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Article

Students identified with emotional and behavioral disorders (E/BD) comprise a diverse group in terms of academic, social, emotional, and behavioral strengths and needs. Identification and diagnostic criteria and terminologies vary widely across and within many countries and school systems, resulting in a complex research base. Estimates of prevalence range from 4 to 15% of students meeting criteria for an emotional and/or behavioral disorder or difficulty. Approaches to teaching learners with E/BD have shifted since the turn of the 21st century from an individual, deficit-focused perspective to a more ecological framework where the environments interacting dynamically with the learner are considered. Research increasingly demonstrates the benefits of multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) where the needs of most students can be met through universal preventative and whole-class approaches. Students who do not find success at the first level of supports receive increasingly specialized services including intensive, wraparound services that involve partners beyond school walls. MTSS are common across North America and beyond and are typically focused on externalizing behaviors; positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) is the most prevalent multi-tiered system currently being implemented. Since the mid-2000s, efforts have been made to focus on academic as well as behavioral goals for students, often through the inclusion of response-to-intervention approaches. Comprehensive strategies that combine academic and behavioral support while drawing on learner strengths and relationship-building are successfully being adopted in elementary and secondary settings. Approaches include social and emotional learning, mindfulness, peer-assisted learning, and a range of classroom-based instructional and assessment practices that support the academic, social, and emotional development of students with E/BD.

Article

Both peer tutoring and cooperative learning are types of peer assisted learning; they involve people from similar social groupings who are not professional teachers helping each other to learn and learning themselves by teaching. Peer tutoring usually involves pairs of students, one in the role of tutor and the other as tutee, with the more able or experienced member helping the other to learn material which is new to the tutor but not to the tutee. By contrast, cooperative learning is usually done in small groups of perhaps four students, often of mixed ability. The group works toward a consensus on a problem. Because it is easier to dominate or hide in a group, roles are often assigned to each group member. Earlier perspectives tended to use the theories of Piaget and Vygotsky, perhaps with some consideration of Bandura and Dewey. Chi, King, and Graesser have been prominent in more recent work. However, a theoretical perspective is offered that integrates these elements with more practical issues. In general, both peer tutoring and cooperative learning “work”— in a wide range of curricular subjects and with a wide range of ages. Given the appropriate form of organization, cognitive gains ensue for both helpers and those who are helped. This is not the main research issue, which is exploring how and why these practices work, in order to improve effectiveness. There are several meta-analyses (a statistical procedure for combining data from multiple studies) which are relevant, and beyond this, key individual papers of specific importance are highlighted. Over the years, we have become wiser about some of the key issues. In peer tutoring, same-ability tutoring has appeared in recent years, sometimes reciprocal, and we need to know under what conditions it works. Cooperative learning has issues regarding the most effective roles for group members and how these integrate with student ability and personality. There has also been much recent work in online peer tutoring which raises different issues. The existing literature is well-developed since these are not new methods. Future research should include more tightly defined studies focusing on more minor variables of context and organization. Many teachers will say they use both peer tutoring and cooperative learning, but very often they overestimate how often anything like good practice takes place. Simply putting students together and hoping for the best will not do, although it might have mild effects. Teachers using these methods need to be clear about what organizational parameters are vital in their context with their type of peer assisted learning. These features then need to be maximized in practice and an eye must be kept on implementation fidelity throughout. Education administrators need to organize professional development for teachers which is thorough, including initial instruction and practice followed up by support and monitoring in the classroom.

Article

Sofie M. M. Loyens, Lisette Wijnia, Ivette Van der Sluijs - Duker, and Remy M. J. P. Rikers

Problem-based learning (PBL) is a student-centered instructional method, with roots in constructivist theory of learning. Since its origin at McMaster University in Canada, PBL has been implemented in numerous programs across many domains and many educational levels worldwide. In PBL, small groups of 10–12 students learn in the context of meaningful problems that describe observable phenomena or events. The PBL process consists of three phases. The first is the initial discussion phase in which the problem at hand is discussed, based on prior knowledge. This initial phase leads to the formulation of learning issues (i.e., questions) that students will answer during the next phase, the self-study phase. Here, they independently select and study a variety of literature resources. During the third and final phase, the reporting phase, students share their findings with each other and critically evaluate the answers to the learning issues. A tutor guides the first and third phase of the process. PBL is based on principles from cognitive and educational psychology that have demonstrated their capacity to foster learning. More specifically, four principles are incorporated in the PBL process: (a) connection to prior knowledge, (b) collaborative learning among students, but also among teachers, (c) gradual development of autonomy, and (d) a focus on the application and transfer of knowledge. Research on the effects of PBL in terms of knowledge acquisition shows that students in traditional, direct instruction curricula tend to perform better on assessments of basic science knowledge. However, differences between PBL students and students in direct instruction classrooms on knowledge tests tend to diminish over time. There is, however, a lack of controlled experiments in this line of PBL research. Directions for future research should focus on combining the best of both direct and student-centered instruction, explore the possibilities of hybrid forms, and investigate how the alignment of scale and didactics of an instructional method could be optimized.