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horizon: thought leadership


What’s Inside: Talking in and about mathematics classrooms Confusion, error and feedback

Bastow // Horizon // Issue 4


What’s happening at Bastow Talking in and about mathematics classrooms

Confusion, error and feedback

Horizon seminar lead by keynote speaker Professor David Clarke, in discussion with panellists Dr Man Ching Esther Chan and Carmel Mesisti. This seminar will use contemporary theory and available research to investigate the social nature of learning and the role of social interaction in promoting learning in mathematics classroom settings. The panel will illustrate the discussion with key findings from four complementary projects: • The Learner’s Perspective Study - a comparative study of classroom discourse undertaken in 22 mathematics classrooms across eight countries. • The Social Unit of Learning Project - investigates student learning when engaged in individual, pair and collaborative group work in mathematics. • The Learning from Lessons Project - investigates the role of teacher selective attention in facilitating professional learning and the means by which teacher in-classroom learning might be optimised. • The Lexicon Project - identifying the professional lexicon employed by middle school mathematics teachers in Australia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Japan and the USA.

Date: Thursday 15 September 2016 Time: 5.00 – 6.30 pm Networking and nibbles from 5.00pm Venue: Bastow 603-615 Queensberry St, North Melbourne Cost: $35 pp incl. GST Register to attend: At Bastow Via Video Conferencing


Horizon seminar lead by keynote speaker Professor John Hattie, in discussion with panellists Dr Jason Lodge and Jared Cooney Hovarth.

It has been well established that confusion and error are key aspects of the learning process. Despite this, many students and teachers actively work to avoid making mistakes or failing. The reasons for this are varied, but a primary driver is the social stigma attached to confusion and error. This seminar will explore these issues to help you not only understand the importance of struggle in learning, but also embrace it and implement it in your own practice and school environments. The panel will lead discussions on: • confusion and how it can be harnessed to improve the learning process • the importance of error to both conceptual and concrete learning • effective feedback with a specific emphasis on timing and type. The panel will then open the discussion to the floor to raise ideas, address specific issues and collaboratively consider how to implement these practices in common learning situations.

Date: Thursday 17 November 2016 Time: 5.00 – 6.30 pm Networking and nibbles from 5.00pm Venue: Bastow 603-615 Queensberry St, North Melbourne Cost: $35 pp incl. GST Register to attend: At Bastow Via Video Conferencing

SLRC and DET Partnership The Victorian Department of Education and Training (the Department) is a partner organisation in the Australian Research Council (ARC) Science of Learning Research Centre (SLRC). Since 2013, the Department has been working closely with the SLRC’s leading researchers from the fields of cognitive psychology, education and neuroscience to better understand the learning process and improve the outcomes of all students. Working in partnership with the SLRC’s multi-disciplinary research teams, the Department is developing a scientific evidence base that can be used to inform teaching practices across Victoria. The partnership affords the Department the latest evidence-based strategies and tools to assess and evaluate learning outcomes and generate knowledge to inform policy and practice. The SLRC also supports the Department’s efforts in focusing on lifelong learning that will make the greatest impact for all Victorian learners. Bastow is pleased to be hosting two SLRC Horizon Seminars in the coming months. The seminars are an opportunity for you to hear and discuss the latest evidence base and apply innovative strategies to enhance teaching and learning outcomes. We are pleased to present this edition of Horizon featuring two papers written exclusively for Bastow by academics at the SLRC. The first paper focuses on the role of social interaction in promoting learning in mathematics classroom settings. The second examines the important role that confusion, error and feedback play in learning. We hope the articles will be a conversation starter with your colleagues and pique your interest to explore the concepts further at the Horizon events in September and November. The events will be a great opportunity to engage with the researchers as they delve deeper into the findings and consider how you can apply the learnings from these projects to improve teaching and learning practice.

