Shifting From School To Work

towerIt is Graduation Time. Apart from the turbulence this period brings it also indicates an upcoming period of transition. After a school career ends by having successfully completed the requisite exams college life transfers into hectic uncertainty.  It is time to flip school for jobs. But then you wonder: Does my school career in any way help me out there to be successful in the zone of work? Ask those already operative in the world of employment about what they think of the preparatory power of education and ten to one you get smiles of sympathy but hardly enthusiasm when it comes to the question of relevance of education for them right now. There may be even some who consider school an adverse context as they experience no bridging significance between their education and work, especially when taking into consideration school accomplishments as an asset for later success in work. One might object to the contrary that school prepares for later work life by building (sufficient) start competences, i.e, a foundational layer that needs to be worked upon later on, but still. As many testimonials indicate (and also some research, (1)) school based knowledge is seldom a thriving power for later competent performance.  This divide has been attributed to a set of reasons: the theory practice gap being among the most prominent (i.e., school is to blame) or referred to as the praxis shock (i.e., student is to blame), and even more alienating: failed induction programs (work is to blame). Never mind these explanations, it is the impact that counts. You don’t want your education to flop. There is hope though.

A Norwegian study on student teacher competence as a predictor for later success in a school career as school teacher showed that levels of teaching competence acquires during the course of the TE program did matter. Perceived competence and self-efficacy as a school teacher were mainly formed during years of active participation in preparation for the profession in teacher education. Even more so, theoretical understanding gained at teacher preparation helped school teachers later on to perceive themselves as good practitioners.

Certainly a hopeful finding and a clear message for those moving from campus to office space. As a reflective signal the study challenges our views on the linkage between school and work (2) which are often quite unidirectional and blunt in demanding immediate gratification of what is learned. School education needs to be ‘useful’ but often it turns out in a different way and more intricate than we think.

Source

 The impact of prospective teachers’ perceived competence on subsequent perceptions as schoolteachers by Ida Katrine Riksaasen Hatlevik, Teachers & Teaching Published online: 08 May 2017

    Download citation http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2017.1322056

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referencing

  1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-crouch/grades-do-more-harm-than-_b_4190907.html
  2. http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6486-transition-school-to-work.html

 

 

Harness Yourself

harnasFeedback can kill you, negative feedback that is. Getting no feedback about your performance has a similar effect. That leaves us with positive feedback. But yeah, just getting positive feedback does not feel right as well. “ Oh; Wow, did you just draw that beautiful vase with flowers?”; “Yes, well, actually it’s more like a …. (Sigh) ”.  Feedback can hurt your self-concept so badly, you just may even quit what you like (1). That is even the case when your actual performance is not that bad at all. So, irrespective of what you are able to do feedback can bring you down no matter. Take the case of two learners confronted with (negative) feedback: one with a high self-concept of ability while doing low in performance, and the other with a modest perception of competence while actually doing quite well also.  What would you think will happen to their motivation after a bad appraisal? (2)

These intrinsic motivation effects were gauged in a study on students’ self-concepts after having received negative feedback. It turned out that despite positive learning goal orientations and irrespective of the real outcomes of their task behavior students’ self-concepts declined after having negative feedback and did drop their motivation to do a subsequent task .

Back to the case above. You might have thought that the first student expecting a low rating, gets away with no (great) harm to self-concept, and that it is the second one who got the real blow. But it is not that straightforward given the outcomes of the study. Realistic self-assessments (in both students) can be overruled by feedback nevertheless.

We care about what other’s think of us – we seek it even. Polls, ratings, evaluations, it is all part of our feedback mania.

The tricky part is that realistic self-perceptions are not a safeguard. You might think you are doing well and even may be right in that self-assessment but when others present you with negative comments it will affect you nonetheless.

Harness yourself then and scrutinize your appraisals: as a well meant recommendation to all students stepping into the grading and examination period ahead.

 

Source

Why does intrinsic motivation decline following negative feedback? The mediating role of ability self-concept and its moderation by goal orientations by Anne F.Weidinger , Birgit Spinath, Ricarda Steinmayr, in Learning and Individual Differences 47 (2016) 117–128

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2016.01.003 1041-6080/© 2016 Elsevier Inc.

