A Critical Comparison of Two Pedagogical Approaches Implemented to Teach Learners with Adhd, in Mainstream Schools Essays
Teaching, Learning and Assessment. Assignment 1. A critical comparison of two Pedagogical Approaches implemented to teach learners with ADHD, in Mainstream Schools. Rationale Introduction In this assignment I aim to critically compare two pedagogies; Teacher-Centred Learning (TCL) and a problem solving approach, used to teach learners with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in mainstream schools. I will use the example of Problem-based Learning (known as PBL) for a problem solving approach.
My interest in a comparative study of these two pedagogies derives from my experience as a teaching assistant in a U. K. mainstream school, where I specifically worked with learners who had varying behavioural issues, including ADHD. As I worked in small groups or on a one to one basis I was able to develop my methods of teaching to best suit each individual and found that a ‘one size fits all’ approach was not adequate. It was through this work that I wanted to better understand the most practicable and successful pedagogies to implement when teaching learners with ADHD.
Also, in Education today there seems to be a great want to ensure ‘Inclusive Education’ for all is occurring and that means allowing learners, even those with Special Educational Needs, the right to access mainstream education. UNESCO (1994:11-12) stated that: ‘Children should learn together, wherever possible, regardless of any difficulties or differences they have….. There should be a continuum of support of services to match the continuum of special needs encountered in every school. However, for this to happen effectively teachers need to be able to adapt their pedagogies, (teaching methods) to suit all, and not just the majority of their students. Learners with behavioural disorders, such as ADHD, must be able to engage and actively partake in lessons. In This assignment I will define Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and use the abbreviation ADHD. I will also define the two pedagogies, referring to them as TCL and PBL. In addition to this I will specifically compare certain aspects of the two pedagogies. These will be; the link to different learning theories that nderlie both of these approaches, how each pedagogy is implemented and finally the practability of each method before summarising. Definitions and Descriptions Everyone who has worked within education will be familiar with the setting of a classroom. Those students who are eager to learn sitting at the front, the majority of the class who just want to do enough to pass, and no more, sat in the middle, and those disruptive naughty students sat at the back who the bulk of teachers either ignore or send out. But what if those students at the back are not naughty, but just disengaged?
What if they cannot learn within the specific style that the teacher is using? What if they suffer from ADHD? ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a common behavioural disorder. It is defined by the APA (1994) as, ‘a developmental, neurobiological condition defined by the presence of severe and pervasive symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. ’ Children who have ADHD commonly have the following characteristics, according to Kids Health Organisation; ‘an inability to pay attention to detail…problems with organisation…. distractibility… running around…excessive talking…and difficulty waiting their turn. (Kids Health. n. p. ) Therefore, given these traits, it is understandable that their academic skills and functioning will suffer. These are just a few of the more common symptoms and from these I think it is clear to see that these learners are not naughty children at school. But in fact, they are learners who have trouble in regulating their behaviours. I have chosen to look at TCL as one of the pedagogies as I have seen it in practice in many different settings, and I have seen it work and fail. A TC approach relies on the teacher to determine what ‘constitutes knowledge. ’ (Kain 2003. p104) TCL originates from the Behaviourism.
It uses ‘extrinsic motivation,’ (Braud 2010. n. p) and according to Skinner it focuses on punishment and reward, which is dealt out by the teacher. It is identifiable by the teacher taking the role of the instructor. It is also the job of the teacher to monitor closely the work that student’s produce and correct it accordingly. The topics that are worked on in class are usually chosen by the teacher and the way in which the work is carried out is also dictated by the teacher. The classroom typically remains a quiet area and students are not normally encouraged to discuss their work with one another.
It is thought by some researchers, such as Raggi and Chronis that learners with ADHD need teachers to structure their learner and ‘reduce task lengths. ’ (Raggi & Chronis 2006. p 99) They must not have too much freedom as they are distracted too easily, and so they need TC methods, including strict instruction and topics chosen for them, to keep them on track. The method can also be referred to as a transmission of knowledge. McDonald (2003) explained the definition by saying, ‘that the work of teachers depends upon the abilities, skills and efforts of their students. ’ (McDonald 2003. p125) Student achievement is the main focus.
In contrast to this, PBL, which is student centred, has its focus much more on the learner. PBL originated from Social Learning Theory. This theory is based on learning from others through interaction, which is exactly what PBL encourages. Albert Bandura is noted as one of the leading theorists of Social Learning and he believed that, intrinsic motivation was key to successful learning. Students are encouraged to cooperate with each other and discuss their work and ideas. Although guidance is given from the teacher, the work is done by the students with little interference. When questions do arise the students are able to ask for help.
