Implementing innovative ideas and practices in the classroom: Lessons for teacher education and professional development Erik De Corte Center for Instructional Psychology and Technology University of Leuven, Belgium - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Implementing innovative ideas and practices in the classroom: Lessons for teacher education and professional development Erik De Corte Center for Instructional Psychology and Technology University of Leuven, Belgium


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Title: Implementing innovative ideas and practices in the classroom: Lessons for teacher education and professional development Erik De Corte Center for Instructional Psychology and Technology University of Leuven, Belgium

Implementing innovative ideas and practices in
the classroom Lessons for teacher education and
professional developmentErik De CorteCenter
for Instructional Psychology and Technology
University of Leuven, Belgium
  • Invited lecture presented at the Conference on
    Education and Training of Secondary Education
  • Lefkosia, Cyprus, January 22, 2011

Overview of the presentation
  • A research-based perspective on the objectives of
    school education and effective learning
  • Implementing new ideas and practices A trail
    with obstacles
  • Remedies toward sustainable implementation of
    innovations Teachers involvement and intensive
    professional development

A research-based perspective on the objectives of
school education and effective learning
  • Overall goal of education Adaptive competence
  • the ability to apply meaningfully learned
    knowledge and skills flexibly and creatively in
    different situations
  • opposed to routine expertise being able to
    complete typical school tasks quickly and
    accurately but without understanding
  • Building AC in a domain requires the acquisition
    of several cognitive, affective and motivational

Adaptive Competence
  • 11. A well-organized and flexibly accessible
    domain-specific knowledge base
  • 2.  Heuristics methods, i.e. search strategies
    for problem analysis and transformation
  • 3.  Metaknowledge. i.e. knowledge about ones
    cognitive functioning (metacognitive knowl.),
    and about ones motivation and emotions that
    can be actively used to improve learning
  • 4. Self-regulatory skills relating to the
    regulation of ones cognitive processes
    (metacognition) or cognitive self- regulation,
    and motivational and emotional processes
    (motivational self- regulation)
  • 5.  Positive beliefs about the self in relation
    to learning in a domain, about the social
    context in which learning activities take place,
    and about the content domain and learning and
    problem solving in that domain

  • Traditional teacher-directed learning not the
    most and certainly not the only appropriate way
    in view of achieving adaptive competence (AC)

To support progressive acquisition of AC novel
classroom practices and cultures are needed that
create the conditions for a major shift from
the dominance of direct teaching toward the
balanced and integrated use of structure and
guidance by the teacher where and when needed,
combined with substantial opportunities and
space for self- regulated and self-determined
learning by students
Taking also into account the importance of
contextualand social aspects impacting learning,
thisinvolves that learning from instruction in
schoolsneeds to embody more than was
traditionally the case the following
characteristics of learning Constructive
Self-regulated Situated Collaborativebuild
ing thereby on students prior knowledge and
taking into account individual differences
This CSSC view integrates the acquisition and
participation metaphors of learning (Sfard,
1998), or the individual and social aspects of
learning (Salomon Perkins, 1998)
Implementing new ideas and practices A trail
with obstacles
  • The preceding perspective on the goals and the
    nature of learning and instruction has
    influenced reform movements in education
  • more accent on understanding, reasoning and
    problem solving in domains like mathematics and
  • more accent on strategy teaching in reading and
    writing instruction
  • more attention to the development in students
    of self- regulation skills
  • more attention to fostering positive beliefs
    about learning and about subject-matter domains

An example from Flanders, Belgium
  • In the Flemish part of Belgium new standards for
    primary education became operational in the
    school year 1998-1999
  • Mathematics these standards stress more than was
    hitherto the case
  • the importance of mathematical reasoning and
    problem- solving skills (heuristics and
    self-regulatory skills) and their applicability
    to real-life situations
  • the development of more positive attitudes and
    beliefs toward mathematics

These innovative ideas about the standards have
of course had a strong influence they led to
revising the curriculum and to a new generation
of textbooks for primary math teaching, based on
this new perspective on the objectives of math
education Important question To what
extent do the innovative ideas underlying the
new curriculum and textbooks effectively and
appropriately impact classroom practices in
todays regular Flemish classes?
Evidence from a video-based study
  • Theoretical background socio-constructivist
  • Participants
  • 10 sixth-grade classrooms / 206 students
  • same reform-based textbook Eurobasis
  • Data collection
  • Same two problem-solving lessons videotaped in
    all 10 classes
  • Students beliefs questionnaire consisting of 2
  • S1 pleasure and persistence while solving
  • S2 problem- and process-oriented view on
    problem solving
  • Problem-solving test 10 non-routine problems

Analysis of the videotapes
  • Focus of the learning environment
  • Instructional strategies
  • Classroom organization forms
  • Nature of the problem
  • Focus of the learning environment on
  • 14 heuristics and self-regulation skills
  • e.g., distinguish relevant from irrelevant data
  • overall metacognitive strategy for PS
  • 10 beliefs about PS
  • e.g., a problem can be solved in different ways
    or can have different solutions
  • it is useful to listen to the ways in
    which other students have solved a problem

