Reply To: Knowing The Learner Chapter 1 Review

A Renewal of Education Forums Earlier Conversations Knowing The Learner Chapter 1 Review Reply To: Knowing The Learner Chapter 1 Review


Hello all, i’ve combined my responses to both of you in a single post.

With regards to the book in general:
Note: While I looked back on my original notes, I tried to not consult KtL itself in making these notes. That is partially to avoid influencing my answers, and partially to see what knowledge was retained after the initial reading.
“I would recommend to people interested”  I am curious who you think would be interested…in other words, in your opinion, who is the audience for this book? Who do you think would find it of value? And why?
So far, I see the primary audience being educators or students training to be educators. I can certainly see how other people could enjoy the book but would not call them the audience. I have a friend working on his Master’s in Museum Studies and think that he would both enjoy it and take something away from it. I see educators and those in adjacent fields finding this book valuable because the book is full of things that educators themselves can apply. Of course this is all just from the first chapter, I will try to revisit this question when I have finished the full book.

With regards to accomplishment-based grading:
“Does this work most of the time or can it work in certain scenarios?”  I will turn this (perhaps rhetorical) question back to you and ask: what do you think? Would it take a certain scenario for this particular approach to work, and if so, what do you think this scenario would be? What would help facilitate the success of an accomplish-based grading approach, and what would hinder it? I have my own thoughts and research to draw upon about the answer to your question, specifically with regards to the can it work. And I think the content in KTL provides some guidance here as well. I suspect that Paul has more expertise in terms of the research that tells us does it work. But I would like to hear more from you first!
I certainly believe that this approach could work in many classroom scenarios. My concern comes less from a question of “where” and more of a question of “Does it work”. Paul addressed this in his write up, but my problem was more a lack of concreteness. I absolutely believe that accomplishment-based learning can work and there are the two examples in chapter one that talk about it. But do to the limited number of real-world examples, it can begin to draw doubts about the efficacy of the program. To kind of turn things around for a second, my concern could be rephrased closer to “What has accomplished-based grading accomplished?” I understand that the research we do have indicated that it works, but have yet to see the real world examples that really blow me away. Is almost a seeing is believing type problem, I believe that this could work, but others might require more definitive proof, real examples beyond the two briefly mentioned in the chapter.
With regards to C&L:
“What’s to stop a student from just putting no effort into the assignment?”  Indeed. Why should they try at all? I think the chapter gave some explicit and implicit answers to this question, or rather, suggested the context or situation under which this would be more likely that they would try at all. What do you think? (For instance, I think this speaks to the “transparency, motivation, fairness” indicators, brought up in reference to Robert Pavlica’s class.)
I think that the hands-on nature of the experiment is certainly a large factor in getting students on board to participate. The lack of traditional grading also means that students who would normally be hesitant out of fear of failure may be more likely to participate. However, I still believe that students who do not care about the content of the lesson would not put in their best effort. I also am curious how the assessment used in Cubes and Liquids would apply to less unique programs, not all competencies can be demonstrated in such an interesting way.
Ah the bell curve…! Now it is my turn to ask you a question. What does it mean for a student to be at one end or the other of the bell curve with respect performance on C&L. This is a question of utmost seriousness and one which I believe you can answer based on the content of Chapter I. You will be even better able to answer it however after having experienced C&L for yourself.
When I referred to the bell curve in my comment, I was thinking more of the bell curve in a traditional grading system. If we look at the bell curves that exist in that system and apply them to the C&L grading schema I theorize that what we would see is as follows. Those students who we would say are in the top percent according to a traditional model not be helpful in showing what needs to be reinforced, as they would likely have a better understanding of all the concepts at play than their peers. On the other hand, those who we would consider on the other end of the bell curve would struggle with all aspects of the lesson and similarly give no useful data on what does or does not need to be reinforced. Of course this is a more extreme example, but it still seems to me that a fair number of students would have no impact one way or the other during the assessment of what needs to be done in future lessons.
for you, the emphasis seemed to be on how this is “good” for teachers…when I re-read this chapter, I saw more this time of how it is “good” for students! I am curious – did you see anything or can you extrapolate anything to answer your own question, of why this is good for students, of how this process improves student outcomes?
I certainly see how this would be better for students in the long-term, as it would better educate them and set them up for success in the future. However, such long term benefits are often less important to students than the immediate ones. I do also believe that there would be less stress put on students based on the grading criteria, but do worry about it a bit. As someone who has had severe anxiety problems in the past, it can be very difficult to separate yourself from your work. If a teacher at any point told me that they were going to watch me and how well I understood the concepts would have no impact on my grade, I would be very skeptical and now more nervous about the unknown. If I have a test, I at least know what the consequences of my answers will be. With the assessment shown in C&L the future is much more uncertain, and the human mind fears nothing more than the unknown.
The point you raise about getting people “on board” is a critical one. I will use the word “stakeholders” – in any educational endeavor there are most certainly many different and many levels of stakeholders. But it goes deeper than this, to a recurring theme/point not only in this book (e.g. the preface, p. 10 & 12) but in all of ACASE’s work…and you actually allude to it in your reflections here. That is the connection of assessment information (and all the processes and activities wrapped up in assessment information) to community building. What are your thoughts on that?
I’m not sure I entirely understand your question but will do my best to answer it. If we can get information about our assessment practices and research to a school, we need to get it to the entire school. While getting it to a single teacher is always good, what would be best is if we could get people on every level of the school. If we have parents, teachers, administrators, school board and (ideally) local government all interested in using our systems, it will be much easier to actually enact the needed changes in every way. If we have just teachers interested, they will face pushback from the administration about what the school district is looking for, if we have just administrators interested, there will be pushback from teachers who don’t want to change their ways. If we have just students interested then there will be pushback all around for people thinking they are just looking for an easier grade, and if we have just parents then the school will see it as a passing trend. While there will still be pushback under any circumstances, having stakeholders on every level means there is positive pressure coming from every level. No matter what, there will be teachers who aren’t going to be interested in changing their ways. But when they are facing pressure from the administration and parents, and all of their colleagues are using our system, then those teachers who don’t want to change really have no choice.