„Key Competences for XXI century” is a course on School Academy which I would strongly recommend to every teacher.
All the information below is from the course but it is only a drop in the water of the information you can learn on the course!
In other words this article is based on the course and is the work I was supposed to do while studying it.
The key competence approach, with its emphasis on the application of knowledge in real world situations represents a significant departure from traditional content-based approaches where subjects are taught and assessed discretely. The main recommended approach to teaching key competences is through the provision of interactive learning environments in which learners can engage in practical, inquiry-based tasks. These environments present open-ended problems and challenges to be solved through debate, experimentation, exploration and creativity.
WHY ARE INTERACTIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS SO IMPORTANT?
Simulating real world contexts has three main purposes:
– it can motivate learners more than traditional approaches,
– learners are more likely to remember concepts
– they discover on their own,
– it provides a meaningful context for problem-based learning
Key Points on Assessing Key Competences
As there is a new approach to teaching teachers need to develop new approaches to assessment.
- Summative assessment – that is the tests and examinations they design in order to assign course grades, or at the end of the school year.
- Formative assessment – the kind of interactive assessment that takes place in the course of learning, where the information gathered can be used to adjust teaching and learning and better meet student needs.
- And student self-assessment of progress toward the transversal competences. These are competences that do not have a learning “standard” – such as creativity, initiative and constructive management of feelings – but where it may be important for each student to track his or her development.
Key competence approach in school education varies in different countries in Europe
No country has made a complete shift to competence-based education, several countries have made significant progress. In addition to introducing legal and curricular frameworks for key competences, countries have used various strategies to foster a competence-based approach in the classroom. These include innovative partnerships, pilot projects, the monitoring and evaluation of new initiatives, dedicated funding and capacity building.
What do stakeholders think about key competences in education?
The important fact is that stakeholders agree that key competences of XXI century education are important and should be implemented.
THE PRINCIPLES BEHIND PROJECT BASED LEARNING, INCLUDING INQUIRY-BASED AND PROBLEM-BASED METHODS
Project-based learning is an approach which uses methods such as inquiry-based learning and problem-based learning to develop students’ competences.
Inquiry-based learning starts with questioning, continues with exploration and investigation and ends with finding a solution, drawing a reasonable conclusion, making a substantive decision or applying new knowledge or skills. It is often used to explore deep questions such as; Are all humans born free? Is democracy the ideal way to organise society? Students are encouraged to question arguments, information, ideas, opinions and viewpoints, to go deeper and generate new questions, which will lead them to new knowledge. And which will make them think and seek answers in a more complex way.
Such questions are:
- „What was the most important cause of our city’s growth?”
- „How can we best convince teenagers to be healthy eaters?”
- „How can we design an airplane wing that is light and will support 25 pounds without breaking?”
Important fact is that answers to these questions can’t be found on Google without „digging” deeply.
The problem-based learning method is more practical. Students are given a real life problem to investigate, which can be described as an authentic problem and have to come up with possible solutions. It may be widely applied to all kinds of real life problems. The solutions can then be discussed and tested to see which will work best in a given situation, for example. How to provide the best care for elderly people in their own homes, How to improve access to public buildings.
BE FAMILIAR WITH THE PRELIMINARY CHECKLIST, BASIC STEPS AND STRATEGIES RECOMMENDED TO DESIGN A PROJECT BASED LEARNING ACTIVITY
Implementing the PBL approach in teaching requires a teacher to bear in mind a few practicalities before you start. Here are a few pointers a teacher need to think about, which can be considered as a preliminary checklist:
- What is your project idea?
- What is the time frame proposed?
- Is the project idea manageable?
- Is it a project just between you and your class or will you collaborate with other teachers in your school or in other countries
- If it involves partners from other countries, what is the language proposed?
- What subjects could be integrated into this project?
- What technical tools, if any, will you use?
- How does your project fit with the school planning and calendar?
Once the teacher has fulfilled the basics they are ready to start but should bear in mind the following 7 steps :
- Step 1. Involve your students from the very beginning. Start with a guided exploration of some topics you have in mind as a whole class; but also be prepared to change if better ideas are emerging from the class. It is important to establish certain ground rules regarding behavior with them in advance.
- Step 2. Having defined the topic, in discussion with the class break it down into different tasks. Discuss which technologies to use and how they will be integrated
- Step 3. Plan well, set goals, define outcomes. Above all be concrete, students need goals to work towards and responsibility of tasks in order to achieve them
- Step 4. Proceed to put pupils into small groups with responsibilities for a particular task. Encourage pupils to ask personally relevant and socially significant questions regarding the topics chosen. Work to the strengths of each pupil.
- Step 5. Create a tangible artifact that addresses the issue, answers questions, and makes learning visible and accountable.
- Step 6. Arrive at a conclusion…take a stand…take action.
- Step 7. Document, justify, and share conclusion with larger audience. (parents, school etc)
HOW TO SET-UP A COLLABORATIVE PROBLEM-SOLVING TASK?
