Home Educational Research Research-Based Strategies: Part 5

Research-Based Strategies: Part 5

by Lori Gracey
research-based strategies

The use of technology to accelerate learning is definitely something that TCEA supports. But we are also big believers in the use of the best instructional strategy for student learning. That’s why we’ve offered this five-part blog series on research-proven ways to help students learn more, learn faster, and retain a greater depth of knowledge. So far, we’ve discussed:

Today, we’ll conclude the series with the top three strategies to implement: Cognitive Task Analysis, Self-Reported Grades/Student Expectations, and Collective Teacher Efficacy.

Did You Know

TCEA will begin offering a new program that provides professional development on the eight components that must be in place for effective educational change to happen and on the implementation of Hattie’s research-proven strategies, along with free TCEA membership for those attending the campus/district training. If you are interested, please contact Lori Gracey. You will be amazed at the very low cost of this innovative, year-long program and the ongoing support it will provide your educators in making the leap to the very best teaching and learning.

Strategy Number 3: Cognitive Task Analysis

With an effect size of 1.29, this strategy really packs bang for your buck. The cognitive task analysis method analyzes and represents the cognitive activities that users utilize to perform tasks that require decision-making, problem-solving, memory, attention, and judgement. In other words, it’s teaching students how to think and problem solve. Some of the steps of a cognitive task analysis are: the mapping of the task; identifying the critical decision points; clustering, linking, and prioritizing them; and characterizing the strategies used.

This life-long skill is something that is not inherent; it must be taught and practiced until it almost becomes second nature. Unfortunately, because of the lack of time in the classroom today due to so many curriculum areas to be covered, much of the focus on these steps has fallen by the wayside. It is critical that every teacher, regardless of subject matter, help students learn how they learn and how they can improve that process. We all know that the future requires the ability to constantly learn new things. But this cannot be accomplished without strong cognitive skills.

Any technology that helps students in the planning of a task or solving a problem can assist with cognitive task analysis. This includes things like OneNote, G Suite for EDU, mind-mapping apps, graphic organizers, journaling, and even calendars. Breaking down a particular problem into steps and then creating a schedule of how each step will be tackled is key.

Strategy Number 2: Self-Reported Grades/Student Expectations

This may be one of the most difficult strategies to successfully implement, due in part to the fact that many students today have learned how to “play the game” and do the least amount of work that they can to get by. But with an effect size of 1.33, more than four times the average growth of a year’s learning in school, it is a critical one for schools to implement. In this strategy, students really must own their learning. They set their own goals, monitor their own achievement, and reflect upon their individual process of learning. The strategy then “involves the teacher finding out what are the student’s expectations and pushing the learner to exceed these expectations.”

The other part that makes this strategy difficult, particularly at the secondary level, is having so many students to work with. It’s hard to find time to discuss with each student his/her expectations, much less put in the work to help them exceed those expectations. There are a couple of technology tools that can help, however. Having students blog about their expectations and progress is one powerful resource. You can also help them see their own growth (or lack thereof) by having them keep a portfolio of work in something like Google Keep. Reflections on their achievements can be shared with the teacher in Flipgrid or VoiceThread or a similar tool.

Strategy Number 1: Collective Teacher Efficacy

What Hattie identified as having the biggest effect size out of all 250+ strategies that he examined is collective teacher efficacy. This one strategy, with an effect size of 1.57, has such a powerful impact that it can outweigh the negative effects of low socioeconomic status (source). Collective teacher efficacy is the collective belief of the school staff in their ability to positively affect students. But it’s not about just believing you can make a different. It includes:

  • The degree to which teacher participate in decisions
  • How much teachers know about what their peers are doing
  • How responsive school leadership is

When school leaders take a strong and thought-out approach to increasing the efficacy of all of their teachers, amazing things can happen for students. This requires, however, that dedicated time is spent by staff on:

  • Building instructional knowledge and skills
  • Creating opportunities for teachers to collaboratively share skills and experience
  • Interpreting results and providing actionable feedback on teachers’ performance
  • Involving teachers in school decision making

Shared discussions of what is working and what is not are important, along with shared decision making on matters that impact learning time. In addition, the leadership must open up classroom doors and facilitate the opportunity for every teacher to learn from his/her peers in an on-going reflective process.

There are some amazing tools that can help with this, once the leadership has chosen to make the journey. Pineapple charts to let others know when you will be teaching a particularly “good” lesson are easy to implement. You can also use technology to provide Flipgrid teacher reflections, short video segments of other teachers teaching (everyone has a cell phone for recording!), online discussion forums for teacher sharing, and polls that ask for teacher input into campus decisions.

Next Steps

The value of implementing at least one of these nine strategies that are proven to improve student learning cannot be underestimated. Whether you choose to make this journey on your own or have TCEA help your staff grow in ways that they never dreamed of is not the biggest question. The biggest question is when will you begin this journey of improvement that will positively affect all of y our students?

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