"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Classroom That Is Conducive to Learning

One graduate student was so impressed when he sat in the first General Chemistry course that I taught at Georgetown. The lecture was among the first ones early in the morning. There were more than 150 students enrolled and the classroom was noisy while students were finding their seats. Morning greetings and chats about what happened the night before filled the room. While waiting for the scheduled time for the lecture, I was sitting in one of the chairs in the front row. When the moment to begin the lecture arrived, I stood up. At that precise moment, my graduate student could hear a pin drop. I did not have to say a word. All I did was I stood up and the room was quiet.

This month's topic in PISA in Focus, a series of monthly education policy-oriented notes designed to describe a PISA topic in a concise, user-friendly way, is on orderly classrooms. The following is the first page of the notes:


The notes emphasize how difficult it is to find one factor that positively correlates with student performance across all countries. There are so many factors that influence learning such as pupil-to-teacher ratio, government spending per pupil, instructional hours, medium of instruction, and technology in the classroom. More often than not, the above factors are trumped by socio-economic factors. Thus, it is quite surprising to find one factor that consistently correlates positively with learning across most countries even after correcting for socio-economic factors. And this factor is a positive disciplinary climate inside the classroom. A classroom in which a teacher does not have to wait a long time for students to quiet down correlates with better student performance across the globe. On one hand, this should not be surprising. After all, students can not pay attention and listen to the lecture if there is chaos inside the room. Orderly classrooms do not depend solely on the teacher, however. The notes cite that there exists a strong relationship between a positive disciplinary climate in school and students' socio-economic status. Seeing the photo below of a classroom in the Philippines provides a possible explanation for this strong relationship. An orderly classroom depends on the quality of the classroom. Disorder or chaos are simply more likely to happen when classrooms are not physically conducive to learning.
YouScooper Maria Trinidad Toriano shares this photo of students attending a class amid flood water at a public high school in Hagonoy, Bulacan. Toriano, a teacher of the school, reports that the area is a catch basin every time there is a high tide. She adds the high tide happens every other week and that floods rise up to knee-level.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this very informative blog of yours. I'm learning so much from every posts you have. I'll be sharing your blog to my colleagues in the academe. Learning should never stop specially if your goal is to educate the future. Hoping one day for a possible collaboration with you. God bless you Sir.