Thursday, March 29, 2012

Things That Make You Go, "Gah!"

From John Hattie's Visible Learning, page 258:

Perhaps the most famous example of policy makers not using or being convinced by evidence was Project Follow Through, which started in the late 1960s. It was conducted over 10 years, involved over 72,000 students, and had more than 22 sponsors who worked in more than 180 sites to find the most effective education innovations to break the cycle of poverty through enhancing student learning. The innovations included Direct Instruction, whole language, open education, and developmentally appropriate practices (see Carmine, 2000; House, Glass, McLean, & Walker, 178 for a history). The students in these programs were compared to control students (Stebbins, 1976; Stebbins, St. Pierre, Proper, Anderson, & Cerva, 1977). All but one program had close to zero effects (some had negative effects). Only Direct Instruction had positive effects on basic skills, on deeper comprehension measures, on social measures, and on affective measures. Meyer (1984) followed these students through to the end of their schooling, and those in the Direct instruction compared to peers not in this program were twice as likely to graduate from high school.....The outcome of this study, however, was not to support more implementation of Direct Instruction but to spend more resources on the methods that did not work but were preferred by educators. As Carmine (2000) commented, the romantic view of students discovering learning was more powerful than a method invented by a teacher that actually made a difference; a method that required an attention to detail, to deliberately changing behavior, and to teaching specific skills. The rejection of Direct Instruction in favor of Rousseian inspired methods "is a clear case of an immature profession, one that lacks a solid scientific base and has less respect for evidence than for opinion and ideology" (p.12).
I'd weep or scream, but I'm not even all that surprised.

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