Assembling the heterogeneous elements for (digital) learning

Category: eded20456

Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Weeks 5/6

And now onto weeks 5/6 for the PCK course I’m studying. Within two/three weeks we’ll be heading out into schools, so the content for this week is starting to become fairly central. i.e. what is the curriculum and how are you meant to plan teaching/learning around that curriculum.

Essential learnings for secondary middle phase

By the end we should be able to use the “essential learnings” (i.e. the Queensland curriculum) to plan.

After a bit of reading, brief summary of last week, onto an activity that seeks to aid in unpacking the essential learnings for our teaching areas.

I’m doing mathematics and ICT/IPT/IT. ICT is not an essential learning, at least not in terms of standalone subject teaching ICT. It is instead something embedded within all courses. There is support for a separate course in terms of borrowing from other KLAs. But it’s not real well defined, just yet. Especially for ICTs, those guidelines are “coming soon”.

WoW and K&U

Not World of Warcraft, but Ways of Working. It’s the combination of WoW and Knowledge and Understanding that is the focus of teaching, learning and assessment (apparently). However, individual components may be taught, the aim is to build up to the combination.

Intent is to use approaches to learning that are:

  • student-centred.
  • Active engagement.
  • Learning through investigation.

Unpacking Mathematics

So, the idea here is to use the Mathematics KLA to answer a range of questions aimed at “unpacking” the KLA. In the following I’ve used the questions being asked as a scaffold for my interpretations.

Learning and assessment

Am using this PDF as it gives an overview of the learning and assessment for the mathematics KLA across all the junctures. My main focus will be on the year 7 (what they should know) and 9 (what I’ll have to help them learn) junctures.

Looking for the key messages about what is taught and how it is taught

  • What is the nature of the KLA?
    To teach math!? Seriously, the aim appears to be to build on previous recognition of the connection between math and real life situations and expand the more abstract/mathematical applications. It does appear to have a focus on developing students who are able to manipulate/use/apply mathematics to a range of situations. To be able to see it in context. There is emphasis on collaboration and discussion. There does appear to be aspects of this that connect with the idea of quantitative literacy introduced in the literacy and numeracy course.
  • What are the implications for pedagogy?
    It has to be a lot more than read the book and do the exercises, which is what I remember of mathematics at high school. Which implies that pedagogy is going to require a fair bit more effort. i.e. I’m not confident that I currently could connect much of the content to real world contexts.
  • What does L&T look like in this class?
    Active, social, authentic…etc. But I retain just a touch of skepticism that insists that there should be appropriate levels of direct instruction as a scaffold/enabler.

Assessable elements

Using this document.

  • What are the assessable elements?
    I find it interesting that there is currently no discussion in this of weighting. Are all the assessable elements meant to be weighted equally? A decision for teachers/schools? I’ll copy the “rubric entry” for the A descriptor for each element
    • Knowledge and understanding.

      Comprehensive knowledge and understanding of concepts, facts and procedures

    • Thinking and reasoning.

      Insightful application of mathematical processes to generate solutions and check for reasonableness

    • Communicating

      Clear and accurate communication of ideas, explanations and findings using mathematical representations, language and technologies

    • Reflecting.

      Perceptive reflection on thinking and reasoning, the contribution of mathematics and learning

      Not sure this one is written grammatically correct.

  • How are they demonstrated in K&U and WoW?
    The first three are covered well in both. Though communication may not be quite as obvious, it seems to be there. Reflection is even less obvious in K&U. Both communicating/reflecting are more obvious in the WoW, with actual specific WoW related to the two. However, these tend to reflect activities that students should be doing with the K&U.
  • Are they auditable across both?
    I’m not even sure that make sense to be able to do.
  • What will assessment look like?
    An appropriate mix. Some individual tests/assignments focused on some core knowledge, but lots of authentic assessment to test the real world stuff, group work etc.

Knowledge and understanding

  • What are the conceptual headings for Year 9? What are the conceptual statements in each?
    • Number – Number properties and operations and a range of strategies can be applied when working with integers and rational numbers.
    • Algebra – Variables, algebraic expressions and equations, relationships and functions can be described, represented and interpreted.
    • Measurement – Units of measure, instruments, formulas and strategies can be used to estimate and calculate measurement and consider reasonable error.
    • Chance and data – Judgments can be based on theoretical or experimental probability. Data can be displayed in various ways and analysed to make inferences and generalisations.
    • Space – Geometric conventions can be used to describe, represent, construct and manipulate a range of complex geometric shapes. Mapping conventions can be used to represent location, distance and orientation in maps and plans.
  • how detailed are the concepts, facts and procedures for each conceptual statement?
    They seem to be descriptions of “classes”/collections of problems. e.g.

