflect on what they are learning, think critically and creatively about it, and apply it in problem-solving and decision-making contexts.
In general, assessment should be treated as an ongoing and integral part of each instructional unit. Results should be scrutinized to identify learner needs, misunderstandings or mis-conceptions that may need attention; to suggest potential adjustment in curriculum goals, instructional materials or teaching plans; and to detect weaknesses in the assessment practices themselves.
References: Dempster (1991); Stiggins (1997); Wiggins (1993)
The teacher establishes and follows through on appropriate expectations for learning outcomes.
Research indicates that effective schools feature strong academic leadership that produces consensus on goal priorities and commitment to instructional excellence, as well as positive teacher attitudes towards students and expectations regarding their abilities to master the curriculum. Teacher effects research indicates that teachers who elicit strong achievement gains accept responsibility for doing so. They believe that their students are capable of learning and that they (the teachers) are capable of and responsible for teaching them successfully. If students do not learn something the first time, they teach it again, and if the regular curriculum materials do not do the job, they find or develop others that will.
In the classroom
Teachers’ expectations concerning what their students are capable of accomplishing (with teacher help) tend to shape both what teachers attempt to elicit from their students and what the students come to expect from themselves. Thus, teachers should form and project expectations that are as positive as they can be while still remaining realistic. Such expectations should represent genuine beliefs about what can be achieved and therefore should be taken seriously as goals towards which to work in instructing students.
It is helpful if teachers set goals for the class and for individuals in terms of floors (minimally acceptable standards), not ceilings. Then they can let group progress rates, rather than limits adopted arbitrarily in advance, determine how far the class can go within the time available. They can keep their expectations for individual students current by monitoring their progress closely and by stressing current performance over past history.
At the very least, teachers should expect all their students to progress sufficiently to enable them to perform satisfactorily at the next level. This implies holding all students accountable for participating in lessons and learning activities and for turn-ing in careful and completed work on assignments. It also implies that, in addition to the other elements of good teach-ing summarized in the preceding principles, struggling stu-dents will receive whatever extra time, instruction and encouragement are needed to enable them to meet expectations.
When individualizing instruction and giving students feed-back, teachers should emphasize continuous progress relative to previous levels of mastery rather than how students com-pare with their classmates or with standardized test norms. Instead of merely evaluating relative levels of success, teachers can diagnose learning difficulties and provide feedback accordingly. If students have not understood an explanation or demonstration, teachers can follow through by re-teaching (if necessary, in a different way rather than by merely repeating the original instruction).
In general, teachers are likely to be most successful when they think in terms of stretching students’ minds by stimulating them and encouraging them to achieve as much as they can, not in terms of ‘protecting’ them from failure or embarrass-ment.
References: Brophy (1998); Creemers & Scheerens (1989); Good & Brophy (2000); Shuell (1996); Teddlie & Stringfield (1993).
To date, most research on teaching has been conducted in the United States, Canada, Western Europe and Australia, and so the degree to which findings apply to other countries has yet to be addressed. The principles presented in this booklet are believed to apply universally, however, for two reasons. First, research done all over the world suggests that schooling is much more similar than different across countries and cultures. The day is divided into periods used for teaching each of the subjects included in the curriculum, and teaching includes whole-class lessons in which content is developed through teacher explanation and teacher/student interaction, followed by practice and application activities that students work on individually or in pairs or small groups. Second, the principles refer to generic aspects of teaching that cut across grade levels and school subjects, not to particular curriculum content. In summary, these principles ought to apply universally because they focus on basic and universal aspects of formal schooling. They still require adaptation to the local context, however, including relevant characteristics of the nation’s school system and the students’ cultures.
The generic principles featured in this booklet need to be supplemented with more specific principles that apply to the teaching of particular school subjects to particular types of stu-dents. Readers interested in planning instruction for particular grade levels and subject areas can consult the scholarly literature in the subject areas for elaborations on and additions to the principles outlined here.
Finally, although twelve principles are highlighted for emphasis and discussed individually, each principle should be applied in conjunction with the others. That is, the principles are meant to be understood as mutually supportive components of a coherent approach to teaching in which the teacher’s plans and expectations, the classroom learning environment and management system, the curriculum content and instructional materials, and the learning activities and assess-ment methods are all aligned as means of helping students attain intended outcomes.
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