Category Archives: Thinking Classrooms

Curriculum decisions for thinking at preschool level

Preschool is the first stage of the school system. A well-constructed curriculum at this level, including strong implications for children’s thinking, affects the results throughout the further school system. In Sweden such a national curriculum was presented in 2018. This paper presentation deals with the effects of implementing the curriculum in one municipality in Sweden. It is part of an on-going evaluation research project. This report is a close-up didactic analysis of some particular teaching situations to shed light on how the teacher acts and the consequences in children’s progression. The observations were closely analyzed using Eisner’s (1991) educational connoisseurship’ and ’educational criticism’.
The result shows that teaching had changed to more structured and knowing pedagogy, when compared with earlier studies and research. The didactic moves were understood by most of the preschool teachers, to a certain extent. How to variate to visualize the learning object in a particular activity, or to motivate the children are areas that could be developed. There was an overrepresentation of preschool time letting the children choose among a limited, and sometimes conform, number of activities, with little or unclear goals, and little or no scaffolding by teachers. Some of the tasks, or at least the way they were handled, were reminiscences of an earlier way of understanding teaching. The curriculum was interpreted through these historical goggles. Many activities gave the impression that children were waiting for something, maybe for maturity to take place. Observations of children working collaboratively, were scarce. However, the teachers were trying to grasp new ways of acting out the concept of ‘teaching’, even if it sometimes caused confusion. Some exceptions to the common results were also displayed, preschools working in advanced, long sequence projects, with a high degree of children participation and influence.

Read research paper here: Curriculum decisions for thinking at preschool level
Get excerpts from observations analyzed in the paper here and use for collegual dialogues: Excerpts from observations analyzed in the paper

(Svenska) Att förstå sitt lärande – magisteruppsats

To Understand One’s Learning
A pilot study about senior-level students’ apprehensions of metacognitive questions in the subjects Art and Swedish
By Anneli Vossman Strömberg
The paper is in Swedish: Att förstå sitt lärande A Vossman Strömberg

This pilot study aims to test how recommended methods to promote students’ metacognitive thinking can be used. Metacognition is about “learning how to learn” and is related to conceptions like feedback, self-regulation and formative assessment. Research shows that students that get training in metacognition increase their performances. One of the goals according to the Swedish Curriculum for the compulsory school, preschool class and the recreation centre 2011/2017 is that students shall develop the ability to assess their results. I have examined how students in grade seven answer and apprehend metacognitive questions in the compulsory subjects Art and Swedish. The students answered metacognitive questions at three different times: when planning, when carrying through and when evaluating the task. In connection to answering the questions they also answered a questionnaire about their conception of the metacognitive questions. The intention is to use the result of the pilot study to prepare for a larger study. A qualitative research method has been used in this study. The result show that it’s substantial that the teachers find out about the students different preunderstanding of the metacognitive questions. The majority of the students find the metacognitive question useless, but for different reasons. If the students don’t understand the questions they think that the questions are something in addition to the task. If the students have a high metacognitive preunderstanding they will consider the questions as redundant. Most students thought that the metacognitive questions took time from the task they were supposed to do. Some students expressed great dissatisfaction, big frustration and irritation over the questions. To be able to train metacognitive thinking methodically with desired effect the students have to be motivated. A key factor is that the students understand what the training is supposed to leading. The teacher has to work in different ways with different groups of students with this.
Key words
Metacognition, metacognitive thinking, metacognitive questions, metacognitive strategies, learning to learn, feedback, self-regulation, formative assessment, learning strategies, visible learning

Keeping Order in a Thinking and Learning Environment

Paper presented at the TA Teachers Conference ‘Thinking as a Key Competence: Implications for Learning, Teaching and Management’ in Riga 23-24 September 2016.
Read paper here: keeping-order-pihlgren

See slideshow here: pihlgren-keeping-order

This paper is part of a larger study where more than two hundred teachers have been observed and interviewed. The questions guiding this part of the study focus on how the teacher’s way of keeping order is connected to the cognitive quality of what is taught.
A ‘thinking and learning environment’ presupposes that the teacher acts with strong focus on fostering students’ habits of mind, keeping order at the same time. However, there is no automatic relationship between orderliness and learning. Two factors are of importance: The teacher’s way of exercising control and if the system is perceptible for the students. Five types of learning environments were identified, three less successful in supporting cognitive development of students, and two more successful. The strongest learning outcomes are achieved when teachers use a clear and visible system during the lesson, so the students understand what is expected, a system that promotes their self-control.
Keywords: Cognition, order, praxis theory, teaching environments, thinking