Students are allowed some choice in deciding which topics will be learnt about and also some choice in the way in which the learning process will occur. It is down to the students to make connections between topics and solve problems. The students and the teacher assess the work and the classroom setting is typically much noisier due to permitted discussions. Some theorists, such as Messer, have deemed this approach more suitable for learners with ADHD, ‘Many children with ADHD could benefit from a curriculum that they find relevant and interesting and from a problem solving approach to learning. ’ (Messer 2010 n. . ) Messer discusses the point that when a learner with ADHD has a true interest in a topic, so a topic they are likely to have chosen themselves, they are more focused and their attention span lengthens. This is why she argues that PBL is a suitable pedagogy. Sources The reading I have carried out for this assignment has been incredibly informative, fundamentally in terms of how learners with ADHD are perceived and how they learn. The quantity of articles available on the matter of learners with ADHD and the ways in which they respond to teaching shows the relevance of my topic in today’s Education.
Also with Inclusive Education being a hot topic for debate, my assignment subject is current. Many books and journals focus on the fact that labelling is damaging to individuals, and that although the correct teaching methods are necessary to improve the learning for those with ADHD, it is also important for society to change the way learners with ADHD are perceived. Lauchlan and Boyle (2007) stated that labelling can ‘lead to stigmatization,’ (Lauchlan & Boyle 2007 p36) and also ‘bullying and low self-esteem. ’ (Frederickson & Cline 2009. p 34) Analytical Framework
When comparing these two pedagogies it is important to focus on some specific topics to get a clear comparison and not just describe the benefits and criticisms of each. It must be understood that both approaches are advantageous and useful in the right settings. As from my descriptions of each pedagogy I hope that it is clear that each method has different strategies. However, the basis of the points I am comparing make up my rationale and the sections of my analytical framework are to critically compare the use of each pedagogy for learners with ADHD.
Link to Learning Theories – My personal experience suggests that even though several students in a class may have ADHD, this does not mean that they all learn in the same way. Some students are just more responsive to certain techniques, the same as any other child, a learner with ADHD, is an individual. As such I think it is important to look at where each pedagogy has its roots. TCL stems from the Behaviourism. This theory states that in an educational setting, the learner is passive and merely responds to stimuli, that the teacher would present.
This theory sees the learner as ‘a clean slate,’ (Schunk 2007 p43) and that they are moulded by either positive or negative reinforcement. This in turn then determines whether behaviours will occur again in the learner. As positive and negative reinforcement then dictate the learners behaviour and how they learn, the learning process is defined as a behaviour. This theory is supported by B. F. Skinner, and he believed that, ‘continuous reinforcement increases the rate of learning. ’ (Spaeth & Walter 1997 n. p. This can be applied to learners with ADHD, as they have a short attention span and difficulty in focusing on tasks, so frequent reinforcement regularly refocuses them, and also continuous praise can help boost the possible low self-esteem they have, due to be labelled with ADHD. Another specification of Behaviourist Learning is, ‘small, progressively sequences tasks. ’ (Spaeth & Walter 1997 n. p. ) This too is relevant when teaching learners with ADHD, as mentioned before, learners with ADHD, have a hard time remembering tasks, as so having short tasks will be beneficial.
So even though TCL out dates behaviourist theories, it is clear to see where TCL gained many of its dimensions. In stark contrast to this, PBL derives from the Social Learning Theory. Learners were seen as having a natural predisposition towards learning, and with the assistance of the teacher as a facilitator, learners were able to develop in education through solving problems, asking questions, working with one another and taking a genuine interest in the topics that they were learning about.
The allowance of children to take some control over the education fits in with the Social Learning Theory, as the theory believes that individuals learn from one another. One famous theorist who supported this theory was Bandura. He believed that, ‘reciprocal determinism, that is, the world and a person’s behaviour cause each other, while behaviourism essentially states that one’s environment causes one’s behaviour. ’ (Schunk 2007 p44) This theory underlies PBL as learners are encouraged to work together and learn from each other.
The teacher’s role is as a facilitator and learners are encouraged to choose topics in education that they are interested in and want to link to other areas of education. This theory is also closely linked to Vygotsky’s Social Development Theory and Lave’s situated Learning, both of which lay stress on the importance of social learning. So this too links in to how to teach learners with ADHD, as it has been described that learners with ADHD lose focus, but would possibly focus more if they were directly interested in topics in education, which they would be if they had a hand in choosing them.