    Lengths and angles that cannot be measured directly can be investigated using scale, similarity or trigonometry

  • What is the purpose of the examples?
    Mmm, this was stated in the presentation.They essentially offer clarification of what is intended.
  • What is it that you will be teaching as core concepts/facts/procedures?
    Mmmm, the stuff listed under K&U, especially pointed to by the bullet points for each conceptual statement. Am I missing something here?

Ways of working

THe comparison of WoW for the mathematics KLA

  • WoW are processes, generally complex reasoning. What are the implications of this for teaching and learning?
    A significant amount of teaching would have to focus on introducing, modelling, practising and reflecting upon these processes. i.e. how concepts are taught and introduced will need to explicitly draw on these WoW, the students need to see them in action and reflection upon them. They need to practice this. There will be overlap between these. The processes themselves are key ways of learning….
  • They can be used in their entirety or as subsets, what would be the difference for each of these?
    Overall, the complete WoW describe expectations of students at the end of the juncture. Subsets are more likely to be used in developing skills with these processes. e.g. “evaluate their own thinking and reasoning” includes 2/3 applications, only 1 might be covered at the start. Aspects of some WoW may be used as part of another. May wish to highlight these aspects.
  • If WoW are essential, what is the implication for grading students?
    The assessment has to provide students an opportunity to provide examples of the WoW. If you don’t have this evidence, you can grade them on the missing WoW.

K&U and WoW together

Learning, teaching, and assessment are required to focus on develop and deepen K&U through WoW. What are the implications for

  • Type of unit plan.
    Interesting, I don’t recall the concept of “unit plan” being explicitly covered in any of the courses. It’s been mentioned in passing, but…

    So let’s start with an annotated unit plan.

  • Method of assessment.
  • The pedagogy required.

Mmm, not sure I’m getting much out of this activity, not sure I could reasonably get much out of it. Much of the latter stuff gets even a little more opaque, or straight forward. e.g. what philosophy? Well it’s been explicitly stated in the slides – constructivism – though the essential learnings themselves don’t explicitly state this, it’s a fair interpretation.

Planning a nunit

Okay, so this should be interesting. Using an assessment alignment planner to plan a unit. This is the guts of it.

Mmm, gotten tired of terminology duplication for some and lack of standard definitions for others. Incredibly difficult to figure out exactly what is required from the question, how best to go about it, and how much authenticity it has with real practice.

Will have to ask and come back to this later. That’s disappointing.

Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Week 4

So, only two weeks to catch up on this course.

Curriculum frameworks

This week appears to focus primarily on the curriculum we’ll be teaching to within the state of Queensland: Key Learning Areas (KLAs) and Essential Learnings. Some or much of which will change next year with the introduction of the Australian national curriculum.

Queensland Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting (QCAR) Framework

Aligning curriculum, assessment and reporting. Contain (amongst other things) essential learnings that incorporate national statements. Ahh, the problem of teachers “subverting” curriculum. Interesting language, not talented teachers adapting problematic curriculum.

Queensland School Reform Longitudinal Study (QSRLS) study of what happens in courses: findings:

  • alignment needed – most teachers did not see good assessment as integral to good classroomp ractice
  • effective teachers assert much control and are willing to subvert curriculum learning to gaps
  • Need for PD in assessment and moderation
  • supportive classroom environment – done well, high frequency
  • intellectual quality – ok in some, infrequent, low level
  • recognition of difference – limited, done poorly
  • relevance – infrequent, limited, done poorly
  • efficient school management important, but school leaders must focus on curriculum and pedagogical leadership.

Literature futures, a government benchmark which is no longer easily discoverable online

  • close correlation between socio-economic background and low achievement.
  • Qld has 20% of Oz 0-15 years, but 49% of 0-15 in lowest decile of CSE
  • Traditional intervention models not working for these students.

And now research by Schmoker (2006 I think). 1500 classrooms studied. Lots of “busy” work with no connection to syllabus, assessment, standards, poorly planned lessons, irrelevant worksheets, inequitable classroom practices, little assessment, no feedback…..But why is this? Is it simply that a class with lots of low SOE students is hard to teach and teachers in these contexts are deprived of support, creating a circle of poor practice?

A post here talking about Schmoker’s later work points out the importance of checking for understanding and a classroom with lots of advanced/authentic reading/writing. And suggests avoiding all fads.

QCAR and the four Cs: consistency, continuity, comparability of standards, creating space for deeper learning.

Five elements of QCAR

  1. Essential learnings – what to teach.
    Seen as an agreed core, not the whole curriculum. Common basis for planning. COvers KLAs and key juncture points – 3, 5, 7, 9.