Nature of the problems Realistic the
problem refers to situations that relate to
students experiential world and the
questions raised are meaningful for the
students Complex the problem
is not merely a routine task but goes beyond
the mere application of a previously learnt
formula or procedure, thus forcing students
to use heuristic or and self-regulations skills
  • Focus of the learning environment
  • Heuristic and self-regulation (SR) skills
  • Some heuristic/SR skills are frequently
    emphasized e.g. distinguish relevant from
    irrelevant data
  • make a scheme or a table
  • Most skills are hardly addressed e.g. guess
    and check
  • overall metacognitive strategy for
    solving math problems
  • Little or no informed instruction !!
  • Striking differences between the teachers
    approaches e.g. distinguish relevant from
    irrelevant data frequency range from
    5 to 47

Results (cont.)
  • Norms
  • Little or no attention is paid to the explicit
    teaching of norms
  • To a small extent A problem can be solved in
    different ways e.g. All roads lead to Rome, as
    long as you take the one that is the
    easiest for you

Results (cont.)
  • Nature of the problems
  • Realistic problems more than 95 of the
    problems that were discussed in the classes
    were realistic
  • Complex problems only 22 of the tasks
    were complex
  • Group work totally absent in 4 out of the 10

  • Introducing in textbooks a new, innovative way
    of teaching problem solving does not easily and
    certainly not automatically lead to a
    high-fidelity implementation of the intended
    approach in regular classroom practices
  • This finding is in accordance with previous
  • A major reason for this observation
  • Teachers play an active role in the
    implementation of new ideas and curriculum
    materials they interpret - often unconsciously
    the new ideas through their existing prior
    knowledge, beliefs and experience. As argued by
    Spillane, Reiser, and Reimer (2002)
  • Implementation failure results not because
    implementing agents reject the reform ideas
    advanced via standard-based reform but because
    they understand them differently (p. 419)

Moreover teachers are constraint by their
specific working conditions while
implementing a curriculum, such as time
pressure, students prior knowledge, etc.
teaching students how to approach and solve
non-routine problems seems to be challenging
and complex for teachersChallenging
question How can we bridge the
implementation gap
Toward sustainable implementation of innovations
  • Research in which new reform-based learning
    environments were designed and applied in
    classrooms provide evidence, that sustainable
    implementation of innovative ideas and practices
    is possible conditional however on the
    involvement and intensive training and guidance
    of teachers
  • Several such design studies in different
    subject-matter domains illustrate and support
    this standpoint
  • One example A powerful learning environment (LE)
    for mathematical problem solving in sixth grade

Designing a LE in partnership with educational
  • Research project commissioned by the Flemish
    Ministry of Education - aiming at the design and
    evaluation of a powerful LE that can elicit in
    students the appropriate learning processes for
    acquiring the new standards for math education
  • The LE (consisting of 20 lessons) in 4 classrooms
    was fundamentally changed with respect to the
    following components
  • the content of learning and teaching
  • the nature of the problems
  • the instructional techniques
  • the classroom culture

Competence Competent problem-solving model An
overall SR-strategy for solving mathematical
Acquiring this problem-solving strategy involves
  • 1. Awareness training becoming aware of the
    different phases of the SR strategy
  • 2. Self-regulation training becoming able to
    monitor and evaluate ones actions during the
    different phases of the solution process
  • 3. Heuristic strategy training gaining mastery
    of the eight heuristic strategies (involved in
    step 1 and 2 of the strategy)

Varied set of carefully designed realistic (or
authentic), complex, and open problems that
differ substantially from the traditional
textbook tasks
Moreover, these problems were presented in
different formats a text, a newspaper article, a
brochure, a comic strip, a table, or a
combination of several of these formats
Example of a problem used in one of the project
  • Pete and Annie are building a miniature town
    with cardboard. The space between the church and
    the town hall seems the perfect location for a
    big parking lot. The available space has the
    format of a square with a side of 50 cm and is
    surrounded by walls except for its street side.
    Pete has already made a cardboard square of the
    appropriate size. What will be the maximum
    capacity of their parking lot?

