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Learning Orientation

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

Learning Orientation NGSS P8S3

Have students share work (written work, oral presentations) with each other so that they can see that there are multiple ways of obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information (consider using a gallery walk or other share out-structure). Provide sentence stems, descriptive rubrics, and other structures to support students giving each other constructive feedback to improve the work (e.g., claims being made without substantial evidence, observations are presented but the implications tied to the observations are unclear/not discussed, inferences are made in lieu of data) rather than merely praising or dismissing it as “good” or “bad.” At the end, ask students to reflect on what they’ve learned/how their own understanding of a phenomenon or design problem has changed/what new questions they have after observing others’ work.

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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
Use evaluation and feedback practices that focus on deeper content understanding/reasoning and students' effort and strategy use over normative comparisons and ability/intelligence
  • 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