    Three components:

    1. Learning and assessment focus.
    2. Ways of working.
    3. Knowledge and understanding.
  2. Standards – common language to describe achievement
    Link to the assessable elements within the Essential learnings for each KLA, in particular in the learning and assessment focus part.
  3. Assessment bank – quality assessment and resources.
  4. QCATs – Qld Comparable Assessment Tasks (4, 6, 9) – demonstrate what students know…and support consistency of teacher judgements.
  5. Guidelines for reporting – consistency.
    1. Intent is to ensure commonality in what is taught but diversity in how it is taught. Is big on the alignment between: what is taught (essential learnings), what is assessed (Assessment and QCATS), and what is reported (Standards and guidelines for reporting).

      Descriptors of quality

      Find it interesting that the standards are accompanied by the following table that sets out the appropriate words to use as descriptors of quality.

      A B C D E

      ICTs as cross-curricular

      Oh dear, there are powerpoint slides that examine the ICT KLA, which is positioned as cross-curricula. A copy follows, I really dislike this sort of quasi-quantitative camouflaging of fuzzy, often incorrect ideas. I really dislike the automatic assumption that direct instruction cannot develop higher order skills.

      National curriculum

      Of course the really interesting thing is that within a year or two all of the above might be somewhat less than important. Mainly due to the rise of the national curriculum.

      Problem graph

Week 2: Pedagogical Content Knowledge

Okay, so now it’s onto the second course for the week. The topic for this week is “Learners and Learning”. Looks like we’re learning about the brain, how it works and the Dimensions of Learning (That this link for DoL is on the institution’s website, but with a strange title is interesting. Sure there are some stories behind it).

What to do?

I am wondering exactly what I should do, there is an eStudyGuide which is meant to be used by distance education students, which is essentially what I am. But then there is also a range of resources and activities within the topic on the Moodle site. The apparent duplication is somewhat annoying, especially when there is little consistency. It appears that the study guide is the way to go.

Biological basis for learning

There is acknowledgement of this

e. In a biological sense, learning occurs through the growth of new synapses in one’s brain which becomes part of the complex series of networks / connections that make up ‘the mind’ and through which we are able to ‘do things’ or learn to do new things.

Interestingly, the definition of schema

A theoretical concept describing the current state of one’s mind and the process
that inform it. One’s schema is what is used to process information; to think, to do. One’s schema can be changed or modified and this process of change or modification can be referred to as learning

Seems to suggests a single schema. I would have thought there were possibly multiple, depending on the identity at the fore….more reading to do, this is just the intro.

The task list

  • Reading 2-1. A report from Demos titled “About learning”.
  • Reading 2-2 (which is not a direct link, but some silly use of Moodle resources that doesn’t quite work).
  • Reading 2-3. Learning to go with the grain of the brain
  • Read “The learning program”
  • Reading 2-4.
  • Activity 2-1.
  • Activity 2-2.
  • Activity 2-3.

As mentioned previously, there have been complaints that education courses don’t require enough reading, so how much reading is there for this week: Readings 2-1 (28 pages), 2-2 (3 pages), 2-3 (5 pages), 2-4 ()

About learning

This is a report commissioned by the UK government to (essentially) develop definitions about the concepts of learning in terms of schools. The working group had 7 members including: 3 head teachers, 3 cognitive scientists and a chairman (with a couple of researchers).

One of the points made is that our understanding is evolving rapidly and while questions about this are answerable, it is only partially so. There is a need for cognitive scientists and teachers to work more together. Suggestion that training for teachers emphasises even less of what is known about learning.

Teachers having an explicit, elaborate and expert view of learning depends more on chance than on a planned sequence of initial training and continuing professional development

Bemoans that many teachers aren’t aware of latest research and an absence of common vocabulary.

Is it possible learn how to learn?

We share the approach of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme’s Learning How to Learn Project which treats learning to learn not as a single entity or skill, but as a family of learning practices that enhance one’s capacity to learn. There is no consensus about the membership or genealogy of this family, or even how distinctive it is. Indeed, it is difficult to disentangle learning to learn from just learning,

meta-cognition is seen as “a very important or senior member of the family” of views around learning to learn. It is defined as

the capacity to monitor, evaluate, control and change how one thinks and learns.

Evidence for recent developments

This quote matches my feeling about the importance of reflection to teachers

The best teachers constantly monitor what is happening to students as they set about learning and investigate when things do not proceed as planned or expected.

And also makes me wonder why senior university management just don’t get the need to do this as well.

There’s a bit of talk here about the different approaches between teachers and cognitive scientists about gathering evidence for how people learn. There is a lot made of how the CS folk “test(ed) empirically through methods that are accepted within the scientific community” and then the distinction is made between “scientific evidence” and “practice evidence”. However, do argue that it is best to have both and mention two schemes that have this

A summary of what they say about learning styles, which is interesting in light of their use in this program. There are three problems

  1. Research evidence is highly variable, for many the scientific evidence base is very slender because the reliability and validity of the measures are doutbful.
  2. There is even less evidence of improved learning when applied to classroom situations.
  3. Some use of learning styles is really bad, e.g. belief that styles are fixed and innate. Students are labeled and they internalise this label.