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Referencing

  1. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-take-misery-out-giving-feedback-neena-newberry
  2. http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/quizzes/selfesteem/

School Is Out

schoolWhen you come to think of it schools (and our education system for that matter) must be one of the last remains of 19th century thinking still active in our society. It is driven by a world view in which goals are achieved through hard industrious labor (you have to study hard and continuously), agency is confined to specially designed buildings (you have to visit classrooms) and restricted to time tables, interactions are top down driven (you have to comply to assigned tasks), authority is in de hand of a senior overseer (you are being told what to do), and results are valued as end-products (once it is done it is finished). These restraints are all set in place to objectify and define learners as subjects (1). No escape allowed from the system other than being penalized.

Confessed, there have been more eloquent, comprehensive, and thought provoking criticisms of education, but the aim is similar, i.e., to rethink the structure and process of how we educate. This is done out of a real concern, looking at  present day demands of school learning.

A collection of chapters in a book on student engagement captures most of the key conceptions to be considered when it comes to a revised way of thinking about school education. Its main thread is to promote manifold partnerships of students, teachers, and school managers around their shared business of learning. Goals are open-ended formulated; activity is flexibly organized, interaction is based on equality, and outcomes are considered as stepping stones to higher goals.

As 19th century institutions schools can not accommodate partnership; it is alien to its inherent education view. As 21th century institutions a view would entail learning which is on demand, extended to different locations and times for learning, and highly adaptive to evolving learning needs. It is then that the word ‘school’ is not implying a building but “Bildung’, as a synonym for Building Your Future. It certainly would give the phrase: “I want to come to school more” (4) a new meaning.

Source

Engaging students as partners in learning and teaching: a guide for faculty, by Alison Cook-Sather, Catherine Bovill, and Peter Felten, San Francisco, CA, Jossey Bass, 2014, xxix + 269 pp., £28.99 (hardback), ISBN 978-1-118-43458-1

Reviewed by Colin Bryson (2016) Engagement through partnership: students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education, International Journal for Academic Development, 21:1, 84-86,  link to this article:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2016.1124966

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Referencing

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Foucault
  2. http://www.ips.org.pk/education/1111-a-critical-review-of-the-aims-of-education-in-the-western-tradition-
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bildung
  4. http://www.lyricsdepot.com/alice-cooper/schools-out.html

 

Happy Teachers

dolphsDo we need to like our teachers in order to learn? If that’s true our learning is in peril. Not all teachers are likable persons (to you). They too have their attitudes. Suppose you wind up with a teacher who really makes a mesh of your comfort zone. Is that the end of a learning relationship? Yes, learning would be in peril but let’s face it, you are a strong person, and probably get over it, thinking of better times ahead, assertive as you are by raising the issue  with your teacher in hope of improvements. The relationships you have with your teacher are powerful. They shape the kind of interactions and are influential when it comes to your personal well-being. As with all human relationships your interactions are a two-sided affair. If one person fails to deliver the other is in jeopardy. So again we can ask: is a happy teacher a requisite for you to be happy, moreover for you to be learning ?

A recent news item in a Belgian newspaper (1) commended a study done at the University of Antwerp saying that happy teachers make happy students. Apart from the implied causality, it is a devastating outcome. It says in fact students need to like their teacher (to be able to be content with themselves).

Another study (See below) takes this a step further by making an explicit link to learning, claiming that tough teachers raise tough students. Such students set high achievements goals for themselves.  A poor student who does not match with a teacher.

Nobody would deny that teachers act as important role models to students, certainly at a young age. But teachers and students are well aware they communicate in service of the act of learning (2) . It is not that teachers primarily want to be liked or that a student’s first priority is to like their teacher. Both players in a (safe) classroom environment are well aware they are there for a common cause which needs to turn out well (for both of them).  So put learning first and happiness (delight) will come (Motto of this blog).