Neil Barker Director Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership

Dr Wendy Timms Executive Director Performance & Evaluation Division, Department of Education and Training


Talking in and about mathematics classrooms: Student and teacher learning​ Authors: David Clarke, Man Ching Esther Chan & Carmel Mesiti International Centre for Classroom Research, University of Melbourne


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There is no higher priority in the field of education than the study of the nature and promotion of learning. As a focus of research, learning and its promotion require investigation at levels that extend from the neurological to the socio-cultural, in a variety of settings both institutionalised and personal, and with respect to all conceivable attributes, inclinations and skills, from aspects of recall through specific knowledge domains to strategies for self-regulation. Classrooms represent a globally-extensive institutionalised site for the promotion of learning. Mathematics is a content domain universally represented in all national curricula. As a consequence, mathematics classrooms represent a research site of international relevance for investigating the social nature of learning. However, the function of social interaction in learning is a major research challenge yet to be adequately addressed. In the following discussion, we argue that a timely convergence of contemporary theory and available research methods and resources provides researchers with much-needed tools to investigate the social nature of learning and the role of social interaction in promoting learning in classroom settings. We illustrate our points with key findings from four complementary projects: • a comparative study of classroom discourse undertaken in 22 mathematics classrooms across eight countries (The Learner’s Perspective Study) • the study of student learning when engaged in individual, pair and collaborative group work (The Social Unit of Learning Project), • the role of teacher selective attention in facilitating teacher professional learning (The Learning from Lessons Project) and • the identification of the professional lexicon employed by middle school mathematics teachers in Australia and eight other countries to describe the events of the mathematics classroom (The Lexicon Project). These four studies find their nexus in the social nature of learning in classrooms. We discuss the implications of the project findings for the optimal functioning of the mathematics classroom as a site for student and teacher learning.

Comparing classroom talk in eight countries Comparison of mathematics classrooms in Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Berlin, San Diego and Melbourne revealed profound differences in who spoke in the classroom (teacher or student), what they said (technical language) and the conditions under which they spoke (public and private speech by individuals, but also whole class choral response). These differences call into question the advocacy of student to student mathematical talk that is so strongly promoted in the educational literature in countries such as Australia and the USA. It should be noted that in classrooms such as those in Shanghai, students are frequently given opportunities to engage in mathematical

talk, but exclusively through public speech, either individually or as part of a whole-class choral response. Post-lesson interviews with students suggest that the Shanghai students developed a level of fluency in the technical language of mathematics comparable to their counterparts in the Melbourne classrooms (Kaur, Anthony, Ohtani, & Clarke, 2013). From consideration of the Korean classrooms, in particular, it appears that high scores can be achieved on international tests of student mathematics performance (such as the Programme for International Student Assessment [PISA] and the Third International Mathematics and Science Study [TIMSS]) through classroom practices in which students seldom speak in public and never in private. Yet students in all countries studied, when asked to identify significant moments in a mathematics lesson, consistently pointed to opportunities to articulate their thinking or to listen to the explanations of their classmates—except in the Korean classrooms, where it never happened. What is it that these students (and Western researchers and educational theorists) are seeing as so important? The data generated in this study provided many examples of sophisticated and highly motivated student– student mathematical talk; whether in the Melbourne classroom, the San Diego classroom or the mathematics classroom in Tokyo. Yet the purported benefits of these rich mathematical conversations are not revealed in large-scale international testing. This leaves us with the question of what learning benefits accrue from student classroom talk.

Collaborative problem solving in a laboratory classroom At the University of Melbourne, it is now possible to study student collaborative work in a classroom equipped with up to 16 video cameras and 32 audio inputs. This “laboratory classroom” makes it possible to document the speech and actions of each individual in a class of 24 students, including the teacher. In the Social Unit of Learning Project, students undertake mathematical tasks individually, in pairs, in groups of four and as a whole class. Through partnership arrangements with a Victorian government secondary school, students undertake the tasks as members of their usual mathematics class, taught by their usual teacher. In this way, the students’ well-established routines of interaction with their classmates and with their teacher are retained. Technical facilities in the classroom generate a complete video record of each student together with digital records of any written work produced, and every word spoken is transcribed. This sophisticated facility, unmatched elsewhere in the world, allows the simultaneous recording of student–student and student–teacher interactions, while the students all attempt the same mathematical tasks, whether as individuals, pairs or small groups. Bastow // Horizon // Issue 4


