Tuesday, March 20, 2007

New call to 'teach basics'

More of the same from Dr Ken Rowe. Here he is speaking with an Age education writer, Caroline Milburn, who seems to enjoy reporting Ken's research and press releases. Dr Rowe, research director at the Australian Council for Education Research, has conducted a study investigating the connection between teaching methods, (or teacher inputs), and students learning (or student outputs). Here the teaching methods are systemtic, explicit phonics, referred to as 'extreme phonics' by other researchers.

After giving the teachers a crash course in back to basics teaching, Dr Rowe 'was suprised by the results' and found that the kids 'took off like rockets'. This kind of rocketing seems to be connected to Dr Rowe's ideal of Singaporean spelling success: '110,000 kids in year 6 in Singapore are significantly better spellers than a comparative group in NSW.'

Are there other measures of success for year 6 students? Other important abilities and skills that might be work talking about?

From the description of the research project, one wonders if Dr Rowe considered whether the improvement in student results might have occured despite his program intervention where teachers where taught how to teach the basics.

The simple act of telling teachers that you (as a researcher) are interested in seeing whether students results improve after you (the researcher) have taught the teachers some new (or old) method/content, is likely to have a variety of effects on the way teachers respond and go about their normal daily work.

A classic case of the Hawthorne effect? Or perhaps the Rowe effect?

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