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Using a Framework of 6 Key Principles to Increase the Effectiveness of Smaller Classes

Maurice Galton Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge UK

Professional Development Activities on Small Class Teaching - Seminar 14 July 2010 Hong Kong

Six Principles to guide improvements in practice

Clear statement of learning objectives Extended questioning during whole class discussion More active pupil participation Increased cooperation between pupils by working in pairs and groups Less use of corrective and more informing feedback More use of the assessment for learning approach
Whenever possible exploration precedes instruction and examples are situated in contexts that are meaningful to the pupils

Justification for the Six Principles

1. Empirical: John Hatties meta analysis of numerous studies shows that following these principles results in considerable gains in attainment. 2. Theories of learning (particularly social constructivist ones) predict many of these empirical findings, particularly the idea that talk drives learning.

Six Principles




Making Pupils Metacognitively Wise

CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS ACQUISITION Mainly through whole classes interactive teaching and group work


using plan-do-review cycle with emphasis on task-processing feedback Mainly by direct instruction to whole class

Assessment through dialogic questioning and extended written work

Assessment mainly by short, quick questioning and short answer written tests

Assessment mainly through pupil reflection, self-evaluation and class debriefing

First Key Principle: Specifying learning objectives

Too often objectives are specified only in terms of the content or task (e.g. To count in tens from one to a hundred, to memorise the words of a song/poem) Teachers need also to consider the purpose behind these activities. Is it to facilitate problem solving (counting), to aid comprehension (recitation), etc?

Teachers tend to identify what pupils will do not what they will learn.
Which of the following tell pupils about learning? (success criteria which are shared with pupils) To make a Christmas decoration To be able to interpret a pie-chart To improve ball throwing skills To complete exercise 3a in your maths text book To discuss what foods are good for us To know when to use a and the To draw and label a diagram of a simple electric circuit 7

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Some key action words when specifying learning objectives

Low level (transmission): to recall, define, identify, state, recognise, name, list, measure
Medium level (application): to use, show, perform, explain, illustrate, predict, interpret Higher level (understanding): to classify, design, organise, compose, discover, summarise, conclude, separate

Using key action words when specifying learning objectives

e.g. To count up to one hundred in tens and to use this method to perform simple calculations more rapidly. (low to medium level)
e.g. To memorise a poem and demonstrate comprehension by acting out the parts of various characters in the narrative. (low to medium level)

Some key questions when specifying learning objectives

Have I not only described the activity but also its purpose? Have I described the purposes in terms of expected pupil behaviour using action words? Have I linked the stated objectives to appropriate use of teaching methods? In general the higher the level the less direct instruction and the greater use of teaching strategies based on the six principles.

Second Key Principle: Extended questioning during class discussion

Much questioning consists of rapid exchanges between the teacher and an individual pupil. These exchanges have been described as cued elicitations in which the teacher asks questions while providing heavy clues as to the answers required.

Second Key Principle: Extended questioning during class discussion

In promoting higher level objectives, pupils need to partake in more thoughtful discourse. This requires teachers To provide some thinking (wait time). To use encouraging phrases such as, Interesting. Can you say more? Does anyone else want to add more? rather than repeating the first answer. example To use classroom space flexibly. example

Dialogic Teaching
Change in questioning strategies to promote dialogic talk: structured and cumulative questioning which guide and prompt, reduce choices, minimize risk and error and expedite handover of concepts and principles training which enables pupils acquire a repertoire of learning talk, which includes the ability to explain, to argue cases, to give reasons to back up assertions and to arrive at conclusions through negotiation 24

Some key questions about extended class discussion

How many pupils generally participated? Were thinking times sufficient? Did the pupils responses indicate that more than simple recall was taking place? Did my (the teachers) responses help to extend discussion?

Third Key Principle: More active pupil participation

When endeavouring to apply newly acquired knowledge to novel situations, pupils generally find it easier to gain understanding through learning by doing. It helps if The context is a familiar one Ideas are shared through activities such as brainstorming, creating concept maps, etc as a form of initial scaffolding

Some key questions about active pupil participation

As far as possible was the task situated in a context which was meaningful for the pupils? Was there some initial exploration of the pupils ideas before activity began? Was the task sufficiently motivating? Did pupils demonstrate understanding by reaching reasonable conclusions?

Fourth Key Principle: Increased cooperation between pupils

Group and pair work often fails because There is not sufficient academic challenge. Organisation allows only some children to actively engage in the task. Rules of cooperation have not been established and are not re-enforced. Class does not engage in a debriefing session in which they discuss how well they worked together, etc and ways of doing better next time.

