At the NZ ACE Educators Conference I went to at the end of last term, one of the sessions was based on research by NZ educator, Professor John Hattie, who identified ten important strategies for evidence based learning. The interesting thing about this was that the A.C.E. method of learning clearly fits with eight of the ten strategies Professor Hattie identified. I thought you might find it interesting to read about these ten strategies, and how the A.C.E. programme already has most of these components in-built:
- Have clear lesson goals. Every A.C.E. PACE begins with a list of learning goals. Furthermore, the students set daily goals in every subject.
- “Show and tell” – students need to have new concepts modelled to them to show them how to do it. This methodology is used consistently throughout the PACEs.
- Question to check for understanding. Again, PACEs have this methodology in-built, as the students complete exercises, check-ups, and self-tests, and score each exercise to check for understanding.
- Summarise new learning in a graphical way. This is also a frequent occurrence in A.C.E. material, with diagrams, charts, and comic strips all used to illustrate the concept being taught.
- Give plenty of practice. PACEs certainly give children plenty of practice to ensure they grasp each new concept. Note that in a regular classroom, often a class will have to move on to the next concept, whether the student has grasped the concept or not.
- Provide Your Students with Feedback. With A.C.E., students get immediate feedback, not only when marking their work, but also with regular goals checks, check-ups, self tests, and PACE tests.
- Be flexible about how long it takes to learn. Again, this is one of the most significant features of A.C.E. methodology, but is much more difficult to accommodate in a regular classroom setting.
- Get Students Working Together [in productive ways]. Of course, this is one of the two areas that PACEs are not designed for. PACEs are designed for individual working. At Living Way, we look to provide for this collaborative learning in our afternoon programme with Bible study times, unit studies lessons, and teamwork activities.
- Teach Strategies, not just content. PACEs do teach children strategies such as word attack skills, or mathematical strategies, but we also do this when we work with individual students, tutoring them with strategies they need to study and learn new concepts.
- Nurture Meta-Cognition [teach students to think about their thinking]. This is the other area that the ACE programme does not specifically address. This type of thinking is perhaps best done in dialogue situations, one-on-one, or in group settings. Again, we can do this when working with children individually, or in group situations, but is perhaps an area that we could develop more.
So, in summary, we can have confidence that the individualised, mastery-based, goal-setting model of learning used by our students is a highly effective method of learning, using eight out of the ten strategies described above. Furthermore, we have the capacity to utilise all ten strategies within the context of our school, and will continue to seek to provide learning that is highly effective for each child.