Chris Harrison

Chris Harrison

Reader in Science Education and Chair of ASE 2014-2015. Lead UK Researcher on Assessment for Learning. Research interests in Inquiry-learning, professional learning and CPD.

Location King's College London

Activity

  • Hi Jan,
    Wait time benefits classroom dialogue and there are several manifestations of this in classroom that do it. Certainly you do get more elaborate answers and more than just one word answers as you say which you can build on. However, on some occasions, we find that the dialogue that grows from wait time practices allow errors, misconceptions and...

  • There are many teachers in all school subjects and phases who do AfL well. Some however, have not been given sufficient tools or time to work on these ideas as part of their training to be a teacher or as part of a professional learning programme. It is a way of working that you have to keep working at - not a short term goal - and some schools put so much...

  • In all or our projects with teachers, we ask them what they expect to happen in their classroom after 2-3 weeks and the 2-3 months. If you don't have some sort of evidence to look for (kids talking more, higher order questions being asked etc) you won't know if you are making progress or not.

  • I have seen a similar approach to this work Sinead - so thanks for this. The concept here Kathryn is about structure and function . In Biology, we tend to feel we have to name so much. Its the structure of the different layers and how these support the various processes, that leaf tissue is involved with, that is important for learning. Remembering palisade...

  • Agree entirely. In many of the classrooms that we have worked, the teacher starts off making small changes that shift the way that learners work. As these small changes begin to signal to students that they gain from being honest in their answers and active in the lesson, students gain in confidence and engagement. Gradually the culture changes - teachers and...

  • Love your enthusiasm for children's learning Gail.

  • Absolutely. Encourage their thinking and guide their learning. Eventually they will be able to do this without the teacher having to steer the way.

  • Mmmm. Think we need to define or explore 'good' here. I would prefer a motto of "all answers are USEFUL answers."

  • I agree Bec. Margaret Heritage in the US and Bronwen Cowie in NZ write a lot about students using one another as a resource and student's funds of knowledge. The teacher's role is in collecting evidence through sifting the talk and also prompting and guiding the talk when needed.

  • We had almost the exact same quote in our first AfL research project Mastura. Paul Black and I are going to do a session at the Association for Science Education Annual Conference on 12th Jan 2018 where we will talk about the many teachers we have worked with on AfL over the last 20 years and we will have 3-4 teachers from various eras talking about AfL...

  • ... and the good news is that working in this way also raises attainment. Obvious really - children learn better and so do better in those tests.

  • It does take a while to train children to say what they think rather than what they think the teacher wants to hear. Sally Howard and I write about some of the techniques we saw primary teachers using to help children learn how to do this in Inside the Primary Black Box (from GLAssessment). Easy to adapt these techniques for older students who haven't quite...

  • Absolutely Marie-Jetta. I found this really difficult to do when I first started my AfL practice. I still pinch my lips together sometimes, after I ask a question or while I am listening to an answer, just to stop myself joining in!!!!

  • We knew a lot of the research in the mastery area. There was a paper by Fredericksen & Whyte in the 1980s that showed testing 2/3 of the way through a science topic, and then working on areas that needed support for the remaining third of the time, raised achievement significantly. We found in the only quantitive study that we did on KMOFAP that the mean for...

  • A technique similar to HPQ more suited to younger children comes from the work of Brenda Keogh and Stuart Naylor. They use prompts like:
    A kite is like a feather because........
    A flower is like a bright light because ....
    Chocolate is like ice because...
    (NB I made these ones up. They use better ones!!! But hopefully you get the idea)
    Then you take several...

  • Looking forward to reading what folk have been up to and what things have sparked interest or caused concern!!!

  • Really interesting reading through your responses. From an assessment angle (sorry - no pun intended), it is being clear about what you are trying to assess as the teaching and learning is progressing. In this case, the HPQ finds out if they know the general principle of Pythagoras and can recognise where the hypotenuse is on the rt angled triangle. So, as...

  • Hi Isobel, I was really interested in this comment. As a Biology Teacher, who retrained as a Physics teacher because we could not recruit ALevel Physics teachers, I taught both Biology and Physics. I think Biology needs to be stripped of some of its complex language so that students are pushed into an explanatory rather than a descriptive approach.

