Uh, What About Research-Based Methods?
Post date: Jul 17, 2011 4:10:8 PM
It is great to see this interest in learning, but too bad that methods that careful research have shown to increase learning haven't received the same publicity (my understanding is that research based on the Khan Academy has yet to come out). I have in mind: Improved Learning in a Large Enrollment Physics Class," [cwsei.ubc.ca] Deslauriers, Schelew, and Wieman, Science, May, 2011 (a postdoc and grad student, using research based methods, get 2 standard deviations more learning in a physics class than an experienced prof with high student evaluations who lectured). . Note that Wieman is a both a Nobel Laureate and a U.S. Professor of the Year (given for teaching). Another article is Interactive-engagement versus traditional methods: A six-thousand-student survey of mechanics test data for introductory physics courses, [mit.edu] which again shows a 2-standard deviation increase in learning by not lecturing.
There is even evidence that watching Khan videos leads to a false sense of learning. See Khan Academy and the Effectiveness of Science Videos" [wordpress.com] It basically shows that while students think they're learning a lot by watching videos, their actual learning is minimal.
A great into to all this is Wieman's Why Not Try a Scientific Approach to Science Education?" [cwsei.ubc.ca] As he puts it, to increase learning, we need to use
Practices and conclusions based on objective data rather than—as is frequently the case in education—anecdote or tradition. This includes using the results of prior research, such as work on how people learn.
Disseminating results in a scholarly manner and copying and building upon what works. Too often in education, particularly at the postsecondary level, everything is reinvented, often in a highly flawed form, every time a different instructor teaches a course. (I call this problem “reinventing the square wheel.”)
Fully utilizing modern technology. Just as we are always looking for ways to use technology to advance scientific research, we need to do the same in education.
At best, Khan Academy only does the third of these.