My researchED Melbourne talk from Saturday 1st July

The video above is a recording of my talk from the researchED Melbourne event held at Brighton Grammar School on Saturday 1st July. It’s called, “You say you want a revolution” and is about project-based learning. Note that there was a second researchED Melbourne event on Monday 3rd July as part of the ACE conference.

There are a few points I would like to make about the video. The talk is not as slick as I would have liked. I was the person doing the filming that day and I had my head in that (videos of other speakers will be available shortly). So my own talk was something of an afterthought. At one point near the start there is a pause while I search through by bag and pull out my notes. There is also a slide that was mysteriously absent from the presentation that I gave on the day but that I have included in the video for reasons of clarity: It is the slide showing the design of the Theide et. al (2017) study.

During the talk, I am asked a number of questions by the audience and you can hear these reasonably well. Dr Catherine Scott chips in on ‘natural pedagogy’ at just after the 27 minute mark and she later sent through the references that she mentions. You may find them here and here.

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3 Comments on “My researchED Melbourne talk from Saturday 1st July”

  1. Tempe says:

    Thank you, that was fantastic. I wish every school/teacher could see your talk.

  2. Brian says:

    A very interesting talk, thanks for that. The video issues just made it more human for me so actually added to the experience for me as a learner.

    I agree with much of what you say here and having researched much of this stuff in the past I could follow fairly easily where you are coming from.

    My conern is one of interpretation and application of the research and supported models and ideas. I would say first that I agree with you 100% when you say that student led learning, project based learning (as you understand it) or any other that ignores the importance of implicit/direct instruction is simply wrong. A mixture of explicit input followed by a period of consolidation and extension followed by a period of application (or something similar) is the way in which I believe most teachers teach.

    My biggest issue of interest is however the part where you talk about novices learning by independent/discovery methods while experts might learn by direct methods and that this is the wrong way around. Let me explain briefly my issue on which I would like some comment or a way into the literature which might illuminate for me.

    I can’t see the idea of novice vs expert in a general context in the way that you seem to. I did ask this question of Dan Willingham in a tweet once but I didn’t receive a reply for a while and assumed it wasn’t coming so I stopped looking.

    I visualise expertise as a thing while develops gradually, the schemata sort of idea. I see learners as being experts in a narrow range of content first and that their expertise develops and pertains to a larger domain of personal knowledge. I have been reading about this stuff for 20 years although more seriously for the last 5 or so, and I know a fair bit about the ideas put about by a range of academics and others.

    However; when I attend to an issue like this one, the first thing i do is seek out some direct instruction for an expert in the form of a book or a video or a research paper or an article etc. I then use the additional information to continue to devlop my personal knowledge domain by integrating, developing hypotheses and testing them all that is involved in the learning process.

    Project based learning for me is simply the logistics of delivery. The progress of the learning process will depend upon the existing knowledge and understanding of learners against the content to be learnt. For me there may be cycles of explicit instruction followed by consolidation followed by application (as suggested by Marzano and many others).

    For me the word “project” simply confuses things. I can assit with a project or I can delegate the whole thing to the learner. I can “I know, we know, you know” or “I do, we do, you do” and all that stuff. Surely this stuff has been done to death.

    You describe in the video an example, I believe in the US, where maybe learning is 25% independent and 75% explict/direct. The independent bit seems to appear at the end of what you described as a “unit”.

    I would simply suggest that if we reduce the size of the unit to perhaps a single concept which take a minute or an hour to master then we are talking about precisely the same thing. I just interleave the explicit and the independent and the learner develops expertise in a larger domain of personal knowledge. My experience is that most teachers tend to work this way with “project based learning”. I work the same way with “problem based learning” in that we use find and replace, project for problem.

    I believe we can be an expert in the use of individual terms or concepts and their application to individual examples in the real world just as we can be expert in a whole subject domain.

    Do we agree in general?

  3. […] were frozen out of the last major math curriculum writing process in the mid-2000s. Instead, discovery education advocates took over. The result? Alberta now has far fewer students who are expert in math and […]


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