Location: Tobaccoville, North Carolina

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Project Definition

Has the presenter/designer appropriately used the needs assessment tool to ‘excavate’ their project context?

Numerous activities are happening at Salem Academy this year in relation to curriculum assessment and changes. The largest of these is the re-accreditation process for SACS (Southern Accreditation of Colleges & Schools) and SAIS (Southern Accreditation of Independent Schools). Another happening is the Academy becoming part of the World View program at UNC-CH. A main focus of the World View program is to incorporate a more global perspective into curriculum. An aspect of this involves teachers in different disciplines working together to build connections between the disciplines.

When discussing connection building with other teachers, many of us felt our students did not “connect” efficiently or “connect concepts” often enough. Teachers felt students saw each course as separate distinct units rather than a whole cohesive program. In many cases (particularly math) students saw each unit as separate and distinct from other units in the course. This is a great drawback, particularly when students reach the Advanced Placement and college level where “synthesis of material” and not “regurgitation” is expected. Teachers saw two reasons for the connection difficulties: academic immaturity (some students just aren’t ready to make connections at this level) and lack of a venue which encourages connection building.

This leads to the need (the gap): Connecting material in different courses and within a course.

In relation to math, the gap is “Connecting material between the sciences (biology, chemistry & physics) and mathematics; and connecting material within an individual math course (Pre-Calculus, Calculus) and between different math courses.”

Mega: Societal Payoffs & consequences: Affecting all stakeholders

Students will be better able to synthesize material. This is a very important job skill which all students will benefit from having.

Macro: Relate to what the organization (organization = math class) delivers outside itself:

Connections between different courses (particularly sciences & math) which a student is taking will be better seen. Concepts will have more meaning, be better understood, “stick longer” because the same concept is presented in different classes from different points of view.

Micro: Individual or small group: Individual learning & way class structure affected

Classes will become more learner-centered and less teacher-centered. Teacher’s role will move to more of a coach/facilitator and less of a task master (as Perkins stated).

Did they arrive at a clear statement of ‘ideal state’ and ‘actual state’ based on data gathering (documents, interviews, etc.)?

Information regarding “ideal state” and “actual state” was gathered through discussions (both formal & informal) with other teachers. Additionally “ideal state” information was gathered through readings relating to mathematical understanding and mathematical meaning.

Ideal State:

Students will “know” the concepts and material they are studying. “Knowing a subject means getting inside it and seeing how things work, how things are related to each other, and why they work like they do.” (Making Sense: Teaching & Learning Mathematics with Understanding, pg. 2)

Definition of understanding “we understand something if we see how it is related or connected to other things we know (Brownell 1935, Hiebert & Carpenter 1992) as listed in Making Sense: Teaching & Learning with Understanding.

Students will be able to make connections between different courses they are taking and different units in a single course. An increase in the understanding of mathematics will occur because students will “know” the material.

Actual state:

Numerous students view course material as separate distinct units rather than a cohesive related concept. Numerous students see their courses as being unrelated.

Have they listed needs and then categorized those needs according to knowledge/skill, motivational, and environmental? Is it clear that their project is focused on knowledge/skill needs?

From Martin & Reigeluth “Affective Education and the Affective Domain” pg. 494

Knowledge: Understandings and information related to a dimension, for example, knowledge of terms, ideas, concepts, rules, and strategies as they apply to oneself and others;
Skills: abilities that are based on aptitudes, relevant knowledge, and practice for competent performance, for example self-control

More learner centered class structure
Increased student discussion: knowledge/skill, environmental
Collaboration between students:
Student Discussion: knowledge/skill, motivational
Group/Co-operative Learning: knowledge/skill, motivational, environmental
Reflection about Material: knowledge/skill, motivational

Collaboration between teachers
Interdisciplinary units: knowledge/skill, motivational, environmental

Increased Communication among stakeholders (students, teachers, parents, administration)
Environmental Issue

Venue to promote student discussion: Environmental issue

Has the presenter used concept mapping to discover possible connections that may have escaped a purely analytic/excavational approach?

Concept mapping was used to layout the venue (website) used to increase learner-centered teaching. The concept map allowed my to see connections between standard course needs (lectures, homework, quizzes, test) and modification to make course learner-centered (discussion boards for concepts, homework help, tutorial sites, links to related websites which address material differently or demonstrate connections to other disciplines).

Was the reframing tool used by this presenter/designer? Was its use warranted? How about modeling tools?

From Paul Watzlawick Chapter 8: The Gentle Art of Reframing pg. 95

“To reframe, then, means to change the conceptual and/or emotional setting or viewpoint in relation to which a situation is experienced and to place it in another frame which fits the “facts” of the same concrete situation equally well or even better, and thereby changes its entire meaning.”

I feel I’ve used reframing in an unusual sense. The original idea for a Math Department website is the result of a suggestion (increased technology use and practice for students) from a 5-year SACS review. The website was originally seen as location to slap up and put up generic course information. Based on the need discovered (connection building) the meaning of the website has been changed. Now the website is seen as a venue to encourage student-centered learning thereby improved connection building. The fact of the website has not changed but the meaning of the website has be changed. In essence reframing has been used.

Has the presenter addressed feasibility (i.e. will the context support the instruction and is there an audience who will be able to benefit from it)?

Proper implementation of the website will support the proposed changed in instruction (to student-centered) and ideally fulfill the need (connection building). The recent addition of a course management system makes implementing a website very feasible. Although students are main audience for the instruction additional stakeholders (parents, other teachers, administrators) will also benefit from the website.


Post a Comment

<< Home