How Can We Help Students Learn?

More than four years ago, before my daughter started kindergarten, she had the opportunity to see the room where I give lectures to my General Chemistry class. She was surprised how big the lecture hall was and that seats were fixed in place and were arranged in rows. To her it was pretty clear that the classroom was mainly for students to listen to what I had to say. She said, "Your class just sits and listens to you. In my class there's playing, and reading books, and listening to teachers, and "circle time", and nap. And your class just listens. Why?"

Back in 2012, Richard Clark, Paul Kirschner, and John Sweller wrote the following in the American Educator:
"Decades of research clearly demonstrate that for novices (comprising virtually all students), direct, explicit instruction is more effective and more efficient than partial guidance."
The authors, Clark, Kirschner, and Sweller actually wonder why educators and education policy makers are ignoring evidence on this matter. Perhaps, direct instruction does not sound inviting enough. Compared to "constructivist", "inquiry-based", "reflective", "collaborative", and "integrative", "direct instruction" does sound boring.

Education policy makers like attractive sound bites. And the Philippines is no exception. The Department of Education in the Philippines fully embraces constructivism and inquiry-based learning. The law on basic education in the Philippines, Republic Act No. 10533, explicitly states, "The curriculum shall use pedagogical approaches that are constructivist, inquiry-based, reflective, collaborative and integrative."

Education policy makers probably do not read primary literature. And no one can really blame them since research articles are often lengthy and dry. So, to this end, it may actually be more effective if I simply cut and paste short passages (and these have to come with figures) from the article of Clark et al. These may just be what is necessary to bring the message through. After all, there is no harm in trying. So, here goes....

Above images are copied from
Putting Students on the Path to Learning


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