Monday, November 21, 2011

Education: Performance Failure Conditioning - What Is It?

Over 100 years ago, a Russian scientist by the name of Ivan Pavlov published the results of his work. What he termed "condition reflex" was the first model of learning - Classical Conditioning. So what does this have to do with education? A lot!

Since that point in time, numerous other researches have continued their investigation on how individuals learn from Piaget to Bloom to Krathwohl just to mention a few. With all of this documented learning research during the last 50 years, why are we still not achieving the measurable performance success that we know is possible?

Possibly, through intentional and unintentional actions, an old malady for lack of a better word has gained additional ground. I have named this Performance Failure Conditioning. During the last 20 plus years, I have been observing this disorder and have come to realize the enormous detrimental affects upon our society.

So what is performance failure conditioning? Simply speaking, individual performance is conditioned to fail because known obstacles are not removed or are intentionally placed in the path to performance success.

Within education, performance failure conditioning has become rampant. During my first education course over 15 years ago, the professor made the following statement: "Over 90% of you will teach as you were taught in spite of what you learn here." Those words haunted me because even though I was a good student, I had learned early in my K-12 educational experience to work around poor teachers. And after reflecting about the total $25,000 plus college investment for a Bachelor's Degree in Education, those words haunted me and continue to do so even today. I became aware very early on how conditioning played an important part of my professional development and day to day living experiences.

Another example centers around training teachers. Incoming teacher performance is conditioned to fail because teachers not trained to overcome the number one obstacle that prevents engaged learning from happening - attitudes. I have surveyed over 1,000 teachers the last 5 years and have learned that students' attitudes are the major obstacle in creating an engaged learning environment. Redeveloping attitudes is not part of the elementary, middle school or high school college teaching curriculums. Earning my teaching degree later in life, I can also personally attest to this fact. Since it is not part of the training, then these new incoming teachers have indeed been conditioned to fail.

Also, in many school systems, there continues to be unqualified teachers who are practicing within the classroom. Their lack of instructional knowledge and certification definitely affects the performance of their students. Their behaviors are conditioning the students to fail. Student achievement within these dysfunctional classrooms is one of the worst examples of performance failure conditioning.

Performance failure conditioning is not new. This disorder has been around for many years. However in today's world where every moment within the classroom must be one of high performance, performance failure conditioning must be eliminated.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Education: Increase Academic Performance Through Engaged Learning By Partnering Bloom and Krathwohl

What is engaged learning? From my experience and training it is when everyone within the classroom is actively engaged in the learning process to improve academic performance with a minimal amount of time being wasted. Unfortunately, the results from the Nation's Report Card tell us that young people are not performing at the levels required to compete as knowledge workers in the 21st Century.

To create an engaged learning environment requires that teachers have knowledge about how people learn. Many pre-service and experience teachers can recite the 6 categories within Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives:

However very few can with equal ease list the 5 categories within the Affective Learning Domain as identified by Krathwohl and colleagues:

Organization and Prioritizing
Internalize Values
Of course, listing them doesn't mean that they are being implemented into the daily lessons and achieving measurable learning results. And that is probably one of the reasons why improved performance in the classroom is not where it should be given the resources being expended and invested each and every day.

Let's be honest. Most young people especially those in middle school and high school know the following:

Be to school on time
Complete and submit assigned homework or projects
Speak when asked and do not interrupt
Submit neat work with your name, class, etc.
Keep your desk or locker clean and organized
Earn good grades
So, the real issue is not one of knowing, but rather one of wanting to do what is require. By partnering Krathwohl's taxonomy with Bloom's, teachers can increase the learning of a subject while changing beliefs and attitudes.

This partnership does take additional time. However when infusing these domains together, the increased academic performance outcomes far outweigh any perceived challenges. And, the extra benefit is that you spend far less time in classroom management and far more time in engaged learning.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith, President of ADVANCED SYSTEMS, works with large urban to private schools, certified staff, support staff, students and parents to improve performance in 30 to 180 days. Using proven tools, we can quickly and affordably identify the gaps in YOUR organization, provide you with an Action Plan that you can easily implement along with developmental programs from executive leadership to student leadership.