Using Data to Activate Learning
Guest Post By by Matt Magowan
We’ve all been here. An activity is set up 3 vs 2 with an emphasis on students defending space. You have set up a conditioned game, thought about the playing area, adapted the rules and scoring system. It’s going to be awesome. Until it’s not. Observing a group, you notice they apparently aren’t ‘on board’ with how awesome your lesson is meant to be. They can’t figure out how to do it. Without just being a ‘sage on the stage’ I wonder…how do I give clear feedback? How do I intervene and ensure that I scaffold learning, as opposed to just imparting my knowledge on the students?
Whilst student centred approaches such as TGfU, Cooperative Learning, and Sport Ed (to name a few) have been advocated to help ensure that learning takes place across the four learning domains in PE, the role of the teacher isn’t really clear. Many easily available resources with practical activities to help deliver these approaches exist, but again, less clear is the role of the teacher. Truly student centred approaches, are environments where teachers are responsive to students’ needs, yet it is this area that I have found most challenging. What happens when I have to intervene to activate learning? How can I ensure I scaffold learning appropriately?
Then one day I came across the Holy Grail. Goodyear and Dudley (2015) propose a clinical approach, diagnose → respond → evaluate, to collect and use data to ensure that teachers are having an optimal impact on student learning. In the time crunch teaching world, this model has proven to be super easy to wrap my head around and implement.
If we recognise that the learning process is more than just regurgitating what the teacher has said, this model for teacher action provides a framework for teachers to reflect on our interactions with students and to assess student learning. Most importantly, we can empower learners to assess where they are on an individualized learning journey, become their own and their peers teachers, provide spaces for students to share their learning and support them to be resilient, collaborate and find help when needed.
As I reflect on my own teaching practice, I find myself constantly thinking was my initial activity pertinent to the learning goals, with a clear space for feedback? Did my game/activity adaptation scaffold learning appropriately? Did my questioning pose the right challenge to student understanding or did it lead the learning too much? Whilst a simple flow chart can look just that, simple. In practise it is very different, and it takes us as practitioners to be constantly reflecting on the data that we collect from active interactions with students and to be thinking about the learning environments that we create.
Goodyear, V & Dudley, D 2015, ‘“I’m a Facilitator of Learning!” Understanding What Teachers and Students Do Within Student-Centered Physical Education Models’ Quest, vol. 67, no. 3, pp. 274-289.