Collaborative problem solving is a complex skill requiring both social and cognitive competencies:
In other words collaborative problem solving is a set of skills that we need to rely on when the capacities or resources of just one person are not sufficient to solve the problem. We need to learn how to combine different resources and skills when faced with complex problems.
The Nature of collaborative problem solving:
The primary distinction between problem-solving by an individual and collaborative problem-solving is its social nature – the need for communication, exchange of ideas, shared identification of the problem and its elements, and negotiated agreement on connections between problem elements and relationships between actions and their effects. Collaborative problem-solving makes each of these steps observable, as they must be shared with a partner or other members of a group if a solution is to be successfully identified. These steps can be described as follows:
- A problem state must be jointly recognised, and collaborators must identify and agree on which elements of the problem each can control or monitor.
- A representation of the problem must be shared.
- Collaborators need to agree on a plan of action, including management of resources.
- Plans must be executed, which may require a coordinated effort by collaborators acting together or in sequence.
- Progress towards a solution must be monitored, different options evaluated, plans reformulated if necessary, and collaborators must decide on how to proceed in the face of positive or negative feedback.
Collaborative problem solving requires that the people combine their resources and their strategies in order to reach a common goal.
Collaborative problem solving is therefore defined as a joint activity where two or more people work together to contribute knowledge, skills, materials and procedures and move through a series of cognitive states that involve collection and analysis of information and the formulation of hypotheses that they jointly set out to test.
In designing a collaborative problem based task or project there are several steps:
- Define the problem or collaborative project.
- Identify project elements and components in detail;
- for each component identify the resources that are essential. These can be;
- Allocate to each participant non-overlapping, unique sets of resources necessary to be contributed to the project completion or problem resolution. Divide the resources amongst the participants with no shared or common resources.
- Clearly state the goals of the task or problem solution and observed to students procedure in the task.
- Explain to the participants that they must identify the problem, sort out a strategy to resolve the problem or complete the task
- The students also need to develop a means of keeping records of their decisions and discussions. For face-to-face attempts at collaborative problem-solving or collaborative project work keeping records is an essential aspect of the assessment process.
Example of collaborative e-twinning project:
„Let Your Passions Shine”
Three approaches to students assessment
There are three major approaches to student assessment, and the purpose of each.
The first of these is “summative assessment”, also referred to as assessment of learning. Summative assessment refers to tests or examinations that are used to make summary judgments of student performance. These are the tests that students take at the end of a learning unit, at the end of a school year, or at the end of secondary school.
The second approach to assessment is known as “formative assessment”. This is sometimes referred to as assessment for learning. Formative assessment is the kind of “real time” assessment teachers use to understand how well learners understand a new concept or are to apply a new skill – and provide the learner with feedback on what they still need to do to meet the learning objective. The teacher may adjust teaching approaches to meet learning needs more effectively. An assessment is considered as formative once the gap has been closed and the student has met the objective.
Both summative and formative assessments are focused on whether students have achieved the learning objectives outlined in curriculum and standards. These assessments are typically criterion-referenced. In other words, there are specific criteria by which to gauge learning performance.
A third kind of assessment is student self-assessment, also known as ipsative assessment, which focuses on the student’s personal development. Progress is measured against the student’s prior performances – so it is a self-referential approach. This approach is particularly appropriate for key competences that do not have a pre-defined learning objective – such as transversal skills of creativity, initiative, or the constructive management of feelings.
Any assessment, whether summative, formative or self-assessment, needs to be valid, reliable and fair.
- Validity means that the assessment effectively measures what it is intended to measure.
- Reliability refers to the extent to which the assessment is consistent and accurate over time, or across a large number of students.
- Fairness refers to the need to consider factors that could influence the assessment – such as a noisy environment that interrupts the student concentration, or assessments that systematically favour one group over another, such as girls vs. boys.
Assessments of key competences need, for example, to measure students’ reasoning processes, understanding of interconnections, and ability to perform complex tasks. A number of new assessments, including portfolios and e-assessments provide more effective measures of students’ key competence development. However, more work is needed to support reliability of these kinds of assessments.
A REMINDER :
Designing a collaborative problem based task or project:
1. Define the problem or collaborative project.
2. Identify project elements and components in detail;
3. For each component identify the resources that are essential. These can be:
4. Allocate to each participant non-overlapping, unique sets of resources necessary to be contributed to the project completion or problem resolution. Divide the resources amongst the participants with no shared or common resources.
5. Clearly state the goals of the task or problem solution and observed to students procedure in the task.
6. Explain to the participants that they must identify the problem, sort out a strategy to resolve the problem or complete the task
7. The students also need to develop a means of keeping records of their decisions and discussions. For face-to-face attempts at collaborative problem-solving or collaborative project work keeping records is an essential aspect of the assessment process.
When the teachers act as observers they need to focus on, and document their observations of students’ activities and demonstrations of specific skills. In this way the teacher can informally assess a student’s development and identify the appropriate intervention for scaffolding the skills that are described in the dimensions of collaborative problem-solving.
The important change in assessing work of students is evidence of:
- What the students understood
- What the students misunderstood
A new classroom is characterised by:
- Supportive feedback
- Less focus on right answers