The development of student centers to improve homework and learning in Scotland.Scottish educators' attitudes toward parents have changed over the last two decades and so has the relationship between home and school. Sometimes the change has been from the bottom up, led by schools and local coalitions of parents, and other times it has been from the top down, marked by legislation, policy papers and commissioned research. This article reflects on the findings and practical implications of a study on homework (to which the author contributed) that was commissioned by the Scottish Education Department about a decade ago. The study was one of a series of papers that has helped Scottish policymakers, educators and families better understand, improve and build upon home-school home·school or home-school
v. home·schooled, home·school·ing, home·schools
To instruct (a pupil, for example) in an educational program outside of established schools, especially in the home. relations.
The Scottish Education Department commissioned a landmark study to examine home-school connections. In particular, it examined channels of communication. Over a year and a half, the research team conducted in-depth interviews with parents at their homes, for up to three and four hours, sometimes with their children present. During the interviews, parents tended to be initially cautious and reserved. They gradually opened up and even expressed a desire to continue the dialogue well beyond the scheduled hour. This interest was often marked by a parent's statement to the effect that this was the first time that he or she had had the opportunity to discuss their child's education at length, in depth, with somebody who was simply there to listen - not to judge, categorize cat·e·go·rize
tr.v. cat·e·go·rized, cat·e·go·riz·ing, cat·e·go·riz·es
To put into a category or categories; classify.
cat , moralize mor·al·ize
v. mor·al·ized, mor·al·iz·ing, mor·al·iz·es
To think about or express moral judgments or reflections.
1. To interpret or explain the moral meaning of. or harangue.
What became increasingly clear was the nature of the bridge between home and school, the structure of which, we knew from previous research, was critically important. The extended conversations with parents and children in their own natural surroundings revealed the complexity of the interrelationships between home and classroom. It was evident that researchers' best efforts to document the key variables for effective schools would always be partial and misleading, without knowledge of how the home valued learning. Indeed, the study raised the question of whether it was schools that were detracting from the rich educational opportunities offered at home. It also challenged the notion of "added value Added value in financial analysis of shares is to be distinguished from value added. Used as a measure of shareholder value, calculated using the formula:
In foods, any of various chemical substances added to produce desirable effects. Additives include such substances as artificial or natural colourings and flavourings; stabilizers, emulsifiers, and thickeners; preservatives and humectants (moisture-retainers); and , relationship between home and school learning. Thus, while the Scottish Education Department initially set out to study the efficacy of parents' evenings, letters, face-to-face meetings, report cards and ad hoc For this purpose. Meaning "to this" in Latin, it refers to dealing with special situations as they occur rather than functions that are repeated on a regular basis. See ad hoc query and ad hoc mode. visits, it found that uncovering the surface of these issues led to deeper, richer and more complex insights into the conventions of schools and homes.
The study, Home from School (MacBeath, Mearns & Smith, 1986),was well received by schools, but it was not until three years later that the study was resurrected and a follow-up policy paper was commissioned - Home from School - Its Current Relevance (MacBeath, Mearns & Smith, 1989). It was followed by a large-scale study of 3,500 Scottish parents and their concerns and expectations. These findings led to a series of five booklets titled Talking About Schools (MacBeath/MVA 1989, 1990), which were distributed to all schools in Scotland The list of schools in Scotland is divided into several articles:
A Closer Look at Homework
These studies all revealed that homework continued to be a trouble spot; as a source of considerable tension and dissatisfaction, it became a subject of interest to policymakers. Consequently, a two-year study of homework was commissioned in 1989.
A review of the existing literature was equivocal EQUIVOCAL. What has a double sense.
2. In the construction of contracts, it is a general rule that when an expression may be taken in two senses, that shall be preferred which gives it effect. Vide Ambiguity; Construction; Interpretation; and Dig. on the benefits of homework (Featherstone, 1985; Walberg, 1985). Those of us in the Scottish Education Department were not surprised to discover how narrowly both school and home conceived of homework (MacBeath & Turner, 1991). Homework was seen as something discrete, separate and distinct from other kinds of learning. It was tacked on to classwork as an afterthought af·ter·thought
An idea, response, or explanation that occurs to one after an event or decision.
