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Rachel Porter

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Imagine if this method could be used to analyze the effectiveness of teaching.

How do we get rid of a bad teacher? How do we know a good one? A teacher myself I know that the effectiveness of a teacher has nothing to do with who he is as a person, or how hard he tries, or how much schooling he's had to get there. What then, is it? How do we measure effective teaching?

Imagine that teaching, and in turn student response and engagement, is like Mr. Roy's son learning his first words. Imagine recording the day to day of multiple classrooms, lunchrooms, libraries, and buses to listen for the students' responses to teachers' lessons. If students are engaged, like the viewers watching TV, they should repeat words and ideas outside of the classroom environment. How often is an idea repeated? In what context? Are students providing feedback that is, as Mr. Roy suggested, already present but unseen? And what if, in fact, we do see a connection? Imagine then that we could measure what happened in the classroom that caused the biggest responses. What did a teacher say or do to cause that learning to take place?

Let's look at an example. Say that the data shows the word "Constitution" popping up repeatedly in non-classroom environments. This method could be used to process the evolution of student understanding around that word. Say in the first week it pops up frequently, but isn't really used in any sort of profound way. Then, over the next few weeks we see "Constitution" used in a more rich academic context, either as it relates to their own lives or the context of the curriculum. With that learning and engagement now documented, we are able to go back in time to trace what happened in the academic setting to cause the learning to be more effective. Imagine! Actual data that could show concrete evidence of a teacher's effectiveness!

We all know that teaching, like any profession, is full of some who are great and some who are not. Imagine now also knowing how to say WHY.

progress indicator
  • Mar 28 2011: I agree Deb Roy's comprehensive approach to collecting data could be used to measure students and pupils practical responses to their teacher(s) over a given period of time in a classroom environment. Much of this could be used to analyse and gauge the conceptual understanding and behaviour patterns of the young people, as well as the effectiveness of the teacher(s). I too, am extremely interested in understanding how words and their meanings can be conveyed in naturalistic terms in order to widen ones vocabulary for example.

    A TV celebrity here in the UK, Jamie Oliver, has recently opened up a Dream School experiment providing opportunity for a group of young people to be taught by high flyers, famous actors, musicians, historians, scientists and the such, all proven experts in their area of work. I could not resist reviewing the show as I write an educational themed blog. I think you'll agree if you watch some of the videos I link to, that we have a long way to go before we understand how to teach effectively and how we can begin to understand why a child loses the interest and enthusiasm for learning as they grow and when schooling comes in to play http://notcompulsory.blogspot.com/