  • Still read this small booklet a couple of times a year to keep me on track! Welcome everyone. Chris

  • I am parachuting in from another MOOC AfL in STEM Learning as eager to know how we can help UK schools with science writing. Recent changes in assessment and curriculum has led many teachers back to very traditional recording of practical work in the form of lab reports. These have their place but for school science learners you mainly need the style of...

  • B and C are common misconceptions. So, if you ask students to respond and many choose these, then you know you cannot move on but need to deal with these. If they answer A, D or A+D, then you know they are on the right track and you might just have a quick class discussion on these answers and how A builds on D. Or just ask them to predict what would happen...

  • Hi Shama
    I am not really sure what you are asking here Shama. I think you might be asking if we need to know the reasons why students have chosen a particular answer in a HPQ m/choice question. The idea behind the HPQ m/choice is that you design the question so that the answers, other than the correct one, are typical misconceptions and so you are reducing...

  • I get it now. Some of the teachers I have worked with PARK questions. They maybe get so far with an idea and realise that they have got as far astray can that day and the y return to it at a later point in the learning. They also park questions students raise if they either don't have time that day or feel that they need to be further into the topic to deal...

  • This its a very American (Heidi Andrade) and French (see Linda Allal's work) take on AfL. The real originator was Perronoud (a Swiss psychologist) but who did most of his writing in impenetrable French. Both Heidi and Linda have a page on Researchgate. Self-regulation is the iterative process where the learner comes to control her own learning. I think of it...

  • I am confused Bev. You say - The process of questioning is not always necessary in my opinion for every lesson in a unit. I don't think I have ever observed a lesson that hasn't had questions in it. Working backwards from the outcomes you want is a good way to think about activities but won't questions be involved as part of this?

  • Chris Harrison replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    A good analysis of what was going on Lisa.

  • It's always difficult selecting out part of a lesson to watch. You are quite right that the situation is very different in whole class Q&A to group work discussion. The former is much more controlled by the teacher and many learners are just spectators following the discussion rather than being challenged by the questions themselves. In the Y11 osmosis lesson,...

  • Hi Naila,
    I think you mean diagnostic questions here. HPQs are rather specialised HPQs that you would tend to use partway through topic to check previous understanding is there. So, when teaching Human Circulation you will be asking questions in lessons such as "what's the difference between parties and veins?" "How are red blood cells specialised to carry...

  • Hi Nicola,
    You are right i that pretty much all of the statements could be ascribed to how teachers conceptualise AfL. The purpose of the activity was to push people into defining and refining the formative nature of AfL. Too often I hear - we do this for AfL - and I think so how is that working in a formative way. The current favourite in many schools is...

  • Love the idea of soft spots - are these emergent ideas that you need to use to build and consolidate understanding? Tell us more please.

  • Really interesting you chose "learners use one another as a resource". I think this one, for me, was the real eye opener when we began working on AfL with teacher. I really like Margaret Heritage's work on this in Phi Delta Kappan (2007). Its much more than peer assessment; its allowing students to co-constaruct and challenge one another's ideas.

  • Can't turn down an invite like that. Where are you based in Australia? I am planning to go out to Brisbane later in the year and I believe Dylan is doing a workshop/keynote in Melbourne. You have really amazing academics in this field also in Australia. Jill Willis at university of Queensland works with me a couple of times a year. There's also Val Klenowski,...

  • You are right Jane. They are different. I think of the diagnostic quiz with the zip grade as a checklist of things that an individual needs to sort to move forward during the learning, while HPQs are more a hurdle the teacher puts into the journey, hoping they have judged it right and most kids can scramble over it and so the class can move on. So reading back...

  • I have to admit that I do meet some teachers who do seem to have fixed mindsets. It doesn't help in the UK that most secondary schools have quite inflexible setting systems and teachers use terms like high and low ability (swear words on my teacher training course). My feeling is that most teachers, given the time to plan and work through with colleagues how...

  • Interesting activities but a bit didactic in places. I felt the quiz was a bit obvious at the end of week 1.

  • Thanks for this Anne. As someone who trains teachers as well as doing research, I am struck by how often mentors in school ask my trainee teachers to differentiate more. Not only is it quite an advanced skill, many science teachers have a very fixed view on how you might do this. They focus far too much on differentiation by task rather than considering...

  • Thanks Julie.

  • Thanks Jane for reassuring Tracey. Just want to point out that when we say use multiple choice we mean style of question and not a test of lots of questions. In other words one GOOD multiple-choice question acting as a Hinge point question is sufficient.