1. while the bell was ringing, or prescribed because it was expected. Homework often had no coherence or connection with what was being learned in class. It neither enriched that learning nor provided the experiential ex·pe·ri·en·tial
Relating to or derived from experience.
ex·peri·en base on which classroom learning could be built. It was frequently dull and uninspiring uninspiring
not likely to make people interested or excited
Adj. 1. uninspiring - depressing to the spirit; "a villa of uninspiring design"
inspiring - stimulating or exalting to the spirit , typified by such assignments as correcting spelling mistakes spelling mistake n → falta de ortografía , learning lists of French vocabulary words, adding a series of numbers, writing an English essay or memorizing formulas.
The study of homework in Scotland reinforced a view of learning as teacher-directed busywork bus·y·work
Activity, such as schoolwork or office work, meant to take up time but not necessarily yield productive results.
Noun 1. to be completed as rapidly as possible. Classroom learning might be stimulating and inventive, especially in primary schools, where pupils often worked in pairs or in groups, discussing and sharing ideas. Evening homework did not have the same goals, however, and the assigned tasks rarely addressed the needs or context of the learner, nor a coherent progression of learning.
For the homework study, again we visited homes and talked to parents and children, focusing more closely on how children learned, what children did when left to their own devices, and what role parents played in the learning process at home. We often observed children at work, in front of the television, with their Walkman on, on the phone with their friends, helping younger sisters or older brothers, or teaching their teddy bear what they had learned that day.
Homework was, as one 15-year-old boy described, "a lonely and tedious activity." Homework seemed to have all the drawbacks of school work with none of the accompanying benefits - no friends to talk to, no gossip, and none of the informal, sociable exchanges that make schools interesting and tolerable tol·er·a·ble
1. Capable of being tolerated; endurable.
2. Fairly good; passable. See Synonyms at average.
tol . Some parents demanded that homework be done at a particular time and place. In other cases, parents made cursory cur·so·ry
Performed with haste and scant attention to detail: a cursory glance at the headlines.
[Late Latin curs inquiries into the nature of their children's assignments; if they received a vague explanation, parents would shrug it off, saying, "It's her life. She has to get on with it." A few parents did not appear to care too much whether homework was completed, and so they made no demands on their children.
The study confirmed just how different individual students are, not just in terms of how they learn, but also in terms of the physical and social contexts in which they learn. Schools' advice about homework generally betrayed a lack of understanding of the real world of children's home children's home n → centro de acogida para niños
children's home n → foyer m d'accueil (pour enfants)
children's home n learning. Schools typically advocated having a quiet place to work, one that is free from interruptions, and that includes a desk, desk light and an upright chair. Few students actually worked like that, instead finding their own comfortable, convenient and, often, corner-cutting style. What was most comfortable for students was psychologically important, but was not always the most efficient or effective way to study or complete homework. This led us to two conclusions: educators need to better understand and accommodate assignments to different home and family contexts and to the individuality of the learner; and that within their comfort zone for doing homework, young people could use a great deal of help in learning to work more economically, efficiently and enjoyably.
We asked pupils to keep a detailed log for one week documenting what they did at home, with whom, and for how long. We also asked them to record their feelings, their success in completing the task, and their level of frustration or satisfaction. It was clear from the logs that many young people invested huge amounts of time on ineffective, unfocused un·fo·cused also un·fo·cussed
1. Not brought into focus: an unfocused lens.
2. copying or reading, struggling to make their own sense of the printed page, while others gave up at the first hurdle. Often, students found little visible payoff in return for the time and emotional energy invested. A number of findings emerged:
* teachers had not clearly thought through or effectively communicated the purpose of homework
* pupils had not learned or been taught skills for self-directed learning
* there was little support when pupils needed it (when they hit a snag or problem)
* parents' role and potential as educators was undervalued Undervalued
A stock or other security that is trading below its true value.
The difficulty is knowing what the "true" value actually is. Analysts will usually recommend an undervalued stock with a strong buy rating. and little understood
* pupils received no regular, systematic feedback on the quality of their work.