There is the suggestion that learning styles can be used successfully to get students to reflect deeply on their learning and develop meta-cognitive capacities.

What we know: from science

Refer to the book, How people learn: brain, mind, experience and school” which groups implications into the following

  • Learner-centered;
    i.e. starts with the learners’ knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs.
  • Knowledge-centered;
    Environments that aim to provide for learners’ understanding, rather than mere performance. Learners know their way around a disciplinary environment.
  • Assessment-centered;
    Strong on formative feedback.
  • Community-centered.
    Recognise that classrooms are placed within broader communities. i.e. important to have home/family support; enable students to use what they learn in school outside.

Some myths busted

  • There is no right/left brain. Both hemispheres are used in every cogntive task.
  • “critical periods” for learning are over applied in education.
  • There is no support that one type of learning is more natural.
  • Brain plasticity means that learning at any age grows neurons
  • Brain gym has not evidence base in cognitive neuroscience.
    But there maybe educational value.

Some calls for research that gets the scientists hands dirty by working with practitioners.

Reading 2-2: Piaget’s constructivism

Based on this review which focuses on four key concepts: assimilation, accommodation, equilibration, and schemas. I need to look at a few other resources to feel I got this.

Learning or cognitive development is a complex process affected by three ideas:

  • Schema – mental representations of an associated set of perceptions, ideas..the basic building blocks of thinking. Cognitive development arises from the development of new schemata and better organisation of existing schemata.
    These are theoretical constructs though brain research reached similar conclusions. They never stop changing.
  • Assimilation – where new information/ideas from the real world are placed into existing mental/cognitive structures.
  • Adaptation – changing existing schemata to fit new information. Also includes creation of new schemata.
  • Equilibration – the biological drive to maintain a balance between the environment and a person’s cognitive structures.

Reading 2-3: Learning to go with the grain of the brain

Apparently the article appeared in a 1999 issue of “Education Canada”. Starts with another exhortation that 21st century learners needing something. Looks like being a summary of more of what we know about the “bain’s adaptive functions” – learning. Of course, the date means that this article is 10 years out of date.

Reports on (without citing) long term studies that show the greatest predictors of success at university level are

  1. The quantity and quality of discussion in the home before entering school.
  2. Amount of independent reading by the child.
  3. Clarity of value systems as understood and practiced.
  4. Strong positive peer group pressure.
  5. The primary school.

Quotes the Santa Fe institute

The method people naturally employ to acquire knowledge is largely unsupported by traditional classroom practice. The human mind is better equipped to gather information about the world by operating within it than by reading about it, hearing lectures on it, or studying abstract models of it.

There is a bit of support here for the influence of evolutionary development, a quote from HBR

you can take man out of the Stone Age, but you can’t take the Stone Age out of man.

Cites the industrial revolution as going against this influence in creating work that only used a small portion of the brain and requiring other strategies. I assume this has parallels with the factory orientation of schools and they suggest this as a partial explanation for the “crisis in schools”.

Gets stronger. We’ve turned childhood into a virtual holiday. Trivialised adolescence by denying them the opportunity to learn from their experiences. Now making the point about school being based on a factory model and a notion of curriculum from universities that focuses on academic learning. And subsequently many students are not being challenged by school.

And now it gets onto the solution. i.e. schooling based on what evolution prepared us for before this blip of industrialisation.

  • Start with emphasis on young kids growing a range of skills and their growing responsibility for directing their own work.
  • Make them a worker as early as possible, not just a recipient
  • As they get older, intergrate learning in real situations.
  • Classes for 5yo, no more than 10 or 12 students.
  • And harnessing older, retired professional folk to fill the resource gap.

Reading 2-4: Powerpoints on Learning

Starts with the jumbled letter meme.

Ahh, also solves “Activity 2-1” for us. Which is fill in the blanks of the following

The questions that p________ face as they raise ch________ from in_________ to adult are not easy to an _________. Both f______ and m________ can become concerned when health problems such as co_________ arise anytime after the e____ stage to later life. Experts recommend that young ch____ should have plenty of s________ and nutritious food for healthy growth. B___ and g____ should not share the same b______ or even be in the same r______. They may be afraid of the d_____.

What do you get?

Give you a tip, it’s nothing about children or parents, which is what I got.

Reinforcing the message, we can learn both procedural and declarative knowledge.

This program arises from work done on a Bachelor of Learning Management, where management is defined as “design with intended outcomes”, which means Learning Management is “designing learning programs that ensure learning outcomes in all students”

And here come the Dimensions of Learning, 5 of them, where you should start with the first and the fifth when designing.

  1. Attitudes and perceptions
  2. Acquire and integrate
  3. Extend and refine
  4. Use meaningfully
  5. Habits of mind

Mostly applies these to how we should be learning, sure to be expanded later on.

