Using data appropriately.


Stuart Naylor and Brenda Keogh, Millgate House Education
** same people who produces concept cartoons for assessment**

Which organ of the body should be in charge? Discussions highlights interconnected ness, interdependence…

Causal determination: Space shuttle, tunnel, train track, tramways, wagon carts wheel spacing, rutted roads, roman roads, chariots, two horses rear ends… Is this actual true or an urban myth? and


What is an urban myth. No evidence, but somehow it seems plausible. They have a strong scientific evidence. Is media to blame? Controversy without rigorous peer review. Eg. MMR vaccine.

We see patterns where there is only randomness
We see causal relationships where none exist
We overvalue data that confirms a hypothesis
We seek out data that will confirm a hypothesis
Our assessment of the quality of the new evidence is biased by our previous beliefs.

We see even distribution as randomness, when in reality randomness is clustered.
For the classroom we need to reflect on how we judge and evaluate data and it’s validity. What is statistically significant? Would 700 out of 1000 be more compelling that 7 out of 10?


Science doesn’t solve all our problems but it does help us to make considered judgements.

Circles of understanding. The bigger the circle of understanding the more points of contact there are with the unknown.. The more we know the more we recognize what we don’t know.
Why always teach the answered questions, why not look at the unanswered questions?

Medicine attempts to be an evidence based profession, why don’t we have these same aspirations as teachers? What does the research evidence say works? What do you think works? How do you know it is working?

Expert teachers
1) didn’t focus on what was needed for the exams
2) committed to providing challenging for students, setting challenging goals for each student
3) willing to go beyond the syllabus
4) feedback as a two way process. Assessment for learning and assessment for teaching.
5) a deep understanding of teaching and learning, the interaction of subject knowledge with pedagogy.
6) cooperating is better than competition and both are better than isolation or individual learning.
7) encourage meta cognition, use thinking tools (similarities, differences and analogies – 15 uses of a dead hedgehog)
8) story telling use suspense and surprise.

Hierarchy of effective learning
Competition between groups
Competition between individuals
Individual learning

Peer explaining and tutoring, peer evaluation of homework, generating questions collaboratively, homework help board, structured sharing of ideas (think, pair, share), collaborative plenary.

Groups of 3 or 4
Friendship groups can work but difficult to balance without someone being left out

Further reading: Ben Goldarcre’s ‘Bad Science’ (HarperCollins, 2009)
Don Jones ‘confirmation bias’ new Scientist May 2012
School Science Review


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