Questions Extracted from dissertation research on policy, philosophy and choices of teaching practices in the context of increasing pressure on teachers for accountability in demonstrating progress on standardized tests. Why do teachers use hands-on materials? What are they using? How frequently do they use them? What types of activities are students doing with these materials?
Background Survey of US teachers who have hands-on materials in their classroom, including LEGO science and robotics materials PreK-12 represented with middle school as the majority Public school teachers Sample of 118 respondents Are teachers using the materials more or less or the same amount since NCLB?
Feedback from Teachers: Why? Use of hands-on materials has increased. Hands-on materials are very important to instructional practice because… Students learn better.
Feedback from Teachers: What learning do they see from students? When using hands-on materials, students: Refine and improve the quality of work Cooperate with one another Work harder Show more initiative Perform as gifted students even though they are average Have a welcome break from other types of lessons
Feedback from Teachers: What type of materials and how frequently? Teachers do not limit themselves to one type of material. For ten or more lessons, hands-on materials of these type were used: General problem solving materials(46% ) Mathematics sets (30%) Non-computer games (26%) Robotics sets (23%) Life science sets (19%)
Feedback from Teachers: What type of materials and how frequently? In one or more lessons, these types of materials are used: Role play scenario materials (72%) Free building (69%) Simple machines (64%) Motorized machines (51%)
Feedback from Teachers: What type of activities are students doing? Experiments involving data collection (98%) Projects or competitions (96%) Creating models to illustrate reports (88%) Demonstrations about a topic (80%) Programming robots in their classwork (53%)
Feedback from Teachers: Influence on changing practices Experience with technology and hands-on materials is the most important factor affecting these teachers change of instructional practice. Professional development is another important influence on changing practices.
Feedback from Teachers: Influence on changing beliefs These factors influence what teachers do in the classroom...and results also show indicated that these factors influenced changes in what teachers believe about how people learn. Teachers became more constructivist in their beliefs about how learning happens… that also influenced their use of hands-on materials.
It s not just what you use… It becomes a question, therefore, of determining by which methods this social milieu that is school will achieve the best formative results, and if this formation will consist of a simple transmission of knowledge and of rules, or if it presupposes … relationships that are more complex between teacher and student and among the students themselves. (Piaget, To Understand is to Invent, p. 55)
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