1. Fill in the maximum capacity of the parking
lot on the banner 2. Draw on the cardboard
square how you can best divide the parking lot in
parking spaces 3 . Explain how you came to your
plan for the parking lot
A learning community was created through the
application of a varied set of activating and
interactive instructional techniques
  • The basic instructional model for each lesson
    period consisted of the following sequence of
    classroom activities
  • (1) a short whole-class introduction
  • (2) two group assignments solved in fixed
  • groups of three to four pupils, each of
    which was followed
  • by a whole-class discussion
  • (3) an individual task also with a subsequent
  • discussion
  • Throughout the whole lesson the teacher's role
    was to encourage and scaffold pupils to engage
    in, and to reflect upon, the kinds of cognitive
    and SR activities involved in the model of
    skilled problem solving. These instructional
    supports were gradually faded out

Innovative classroom culture
  • Establishment of new social norms about
    learning and teaching math problem solving
  • (1) stimulating pupils to articulate and
  • upon their solution strategies,
  • (mis)conceptions, beliefs, and feelings
  • relating to math problem solving
  • (2) discussing about what counts as a good
  • problem, a good response, and a good
  • solution procedure
  • (3) reconsidering the role of the teacher and
    the pupils in the mathematics classroom

This LE was elaborated in partnership with the
teachers of the experimental classes and their
  • The teachers were involved at each stage of the
    study, from the pre-intervention planning to the
    postintervention evaluation
  • Meetings were organized to encourage reflection
    and input from all members of the research team,
    the teachers and their principals
  • The model of teacher development adopted
    emphasized the creation of a social context
    wherein teachers and researchers learn from each
    other through continuous discussion and
    reflection on the basic principles of the LE, the
    learning materials developed, and the teachers'
    practices during the lessons

This has resulted, for example, in a set of ten
general guidelines for the teachers comprising
specific actions they should take and ways they
should be involved with students before, during,
and after the individual and group assignments in
order to strengthen the power of the LE In the
teachers guide, each of these ten guidelines was
accompanied by an explanation of its purpose, as
well as by several worked-out examples of their
Guidelines before, during and after the group and
individual assignmentsBEFORERelate the new
aspect (heuristic, problem-solving step...) to
what has already been learned beforeProvide a
good orientation to the new task DURING Observe
the group work and provide appropriate hints
when neededStimulate articulation and
reflectionStimulate the active thinking and
co-operation of all group members (especially the
weaker ones) AFTERDemonstrate the existence of
different appropriate solutions and solution
methods for the same problemAvoid to impose
solutions and solution methods onto pupilsPay
attention to the intended heuristics and
metacognitive skills of the competent
problem-solving model, and use this model as a
basis for the discussionStimulate as much pupils
as possible to engage in and contribute to the
whole-class discussionAddress (positive as well
as negative) aspects of the group dynamics 
  • Intervention had a significant and stable
    positive effect on the experimental pupils
    skill in solving math problems (in comparison
    with a control group)
  • The LE had also a significant, albeit small
    positive impact on students pleasure and
    persistence in solving problems and on their
    math-related beliefs and attitudes
  • Significant transfer effect the exp. pupils
    performed significantly better on a standardized
    achievement test that covers the whole math
  • There was a substantial significant increase in
    the exp. students spontaneous use of heuristic
    and SR skills
  • Not only the high-ability but also the
    low-ability students benefited significantly
    from the intervention.

Results (cont.)
  • Video-analyses of a sample of lessons showed
    that the teachers implemented the LE
    appropriately, although there were differences
    in their implementation profiles
  • Most importantly the intervention yielded a
    sustainable effect the teacher continued to
    apply the innovative approach to math teaching
    after the research was ended
  • But these results were only obtained because of
    the very intense collaboration with and guidance
    of the participating teachers and their

Implications for teacher training en professional
  • Considering both studies one can conclude that
  • it is possible to train and qualify teachers in
    the sustainable implementation of powerful LEs
  • but this does not happen overnight and requires
    intensive guidance and support
  • Indeed, as argued by the Cognition and
    Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1997) with
    respect to professional development, the changes
    we are asking teachers to make are much to
    complex to be communicated succinctly in a
    workshop and then enacted in isolation once the
    teachers returned to their school (p. 116)

Implications (cont.)
  • Difficulty acquiring mastery and agency of new
    ideas and practices is not just a matter of
    picking up a set of new instructional techniques,
    but it calls for a fundamental and profound
    change in teachers beliefs, attitude and
  • This requires
  • for initial teacher training that student
    teachers are immersed during their own training
    in the kind of LEs that they are supposed to
    create and enact later in their own classroom
  • for professional development that throughout
    their career teachers get continued intensive
    guidance and support in the sustained
    implementation of powerful LEs

Teacher professional learning
  • To make significant changes in practice teachers
    need time and multiple opportunities in a variety
    of activities (e.g. modeling, coaching) to learn
    new info and grasp its implications for practice
  • Teachers need to develop SR skills that will
    enable them to monitor and reflect on the
    effectiveness of changes they make to their
    practice (reflective practitioner)
  • Active leadership key role in organizing and
    promoting teachers engagement in professional
    learning opportunities
  • External expertise necessary to challenge
    existing assumptions and beliefs and to develop
    the kinds of new knowledge, skills and beliefs
    associated with the new concept of learning
  • Timperley, H. (2008), Teacher professional
    learning and development. (Educational Practices
    Series, 18.) Geneva International Bureau of
    Education (IBE) and International Academy of
    Education (IAE).

Booklets in the Educational Practices
Thank you for your attentionerik.decorte_at_ped.ku
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