The study also raised several questions: How much of pupils' homework improved their thinking and memory? How much information was retrievable at a later date? How much did homework improve their structuring of knowledge, as well as their attitudes to lifelong learning Lifelong learning is the concept that "It's never too soon or too late for learning", a philosophy that has taken root in a whole host of different organisations. Lifelong learning is attitudinal; that one can and should be open to new ideas, decisions, skills or behaviors. ? To what extent did homework help to develop skills that could be applied in real-life situations? To what extent were parents' skills as educators employed?
From Research to Practice
At the national and local levels, parental involvement was acknowledged as important, but typically involved informing parents on what was happening in the school, or seeking their help and support in delivering the school curriculum. Schools rarely engaged parents in activities that treated learning as an exciting collaborative adventure. Where this did occur, parents and teachers were almost always fascinated and excited by this new outlook on learning.
The challenge would be moving from a research arena and reporting to work with teachers and parents. It would mean finding forums and strategies to help people overcome stumbling blocks stum·bling block
An obstacle or impediment.
any obstacle that prevents something from taking place or progressing
Noun 1. to genuine involvement. Teachers would have to reconsider how they used such terms as "intelligence" and "ability" in conversations with parents. They would need to create active, multi-dimensional, exploratory and social homework assignments, and encourage pupils to share ideas, pose questions, and teach siblings siblings npl (formal) → frères et sœurs mpl (de mêmes parents) or other family members.
Parent Prompts, developed by Strathclyde Regional Council (1995), for example, were simple suggestions for how parents could raise questions during everyday activities - watching television shows, tidying up the kitchen or shopping. By underpinning un·der·pin·ning
1. Material or masonry used to support a structure, such as a wall.
2. A support or foundation. Often used in the plural.
3. Informal The human legs. Often used in the plural. these everyday activities with good theory on decision-making, problem-solving and critical questioning, Parent Prompts lent status to the activities and stressed the importance of parents' roles as educators.
For many, perhaps even a majority of pupils in some schools, doing homework meant overcoming obstacles such as noisy and distracting dis·tract
tr.v. dis·tract·ed, dis·tract·ing, dis·tracts
1. To cause to turn away from the original focus of attention or interest; divert.
2. To pull in conflicting emotional directions; unsettle. siblings, withstanding more inviting alternatives such as football and television, or balancing pressure from parents to run to the shops or look after the baby. Recognition of these domestic constraints led the Strathclyde Regional Council to experiment with after-school centers and clubs where young people could go to do homework or study. Several initiatives sprung up throughout central Scotland
Central Region (Roinn Meadhanach in Gaelic) was a local government region of Scotland from 1975 to 1996. in the mid-1990s with the help of funding and encouragement from the Council. The most common initiative involved schools keeping their libraries and resource centers open until the late afternoon or evening, or converting classrooms into study support centers staffed with teachers, parents or volunteer tutors from the community. Some schools ran residential weekends, weeks or summer schools. Other schools encouraged senior school students to become supervisors or mentors for younger students.
About 150 schools in central Scotland are now running study support programs or activities for students. The Prince's Trust (Prince Charles's charity) has encouraged the spread of study centers nationally and has commissioned a three-year longitudinal study longitudinal study
a chronological study in epidemiology which attempts to establish a relationship between an antecedent cause and a subsequent effect. See also cohort study. that is following a cohort of 10,000 young people over three years, comparing those who attend and those who do not attend study support centers (MacBeath, 1997). The Blair Government has made a commitment to funding centers nationally and has devoted national lottery National Lottery n → Lotto nt money to this cause under its new Opportunities Fund. A national code of practice, which includes principles of independent learning and parental partnerships, and defines what constitutes quality in the provision, administration and evaluation of study support, was published in 1997. It included a foreword fore·word
A preface or an introductory note, as for a book, especially by a person other than the author.
an introductory statement to a book
Noun 1. by the Prime Minister and was paid for by The Prince's Trust (MacBeath, 1997).
One of the strengths of the study centers is the variety, diversity and sensitivity they bring to the local community. They are, for the most part, genuine grass-roots initiatives. They are already providing an education lifeline life·line
a. An anchored line thrown as a support to someone falling or drowning.
b. A line shot to a ship in distress.
c. A line used to raise and lower deep-sea divers.