This makes possible the investigation of those group interactive characteristics that can be associated with sophisticated mathematical performance and/ or particularly effective or sophisticated negotiative interactions, whether between students or between the teacher and a particular group of students. Recent analysis makes it clear that students have far more than just the mathematics to negotiate. Significant time and effort go into negotiating the socio-mathematical norms of the classroom (e.g., the shared understanding between teacher and students of what constitutes an adequate solution) and the social arrangements essential to effective group functioning (e.g., who does what). In such collaborative situations, students are learning not just mathematical facts and procedures, but forms of mathematical argumentation and problem solving, and ways to optimise the team’s collaborative activity. In the Social Unit of Learning Project, we manipulate both the type of tasks and the social unit by which the tasks are undertaken (individual, pair, small group) in order to investigate the nature of group problem solving and learning and to identify those behaviours that appear to be associated with the improved student functioning in all three domains: mathematical, socio-mathematical and social. Ultimately, we hope to inform teachers regarding forms of intervention to optimise student development in all three domains.

Learning from lessons: Focusing on teacher learning In recent years, a great deal of research has been conducted that provides evidence for what many intuitively believe to be true—that ultimately the teacher is the key to improved student learning (Hattie, 2003). Despite the growing recognition of the centrality of the teacher’s role to student learning, teacher knowledge and teacher learning remain under-theorised. This project draws on Shulman’s (1987) conception of the “wisdom of practice”, in which teacher expertise is seen as developing through instructional and other professional activity and takes as its starting point one of the most widely cited models of teacher learning (Clarke & Hollingsworth, 2002). Central to this model is the mediating role played by Salient Outcomes (those outcomes of classroom practice to which the teacher attaches significance), which provide both the basis for change in beliefs and knowledge and, once changed, the motivation to engage in classroom experimentation in recognition of changes in those outcomes considered salient by the teachers. The project is structured around three research questions: • What do teachers learn from the activities associated with teaching a lesson? (Such activities include preparing, teaching and reflecting on the lesson) • What conditions appear to affect the process and 6

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products of this learning? (In particular, what is the role played by teacher selective attention?) • How might this learning process be facilitated? (Through the teacher’s own actions, through the provision of support material, through collegial support structures) A key element in this research design is the provision of purposefully-designed experimental mathematics lessons, which provide the initial context for this study of teacher selective attention, reflection and learning. The teacher is encouraged to adapt the provided lesson to the needs of their class, teach the lesson, and then construct and teach the next lesson, building on the outcomes of the first. Interviews are conducted before and after each lesson and video is used to stimulate the teacher’s recollection of significant moments in the lesson. Teacher beliefs, mathematical knowledge, and pedagogical content knowledge are also assessed. Preliminary analyses support a model of teacher in situ learning that includes: 1. what the teacher already knows and believes 2. those classroom objects and events to which the teacher attends 3. the meaning associated by the teacher with those objects and events 4. the in-the-moment decisions made by the teacher while teaching a lesson 5. the teacher’s inclination and capacity to reflect productively on their practice. Analysis undertaken in this project has identified teacher learning with respect to mathematics, instruction and the student (Clarke, Clarke, Roche & Chan, 2015). This learning can be connected to those things to which the teacher attends. And these objects of teacher attention are dependent on the professional vocabulary of the teacher, by which they can name and discuss the objects and events of the classroom. In relation to the goal of optimising teacher learning in classrooms, it appears that the provision of mathematically and instructionally “rich” lessons can catalyse teacher learning about their students’ mathematical thinking. Particular activities appear to optimise this learning: •

rehearsing the lesson’s activities beforehand

facilitated structured reflection on the lesson

design of a subsequent lesson using a structured lesson template

guided teacher attention during the lesson.