  • Through our work on AfL, we have seen question trees, question boards and a whole host of different ways of getting children to generate questions that can be used either in that lesson or later lessons. Children do need training in doing this, whether its a primary classroom with the teacher stopping at points in a story reading to ask the class to come up...

  • Thanks for this point Greg.This is always a delicate balance that teachers need to manage. In general, the idea is that Hinge Point questions are more for informing the teacher so that s/he knows whether to move on or not. So its an AfL Tool. Then some teachers might later re-use HPQs for DfL and then the followup activities might be different - pairing up...

  • Hi Laura,
    Sounds like you have good plans for taking these ideas forward with your class. Just wanted to comment on your perceptive observation about the secondary students. These students and teachers have been working in a DfL way for quite a while and so there is the trust there. Students know, from experience, that the teacher is interacting with them in...

  • Hi Wendy, Sounds like we have similar approaches to how educational research can and cannot help teaching and learning. Would love to know more about your 'cycle of inquiry' project. I am doing some work on that area of professional learning at the moment. Could you either put up more here, if you think it would tie in with the DfL MOOC, or contact me via my...

  • Hi Robin and Wendy, I don't think we use the language of diagnostics in what we suggest. While we do refer to diagnostic questions these are clearly situated in terms of finding out where students are in their learning and deciding next steps. It's an ipsative approach not a remediation. So it's more a language of a learning journey than medicine. The work...

  • One way to look at it is to think of AfL helps guide you in to what the student needs while DfL is helps teachers to be responsive. Sometimes this is short term to help the student overcome a hurdle, sometimes its more longterm where you are helping them develop skills, make connections and and consolidate ideas. The important idea behind DfL is that it...

  • I can see that it might seem like this but its not about doing separate tuition for 30 students. However, it's more about looking at the concept that students are learning. Where are the tricky bits or the likely alternative conceptions? These are the activities when you might need to plan for a more varied approach in the classroom. So its being aware of...

  • I think you need to consider the dynamics in your classroom differently. Teachers are not just choosing activities and then supporting slower/weaker students to do that activity. They are thinking about how they can pitch an activity so that there might be a differentiated outcome but all students move forward. Also students can work together on ideas that...

  • It does take time to get into the frame of mind to teach in this way Bev. So many other things compete for your time and focus. However, having watched many,many teachers build up their AfL practice, I can promise you it is transformative. You don't go back to old ways of teaching. AfL embeds and restructures the way that teachers think about teaching and the...

  • This makes it all worthwhile Andrew. Thanks. Chris

  • Great. I look forward to hearing how it goes.

  • Very perceptive summary Florence.

  • I have only mainly read about low attainers in the various reviews and meta-analyses that have been done in this area and so don't know the literature in detail but it indicates that low attainers make greater gains than average or higher attainers. This is generally put down to the fact that they develop much better learning behaviours, becoming more active...

  • The rice and peas model has been around in science teaching for a long time. It is very difficult trying to explain to children that the salt is still there when it is added to water but they just cannot see it. When you stir a handful of peas into a large beaker of rice grains, the peas disappear. So it models salt dissolving in water with the idea that the...

  • Wow. Great to log on on Day 1 and find Early Years teachers up to University Lecturers and a range of countries. Hope you get a lot out of the course. Please keep chatting as the informal part of the course can help you consolidate and challenge your ideas.

  • I think the point here is focusing on what your students need to help them learn rather than syllabus coverage. So the teacher needs to regularly check on how students are developing their understanding and skills to help her/him plan the next steps. If there's some fun there too then all the better but the focus must be learning.

  • Its worth being persistent Helen. Your learners might take a while to settle in to this approach and so just keep them on track until they understand the benefits better.

  • While I agree that sometimes teenagers have competing priorities for their focus, I have seen differentiated learning work with all age groups. I think its more to do with helping students become more familiar with this approach and helping them see how they can overcome obstacles in their learning. So I would encourage you to be persistent in moving forward...

  • It's hard to get the timing right both for when teachers have time to focus on their own professional learning and also classes in front of them to teach across so many countries. The MOOC will remain if you have signed up for it and so you can refresh your memories of the ideas once your classes return. The Discussion Board isn't serviced by our educator team...

