How Much Does the Public Understand About Effective Teaching and Learning?
Since almost everyone has at some point in their life spent a good amount of time in a K-12 classroom, it’s safe to assume that many believe they have knowledge and insight into what works and what doesn’t. Is it also safe to assume that these perceptions are likely to be a little off the mark? Probably, but very few if any studies exist that answer this question one way or the other. Ulrich Boser, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and author of Learn Better, recently conducted a survey to find out what the general public really knows about effective teaching and learning.
Using Amazon Mechanical Turk, Boser, assisted by a team of researchers, polled 3000 people, a sample weighted by race, income and education level, about their opinions on a variety of classroom-related issues. Boser believes it is the first survey to guage the public’s understanding of teaching and learning.
Overall, the responses are interesting, maybe a little discouraging, but not altogether surprising. To Boser, they collectively reveal a general misunderstanding about what makes effective classrooms and effective educators. The implications are important because misperceptions feed off each other, whether they begin with the public, politicians or the media. Furthermore, Boser says there is an abundance of research into the “science of learning” that should be gaining more traction in our schools, not to mention teacher preparation programs.
Here are some of the highlights from the survey. What do you think they say about the public’s understanding of effective teaching and learning?
Praise and Content Mastery
Nearly all respondents believe that are “relatively skilled” at identifying effective teaching strategies, and 72% say they are “above average” in evaluating instructional practice. But when they were asked to evaluate specific strategies, Boser says things go awry.