Killen Principles

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Background

Killen, R. (2005). Programming and assessment for quality teaching and learning. South Melbourne: Thompson (Cengage).

Analogy with photography – when we look at a student’s work etc., what we see will depend on:

• Our perspective – are you looking through the eyes of a teacher, parent, or student?

• Our lens – are we taking a ‘narrow’ or ‘wide’ view’? Is it possible to take it all in (wide-angle lens) or is it possible to ‘zoom in (telephoto lens)?

• Our filter – are we allowing our past experiences, beliefs and knowledge to ‘filter out’ valuable information, and are these things distorting what we really see, or hiding reality? (Killen, 2005, p. vii).

Teachers need to be able to take risks and be prepared to change perspectives, change lenses, change filters, and think about what we see in new ways. “Students don’t always get the messages teachers intend them to get, either because of our poor communications, or cultural differences, or their lack of attention. And when we assess students, whatever is in their heads does not always get conveyed to us (or interpreted by us) as it was intended” (Killen, 2005, p. viii).

Whatever we believe about how people learn will inevitably affect how their learning should be assessed. If we subscribe to the theory that we should be engaging in ‘high quality teaching’, then it follows that we must also accept the notions of ‘high quality learning’ and ‘high quality assessment’. So what are some characteristics of quality teaching and learning? Killen suggests three features drawn from Spady (2001) and Lovat & Smith (2003). These are that:

• Learning results in changes in understanding

• These changes enable learners to change their behaviour

• Changes in understanding are a direct result of learners’ experiences and their thinking about those experiences (p. 2)

High quality learning is equated with ‘deep’ learning – where a learner is deliberately intending to gain personal understanding, as opposed to ‘surface’ learning – where a learner is primarily concerned with ‘getting through’ or minimising failure.

Some attempts to characterise high quality learning cited by Killen (pp. 3-4)

• Students apply knowledge to solve problems – students need to know, understand and be able to use knowledge.

• Students communicate their knowledge to others – substantiate their independent thought.

• Students retain newly acquired knowledge for a long time – if processes emphasise conceptual understanding rather than procedures.

• Students perceive relationships between existing knowledge and new things.

• Students discover and create new knowledge for themselves.

• Students want to learn more (Nightingale & O’Neil, 1994)

• Learning is meaningful, connected to prior knowledge, and meets real needs of the learner, society, and humankind.

• Justifications for knowledge are actively sought and consequences of knowledge are tested theoretically and empirically.

• Learning is transformative in that it surpasses earlier knowledge and expertise and can be used to solve real problems by reframing and using different perspectives.

• Learning is metacognitive – one’s own learning is monitored and promoted (Ahlberg , 2003).

• People learn what is personally meaningful to them.

• People learn more when they accept challenging but achievable goals.

• Learning is developmental – novices tackle it differently from experienced learners.

• Individuals learn differently but people construct new knowledge from prior knowledge.

• Much learning occurs through social interaction.

• People need accurate, useful and timely feedback to learn.

• Most people have to learn successful learning strategies.

• A positive emotional climate strengthens learning.

• The total environment (physical, social,...
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