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Learning Orientation

Emphasize learning and understanding and de-emphasize grades, competition, and social comparison

Learning Orientation NGSS P7S2

A whole-class activity like Four Corners or a continuum could support students articulating multiple arguments/dimensions of an argument by taking a stance (e.g., strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree) and then explaining their evidence and reasoning to try to persuade others. It would also provide students an opportunity to hear multiple perspectives during a classroom activity and ask questions of their peers, build off of their arguments, or change their own mind about which argument is best supported by evidence. Support students in respectfully identifying strengths and weaknesses of their peers’ claims during this activity
  • Some “why” questions that can be asked to help students support their claims:
    • What evidence do you have?
    • What scientific ideas support your claim?
    • Why do you agree or disagree? What are your reasons? What is your evidence?
    • What could be some other possible claims? Do you have evidence?
    • Do you agree with the points being made? Why?
    • Who has a different opinion? What is it? How is it different?
    • Why are you using that as evidence and not the other data? How would your claim change if you used all the data?
    • How is that idea related to what was previously discussed? What reasons do you have for saying that?

Resource Information

Learning Orientation Principles

The strategy above is aligned to the principles in bold.

Emphasize student reasoning, sensemaking, and developing a deep understanding as the goal of activities, rather than producing the right answer or complying with instructions
  • Use assignments that are meaningful, challenging, and require students to take personal responsibility to engage at a deeper conceptual level with the material; provide students with ample time to do this work
  • Press students for evidence and reasoning to demonstrate the importance of making sense of phenomena and/or solving design problems, rather than simply producing the correct answer
  • Provide multiple ways to complete assignments and/or allow for flexibility in approaches to solving problems
  • De-emphasize the negative consequence of mistakes by framing mistakes as part of the learning process that helps students improve their skills
  • Design assessments to evaluate students’ three-dimensional learning with a focus on reasoning, making sense of phenomena and/or solving design problems, and deep conceptual knowledge rather than superficial knowledge
  • Use rubrics and descriptive criteria for assessments rather than policies such as grading on a curve to focus the assessment on students’ understanding rather than on their relative standing among peers
  • Provide positive and constructive feedback to students that emphasizes that success and failure are related to one’s effort and strategy use, which can be changed
  • Provide opportunities for students to revise work or submit multiple drafts
De-emphasize social comparison and competition
  • Communicate that all students have valuable contributions by calling on a variety of students in a supportive way during class discussions or activities
  • Encourage students to focus on their own effort, growth, and learning as opposed to comparing themselves to their peers
  • Avoid tasks that encourage competition among students (to solve a problem first, to earn the highest grades, etc.) and practices like posting student grades publicly
  • Design group work that requires multiple perspectives/roles to promote peer collaboration focused on learning rather than performing
  • Approach course content, lesson activities, and your own learning with a positive attitude and a willingness to take risks (i.e., doing something outside of your comfort zone)
  • Identify and model the use of effective learning strategies when encountering challenging tasks or making mistakes