Effective Learning in Classrooms


Chris Watkins, Eileen Carnell & Caroline Lodge

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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Part I: Your Context and your Experience

    Part II: Classroom Processes for Promoting Effective Learning

    Part III: The Future in Context

  • Learning in the Classroom

    This book addresses the central issue of classrooms, and the issue which is too seldom addressed: learning. We do not mean teaching, we do not mean performance, we do not mean ‘work’. This book is really about learning in classrooms, what makes learning effective and how it may be promoted in classrooms.

    This book takes the special context of the classroom seriously, not only because of its effects on teachers and pupils, but because classrooms are notorious as contexts which change little. Readers will not be offered yet more tips, but real thinking and evidence based on what we know about how classrooms change. Four major dimensions of promoting effective learning in classrooms are handled in depth.

    Throughout the book there are two forms of evidence: evidence from practising teachers in the form of case studies and examples, and evidence from international research in the form of useful ideas and frameworks.

    Chris Watkins is a reader in education and Drs Carnell and Lodge are senior lecturers at the University of London Institute of Education. They have been course leaders for the MA in Effective Learning, the MA in School Effectiveness and School Improvement, and the Advanced Diploma in Learning and Teaching. They have also led a range of projects with schools and local authorities, all of which focus on learning.


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    List of Tables and Figures

    • Table 2.1 Three models of learning 15
    • Table 2.2 Effective learning and learners 19
    • Table 2.3 Hofstede's cultural dimension considered in relation to effective learning 21
    • Table 3.1 Images of the classroom and visions of the learner (after Getzels, 1977) 26
    • Table 4.1 Learning and performance orientations (from Watkins et al., 2002, based on Dweck) 46
    • Table 4.2 Teachers’ tensions (following Marble et al., 2000) 54
    • Table 6.1 Pupils’ most frequent classroom activities 70
    • Table 6.2 Brief examples of active learning in a range of subjects 76
    • Table 10.1 Four levels of assessing oneself as a learner 150
    • Table 10.2 Developing skills of assessment 151
    • Table 10.3 The ‘habits of mind’ framework (Costa and Kallick, 2000) 152
    • Table 11.1 Issues in making changes in classrooms 165
    • Figure 2.1 Conceptions, actions and context of learning 13
    • Figure 2.2 A 10 year-old's drawing of a learning occasion (Harris, 2002) 13
    • Figure 2.3 Another 10 year-old's drawing of a learning occasion (Harris, 2002) 14
    • Figure 2.4 A 6 year-old's drawing of learning (Bonnell, 2003) 16
    • Figure 3.1 Stacey's drawing of learning in the classroom 28
    • Figure 3.2 Ella's drawing of learning in the classroom 29
    • Figure 3.3 Child's drawing of contrasting classrooms (i) 31
    • Figure 3.4 Child's drawing of contrasting classrooms (ii) 32
    • Figure 3.5 Child's drawing of contrasting classrooms (iii) 33
    • Figure 6.1 A model of the activities involved in a learning process 77
    • Figure 7.1 Images of cooperation and collaboration 88
    • Figure 7.2 Peers as the bridge between private and public 94
    • Figure 7.3 The structure of groups in a jigsaw classroom 97
    • Figure 8.1 Classroom practices and the effects of learner-driven learning 117
    • Figure 9.1 Meta-learning as an additional cycle in learning 129
    • Figure 10.1 Shared principles of curriculum theories, psychological theories and assessment theory characterising an emergent, constructivist paradigm (Shepard, 2000) 145
    • Figure 10.2 Two examples of pupils’ quality criteria 148
    • Figure 10.3 Four possible states of the learner 154


    Why this Book?

    To our knowledge this is the only book for teachers which:

    • takes seriously the complexity of the classroom
    • understands the way that classroom practices do (and do not) change
    • is based on a twenty first century understanding of learning
    • offers a comprehensive range of suggestions for classroom practice
    • is evidence-rich in two senses: research evidence and professional evidence.
    Who are the Authors?

    This book is written by three colleagues who, amongst other things, have recently been leading the following courses at the University of London Institute of Education:

    MA in Effective Learning

    MA in School Effectiveness and School Improvement

    Professional Diploma in Learning and Teaching

    These are not dry academic courses – quite the opposite. Many teachers from the UK and all over the world who take them describe them as challenging and re-professionalising.

    The authors also lead projects and short courses with many teachers, schools and local authorities in England and Wales.

    Between them their experience as professional educators amounts to about a hundred years – and never the same one twice.

    Why Now?

    The contents of this book would be appropriate at any time, but in England and other countries there is an extra reason which is current: many classrooms have reverted to a form of operation which is centuries old and which does not prepare young people for the world we live in now. Surveys suggest that a teaching-dominated form has increased in recent years, with a correspondingly passive role for learners. This is not the way to get the high performance, which we all want for all young people, as one of the things they take away from school.