  • Differentiated holiday tasks ..... not so sure those will go down well with your family!!! The MOOC remains once downloaded and so maybe with a refresher at the end of August, you will be ready to try out these ideas with your classes. Enjoy your summer.

  • Its great to see the course is working for folks. The whole idea is about strengthening professional learning and, if you want to bring about change, it's through helping teachers do things better and not just tips for teachers. Really delighted by the deep reflections here.

  • Certainly many primary teachers in the UK do themes. It's one of the ways of keeping more science in the curriculum, so the teachers plan their literacy work through science. You just need to be careful that you don't stretch the children's literacy capabilities when they are dealing with a challenging science concept. So here is England, 10-11 year olds have...

  • We love to hear these success stories Dolores. You have also raised a key factor in strengthening professional learning and that is discussion with colleagues. Hope others are doing this. We know some teachers are doing the MOOC as a group and we would be keen to learn from their experiences.

  • Hi Philip,
    Its always difficult knowing when to place the course because of different school years and term dates and also because there are busy and slack times through the year. Might be worth you following others experiences via the discussion group and planning for a mammoth differentiation attack next year. Enjoy your holiday!!

  • Hi Hilary,
    There are many interpretations of the way mastery might work. Our approach to AfL and DfL is about focusing on next steps and NOT on some tasks for high attainers and others for low attainers. In fact the diagnostic step is finding what might be preventing understanding or skill development and then the follow-on tasks help remedy this. So in a...

  • Hi Rebekah,
    I think differentiation can be used with adults. I do not know the research literature in this area but generally it is better to give adults more choice in how they go about learning than younger students. Let us know how it goes in your classroom.

  • Hi Louise and Kara-Lynne,
    Differentiated Learning is quite an advanced teaching skill. Once you have worked on how children learning and done basics like lesson planning and classroom management on your pre-service course, have a go at our other MOOC called Assessment for Learning in STEM subjects. Its starts again on October 31st. Then come back to the...

  • It will be more organic but it sometimes requires quite a significant amount of time to find the best question to prompt intentional dialogue or to check progress with an HPQ. Most of the teachers we have worked with do report that differentiation becomes easier. Just a Heads Up here in that Dylan, Andrea and I have just developed a new MOOC on differentiated...

  • Thanks for this Cecelia. You are quite right - HPQs can work within each of the curricular areas. I think I probably said science because the teachers we used to look at implementing HPQs were science teachers.

  • Thanks for this Shaaron. Introducing new ideas into practice is a learning experience for both teachers and learners. What you have clearly demonstrated through your reflective approach is that it takes time and effort to change the culture, but, by persisting, you (and your students) are now reaping the benefits. Well done!

  • I always challenge my maths colleagues by asking them what would be the ONE question that would test if I could do Pythagoras? That's the sort of question you want that has specific thinking linked to that maths idea. Then think how kids might go wrong. From this you construct your distractors for your multiple choice.

  • I agree totally Paul. It's about creating dialogue not just talk.

  • What the research suggests is that students cling on to misconceptions and require events that create cognitive conflict in applying these ideas to bring about change Just telling students the right way to think about it means they are likely to hold on to the alternative conception in their heads but know, for school/exam purposes they say specific ideas....

  • Dylan's idea is that you need no debate with hinge point. The fact that they chose a particular answer tells you their reasoning. Like you, I worry a bit about whether they have guessed or got to the right answer through the wrong thinking. So my advice would be to use questions to stimulate dialogue early in the learning cycle. Then, when you feel most have...

  • There's also a good book on this by Barbara Crawford of how she has worked with teachers on inquiry projects. It doesn't address the assessment side much but it does get you thinking about approaches to inquiry.

  • Great we are getting some draft HPQs for colleagues to think about and trial.

    Change in practice is usually slow Joseph and while in-class coaching can help, there are ways to strengthen development. We ask teachers we work with to anticipate what changes they might see in their learners after 4-6 times of trying something new and its then we say invite a...

  • Such a difficult topic. I admit I never really understood it till I had to teach it. There's a lot of research on misconceptions in this area and it might help to look at some groups who are producing diagnostic questions in this area like Robin Millar and Mary Whitehouse on the York Project in the UK.

  • So I think you need to create opportunities and maybe follow-on activities where the students apply their ideas. In this way they rehearse their better ways of thinking and provide you with a further check on understanding. You have to keep working on sorting out the wrong ideas. They do not go away if we just stick to talking about the the bits the students...