15 SES 04, Evidence-Informed Practice: International perspectives, problems and opportunities for partnerships
Understanding by Design is a well-known constructivist teaching methodology (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). It is based on the principles resulting from researches on learning and cognition conducted by Bransford and his colleagues, where understanding appears to be a key-factor for fruitful and effective learning (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2000), and finds support in studies such as Newmann (1996) on the use of authentic pedagogy in schools and on its benefits. Although the theoretical base of this methodology is acknowledged, there are few empirical studies corroborating its benefits. This fact is at the root of the decision to try to test the effects of Understanding by Design in a Swiss vocational school. A School Improvement Advisor/researcher (Ostinelli, 2017), who introduced this methodology in the school asked a math teacher for teaching in some classes using UbD, while maintaining a traditional way to teach in the remaining ones. Since the participants could not be chosen randomly, this can be described as a quasi-experiment. The curricular arguments chosen for this experience were, depending of the classroom year, “relationships and functions”, “percentage” and “basic statistics”. The cycle of lessons occurred between December 2017 and March 2018. The pupils underwent an entrance test, to be repeated at the end of the cycle, based on PISA math items, and aimed at checking for basic understanding of the mathematical concepts. Moreover, the students pertaining to the treatment group will be evaluated in a multi-dimensional way during the process and they will participate to an authentic assessment (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005); for instance, in the case of the first curricular theme (mathematical relationships and functions), they will try to explain it to fifth grade pupils of a primary classroom, using concrete examples, complying with their learning capabilities (Bruner, 1960). This experience demonstrates that a collaboration between a School Improvement Advisor/researcher and a teacher can give some interesting results, through the combination of their respective competencies: 1) the teacher receives feedback on the effectiveness of different curricular approaches, and, if the benefits of UbD will be confirmed, he will be able to teach all of his classes using this methodology; 2) the study can contribute to the corroboration of the validity of UbD methodology; 3) all the pupils participating to the experience (both from vocational and primary school) can benefit from the experience. Considering all its features, this can be described as an example of evidence-informed practice.
Bransford, J., Brown, A., Cocking, R. (1999). How people learn: Mind, brain, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Research Council. Bruner, J. (1960) The Process of Education. Cambridge (Mass.): Harvard University Press McTighe, J., Seif, A. (2003). Teaching for meaning and understanding: A summary of underlying theory and research. Pennsylvania Educational Leadership, 24(1), 6-14. Ostinelli, G. (2017). Between university and school: the School Improvement Advisor/researcher (SIA). International Journal of Leadership in Education, 1-17. Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria: Ascd.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
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