    Effective learning is a core process in many domains of life, and school can play a special part in helping learners develop the approaches and understandings which will be effective across their learning landscape.

    An Outline Map of the Book

    The context of the classroom affects a great deal of what teachers and pupils do. It crucially affects the approaches to learning which are adopted. Yet the context of the classroom is rarely addressed when practices for classrooms are suggested by many proponents. Instead of replicating this, we embed our understandings of effective learning in what is known about classrooms.

    Part I (Chapters 1 to 5) engages with your experience and your understanding of classrooms, especially in identifying the processes which have been at work when learning has been best in classrooms you know. Then we seek to analyse how classrooms are seen, in order to identify the tensions that teachers face, and the issues when teachers resolve these tensions in a non-traditional way for the purposes of promoting effective learning.

    Part II (Chapters 6 to 10) aims to extend your experience with frameworks and ideas from a range of sources, mainly using four headings which regularly arise in teachers’ and pupils’ accounts of the best learning in classrooms. In this part of the book we use a greater balance of evidence from research, because we want no-one to think that these frameworks are not solidly based on dependable evidence. There has been too much advice and instruction to teachers which are based more on ideology than evidence. The last chapter in this section examines the process of assessment and what may be done in classroom practices to reclaim assessment for effective learning.

    Part III (Chapter 11) encourages you to take forward the enquiries and experiments which are appropriate for you in classrooms that you know. This will entail doing some things which are not part of the dominant picture in classrooms today, so we encourage you to be exceptional in both senses of the word.

    We aim for this book to be thought-provoking, challenging and practically useful. We sincerely hope that you and the pupils you learn with enjoy reclaiming the energy of learning.