Also if they are allowed to work with others they can model other student’s behaviours and so develop their learning skills. The implication here from these underlying theories is that TCL is about children learning just from the teacher, who is the source of knowledge. They start as blank slates and learn accordingly, where in comparison, PBL allows students choice and sees them as already having a base of knowledge and building on it. Both of which are helpful for learners with ADHD.
Through TCL they are given structure and limits to retain their focus, but the topics are chosen by teachers and so may not be of interest and their focus may wain. With PBL they are encouraged to take part in choosing topics and so are more engaged and also they interact with others and so can learn appropriate behaviours and learn knowledge from their peers, however, with so much freedom there is the possibility that they could go off track and have no one to refocus them. It seems that neither approach alone is sufficient Implementation Both of the pedagogies I have been discussing are commonly used within education.
However, they are both implemented very differently due to where the emphasise lies. With TCL the emphasis is on the teacher and the activity or topic to be studied has been chosen by them. A classic example of a TC approach being implemented is the P-P-P approach. This is the, ‘Presentation-Practice-Production,’ system. The idea here is that learners are given the chance to learn something in the correct perspective, have it modelled to them by the teacher, then practice the work in a controlled environment, monitored by the teacher and then to practice it freely.
This implementation of TCL allows the teacher to remain in control of the lesson. They set the topic and determine the way in which the topic will be studied, this is the presentation. The point of this presentation according to Reuckert is; ‘to make the students understand the language point, vocabulary set, situation, or other language focus of the class. ’ (Reuckert 1997 online n. p. ) Next comes practice, here the learners begin to use what the teacher has shown them, by using ‘drills,’ that start out controlled and them become less so.
These drills can sometime be oral and sometimes written. Finally is the production. The students show what they have learnt and the teacher monitors them. Afterwards the teacher gives the learners feedback. This implementation can be considered very useful for learners with ADHD. It is a very controlled environment with constant monitoring from the teacher. Here, a learner with ADHD would not be allowed to wander off the topic, and if they began to lose their focus the teacher would see and be able to redirect them.
The learner would have seen the task from the teacher and so be able to model their learning behaviour on them, and also receive structure throughout the task. However, is can be argued that learners with ADHD could have trouble with PPP lessons due to them being uninterested in the topics chosen, and so a PBL pedagogy, where the focus is student centred, could be more useful. PBL allows learners to take a much more active role in education. They are involved in choosing topics which are relevant and of an interest to them.
Implementing PBL in a classroom means that the teacher must take a back seat. According to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) PBL; ‘provides authentic experiences that foster active learning, support knowledge construction and naturally integrate school learning and real life. ’ (Marquardt 2010 online n. p. ) PBL is best when its topic is related to a real world problem or question, that the students must then research in order to try and answer. This pedagogy allows students to work together and share their knowledge.
This pedagogy, implemented correctly in class can be of great benefit to those with ADHD. As the topic is of interest to them they are likely to be able to keep their focus on the task. They are going to be interested in finding out information and can also work with others to gain the knowledge. This means they can again model correct behaviours. In addition to this most learners with ADHD are tangential rather than linear thinkers. Therefore they often have many possible ways of solving problems and approach things differently to their peers.
They solve problems ‘in a divergent rather than convergent fashion. ’ (Messer 2010 online n. p. ) Learners with ADHD are often more creative and this idea needs to be encouraged, and can be when PBL is applied. An applicable and relevant curriculum is crucial to attain success in school. However, it can be argued again that with a lack of structure a learner with ADHD could suffer as a teacher will not be constantly monitoring their work. They could be free to do whatever they like and be unprepared when the class comes back together to present their findings.
Practicality Whilst both of these pedagogies are popularly used their practicality for use with learners with ADHD must be addressed in this assignment. To critically compare them we must understand how applicable they each are for use. TCL allows a learner with ADHD to always know the boundaries, be reminded of them and be re-focused if the start to wander off task. It is practical to apply this pedagogy when teaching learners with ADHD as the controlled setting allows for guidance and structured support.
In addition to this it is beneficial for a learner with ADHD to receive praise and constant reassurance from the teacher in order to assure the learner that they are doing the right thing, or for them to be re-directed if they are not. Also it is practical with a learner who has ADHD for the teacher to be able to assess the rate and standard of learning and so know what areas need more work, and when relevant testing should be carried out. Another aspect which makes TCL practical is the aspect of discipline.