Critical reflection – process of thinking using established research and a series of evaluations in order to learn about something new…and much more

Activity 2-2

Another one to surface scheme, a series of questions about current affairs (from a few years ago) e.g. “The war in Iraq is justified”. We’re meant to compare with someone else and reflect on why there might be differences. In short because we have different schemata, different perspectives, formed by different backgrounds.

Activity 2-3

Using the readings and a Internet search, provide definitions for (wikipedia?)

  • Learning
    The acquisition of new or modification of existing knowledge, skills, behaviours etc implemented biologically as the creation of neurons.
  • Memory
    The ability to store, retain and recall information and experiences
  • Emotions
    “the complex psychophysiological experience of an individual’s state of mind as interacting with biochemical (internal) and environmental (external) influences”
  • Thinking
    ” any mental or intellectual activity involving an individual’s subjective consciousness”
  • The senses
    “the physiological capacities within organisms that provide inputs for perception”

Summarise how this knowledge will inform you work as a teacher…..I don’t really know and at the end of a long afternoon, don’t really care just at the moment. Time to cut and run.

Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Week 1

This is the fourth of these weekly summaries/reflections – perhaps learning log is a better description – but only 1 is complete so far. Hopefully this will be #2. The course is titled Pedagogical Content Knowledge and appears to aim to use Schulman’s ideas of PCK to frame the necessary learning about both pedagogy and the content for the pre-service teachers in this course.


At least two of the courses I’m studying have eStudyGuides. A concept/approach I had a hand in during my previous working life. It’s interesting to be on the student side of the approach. The original intent was to provide a useful way of integrating the old print study guide approach (very 2nd generation DE) into online learning. My initial thoughts are that the integration of eStudyGuides with Moodle has not gone very far. The eStudyGuides are separate from the Moodle topic/weekly schedule, this reduces their effectiveness. Especially when there are other problems.

It is also interesting to see other students being highly pragmatic and focusing heavily on the assessment first and then working back and identifying what they really need to do. I’m currently taking the more naive approach and trying to work through the material. I wonder how long I will keep that up and what these observations mean for the efficacy of the learning design inherent in these courses.

Oh dear, the joys of e-learning, the network between my machine and the machine with the eStudyGuide is not playing nicely. Being very slow. Ahh, there it is (save as). Not quite, still downloading. Let’s look at the ToC. So there is a bit of a intro/background before the first module. Let’s start with that.

Your learning journey in PCK

It will involve “two complementary modes of learning”: resource-based learning and online collaborative learning. While I don’t have a problem with the theory of resource-based learning I am experiencing some issues around its implementation, the topic for another post.

Learning, teaching and pedagogy

Starting with some definitions before moving on, the provided definitions include

  • Learning – “The process of making meaning out of experience”.
    I imagine that could be debated depending on the epistemological perspective/learning theory you abide by. This would appear to be a very constructivst perspective.
  • Teaching – “process of guiding and facilitating learning”.
  • Pedagogy – “strategies, techniques and approaches or styles of instruction that teachers can use within learning contexts”.

Ahh, a learning task list – is this an example of an advanced organiser? – a clear statement of what we have to do, something that is missing from the other courses (at least based on my limited perusal of the other courses). It shall be interesting to see how well all this fits together. So lets use the learning task list here

  • Go to the Moodle site for this course and locate “Topic 1—Learning,
    teaching and pedagogy”

    A simple start, done.
  • Complete Activity 1–1(found in this Study Guide)
  • Go to the Moodle site and read the section “What is teaching?”
  • Complete Activities 1–2 and 1–3
  • Complete Reading 1–1: Effective teaching strategies (Part 1) (CRO)
  • Go to the Moodle site and read the section “What is pedagogy?”
  • Complete Activity 1–4
  • Complete Reading 1–2: What is pedagogy anyway?
  • Go to the Moodle site and read the section “Effective pedagogy”
  • Complete Activity 1–5
  • Go to the Moodle site and read the section “Pedagogical content
  • Complete Reading 1–3: Effective teaching strategies (Part 2) (CRO)
  • Complete Activity 1–6

Activity 1-1 – What is learning and teaching?

Before getting deeply into the content, we start with our own current understandings. You would expect that we might be asked to revisit this at the end of the course to see how our understandings have changed over time.

What is learning?

If I adopt a connectivist perspective learning might be defined as the formation of new connections/networks at a variety of levels. More specifically, according to the wikipedia article

Connectivism sees learning as the process of creating connections and developing a network.

Based on my limited and primitive understanding of brain science, this is a general description of how the brain actually works. i.e. it’s less abstract than the definition used above. You can’t make meaning out of experiences without creating new connections, neural and otherwise.