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    Author Index

    • Abbott, Martin 35, 80, 81
    • Alderson, Priscilla 41, 50
    • Alexander, Robin 21, 48
    • Alfassi, Miriam 116
    • Areglado, Ronald 120
    • Arends, Richard 113
    • Aronson, Eliot 96
    • Askew, Sue 147
    • Assor, Avi 110
    • Atkinson, Stephanie 81, 116
    • Ball, Stephen 63
    • Baron, Joan 72
    • Beacon, Gemma 101, 167
    • Bennett, Neville 83, 102
    • Benware, Carl 80
    • Bereiter, Carl 75, 112
    • Berliner, David 168
    • Biemans, Harm, 81
    • Biggs, John 123, 124
    • Black, Paul 41, 142, 148
    • Boggiano, Ann 108
    • Bonnell, Zoe 15, 132
    • Bossert, Steven 82
    • Brimblecombe, Nicola 34
    • Brown, Ann 72, 123, 127, 137
    • Brown, Carol 35
    • Brown, Emma 30
    • Bruner, Jerome 40
    • Campaign for Learning, 53, 70
    • Campbell, R 85
    • Carnell, Eileen 11, 12, 41, 43, 44, 48, 49, 64, 122, 165
    • Chalmers, Christina 91
    • Chan, Victoria 106
    • Chapman, Christopher 34
    • Charles, Nicki 154
    • Chi, Michelene 89
    • Clarke, Shirley 154
    • Cochran-Smith, Marilyn 64
    • Coffield, Frank 52, 126
    • Cohen, Elizabeth 91, 92, 93
    • Collins, Cathy 122
    • Cooper, Paul 70
    • Corno, Lyn 109
    • Costa, Arthur 152
    • Cotton, Chris 77
    • Crook, Charles 90
    • Cuttance, Peter 168
    • Daniels, Denise 106
    • Darling-Hammond, Linda 143, 152
    • Daukes, Julie 49
    • de Baessa, Yetilú 81
    • Deci, Edward 44, 47, 105, 116
    • Dennison, Bill 76
    • Dewey, John 84
    • DfES, 47
    • Doan, Jane 119
    • Donoahue, Zoe 113
    • Doyle, Lesley 41
    • Duffield, Jill 30, 122
    • Dweck, Carol 45
    • English, Juliet 132
    • Ertmer, Peggy 19, 124
    • Fielding, Michael 165
    • Five Elms School, 28
    • Flavell, John 123
    • Flink, Cheryl 44, 105
    • Fortier, Michelle 116
    • Freire, Paulo 45
    • Galton, Maurice 88
    • Gardner, Howard 169
    • Gardner, John 41
    • Geist, Eugene 82
    • Getzels, Jacob 26
    • Gibbs, Graham 71, 122, 124
    • Giles, Wendy 60
    • Gokhale, Anuradha 89
    • Good, Thomas 73
    • Gray, John 46
    • GTCE, 162
    • Guay, Frédéric 116
    • Haller, Eileen 138
    • Halpern, Diane 123
    • Hammond, Sue 3, 169
    • Hargreaves, David 52
    • Hargreaves, Eleanore, 142
    • Harlen, Wynne 42, 143
    • Harris, Dean 13, 28
    • Hart, Susan 40, 49
    • Heo, Heeok 109
    • Herbart, Johann 44
    • Hiebert, James 20
    • Higgins, K 148
    • High/Scope, 77
    • Hofstede, Geert 21
    • Hogan, Kathleen 99
    • Holt, John 104
    • Hong Kong Education Department, 18
    • Hughes, Mike 116, 161
    • Inagaki, Kayoko 81
    • Ireson, Judy 48
    • Jacob, Evelyn 101
    • James, Mary 118
    • Jeffers, Susan 119, 169
    • Johnson, David 94
    • Kane, Liam 80
    • Kaplan, Avi 117, 138
    • Kelly, Marie 95
    • King, Alison 89, 102, 138
    • Klenowski, Val 153
    • Kolb, David 73
    • Kuhn, Deanna 138
    • Kurz, Yvonne 98, 147
    • Kutnick, Peter 49
    • Lambert, Nadine 72
    • Lawrence, Jean 83
    • Levin, Ben 40
    • Lodge, Caroline 10, 28, 51, 52, 89, 165
    • Lyman, Frank 94
    • MacIntosh, Shona 135
    • Maharasingam, Naheeda 99, 133
    • Marble, Stephen 53
    • Martin, Elaine 127
    • Marton, Ference 10
    • Mayer, Richard 15, 73
    • McCarthy, J 81
    • McManus, S 102
    • McNeil, Linda 17, 43, 44
    • Meece, Judith 115
    • Mercer, Neil 91
    • Michaelsen, Larry 100
    • Mission Hill School, 152
    • Moore, Alex 40
    • Munro, John 140
    • Murphy, Patricia 102
    • Newmann, Frank 81
    • Nias, Jennifer 46
    • Nichols, Sharon 168
    • Niemi, Hannele 83, 85
    • Nisbet, John 123
    • Nockton, Andrew 58
    • Novak, Joseph 122
    • OECD, 46, 85, 163
    • Ofsted, 34
    • Olson, David 168
    • Palincsar, AnnMarie 95
    • Panitz, Ted 99
    • Paris, Cynthia 117
    • Paris, Scott 107
    • Passe, Jeff 113
    • Pelletier, Luc 118
    • Perkins, David 122
    • Perrone, Vita 109
    • Peterson, Penelope 81
    • Pollard, Andrew 46
    • Pramling, Ingrid 137
    • Pratton, Jerry 80
    • Qualters, Donna 83
    • Ramsay, Peter 85
    • Reay, Diane 144
    • Reed, Jane 62
    • Reeve, Johnmarshall 108
    • Richards, Colin 41
    • Robinson, F 74
    • Robinson, W 154
    • Roettger, Doris 74
    • Rosenholtz, Susan 64
    • Rudduck, Jean 49, 101
    • Ruhl, Kathy 75
    • Russell, Bertrand 70
    • Ryan, Richard 107, 108
    • Sachs, Judyth 169
    • Säljö, Roger 123
    • Sanford, Betsy 150
    • Sarason, Seymour 105
    • Scardamalia 75, 112, 127
    • Schwartz, Daniel 90
    • Seymour, Jennifer 102
    • Shachar, Hanna 101
    • Shears Green Primary School, 30, 60
    • Shepard, Lorrie 144
    • Shuell, Thomas 89
    • Simons, P 71
    • Singapore Ministry of Education, 18
    • Smith, Mary 149
    • Starnes, Bobby 106, 116, 149
    • Staub, Fritz 81
    • Stefani, Lorraine 148
    • Stefanou, Candice 110
    • Sternberg, Robert 19
    • Stigler, James 20
    • Stobart, Gordon 44, 48
    • Sullivan, John 17, 42
    • Thomas, Gregory 35, 130
    • Tiessen, Esther 88
    • Timbrell, Kirsten 99
    • Troia, G 113
    • Turner, Justine 62
    • Upton Infants School, 62
    • Vallerand, Robert 117
    • Vasconcelos, Teresa 15
    • Vogel, Nancy 77
    • Vygotsky, Lev 89
    • Vyners School, 58
    • Wagner, Patsy 169
    • Wallace, Belle 30
    • Watkins, 18, 25, 36, 46, 51, 59, 100, 107, 123, 125, 127, 137, 168
    • Webb, Noreen 73, 102
    • Weber, Sandra 28
    • Weimer, Maryellen 19, 44, 55, 161
    • Weinberger, Elizabeth 117
    • Wheelock, Anne 143
    • Whicker, Kristina 99
    • White, Michael 119
    • White, Richard 84
    • Wiliam, Dylan 41
    • Williams, Emma 11, 134
    • Wolters, Christopher 138
    • Woodhead, Chris 7
    • Wrigley, Terry 25
    • Yair, Gad 115

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