Currently, the principal vehicle for institutionalised in-service teacher learning seems to be the formally delivered professional development session or program. The optimisation of teacher “on the job” learning through the activities associated with teaching a

lesson offers a potentially more efficient and effective strategy for promoting teacher learning as an integral component of their daily professional activity. One key to this optimisation is to equip teachers with a more sophisticated and extensive professional lexicon.

The Lexicon Project Classroom researchers, teacher educators and teachers all find themselves obliged to describe and discuss the phenomena of the classroom. The international Lexicon Project seeks to document the professional lexicon employed by middle school mathematics teachers in Australia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Japan and the USA. In each country, the documentation of the local lexicon is proving to be a productive end in itself, compelling each community to review their assumptions about locally shared terms and meanings. Internationally, the comparison of the separate lexicons is revealing remarkable silences in some languages and unusual terms in others, foregrounding particular features of the classroom in one culture, while these same features are left unnamed by another community. The internationalisation of education should offer new possibilities for practice by providing access to new ideas and approaches. However, the establishment of English as the international language of education has the unfortunate side effect of restricting international access to the sophisticated constructs used in nonEnglish speaking countries to describe and evaluate classroom practice.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis has been with us for some time and it succinctly summarises one of the underlying principles of this project.

We see and hear . . . very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation

(Sapir, 1949).

If an activity is named, it can be recognised and it becomes possible to ask: ‘how well is it done?’ and ‘how might it be done better?’ An unnamed activity is less accessible for research analysis. In such a situation, practising teachers are denied recognition of an activity that at least one culture values enough to name. Further, an unnamed activity will be absent from any catalogue of desirable teacher actions and consequently denied specific promotion in any program of mathematics teacher education. Actions considered as essential components of the mathematics teacher’s repertoire in one country: for example, mise en commun (France), pudian (China) or matome (Japan), may be entirely absent from any catalogue of accomplished teaching practices in English. Mise en commun: A whole class activity in which the teacher elicits student solutions for the purpose of drawing on the contrasting approaches to synthesise and highlight targeted key concepts. Pudian: An introductory activity in which the teacher elicits student prior knowledge and experience for the purpose of constructing connections to the content to be covered in the lesson.

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Matome: A teacher-orchestrated discussion drawing together the major conceptual threads of a lesson or extended activity—most commonly a summative activity at the end of the lesson. The international dominance of English has denied researchers, teacher educators and practitioners access to many sophisticated classroom-related terms in languages other than English, which might otherwise contribute significantly to our understanding of classroom instruction and learning. The initial product of the Lexicon Project is a ‘National Lexicon’ for each participating community, with English definitions and descriptive detail, supported by video exemplars. At the time of writing, the research team in each participating country has produced a draft lexicon and each is currently undertaking a process of national validation. Once documented and validated, each National Lexicon can be analysed to identify its characteristic features; for example, the relative proportions of terms referring to teacher activities or student activities; the proportion of terms that are specific to mathematics classrooms and those that might apply to any classroom. Specific types of terms will be of particular interest: e.g., terms in one language naming a familiar but unnamed practice in another language; or terms naming an activity wholly absent from the classrooms of one community. The Lexicon Project has the potential to enrich the professional vocabulary of speakers of many languages, but, particularly, to enrich the international community’s capacity to utilise the insights into sophisticated classroom practice encrypted in non-English languages.

The overarching goal Many of the processes by which educational phenomena are experienced and by which the products of the learning process are enacted are essentially social. Innovative research designs are needed to distinguish the social aspects of the learning process and, particularly, those for which ‘the social’ represents the most fundamental and useful level of explanation and modelling. Learning at the social level has proved particularly difficult to research and consequently to model and explain. All four projects reported here take the social situation of the classroom as their point of reference and investigate the practices that we find there. The overarching goal of all four projects is to optimise both student and teacher learning through research that recognises the social nature of such learning and, by understanding how this learning occurs, better assist its promotion for both students and teachers.