If a learner with ADHD does become unruly or disruptive the teacher needs to be able to step in and deal with the matter quickly and in this setting they are able too. However, there are some limitations to its practability. How practical is it to have a learner who finds it difficult to focus, learning about a topic of no interest or relevance to them? It is not ideal to have someone who can be hyperactive sat in a chair all day, not allowed to speak with his/her classmates. This is where PBL seems more practical.
Using PBL with ADHD students is practical in the sense that it allows them to actively engage in education. They are able to interact socially and be creative with their learning. It is sensible to give them some choice in their subject topics if it means they will participate and gain something positive out of the lesson. It also allows a learner with ADHD to ‘learn life skills’ (Pawson et al 2006 p111) that he/she can apply outside of the classroom, such as team-work and cooperation skills. However, as with TCL, there are some criticisms.
Is it truly practical to have a learner who struggles to focus on tasks even with strict guidance, go off and gain information? Are they going to be too easily distracted with so much freedom? As there is less structure to the learning those with ADHD could become anxious as they will not always know what they should be doing or at what stage they should be, and if they do not gain the relevant information, ‘less useful knowledge will have been learnt. ’ (Pawson et al 2006 p112) Original Sources
As I have previous experience of working in a school with teachers who have taught those with ADHD and I myself have worked with students who have ADHD I thought I would include a short section in this assignment to put down how they feel and what they think are the most successful pedagogies to use. I have included two quotes from teaching staff and two from students who have ADHD. The first is from a teacher with 5 years’ experience who has a boy in her class who has severe ADHD. ‘I find it impossible to give him a task and leave him to it.
Either myself or my T. A. (Teaching Assistant) supervises him once the rest of the class is underway. The thought of using problem based learning whilst he is in my lesson scares me. ’ (Teacher A. Interview. November 2010) Another teacher who has 7 years’ experience comments that, ‘if the topic is carefully chosen, and the other students calm and responsive, I find that I can use problem-based learning even with my student who has ADHD. Sure he may need slightly more guidance, but he seems to enjoy the responsibility and really gets involved. ’ (Teacher B.
Interview November 2010) One student I spoke with has ADHD but is medicated. He comments, ‘I find it really hard to just sit and listen. It can be dead boring and if the teachers don’t make it interesting, then I’m gone, off in my head. ’ (Student A. Interview. November 2010) From these brief snippets of conversation I believe that neither pedagogy can be used wholly and that the teachers and students both understand this. Communication is also key, between the teaching staff and the students, as well as other professionals. If the students are listened too, they may hold the key to successful learning.
Summary Although the two pedagogies I have been comparing are notably different I aimed to critically compare them for their suitability for use with learners who have ADHD. A fully effective comparison of the two methods is problematic due to their very apparent diverse styles and for the fact that through my reading and research it is clear that pedagogies alone are not enough to ensure successful learning for those with ADHD. TCL relies heavily on the teacher being the centre of all knowledge and the students listening to them and taking in what they say.
In order to work the students must work alone the majority of the time and remain quite quiet during class so that the teacher can understand. In direct contrast to this, PBL is learner centred. It relies on the teacher to be a facilitator and the learners to take on a more active role and to interact with one another. The teacher and students evaluate the work together and the learners have some choice in the topics they study and research and in how the work is carried out. They are both linked to theories of learning that have proven successful and they can both be implemented practically, to some degree, in class.
But how do they work for learners with ADHD? To an earlier point I made, there is no one size fits all approach. Neither pedagogy is right or wrong to use, but they must not be used solely and alone. Whilst one approach gives structure, guidance and reassurance, the other allows freedom, creativity and social interaction. All of which are vital to an ADHD learners educational experience. A combination of appropriate teaching methods, communication and understanding must be used to ensure effective learning for a student with ADHD is achieved.
Cooper (1997, p114) helps me to summarise my conclusion to this comparative study: ‘Some educationalists treat ADHD as a wholly educational issue. They assume that, if appropriate classroom management strategies are adopted, the children’s behaviour will be controlled and their attention will be focused. ’ Aiding a learner with ADHD to successfully learn is not down to just the pedagogical approach. Teachers need to be better prepared, understand what ADHD is and how it affects their students, but also to adapt their methods and not try to force a particular approach to work.
Cooper suggests that a holistic approach to teaching those with ADHD is necessary; the focus should not be restricted to managing their behaviour in class, but to working with the child, to accomplish a practical solution to aid their learning.
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