How can we guide students towards deeper knowledge with 1:1 techniques?
Learning is not a digital process, even if we test and assign discrete marks to students’ levels in a particular subject, according to their progress or achievement. Learning is more of a kaleidoscopic analogic development, that we try to understand or stimulate with diversified inputs.
In a one-to-one environment, we have the opportunity to automate need detection, personalize reinforcement activities and diversify project propositions for going farther. It seems simple, but... how can we stimulate more challenging activities? How can we distinguish the best activities to be promoted for deeper knowledge acquisition?
Identifying levels of cognitive complexity
Tests like PISA (1) , PIRLS (2) or TIMSS (3) have been trying to establish a common understanding of what “levels of achievement” are. To do so, these tests use indicators to identify meaningful characteristics, and descriptors to define how those can be distinguished at different moments of progress.
The three PISA measurements (i.e. reading literacy, sciences literacy and maths literacy) have been aligned to determine three main levels of difficulty in cognitive processing:
- a)Explicit information.
- b)Implicit Information.
- c)Reflection, evaluation and referential information.
If we compare the progressive levels of complexity of the three tested literacies in PISA (Reading, Science, Maths), we find a clear correlation that establishes the first level as " identify, recognize or formulate " , a second level of difficulty as “ usage, apply or associate ” and a third level when achieving “ reflection or evaluation ”.
The following table compares the definition of cognitive difficulty in these three levels of complexity, for the three subjects measured in PISA tests:
Using a more practical example:__
Learning how to use a computer to gather information, a camera to record a sequence, or a smartphone to reproduce an image, is a relatively simple skill: it only demands explicit teaching and instructional learning :
- The student needs clear instructions and explicit sequences (what button to push, in what order, how to navigate through the menus).
This explicit knowledge is absolutely useless if the tools needed are not available to the student, and if practice opportunities are not provided. A classroom with one-to-one devices will also offer the added value of providing personalized activities, individual exercises to improve personal performance and adequate engagement opportunities to achieve goals. Nevertheless, knowing how to take a picture doesn’t always mean that the student is really able to take a GOOD Picture: quality and accuracy requires a second level of competency.
Learning how to use a computer to gather meaningful information, a camera to record a relevant sequence or a smartphone to reproduce a balanced image, is a level of accuracy that needs practice and exercise until certain implicit information has been interiorized by the Student:
- The Student needs to practice, hands on, to gather complementary knowledge related to the usage or function of the practical application (for example: the aim of the task, the conditions of performance or the finality of the product).
This practical work provides certain implicit information that allows Integration, inference, reasoning and justification for some of the decisions that will improve results, but even if he or she becomes an expert in any of the mentioned skills, to become fully competent in any of them requires, in addition, an important amount of critical thinking, decision-making and contextual reflection:
- The Student needs to share and debate opinions and beliefs on what, and for what purpose, information can be shared, (e.g.copyright issues), or when and how pictures can be taken or used (privacy issues), for example.
This reflection or contextual information is what leads students to higher order thinking processes, following the actualized Bloom' pyramid (5). Reflecting and evaluating different information is developing deep knowledge. Entering reflective and dialogical mental processes will also stimulate alternative thinking, and is a good way of encouraging responsibility and active citizenship.
To develop one to one activities we should, then, keep in mind these three levels of cognitive complexity, in order to promote a sequence of increasing difficulty. We should also take them into account when dealing with special needs.
There are not really any studies that define these three levels of difficulty for other curricular areas, yet. Are you ready to give it a try?
Tell us about your examples, sequences or activities that define the three levels of difficulty in other subjects!
(1) PISA: Program for International Student Assessment. http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pisa/
(2) PIRLS: Progress in International Reading Literacy Study. http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pirls/
(3) TIMSS: Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. http://timssandpirls.bc.edu/
(4) PISA Puclications: http://www.oecd.org/pisa/aboutpisa/
(5) Actualized Bloom's Pyramid: