Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reflecting on Martinez

I really enjoyed Martinez's article on problem solving. I most particularly like how she acknowledges that changing our attitudes towards mistakes, as educators, can assists students in improving their metacognition. By not focusing on the mistakes we, in turn, place appropriate emphasis on the process, that is, the cognition behind learning. This seems to be an easy enough transition for the teacher - from focusing on the process rather than simply focusing on the mistakes - but once you are in the classroom it becomes clear that teachers have historically constructed a need to focus on the mistakes. Our whole grading system is based on the mistakes. Students loose points for lateness, for spelling mistakes and other inaccuracies; and sometimes, as teacher, we overlook the effort. We assume the effort must have been minimal if the mistakes are plenty. I believe that special educators have a stronger insight into this dilemma. Through our experiences we have learned that many mistakes are made along the way, but it is more about learning the process than the result.

This reminds me of a recent NY Time article. I am having trouble finding it now, but once I do I will post it. The article focused on a recent study which proved that students are more likely to do better on following assignments if emphasis was placed on their EFFORT and not their INTELLIGENCE on the previous assignments. For example, a group of students were asked to write about a particular topic. Afterwards, in one group, a teacher told the students did well that they were so smart. On the next activity they did worse. The hypothesis of this verbal praise was that the students then felt "worried" that they had placed themselves in the "smart kid" category, and wouldn't meet the expectations of that category. Alternatively, the other group was praised on their efforts, and consequently did better on the next assignment. Here, the hypothesis was that the students were inspired by the fact that their hard effort produced desirable results, and therefore were encouraged to try hard again.

Martinez's article clearly correlates with this study. Emphasis on the process can provide encouragement, whereas focus on the mistakes only discourages As adults, we should easily be able to relate to this, or in the very least, I know I can. My relationship with technology is heavily based on learning from my mistakes. I can sit at a computer and try to solve some formatting issue for literally an hour and it is all trial and error with different buttons and options. Case and point.

Here is the link for the article.

1 comment:

  1. What a great article! Thank you for posting this.