Source

Liking a tough teacher: Interpersonal characteristics of teaching and students’ achievement goals by Tim Mainhard in School Psychology International 2015, Vol. 36(6) 559–574 sagepub.co.uk/journals Permissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/0143034315608235

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Referencing

  1. http://www.standaard.be/cnt/dmf20170330_02809107
  2. https://learningfirst.com/

 

 

A Joy Forever

untitled-1Strange, a lot of adults don’t like to read, a lot of kids too, while reading is said to be ‘a joy forever’ (1). Books left untouched, stories not revealed, it seems a waste. Like most things of beauty (Keats again) they must be discovered.  And with most explorative journeys it is best to have a guide or mentor nearby. By implication you could say ‘not reading’ is to blame on lack of proper guidance (teaching if you like).  To become a joy you need to have the skill first, the fluency and flow in reading a story, not muddling through the words in a text. This requires practice, and of course, lots of it. Again, it is handy to have a guide or teacher nearby: to stimulate practice, to provide corrective feedback from time to time, to assess progress and praise mastery. As with most practice, better start early. At home, for instance; no, at best. Here lies the crucial strain – it is done far too less (2). Despite the numerous studies and tips that inform parents about reading at home and the joy that comes from it both for parent and kid. Where lies the wretchedness?

It is Time. A study on reading at home using a parent apprenticeship program showed the willingness of parents but also indicated as main trouble in keeping up the reading schedule a lack of time. There were also signs of inadequacy of pedagogy (children who became stressed by overly corrective guidance) but the main concern was having not sufficient opportunity to read together.

Who is to blame? A blog like this is hardly a punitive spot to regulate parental behavior but the excuse of lack of time is just a way of setting priorities erroneously; as if you are saying: reading at home comes down on my list. At such a moment the ‘joy forever’ argument comes in – it really pays off to engage in reading together (3). Once in place reading together may ignite all kinds of great pedagogies between parent and child: making flipbooks, story imaging, and making fantasy scripts. And so on.

Source

Nancy Flanagan Knapp (2016) Reading Together: A Summer Family Reading Apprenticeship Program for Delayed and Novice Readers, Literacy Research and Instruction, 55:1, 48-66, To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19388071.2015.1099767

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Referencing

  1. http://www.online-literature.com/keats/463/
  2. http://www.k12reader.com/reading-at-home-simple-strategies-for-creating-strong-readers/
  3. http://www.allstudentscanshine.com/

 

Learning For Meaning

tree ‘ Sed vitae discimus’ , a famous and widely found citation attributed to Seneca (a Roman Stoic philosopher around 65 AD). It says: “it’s life from which we learn, understand” . It is taken from a letter of correspondence  on ethical issues with Lucillus, and actually it was Lucillus, who took this position. Seneca opposed to it and alternatively coined Sed scholae discimus (from ‘…’ we learn, understand). The term ‘scholae’, however, has several meanings:  investigation, teaching, discourse, and also school.

Now why all this explanation as a start? Firstly, because the citation has been (mis)used enormously, secondly, it has been interpreted from a great many perspectives very differently (1), and thirdly the issue lies at the heart of teaching and schooling: i.e.,  how can education provide meaningful learning. To tease you as a reader a bit more with Latin: Seneca stated as well ‘Vita sine litteris mors’, (‘Life without ‘..’  is dead’); again litteris may mean several things: education, extensive reading, but also comprehension.  Seneca thus favored schooling, education as a meaning making activity above what otherwise would remain a wide variety of impressions.

Armed with this erudite knowledge we may appreciate the outcomes of a study on relevancy of service learning for experiencing a meaningful educative time. Service learning deploys a form of practical education in which what has been taught is applied and adopted in real life authentic situations. The Chinese study compared a service learning treatment with regular teaching and found substantial, positive effect on problem solving ability, and behavioral engagement in students. It was concluded then that teachers should provide students with authentic, ill-structured problems to promote engagement and transfer (2).

What would Seneca have said? Probably that authentic experiences without proper knowledge would be futile, to which Lucillus might respond that knowledge without proper embeddedness in veracity is empty. On par, again. We therefore cannot solve this bipolar opposition. However, the study does reveal an interesting opt out. It found that classroom behavioral engagement of students mediated the effects, which more or less means that students who took an active part and were enthusiastically involved took most out of the teaching activity offered. I.e., it is not so much what you learn but more how you learn that matters to be it considered meaningful. Meaningful learning has much to do with being able to relate to the things you learn. So Seneca was right after all by saying; Vita sine litteris mors (‘A life without “learning” [is] dead’).

