Thursday, March 20, 2014

What works in Math Education?

We know that starting a lesson with an engaging aspect that ties students into what they have been learning or what they will be learning.  

We know that a teacher who understands students and gets to know them at a personal level gains their effort, their attention and most importantly their respect.  

We know that just assigning homework has little effect on kids.  However, giving practice to students that ties to their level of learning and then provides quality feedback enables students to challenge themselves and to understand where they can continue to improve.  

We know that a teacher who finds creative ways to reach students through interactive collaborative lessons ends up with students who understand what it means to learn and in the end...learn.

We think we know a lot about math education.  However, do we have proof that it works?  John Hattie says we do.  Can we do it better?  What else should we be looking at?

John Hattie determined that any effect size over 0.4 has positive effects but an effect size over 0.7 simply needs to be done in the classroom.  After reading Visible Learning, I have taken his list and focused it on the math classroom.  What should we be doing?

  • Students self-reporting their grades (1.44)
  • Formative assessment (1.28)
  • Acceleration (0.88) - Personally I don't agree with this one
  • Teacher Clarity (0.75)
  • Differentiated Practice (0.71)
  • Meta-Cognitive Practices (0.69)
  • Vocabulary Programs (0.67)
  • Problem Solving Teaching (0.61)
  • Cooperative vs. Individualistic Learning (0.6)
These are some of the best practices for the general classroom.  If these are great practices then where does typical math instruction fit in?
  • Direct Instruction (0.59)
  • Mastery Learning (0.58)
  • Worked Examples (0.57)
It takes only a quick reference to realize that these strategies are still effective strategies and students will learn.  Imagine if we did less of the traditional instruction and more of the practices listed above as a general rule in education.  

Where could are kids be then?