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The aptness of fit between task design and students’ written work: illustrations of harmony and dissonance in science and history classrooms
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Proceedings of the Redesigning pedagogy: research, policy, practice conference, Singapore, May - June 2005.
Educational practice requires teachers to manage the intellectual space surrounding learning in their classrooms.
Prototypically, teachers’ decision making involves identifying learning objectives and then organising activities
that lead students towards the production of artefacts that demonstrate their understanding of key concepts and
information in designated fields of study. However, in practice, there are occasions where teachers’ designs and
students’ output are misaligned and this phenomenon usually has a negative impact on students’ levels of
achievement. Explaining how and why students’ work fails to meet expectations is a sensitive matter that may
not be adequately explained by simplistic deficit models concerning the child.
Drawing on data collected as part of CRPP’s Digital Curricular Literacies project, this paper reports preliminary
relationships between learning task characteristics (outcomes, strategies, scaffolding), teachers’ process goals
(e.g., remember, understand, evaluate) in lower-secondary science and history classrooms and the quality of
students’ work. Our subsequent discussion focuses on cases where student underachievement seems to be
attributable to imprecision in learning task design and/or inadequate classroom practice. Potential consequences
on students’ ability to communicate will be highlighted and suggestions made about scaffolding students’
learning successfully in the completion of ill-structured learning tasks
Appears in Collections:CRPP - Conference Papers

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