Ahh, Downes adds the additional insight that (emphasis added)

At its heart, connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks.

More of Downes’ writing connects with one of the activities performed in class yesterday and its implications. i.e.

In connectivism, a phrase like ‘constructing meaning’ makes no sense. Connections form naturally, through a process of association, and are not ‘constructed’ through some sort of intentional action.

The activity relied heavily on the proposition that our memories work by association.

What is teaching?

Have just come across (perhaps again) this argument/definition from George Siemens

when we make our learning transparent, we become teachers

From that perspective, again a very connectivist approach teaching becomes the act of making out learning transparent. Which of course links to the Downes slogan of “to teach is to model and demonstrate”.

Siemens again argues that teaching (the role of the teacher) is focused on influencing or shaping a network (perhaps networks?). He goes on to describe 7 roles teachers play

  1. Amplifying
  2. Curating
  3. Wayfinding and socially-driven sensemaking
  4. Aggregating
  5. Filtering
  6. Modelling
  7. Persistent presence

Within this course/program, perhaps even the current education paradigm, the focus is on constructivism. In such a paradigm, where learning is seen as constructing meaning, the role of teaching seems to become creating experiences that enable and encourage students to construct meaning.

As argued briefly above and previously I would probably argue that the concepts of “meaning” and “networks” have a lot of overlap/similarity. i.e. in constructivism teaching is influencing/shaping student meaning making, in connectivism teaching is influencing/shaping student network making (and traversal).

I wonder if Siemens’ 7 roles from above can be merged/overlapped with some more “traditional” constructivist approaches.

Lastly, you have the “standardised-testing” perspective of teaching which is increasingly prevalent in local schools. i.e. teaching is achieving the desired results on standardised tests by whatever means possible.

Teaching and not learning

I found this a somewhat difficult question to get my head around, which is perhaps somewhat ironic given what I think the question is getting. Here it is in full

Recall an experience where another person performed all kinds of teaching or training tasks designed to help you learn yet you were still unable to learn what it was that was hoped you would learn. Apply the distinction between “teaching” as a task term and “teaching” as an achievement term to your experience and list the activities or tasks the person performed designed to help you learn. Then try to identify the factors and variables that you believed prevented you from learning.

In this case, I’m sure I’m meant to be taught something, but am unsure what. Mostly because of the phrases “task term” and “achievement term”. I’m not really certain exactly what is expected of me because I am not confident that I am using the correct definition of these terms. I can probably extrapolate something, but I’m unsure that it will match the intent of the “teacher”.

So, obviously I’m going to use Google to discover some interpretations. Seems to goes back to Ryle (1949) and there is some description of that here and it’s expanded in Marshall (2009).

(Not to mention the fact that Google reveals that this is not a new question answered by education students

In fact, Marshall’s original 1975 paper argues that teaching is a task verb and does not have an achievement sense. Which I read as meaning that it is a on-going process. The purpose of his 2009 update is to suggest that the increasing neo-liberal discussion around education has introduced teaching as an achievement term.

And just when you think educational literature can reveal no new words – otiose – serving no practical purpose or result.

On skimming Marshall (2009) it would appear to go into areas quite a long way from what is required here. So, I’ll turn over a pragmatic leaf.

In terms of someone teaching me something, my memory/interpretation suggests the only times when they failed to teach me was when I wasn’t interested. This has usually occurred in organisational settings around policies, procedures and plans. That lack of interest may have arisen from lack of relevance of what was being taught; lack of quality of what was being taught or how; or, lack of “proximity” of my current situation. e.g. Marshall (2009) wasn’t going to teach me about his arguments because it delved into complexities that I currently have neither the time nor energy to engage with.

Another example, is that in my answer I haven’t really engaged with the “achievement/task” distinction in the question. While I think I see the point, I don’t think I’m prepared enough to answer that aspect. A large part of that is that I’ve probably spent far too much time on this question and have lost significant interest.

What does this suggest for your own teaching practice

In summary,

  • Connect with students existing knowledge and motivations, perhaps as the initial start of the network creation.
  • Teaching is then a practice – perhaps a task term, an on-going process – of influencing and shaping network formation.

I can see how this might work within an ICT course focused on programming, but within the confines of a mathematics course – especially a junior course in the context of NAPLAN tests – I can see it being more difficult. But still possible, perhaps.


Okay, go looking on the website for more “sub-questions”. Ahh, here is an explanation of the task and achievement sense of the word teaching. Just a little late perhaps? This other resource states

If you examine how ‘teaching’ is used most commonly it has two dominant uses. One, is where the focus is on what the teacher is doing (‘teaching’ in the task sense) and the other where the focus is on whether the teacher achieves or fails in achieving helping others learn (‘teaching’ in the achievement sense). This distinction helps explain how someone can claim to be teaching while nobody learns and paradoxically, how teaching seems to imply learning.

