Research School Network: Using the evidence to inform distance teaching – the worked example effect As schools around the country close, we’ll still be publishing blogs on applying the evidence to distance teaching.

Using the evidence to inform distance teaching – the worked example effect

As schools around the country close, we’ll still be publishing blogs on applying the evidence to distance teaching.

The COVID19 pandemic has changed the way we all live and work, for the foreseeable future. Many teachers are having to adapt to a new way of teaching – working from home and using a variety of online platforms e.g. Google Classrooms, to teach their students. Whilst we would all agree that distance teaching’ like this is no replacement for traditional face to face teaching, it’s all we have for the forthcoming weeks. So like we always do as teachers, we will adapt and make the most of it.

This means a change in our role as a Research School. Obviously, all of our planned face to face training and support will be postponed until further notice, in line with social distancing guidelines across the country. During this time our focus will turn to providing distance CPD’ for teachers. The Durrington Research School team will still be blogging regularly. On here we will be focusing on how we can take the research evidence that we already know about learning and apply it to distance teaching. On our partner site Classteaching’ we will be focusing on practical tips and advice about distance teaching generally, including getting to grips with Google Classroom.

One example of how the evidence around learning should be used to inform distance teaching is the worked example effect’. John Sweller’s work on Cognitive Load Theory, provides a framework of thinking about how we need to reduce the load placed on the working memory, to support the transfer to long term memory. Worked examples are key to this. A worked example is a completed or partially completed response to a problem or task that students study before and during the initial teaching of a new skill or process. When used effectively, they should be gradually faded away so that students gain independence. They are powerful because for novice learners it is better that they focus on studying the solutions to problems rather than attempting to just solve them. Furthermore, it reduces the load on the working memory if students have a worked example in front of them to use, rather than having to remember the steps involved in solving the problem alongside everything else, when trying to carry out a new task.

This has clear implications for distance teaching. For some tasks that you set, it would be useful for you to include a worked example for students to study and use to complete similar tasks. This could be done by uploading a photo of a worked example you have completed (that perhaps you would normally share on your whiteboard), to the assignment you set on Google Classroom. So for maths teachers, include a full answer with all the steps involved to a particular question on the topic you are studying, for students to use when answering similar questions. This could be further developed, by including a short video clip of you talking through the steps in the worked example. Loom is a really useful way of doing this. Andy Tharby will be blogging about this later this week, over on classteaching.

So the principles of the Worked Example Effect’ remain the same – it’s just about adapting them slightly to our new context of distance teaching. This is what we will continue to do on here over the coming weeks. We hope you find it useful.

Stay safe.

Shaun Allison – Director of Durrington Research School

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