Source

The Effects of Service Learning on Student Problem Solving: The Mediating Role of Classroom Engagement Fangfang Guo, Meilin Yao, Cong Wang, Wenfan Yan, and Xiaoli Zong. Teaching of Psychology 2016, Vol. 43(1) 16-21

sagepub.com/ DOI: 10.1177/0098628315620064

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Referencing

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non_scholae_sed_vitae
  2. http://plpnetwork.com/2011/04/21/what-do-we-mean-by-authentic-learning/

 

Effects Of Time

beeldTime heals, time flies, time will tell (1). School time may not abide to all of these associations that exist with the word ‘Time’ ;  nonetheless it is definitely  a period of time of huge importance and with major impact on our life. So, does it effect last? The school building, the teachers we had, the peers we played with, this all fades away slowly over time. But still we can recall some of them. A recollection of lived through experiences can be confronting sometimes, especially when school time was not a joyful era. Most of us, however, rate their school time as a positive time (2), looking back with satisfaction. School time is both an academic time as well as a social time: you learn together. Later on in life unfortunately “learning together” gets scarcer. For its academic part our recall of what was taught and mastered will decay over time: How to do fractions again? What is exactly a Palindrome? Where on earth lies Armenia? As for its social share a lot depends on time itself. It turns out that with age feelings of identity with school time increase.

At least, that is one of the outcomes of a study linking length of time and school satisfaction. Three groups of alumni could be identified all having different attitudes towards their school time. Those having strong ties remained academically involved (with additional contacts and extended studies); then there were those with weak ties; in time their positive attitude towards the old school increased. And lastly, there were those with no ties disconnecting from the school over time altogether.

Apart from a school’s interest in setting up alumni policies (3) these findings tell us that with the passage of time the influence of identity with a school on students’ loyalty increases (as was the case for university alumni in this study but why not for previous education as well). A lot may be forgotten (academically) but school time is an investment in a long term relationship. It may be realized from time to time by teachers and could be revived in student attitudes that school time engagement ties you up for a long time.

Source

The Effects of Passage of Time on Alumni Recall of ‘Student Experience’ by Nicole Koenig-Lewis, Yousra Asaad, Adrian Palmer, and Elina Petersone, Higher Education Quarterly, Volume 70, No. 1, January 2016, pp 59–80 DOI: 10.1111/hequ.12063

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Referencing

  1. http://hubpages.com/education/phrases-with-the-word-time
  2. http://oecdeducationtoday.blogspot.nl/
  3. http://idealistcareers.org/college-grads-how-to-connect-with-alumni-and-find-potential-opportunities/

A Spark Of Genius

 

sparkSuppose you’ve got a great idea, and since it feels OK you start working on it; right? Ideas precede activity, or can it be the other way around? Can activity, i.e., trying hard, lead to great ideas? Lots of brain puzzling thoughts but nevertheless important ones. Imagine a student learning, grabbing a still unfamiliar phenomenon, say designing a toy robot, or writing a poem, for instance. How to proceed? We cannot be all Isaac Newton, laying under a tree. Ideas do not come by themselves; so, do you need genius or is it hard work trying to solve the issue? Creativity research does not help us here much; there is a serious divide between ‘inspirationalist’ and ‘productionalists’ (1). Since we cannot be great minds all the time, it would be helpful when at least, say in school learning, we learn to discover the yet unknowns our ‘own’ way. Therefore the activity-to-ideas notion would seem advantageous whereas the ideas-to-production notion probably is less favorable in grasping new insights (2).

To help teachers to choose an approach in their teaching of new understanding a study on use of metacognition in creativity tasks gives some indications on tracks to follow. Drawing from a cognitive-creative sifting model, which intends to bridge the abovementioned divide by the use of metacognitive skills (reflection, monitoring, planning) the study found that 70% of task success was explained by applying (domain specific) knowledge. So clear support for the knowledgeable, low road approach over the high road of genius. Digging deeper into an issue based on the knowledge resource available; that’s what it takes – one could say a truly teaching embedded approach.

Still, a feeling of uneasiness remains. Why do certain great ideas come suddenly, out of the blue, actually while deliberately not(!) thinking on the task at hand. While doing something completely different (ironing is a good one) unexpectedly you get the greatest ideas on topics you occupied yourself with in vain while trying so hard. There needs to be a spark of genius beyond the inevitable action we put into a problem, apparently.

