Public education cannot survive unless the public has more faith in its ability to educate children effectively - Teaching summary introduction. Teachers need to be able to distinguish techniques which are fads from those that have been scientifically proven to work. These are referred to as “best practice” techniques and these work for more than one teacher and one student. Teachers need to be aware that professional opinions can appear to be the result of a scientific study, but this is not always the case. They should examine the study closely to determine its validity.
Ellis and Fout’s classification system produced three levels of research, based on the amount of evidence that supported a particular theory. Level one contains an abundance of research, but this research leads to little more than a theory. It is easy to be fooled by level one, because the sheer amount of research can lead one to believe that it is valid, proven research. Level two research takes place when teaching practices are conducted in the classroom. The students are divided into two groups — an experimental group and a control group – in order to determine which teaching method is more effective. The only drawback to this level is that the study can take up valuable instructional time. Finally, level three takes place when the teaching intervention is applied school-wide or district-wide. This provides a more broad basis for determining the results of the study.
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The most important quality in any research is that it must be replicable; meaning, that the results of the study must appear among different groups. If a teaching practice only works with certain students, then it is not a valuable method. Often, level one research winds up being given the same respect as level three research without being tested on a school-wide or district-wide level. According to Ellis and Fout, the research conducted by Piaget and Gardner is only level one, in spite of the fact that they are considered to be the cornerstone of research involving children. This is because they are untested theories.
Cooperative learning is a widely-used tool among schools because it allows students to work together and learn from each other while freeing up the teacher to supervise. It is considered a level two study because it hasn’t been conducted within the parameters of a study, and there is no training involved for teachers. While reading recovery methods have boasted a 90% success rate, it is considered a level one practice because the teachers collect and report the data themselves.
While there are many theories that top out at a level one or two (in spite of the broad use or reputation), there is one teaching method that qualifies as a level three. This is Project Follow Through, which sought to “break the cycle of poverty through education.”
The conclusion was that teacher-directed education was more effective than child-centered education. In spite of this finding, child-centered education experienced a resurgence in the 1990’s and level three research is often cast aside in favor of level one and two research.
It is difficult to improve teaching methods in light of the fact that many teachers use their own methods of teaching and do not report these methods to a scientific knowledge base where they can be evaluated and compared to other methods. This, of course, is in response to faulty teaching methods that don’t work. Teachers need to have shared procedures that work in order to maximize instructional time and also allow teachers to have a life outside of work.