All I’m finding at the moment is some more content, expanding on the definitions of teaching, pedagogy etc. Makes me wonder why it’s not in the eStudyGuide.

Oh dear, there they are. The first one is simply an expanded version of the question I answered above in a Word document! Do I have to repeat much of the above? Don’t think I will.

What’s worse is that the directions back to the Moodle site are in different areas leading to some duplication/losing my way.

Activity 1-2: The teaching profession

So, the aim here is to determine whether or not teaching is a profession. Before completing this activity, I’ll suggest that there are at least two possible answers to this question: personal and societal (i.e. what is agreed by the majority). I’m not convinced that my personal answer to this question is all that important, it is the societal answer that is more important. Teaching is only a profession because most of society recognises it as so, not because teachers define a bunch of terms and meet them.

We’re meant to fill in a table expressing why/if we agree/disagree with a sequence of statements about teaching as a profession. In most cases, I’d argue that both apply to varying degrees. For example, one example of the YES/NO pairing is the following two

  • The teacher’s work is essentially intellectual in character, much like the work of doctors, lawyers, or engineers.
  • Teachers do not always use the available intellectual knowledge in the classroom, and some tend to resort to a rule–of–thumb approach more typical of a semi– or non-profession.

I could agree with both of those statements. I don’t think it is just teachers that resort to rule-of-thumb approaches. Most management decisions seem to be made that way. Human nature itself is biased towards repeating familiar patterns of activity, experts of all types fall trap to this from time to time.

There is another pair around a professional code of ethics.

  • Yes, teaching is a profession….A professional code of ethics has been developed, widely disseminated, and periodically revised.
  • No, it isn’t…..Codes of ethics are inadequately enforced in education.

I think you can replace teaching with just about any profession and agree to both those statements. In terms of enforcement, I’m sure when breaches are discovered and made visible, most professions enforce their code of ethics. I’d also suggest that for most professions the code of ethics doesn’t play a core part in everyday practice. I’d like see the research around how many members of a profession could recite the professions code of ethics or even know where to find it.

The remaining questions around around whether a profession is worthy, what’s the difference between being a professional etc, and will you be starting your teaching career as a professional?

Not going to bother with those.

Principles of teaching

So, there’s a table with a list of “principles of teaching” with three empty columns in which we are meant to indicate out believes related to these principles to the teaching of adults, adolescents and children. And if we like some space at the bottom to add some more principles since, as pointed out in the question, these principles may not represent the contemporary classroom.

I am wondering if my level of cynicism increases the longer I work on this material. Perhaps I should be breaking course study more?

I won’t do all three, but give some stream of consciousness responses

Teachers should not coerce, bully or intimidate learners.

Absolutely, the line between encouragement and its significantly more negative alter egos is something to be careful of.

Teachers should respect learners by not belittling or abusing them in any form.

Yes, but I still think there is a line here somewhere. Part of learning is “unlearning”/recognising that you don’t know everything. Which suggests a teacher may, for some students, have to engage in a bit of gentle “mindset adjustment” to enable change. This doesn’t mean belittle, but I can see circumstances where it could certainly be interpreted that way.

Teachers should try to improve the learner’s self–worth.

I’m cynical enough to balk slightly at this. Yes there is value in this. But just as earlier readings have emphasised that you can’t really force someone to learn, I’m not sure you can really force someone to have an increased sense of self-worth.

Teaching should be about collaboration with learners concerning the aims, purposes and methods of the learning situation wherever possible.

Nice aim, but in this era of outcomes-based assessment, standardised testing etc it’s not hard to pick up some mixed messages around this principle. The “where possible” modifier could be used quite significantly.

Teaching should be about praxis.

I find it interesting that praxis hasn’t been introduced in this program yet, and from my understanding its meaning isn’t widely known and multiple in nature. e.g. is it meant here in terms of Kolb or Friere (or some other perspective)? I like both of Kolb or Friere’s definition (a la Wikipedia).

Learners should be encouraged to reflect on their personal experiences as a means to their educational development.

Remember, we’re not coercing, bullying or intimidating people. In addition, if we’re collaborating with learners about the methods of the learning situation, shouldn’t they be given the choice. That said, my affinity for praxis and connectivism suggest that I agree with this, however, I also recognise the difficulty of encouraging students (of varying ages) to effectively reflect on their experiences.

Teaching should foster critical minds so that learners realise that much of knowledge, values, beliefs and behaviours are socially constructed.

Yes, but I shudder slightly at some of what gets accepted under this principle. Social constructivism can be taken too far. There is a real world.

Teaching should be both informed and open–ended. Teachers should know enough to facilitate learning and teachers should also be honest about what they do not know and use this as an opportunity to learn with the learners.

Well, I wouldn’t be much of a “connectivist” if I didn’t agree.

