Saturday, 21 August 2010

The Fourth Dimension: A Challenge to Teachers - Write it Down!

The Fourth Dimension: A Challenge to Teachers - Write it Down!
Robert Keig Stallman, Per-Ludvik Kjendlie, Bente Laakso

As teachers our primary objective is to enhance the learning of our pupils and to help them experience the joy of mastery. This requires constant observation, evaluation, and feedback. This process is often inefficient or non-existent. Observation needs to be goal oriented. What am I looking for and why? Which movement suggestion should come first? Evaluation needs to be relevant, objective, measurable. Feedback needs to be precise, relevant, understandable.
Here we address a “fourth dimension”. For those of you who take observation, evaluation and feedback seriously, this fourth dimension is registration. By registering what we have observed and evaluated, our pedagogical instincts can be verified or rejected. Each new pupil and each new educational question, is a new challenge. We address each new challenge with curiosity. We constantly ask questions. Our questions can often be answered by simple manipulation of the information we register. You can join the team who would love to help you answer your questions. When you do A what are the learning results? How does this compare to B? If so inclined, you can do much yourself.
Continuous evaluation is an integral part of teaching. Your teaching is greatly enhanced by evaluating systematically. This gives the learner continuous feedback on the mastery process. It can be done discreetly so that it becomes part of the learner’s private mastery profile. We are not necessarily “testing” the pupils. We simply assign some tasks which are objective, measurable. We observe, evaluate and record them. They become simply another learning task. This becomes so routine that learners are often unaware of being evaluated. Of course, in some cases we tell them what we are doing when we feel that it can enhance motivation.
Permit two examples. The Cities of Lillehammer and Sandefjord, in Norway, have had the same coordinators of school swimming for many years. Swimming instruction is compulsory in the Norwegian primary school. The coordinators have instituted a system which gives children feedback on not only how they are doing in the mastery process, but on how they perform when evaluated on measurable tasks. To enhance the feeling of the learner that a task allowing objective evaluation is simply part of the learning process, it is often down played though systematic and objective. It is simply part of learning and teaching.
In this way, the coordinators and their team of teachers, have amassed an impressive data base.  Over the past 15 years, simple manipulation of some of these numbers has helped them answer some of their questions. Knowing more about how their pupils have mastered the essential tasks, helps the schools do it even better next time.
Join us! We want to answer questions. We want to do it better. We need your help.

Citation: Stallman, R.K., Kjndlie, P-Ll, and Laakso, B. (2017). The Fourth Dimension: A Challenge to Teachers - Write it Down. In: Avramidis S. (Ed.). Conference on Near-Death Experiences while Drowning (p. 29). Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA: International Swimming Hall of Fame.