Enhancing the Quality of Learning: Dispositions, Instruction, and Learning Processes

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States, accrediting organizations, and schools may require 21 st century skills to be taught and assessed in courses. Schools and teachers may use educational approaches that inherently encourage or facilitate the acquisition of cross-disciplinary skills. Schools may allow students to pursue alternative learning pathways in which students earn academic credit and satisfy graduation requirements by completing an internship, apprenticeship, or volunteer experience, for example.

In this case, students might acquire a variety of practical, job-related skills and work habits, while also completing academic coursework and meeting the same learning standards required of students in more traditional academic courses.

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For this reason, students need to be taught how to process, parse, and use information, and they need adaptable skills they can apply in all areas of life—just teaching them ideas and facts, without teaching them how to use them in real-life settings, is no longer enough. Schools need to adapt and develop new ways of teaching and learning that reflect a changing world. The purpose of school should be to prepare students for success after graduation, and therefore schools need to prioritize the knowledge and skills that will be in the greatest demand, such as those skills deemed to be most important by college professors and employers.

Only teaching students to perform well in school or on a test is no longer sufficient. Given the widespread availability of information today, students no longer need teachers to lecture to them on the causes of the Civil War, for example, because that information is readily available—and often in more engaging formats that a typical classroom lecture.

This book reviews current research on the nature of high quality learning and the factors that facilitate or inhibit it.

The book addresses relationships between quality of learning and learners' dispositions, teaching methods, cognitive strategies, assessment, and technologies that can support learning. The chapters provide theoretical analyses, reports of classroom research, and suggestions for practical application for both teachers and learners. The book will be of value to teachers at all levels of education and provides guidance for students about how to approach classroom tasks in order to develop high quality learning.

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Dispositions and the Quality of Learning. Education for Rational Thought. Keith E Stanovich. Enhancing Learning through Constructive Alignment. Teachers and Students. Despite a range of examples from international comparisons that provide models for how teaching and schools might be organized differently so as to support the ongoing learning of teachers, U. Of particular importance to successful reform is creating the expectation that teachers will work collectively on the improvement of instruction, as well as adding personnel. Research on the reform of instruction in mathematics and language arts has demonstrated that coaches, mentors, and school leaders are needed to work alongside teachers while they experiment and adapt to the new standards and assessments e.

The new vision of science teaching also requires new material resources, including equipment and materials for engaging in science practices and new organizational arrangements for teaching, including collaborative arrangements with museums and businesses. These materials need not be expensive, as teachers can use ordinary materials in many ways to do extraordinary things in their classrooms.

The lack of adequate resources has especially affected elementary science education. According to a state-wide survey of elementary science in California Dorph et al. At the time of that study, fewer than 40 percent of school districts employed any staff dedicated to elementary science. Other resource-related factors that affect the amount and quality of science teaching at the elementary level include the elimination of lead science teachers; frequent reassignment of teachers to new grade levels; and inadequate access to instructional materials, including a lack of science textbooks or other supporting materials Dorph et al.

A similar lack of resources, combined with structural issues, poses challenges at the middle school level. Students with no prior experience in science, growing class sizes, and minute class periods limit the feasibility of engaging students in science investigations.

Offering the wide array of mechanisms needed to support teacher learning—study groups, professional cultures of learning, coaches and mentors, partnerships with museums or industry—requires time and funding. Making these resources available will in turn require revising school schedules and staffing patterns to free up time for collaboration and ensure that teachers with expertise in science and science pedagogy can serve as resources for science teachers.

In conjunction with providing time and rethinking scheduling, some targeted funding will be necessary.

Districts often have difficulty tracking all of the funds spent on professional development for teachers in general and find it even more challenging to break out the funding targeted at a specific discipline. Across the country, the lack of resources has eroded the infrastructure for helping science teachers meet the curricular and instructional challenges of teaching science well.

As a possible indication of this erosion, fewer than half of the science teachers responding to the National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education NSSME 44 percent had attended any form of national, regional, or state conference or meeting, and few had attended more than 35 hours of any form of professional development over the 3. Thus, teachers currently do not have extensive opportunities to participate in professional development that is science specific. Education Resource Strategies worked with three districts to analyze spending on professional growth and support for teachers across all subject areas, identifying six areas of financial cost:.

Based on this analysis, Education Resource Strategies identified six steps to a more powerful school system strategy for professional growth:.

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  5. If science teachers are to embrace the challenging new vision of science learning described in this report, they will need to be part of larger communities of learning that respect their needs and provide necessary supports; they will need to understand the vision, both as it is laid out in such documents as the Framework and the NGSS and as it is embodied in new curricula and assessments. They will need to be supported by their principals and by colleagues who have learned to lead.

    Other factors may matter as well. For example, policies concerning teacher evaluation likely will need to be aligned with the new vision of science learning Hill and Grossman, —terrain yet to be researched. Other frequently proposed policy initiatives include differentiated pay for science teachers as they are in a high-demand area and incentives in performance pay systems that reward teachers for their classroom practice and often for their participation in official learning opportunities offered by their school systems.

    Given the impassioned interest in raising teacher quality in this country, there is no lack of intriguing initiatives. But research conducted to date has not produced definitive results on many of these singular ideas, suggesting that the observations of Bryk and colleagues , Rowan and colleagues and others—that successful reform needs to address simultaneously several aspects of the education system—are worth heeding. The schools and classrooms in which teachers work shape what and how they learn. These contexts include, but are not limited to school, district, and state policies and practices concerning professional capacity e.

    Conclusion School and district administrators are central to building the capacity of the science teacher workforce. Conditions in schools can create contexts that allow teachers to take better advantage of professional learning opportunities both within the workday and outside of the school. They also can send messages about the importance of science in schools. As instructional leaders, they need to understand the vision for science education in the Framework and NGSS and align policies and practices in the school to support this vision.

    Conclusion 11 : Teacher leaders may be an important resource for building a system that can support ambitious science instruction.


    There is increasing attention to creating opportunities for teachers to take on leadership roles to both improve science instruction and strengthen the science teacher workforce. These include roles as instructional coaches, mentors, and teacher leaders. Expertise in both science and pedagogy in science is an important component of building capacity in schools and districts. The development of science teacher leaders can be an important mechanism for supporting science learning for all teachers.

    Such leaders can guide school- or district-based professional learning communities, identify useful resources, and provide feedback to teachers as they modify their instructional practice. Alozie, N. An analysis of the supports and constraints for scientific discussion in high school project-based science.


    The role of teacher characteristics in an educational standards reform | SpringerLink

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    Fostering Essential Dispositions in Young Children

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