Principles of effective pedagogy

We’re asked to generate our own, I’ll stick with what I know.

I find Chickering and Gamson’s 7 principles for good practice in good education a reasonable guide. It’s one I’ve used before.

The other I don’t mind at the moment is Downes – Teaching is to model and demonstrate, learning is to practice and reflect.


The aim here is to complete a “PCK diagram” using one of the curriculum specifications that teachers in the glorious state of Queensland are meant to draw upon. Of course, based on what I remember seeing, there really hasn’t been a good explanation of the diagram. What am I missing?

Ahh, that’s because there’s another reading, located in another place from the eStudyGuide I’ve been working through. Should it really be this hard to work through a sequential collection of activities and readings?

General PCK/KLAs Domain specific PCK Topic specific PCK
These match the 8 main essential learnings (e.g. Years 1-9 Match “Knowledge and understanding” within specific ELs The dot points within a specific area of knowledge
Mathematics (1-9)
  • Number
  • Algebra
  • Measurement
  • Chance and data
  • Space
  • Representation of rational numbers
  • Applications of rational numbers to describe and solve problems
  • Representation of numbers of the real number line.
  • Use of decimal approximations of irrational numbers in geometric contexts
  • Formation of upper and lower boundaries for estimations.
  • Solving problems involving ratinal, irrational numbers, simple powers, square roots and conventions of four operations.
  • Financial decisions based on analysis of benefits and consequences of cash, credit and debit transactions.
  • Understanding the GST.

Reading 1-1: Effective teaching strategies

And there’s more. Reflections on pp 1-7 of

Killen, R. (2003). Effective teaching strategies: Lessons from research and practice (3rd ed.). South Melbourne, VIC: Thomson Social Sciences Press.

Oh dear, it looks like the OCR during scanning of the hard-copy had some problems, of is now some funny symbol and other examples exist.

Major reviews of “good teaching” all conclude no single teaching strategy is effective all the time for all learners. Because learning is complex due to: learners’ attitudes, abilities and learning styles, teachers’ beliefs, knowledge and abilities, and learning context. The best that can be concluded

effective instruction requires active involvement of learners and an emphasis on academic achievement

Sounds very Chickering & Gamson 7 principles to me.

Learning is more effective if students are motivated, if learning is interesting, enjoyable and challenging. Some general guidelines

  • provoke curiorsity.
  • appropriate to learners’ academic & social development
  • related to learners’ everyday experience
  • learners need to experience success.
  • teachers should take into account knowledge, skills and attitudes learners bring to the classroom (isn’t this repeating #2 and #3?)
  • teachers …account diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds
  • Teachers should emphasise the importance of concepts and principles, rather than rote learning.

There is an increasing sense of repetition here.

Onto learning styles. Apparently Sternberg (1997) claims that differences in ability only account for about 20% of variation in learner performance. Suggesting that it is variation in learning style that plays a part.

The need for reflective practice for improving teaching/being a good teacher.

Onto planning, after deciding on a strategy (by using a long list of questions) time to develop a lesson plan.

Talking about decorating the classroom, making it a visual space.

Okay, going on a page explaining what is understanding by quoting a few folk and their definitions.

Yep, we’re into the outcomes-based education mode. “The first step (emphasis in original) is to describe what it is that you want the students to understand”.

Ahh, not very “Biggsian”. The second step is to select content. Biggs would suggest that the second step is to identify the activities that the students will have to perform in order to demonstrate their understanding.

This reading draws on “Project Zero” from Harvard’s idea of “generative topics” – “issues, themes and ideas that provide depth, significance, connections and a variety of perspectives to support students’ development of powerful understanding”.

Identifies four types of knowledge required for teaching effectively

  1. knowledge of your subject;
  2. knowledge of how students learn;
  3. general pedagogical knowledge;
  4. PCK a la Schulman.

Reading 1-2: What is pedagogy anyway?


Smith, T. and Lowrie, T. What is ‘pedagogy’ anyway? [online]. Practically Primary; v.7 n.3 p.6-9; October 2002

“pedagogy is to talk of the appropriate ways we interact with each other as teachers and learners”. Involves the relational, emotional, moral and personal dimensions. i.e. effective teaching and learning must consider affective, cognitive and social factors.

“assessment becomes a participatory event ‘shared with’ learners throughout the learning process, rather than something that is ‘done to’ learners during separate events” What? Like NAPLAN tests?

I wish the authors would get to the point.

The basic point is that thinking about pedagogy as “creating opportunities for constructive and enlightening conversations”. i.e. in maths getting students to write and talk more about their understanding. Perhaps some thought should be given to ensuring that the conversations are succinct.


Marshall, J.D. 2009. Revisiting the Task/Achievement Analysis of Teaching in Neo-Liberal Times. Educational Philosophy and Theory 41, no. 1: 79-90.

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