Here is an excerpt from a research piece by Ben Levine that really has me thinking.

“……There are many areas of education, as already noted, where we do not have enough research evidence to be confident about what to do. However, there are areas where we do have enough knowledge and yet are not applying it broadly. A couple of examples can illustrate. One would be failure and grade repetition. Very large numbers of students end up repeating courses or grades during their schooling. In Canada about 30% of students do not finish high school “on time”. This means that literally hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent so that students can repeat courses or years. Although many people still think failure teaches important life lessons, one of the strongest findings in psychology is that failure depresses future effort (National Research Council, 2003). So the research says that we should do everything we can to prevent failure, as this will bring better results in the long term. Such an approach is far from standard practice in most school systems.”

How do we lower the failure rate? Do we need to redefine failure? How can we encourage our students to see failure as more of a positive than a negative? (ie we learn from our mistakes) Do we need to redefine what it means to be ‘on time’? Is this a push for project-based or more student-centered learning? Do we focus too much on grades?

These are some pedagogical issues that I’m struggling with right now and would love to hear your thoughts…


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