Key questions about increased cooperation between pupils

Was adequate time allowed? Did the task allow most of the pupils to actively participate for most of the time? Were pupils reminded about the rules (e.g. taking turns, listening carefully etc.)? Did the class have a chance to discuss how well they worked as a group/pair?

Fifth Key Principle: Less use of corrective and more informing feedback
Much feedback consists of showing pupils where they went wrong and then providing the right answer (corrective feedback) Feedback can also be used to help pupils to learn how to spot their own mistakes and eventually to self-correct (informing feedback)

3 Kinds of Feedback
1 About Self: should focus on effort rather than on person. Thus Thats a good try rather than Well done. Purpose is re-enforcement. 2 Task processing: (informing) Where have you got to? What do you think may have gone wrong? What are you going to do next? Purpose is self-regulation. 3 Evaluative: (corrective) most powerful when it is about faulty interpretation rather than supplying missing information. Show me how you got that answer rather than, You need to do it like this.


Effect of Feedback (Ranked by Effect Size)

Teachers: provide cues (What do you think might happen if?) ask for explanation (How did you get that answer?) praise effort (That was a good try.) praise correct answer (Thats correct! Well done.) correct answer (You need to add these two numbers.) Rank 1st 2nd Effect big big

4th 5th

medium small

Key questions about less use of corrective and more informing feedback
Did I praise effort as well as success? Did my questions help pupils to spot where they went wrong or how they could improve their work? When correcting a piece of work did I get the pupil to show me how s/he arrived at the answer?

Sixth Key Principle: Use of the

assessment for learning approach

Assessment for learning makes use of formative assessment in order to diagnose pupils learning difficulties and thereby provide the required teaching to remedy these deficiencies. At its lowest it employs techniques such as traffic lights to sort pupils into groups for attention. At its best it is personalised and caters for individual needs.

Key questions in the use of the

assessment for learning approach

Were the forms of classroom organisation sufficiently flexible to allow groups of pupils with similar learning needs to come together? Was much of the formative assessment based on what pupils said and did rather than what they wrote? Did I build these oral assessments into a pupil profile?

Professional Development
In facilitating teachers paradigm shift in pedagogy, the approach of Learning Circles has been crucial. Both inter-school sharing across subjects and intra-school sharing of pedagogical issues, which focuses at any one time on a specific aspect of pedagogy, allows teachers to observe and evaluate each others classroom practice and thereby enhances the participants professionalism.

How can teachers best monitor and evaluate their small class practice?
When applying the six key principles, teachers are advised to ask a colleague for help in monitoring their classroom practice. (If that is impossible, then they can record their lessons.) example To ask pupils for evaluation data. (Asking pupils merely whether they enjoyed the lesson or learned anything is unlikely to be useful.) example


How do teachers know that theyre doing the things that will help promote learning in smaller classes? As a group (or individually) Regularly review progress by asking themselves a number of key questions Then try to identify the sources of evidence Then consider what explanations that different kinds of evidence provide Then discuss what actions need to be taken next (e.g. to re-plan the lesson)

A simple evaluation tool

Questions Sources of What does What actions for evidence the evidence should we reflection tell us? take? Q Q Q Q Q Q 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Video clips, observation records, pupils evaluation, pupils talk, etc.

Some Indicators of Success

What teachers of small class might look for 1. A shift from interactions with pupils which are brief and random to those that are longer and more sustained. 2. Lessons that often provide opportunities for pupils to explore their ideas before formal instruction begins. 3 An increase in the proportion of pupil talk, much of it occurring between pupils. 4. Evidence of ability to assess pupils understanding on the basis of what they say rather than what they write. 5. Willingness to change classroom layout to meet the requirements of different learning tasks and different kinds of learning talk. 6. Encouragement to pupils to reflect critically on the procedures and methods used when actively engaged on 62 tasks.

Key References
Hattie, J. and Timperley, H (2007) The Power of Feedback, Revue of Educational Research, 77 (1):81-112. Hattie, J. (2005) The paradox of reducing class size and improving learning outcomes, International Journal of Educational Research, 43 (6) 387-425. Watkins, C (2003) Learning: A sense-makers guide, London: Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). Galton, M. (2002) Learning and Teaching in the Primary Classroom, London: Sage Publication. Wood, D. (1998) How Children Think and Learn, Oxford: Blackwells. 63