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References Clarke, D.J., & Hollingsworth, H. (2002). Elaborating a model of teacher professional growth. Teaching and Teacher Education, 18, 947-967. Clarke, D.M., Clarke, D.J., Roche, A., & Chan, M.C.E. (2015). Learning from Lessons: Studying the construction of teacher knowledge catalysed by purposefully-designed experimental mathematics lessons. In M. Marshman, V. Geiger, & A. Bennison (Eds.), Mathematics Education in the Margins: Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (pp. 165-172). Adelaide: MERGA. Hattie, J. A. (2003, October). Teachers make a difference: What is the research evidence? Paper presented at the Australian Council for Educational Research Conference on Building Teacher Quality, Melbourne. Kaur, B., Anthony, G., Ohtani, M. & Clarke, D.J. (Eds.) (2013). Student Voice in Mathematics Classrooms around the World. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Sapir, E. (1949). Selected writings on language, culture and personality. Berkeley: University of California Press. Shulman, L. S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1), 1-22.

Confusion, error and feedback: A successful learning triumvirate Author: Dr Jared Cooney Horvath. University of Melbourne. Science of Learning Research Centre With contribution from Professor John Hattie and Dr Jason Lodge, the University of Melbourne, Melbourne Graduate School of Education Acknowledgements: ARC-SRI: Science of Learning Research Centre (project number SR120300015).

The terms ‘confusion’ and ‘error’ have historically been four-letter words in the educational sphere; and understandably so. In an environment of relative grading schemes and high-stakes testing, the prospect of making a mistake or failing is necessarily frightening. Add to this a prevalent social stigma and a dearth of adult-modelling (how many teachers want their students to see them muck-up or in a state of bewilderment?), and student aversion to confusion and error-making makes coherent sense. Interestingly, it has been well established in the Science of Learning literature that not only can confusion and error be leveraged to enhance learning, but also, in certain circumstances, these two occurrences may be integral to the learning process. As such, it might be high-time to welcome these commonly avoided concepts into the educational fold and determine how best to convert each into an effective tool that can be utilised to boost learning in our schools. It’s only through the formation of a culture that embraces confusion and error that the inherent stigma on these topics can be confronted and overcome.

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Confusion When it comes to teaching concepts or facts, a common belief is that clearer is better. Especially when the material being explored is completely new to students, it seems logical that the more precise, simple, and easyto-follow a lesson is, the better chance students have to engage with and comprehend it. However, common sense is not always an accurate gauge of how things truly are! In a series of recent studies, a group of students were presented with a series of video lessons—typically involving scientific or mathematical concepts. In these lessons, a confident instructor presented the content in a very coherent, straight-forward, and simple manner. The students who viewed these videos typically described them as succinct, direct, and comprehensible. Furthermore, they reported that they believed they strongly understood the content and predicted they would perform well on future exams. In these same studies, a different group of students were presented with the same material, though taught in a different format. In these lessons, an instructor was shown working closely with a confused learner. Through a back-and-forth of dialogue, trial-and-error, and leading prompts, the learner in this video would eventually understand the concept being explored. The students who viewed these videos typically described them as unclear and confusing. Furthermore, they reported that they only moderately understood the content and predicted they would perform relatively poorly on future exams. How do you think each of these two groups actually performed on the future exams? As you probably guessed, the second, confused group demonstrated stronger learning and retention than the first, clear group. Although the reasons for these findings are varied, and debate about specific mechanisms continues in the academic literature, there is a recurrent concept worth considering: the interplay between attention and prior knowledge. An important facet in learning and teaching concerns the linking of new material to prior knowledge—however, a common finding in learning and memory research suggests that the harder an individual has to work in order to link new ideas to old, the deeper said links will become (levels-of-processing theory). With regards to the above studies, it has been argued that clarity and simplicity may lead students to decrease the amount and strength of attention paid to a learning activity thereby decreasing their chance of recognising differences between novel ideas and prior assumptions (shallow processing). On the other hand, confusion and uncertainty may lead students to increase the amount and strength of attention paid to a learning activity thereby increasing their chance of recognising differences between novel ideas and prior assumptions (deep processing).


