It seems, after all, testing is good for student learning. Testing helps reduce forgetting, which is the nemesis of the retrieval and remembering of information and knowledge.
A real-life study at Columbia Middle School in Illinois in 2005 put promising lab results "to the test." Certain social studies classes were given quizzes on about a third of the material: one in the beginning of the class, one at the end of class, and one 24 hours before the unit exam. Clickers were used to answer multiple choice questions. Results: the students scored a full grade higher on material they were quizzed on compared to material not quizzed.
Of course, tests that are more cognitively challenging, such as essays or short-answers, are more beneficial in learning, although recognition tests like multiple choice or true/false are still surprisingly useful.
Rereading texts and cramming for exams are probably the two worst methods to learn and acquire information.
Interestingly, delaying feedback, especially in motor skills, such as sports, is more effective than immediate feedback. Immediate feedback is akin to "training wheels" that artificially support a rider far beyond their necessity. Let students use trial-and-error to make corrections, wait, and then give feedback. Delayed subsequent retrieval requires more effort, and more effort strengthens learning.
Source: Make it stick: the science of successful learning, Brown, Roediger III, McDaniel, 2014
Scott Gilmore wrote an interesting article on manufacturing. The good news is manufacturing jobs are returning to North America. The bad news is that the work is being done by robots.
As we continue to make machines smarter with machine learning and artificial intelligence, they're able to do the jobs that at one point we thought could not be doable. But then again, we live the era of computers that have beaten the world chess champion, Jeopardy champion, and the Go champion.
Autonomous transport trucks are hitting the highways shortly, which could replace over a quarter of a million drivers in Canada (the 2nd most common job for men) and about 9 million jobs in the US.
Henry Siu, professor at UBC specializing in automation has an interesting solution to these future losses, which I found fascinating as a teacher. He suggested avoiding STEM-related disciplines. In other words, these graduates are only contributing and speeding up the process of their own future demise. Instead, a more open-ended arts degree might be the way to go. Students need to be able to think laterally, creatively, and outside the box. That is the kind of thinking that computers will not be able to do for quite some time.
Source: Macleans, February 2017
The learning method based on questions is inquiry-based learning, and the method that uses problems and solutions is called design-based learning.
Source: 21st Century Skills, 2009, Trilling & Fadel
Mitch Resnick, a director and professor at MIT Media Lab, highlights great reasons for children to code. He is also the creator of Scratch, a coding app designed to help kids use their creativity and imagination to create their own games and other types of applications.
In his 2012 TED Talk, Let's teach kids to code, Resnick talks about computer fluency. He argues that although young people may be "digital natives," they are only half fluent in digital literacy. In other words, they can "read" (text, browse, email, post, game), but most can't "write" (code, program).
In the earlier days of computer science, programming was left for high schoolers or university students. Nowadays, kindergartners can get an early start in coding. Already, kids using Scratch are able to make games, animated stories, virtual construction kits, and interactive artwork, just for starters. By the time this generation becomes adults, the types of programs and software created could be mind-boggling!
Resnick talked not only about learning to code, but, more importantly perhaps, the notion of coding to learn. He gave the example of a child using a variable to create his fish-eating game. For this coder, his understanding of a variable was much deeper because he was using it in a real-life situation. It wasn't just an abstract concept in a textbook, but a part of his computer game that he and others played.
Other benefits from coding to learn include the following: process of design; experimenting using trial-and-error; breaking larger ideas into manageable parts; collaborating; solving problems (errors, bugs); being persistent and persevering when hitting roadblocks. These are essential life-skills.
Resnick acknowledges that probably most students will not end up being coders, programmers or computer scientists, but as mentioned above, there are immense benefits in coding to learn. That's probably why ADST is now a part of our BC curriculum.
Daniel H. Lee
This blog will be dedicated to sharing in three areas: happenings in my classroom and school; analysis and distillation of other educators' wealth of knowledge in various texts; insights from other disciplines and areas of expertise that relate and connect with educational practices.