Source

Jeb S. Puryear (2015) Metacognition as a Moderator of Creative Ideation and Creative Production, Creativity Research Journal, 27:4, 334-341, DOI:10.1080/10400419.2015.1087270

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10400419.2015.1087270

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Referencing

  1. http://theconversation.com/creativity-in-schools-sounds-good-so-whats-the-hitch-34411
  2. http://www.teach-nology.com/currenttrends/inquiry/

 

Mind Wondering

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Wonderful to let your thoughts float away for a while, to let it wander in different directions just to relax. Sounds like lying on a sunny beach, no stress, no hassle. Often insightful ideas pop up when you are deliberately not focused or aiming to ‘solve’ an issue. No wonder that mind wandering is associated with creativity (1) and innovative thinking. We need to let the mind wonder by letting it wander (hmm…; or is it the other way around?). No-one is to question the relevancy of mind wandering, unless, of course if you want to ask the productivity question. No doubt wondering by wandering is a vital explorative human activity, emptying, open, and inquisitive. But on closer inspection one could ask when, at what occasions does the mind wander? Probably when you are bored, not paying attention, get sleepy, or, indeed, lie on the beach. Mind wandering is not the same as reflection, which is the thoughtful, deliberate inquiry to understand your actions (after Dewey. 2). You could say reflection is post-thinking, mind wandering on the opposite is pre-thinking. From a productivity perspective this would put both in place.

A study on creative thinking looked at a specific instance of mind wandering, i.e, what happens in solving a numeric problem. It turned out that ‘solvers’  had more frequent moments of mind wandering during incubation time than non-solvers. The authors state that mind wandering contributes to insightful problem solving. A pity is that we do not learn much about the nature of mind wandering in this study (no qualitative accounts were given). Was it deliberate thinking or free floating daydreaming, or what…?

Sometimes you have to let your thoughts simmer and flourish for a while. Then, it is best is not to think of the issue under hand too specifically. “Take a break”, would be the advice. But sometimes it is better to cautiously scrutinize what you produce as ideas. ”Stay focused” is the proper message then. The mind works in wondrous ways. It is like in the lyrics from Ryback’s song Fairy Tale “Nowadays, I cannot find her But when I do, we’ll get a brand new start “.

Source

 Tengteng Tan, Hong Zou, Chuansheng Chen & Jin Luo (2015) Mind Wandering and the Incubation Effect in Insight Problem Solving, Creativity Research Journal, 27:4, 375-382, To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10400419.2015.1088290

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Referencing

  1. http://www.thinkingclassroom.co.uk/ThinkingClassroom/Creativity.aspx
  2. http://infed.org/mobi/reflection-learning-and-education/
  3. http://www.stayfocusedapp.me/

4. http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/alexanderrybak/fairytale.html

Enjoy What You Do…

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…appreciate what you can; love what you can make; favor what you may achieve: see here a few amalgamations of affect and competence. Liking and performing, two realms when closely connected can do miracles. Simply because it sets in motion flow (1) i.e., the experience of happiness in doing things that challenge your abilities in a positive manner. It can happen while cooking when you try out a new self-made recipe, or in sports attempting to run far more than you normally do. It is definitely different from joy of success; it is the great feeling of doing what you do the right way. Not the accomplishment is what counts here but travelling the road (2).  Achievements have a relation with competence but really wanting to accomplish something has to do with affect, with wanting to produce an effect  – but can they be separated? A recent study affirms this.

The study found that student affective self-perceptions relate to the effort while student competence self-perceptions were related to objective achievements and less associated with student eagerness to invest in their academic behavior. Liking and enjoyment predicted their effort in school work, not their competence beliefs.

What seems to be implied here is that competence and affect travel on different roads. But still that seems a bit strange and counter intuitive. Isn’t it far more plausible that the merger between the two produce the power of learning? Because: competence without affect is idle while affect without competence is folly (to paraphrase Kant). Imagine a highly talented, competent pupil working a learning task well within her or his competent reach wouldn’t he or she be bored as hell doing that learning work? Where is the challenge, the incentive to learn? So ‘more research is needed’. Meanwhile we are better off with the assumption that competence cannot do without affect and vice versa.

Source

  1. Katrin Arens & Marcus Hasselhorn Differentiation of competence and affect self-perceptions in elementary school students: extending empirical evidence Eur J Psychol Educ (2015) 30:405–419

DOI 10.1007/s10212-015-0247-8

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Referencing

  1. http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/history-of-happiness/mihaly-csikszentmihalyi/
  2. http://www.motivateus.com/stories/journey.htm