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This concept raises an important point: confusion does not appear to cause learning. Rather, confusion appears to prime the learner—to put them in a state of enhanced attention and receptivity which, in turn, allows them to better engage with the learning process. As such, confusion should only ever be understood as a means rather than an end. Just as fertiliser does not obviate the need to plant, sun, and water your garden (it merely enhances the impact of said practices), confusion does not eliminate the need to enact effective learning and teaching strategies (it merely enhances the impact of said practices). Finally, it is very important to remember that confusion is a double-edged sword: whereas a little may be beneficial to the learning process, an excess may lead to disengagement and ultimately derail the learning process (a bit like wine). Therefore, one must carefully consider when, how, and how much confusion to inject into the learning process. It is possible that the more an individual learns to live with and even seek-out confusion, the more confusion he or she is likely to be able to meaningfully endure (again, a bit like wine). It is here where building a culture that accepts confusion as a worthwhile state of learning becomes all important.

Errors A close relative to confusion is error-making. As can be assumed, the more confused an individual is, the more likely he or she is to make mistakes. This leads to an interesting question: if it is possible to derive benefit from confusion, is it also possible to derive benefit from the error? Decades of research into this question suggests the answer is an emphatic yes. At the most basic level, the ability to learn from mistakes is a foundation of human, animal, and machine learning (error-based learning). Under this theory, it is believed each individual has a ‘mental model’ of the world which leads them to continuously predict what physical and environmental responses will be elicited from specific cognitions and behaviours. So long as there is no glaring discrepancy between one’s mental model and the world, there is little attention paid to or updating of said model. It is only through errors and the making of mistakes that an individual’s attention becomes focus, he or she is alerted to a discrepancy between assumption and reality, and the mental model can be meaningfully updated (in other words—learning!). This concept leads to an interesting idea: if an individual is first asked to demonstrate their current understanding (mental model) before learning novel material, can the ability to detect discrepancies be enhanced? In fact, most research exploring this idea supports this assumption. Several studies have demonstrated that when individuals are first asked to commit common errors or elucidate common mistaken assumptions (e.g., when dropped from the same height, a heavier

ball will fall faster than a smaller ball) prior to being confronted with a conflicting reality (e.g., both balls fall at the same rate), they demonstrate enhanced attention, memorisation and retention of the new material. In essence, committing the mistake allows for an easier learning process. Beyond this basic level, the ability to recognise, embrace, and use errors as a learning guide appears to be a hallmark of high-performance and selfmotivation. More specifically, a series of experiments has demonstrated that, during specific lessons, poorperformers often demonstrate little-to-no aberrant neural activity during the learning process, but enhanced activity within the reward network of the brain upon successful lesson completion. This suggests that a focus on the end or goal of a specific lesson can impair learning (outcome orientation). Conversely, during these same lessons, high-performers often demonstrate enhanced activity in attention and memory networks following mistakes made during learning, but littleto-no aberrant neural activity upon successful lesson completion. This suggests that a focus on errors or performance-cures can improve learning (process orientation).

individuals transcend their unique learning plateaus and develop mastery over a subject or skill. Of importance, a key aspect of deliberate practice is the committing of errors. In essence, nearly every individual who has obtained mastery within a given field has done so through the continuous committing of mistakes; the difference between them and novices is that they have learned to recognise when a mistake has been made, to adjust performance/mental models accordingly, and to seek out future mistakes for further learning. As with confusion, it is possible that mistakes can be a double-edged sword. Again, until one is able to accept the process of mistake-making and performance adjustment, it is possible he or she will avoid any potential scenario that could lead to error-making. It is for this reason that we must begin to explore and consider how we (as parents, teachers, and leaders) can begin to model how best to embrace, seek-out, and learn from failure. An uncomfortable reality of this process will necessarily be that we must appear fallible in front of our students. However, if they come to accept failure in us, then it’s very possible they will come to embrace it in themselves.

Additionally, several researchers have spent decades exploring what differentiates experts from novices within a plethora of cognitive and physical disciplines. A primary finding: experts commonly engage in what’s called ‘deliberate practice’—this is a process by which

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Feedback As noted above, it is only through the process of errormaking that individuals are meaningfully alerted to their mistaken mental models and can meaningfully begin to adjust said models (learn!). However, a key aspect of this process is explicit knowledge of what the new model can or should look like. In other words, it’s one thing to know that you’ve made a mistake—it’s a totally different thing to know how to fix it! It is here that feedback becomes all important. Feedback represents the strongest and most efficient avenue we have to help students understand how best to address their mistakes in order to gain mastery over a set of skills or cognitions. However, what type of feedback is most effective for this process? After over a decade of researching this question, a number of researchers have developed a model that best elucidates the aspects of feedback that can assist an individual to learn from and move beyond their mistakes. This model is based on three questions: Where am I going? How am I going? and Where to next? Furthermore, this model extrapolates four different levels within which feedback can be delivered: task, process, self-regulation, and self. By knowing where an individual is located in the learning cycle (novice to accomplished) and the types of mistakes committed, we can meaningfully tailor feedback to help students address their errors and determine how best to adjust their concepts and assumptions. In addition, research has demonstrated that giving feedback is important, but receiving feedback is even more so. In other words, unless an individual is aware of his or her errors and understands the type of mistakes that have been made, then feedback falls on deaf ears. For this reason, it is important to consider how students are actioning the research being given. Within their reception of the feedback lie all the clues needed to determine what aspects of their learning process they have recognised, and which they have not.

So now then… It’s clear that confusion, error-making, and feedback form a relationship that can not only be utilised to enhance learning, but that also might be integral to developing expertise or mastery. Though, as noted in the introduction to this piece, not everyone appears ready to accept this somewhat uncomfortable fact. This leaves us with arguably the most important question education will have to face over the next couple years: how do we develop a climate of trust that encourages all individuals —students, teachers, and leaders alike— to seek-out, utilise, and maximize the power of the confusion/error/feedback triumvirate?


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It is clear every child can obtain a year’s growth from a year’s input—but this can be improved when they learn to enjoy the struggle and hard-work that is learning. Too often, we all believe that the good learners are the bright students; those destined to succeed. But all evidence suggests that success isn’t a trait, rather, it is a process. For a long time, that process has been hidden, but new research is bringing it to light, and the findings strongly suggest that embracing confusion and error are key elements. How can we change the climate of class to ensure all students recognise that enjoyment of the learning process (rather than the learning outcome) can lead to remarkable success?

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BASTOW EVENING EVENTS FROM ANYWHERE IN VICTORIA Bastow is offering government schools and early childhood networks, outside the Melbourne metropolitan area, the opportunity to participate in our regular evening Twilight Seminars and Horizon Forums via Polycom or Lync.

WHAT ARE POLYCOM AND LYNC? Polycom and Lync are video conferencing technologies. They are an effective and easy way for people in different locations to collaborate and watch live presentations.

HUB FEES The one-off fee to register a Hub is $150 for 6 months or $250 for 12 months.

NEED MORE INFORMATION? For more information about Hubs, see Regional Partnerships To become a Hub Leader, or register your Hub, contact Carmel Buxton on phone 8199 2959 or email buxton.carmel.m@edumail.vic.gov.au

To stay up to date with the latest Bastow courses, professional practice and events or to find out more: visit www.bastow.vic.edu.au phone 03 8199 2900 email bastow@bastow.vic.edu.au /BastowInstitute /BastowInstitute

bastow.vic.edu.au /BastowInstitute /BastowInstitute 14

Bastow // Horizon // Issue 4

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Horizon: Thought Leadership - Issue 4  

The fourth edition of our Horizon e-publication is now available online. This edition features two papers written exclusively for Bastow by...

Horizon: Thought Leadership - Issue 4  

The fourth edition of our Horizon e-publication is now available online. This edition features two papers written exclusively for Bastow by...