2. for many young people and their families. Depending on the approach taken by the individual school, they have reached from 10 percent to 70 percent of the school population, or when aimed at a specific cohort (e.g., 5-year-olds or 16-year-olds), they have attracted virtually all members of the cohort.
The study centers' effect on teachers is perhaps the most unexpected discovery. Able to stand back from teaching to observe learning in new contexts, many teachers have gained the kinds of insights enjoyed by researchers. This has spurred some schools to reexamine re·ex·am·ine also re-ex·am·ine
tr.v. re·ex·am·ined, re·ex·am·in·ing, re·ex·am·ines
1. To examine again or anew; review.
2. Law To question (a witness) again after cross-examination. their homework and learning policies and, in some cases, to radically reappraise re·ap·praise
tr.v. re·ap·praised, re·ap·prais·ing, re·ap·prais·es
To make a fresh appraisal or evaluation of.
[-praising, -praised the nature of the curriculum. For many teachers, it has provided a forum for learning about learning.
The singular danger of study center support is its own success. If these after-school or extra programs disenfranchise dis·en·fran·chise
tr.v. dis·en·fran·chised, dis·en·fran·chis·ing, dis·en·fran·chis·es
dis parents and break that vital connection with their child's life in school, the long-term benefits of study centers will be compromised. The evidence so far suggests that because these programs offer an avenue for achievement and raise self-esteem, they feed back positively into the home, making children more disposed to talk about their learning and share their success. In addition, the programs may reduce the number of students who have to be nagged about uncompleted homework. Since pupils typically attend only two or three afternoons or evenings a week, the study centers do not take too large a chunk out of family life. The transformation in their children's attitudes has encouraged some parents to visit or contribute to the work of study centers on a longer term basis. Future studies will further clarify the extent to which these collaborative efforts benefit students, families, schools and the larger community.
NEW FOR 1999 ACEI ACEI Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitor
ACEI Association for Childhood Education International
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CLAIMING OUR FUTURE
GLOBAL SHARING FAIR
Submit your proposal to become a presenter at the First Annual Global Sharing Fair Poster Session A poster session is the juried presentation of research information by representatives of several research teams at a congress or conference with an academic or professional focus. These are particularly prominent at scientific conferences such as medical congresses. , to be held as part of the 1999 ACEI International Conference Exhibition in San Antonio San Antonio (săn ăntō`nēō, əntōn`), city (1990 pop. 935,933), seat of Bexar co., S central Tex., at the source of the San Antonio River; inc. 1837. . The purpose of the fair is to feature educational practices from outside of the U.S.
All Branches and individual educators are invited to share programs and activities used to enhance learning for children from infancy through early adolescence.
New and time-tested ideas will be presented in Poster Session format on Thursday, April 8, from 9:15-11:15 a.m.
All proposals must include a cover sheet indicating the name(s), address(es), daytime telephone number(s), professional affiliation(s) (employer) and, if available, E-mail address See Internet address.
e-mail address - electronic mail address (es) and Fax number(s). Submit 4 copies of a 1-page description of your program, technique or activity including 1) the title of your proposed presentation and 2) a brief description of your proposed presentation (approximately 25 words) typed, double-space, noting the purpose and scope.
No proposals will be accepted after October 31, 1998. Proposals will be subjected to a blind review by you peers.
The proposals may be submitted by mail (ACEI Global Sharing Fair, 17904 Georgia Ave., Ste. 215, Olney, MD 20832 USA; FAX (301-570-2212); or E-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Only proposals the follow the format outlined above will be considered.
No proposals will be accepted after October 31, 1998.
Include your country in this historic event. Proposals will be selected based on content and contribution to be global spirit of the conference.
Organize your proposal today! Deadlines have a way of sneaking up while you are busy with students.
Featherstone, H. (1985). What does homework accomplish? Principal, 65(2), 6-7.
Holmes, M., & Croll, P. (1989). Educational Research, 31(1).
MacBeath, J., Mearns, D., & Smith, M. (1986). Home from school. Edinburgh: Scottish Education Department; Glasgow: Jordanhill College This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject.
Please help recruit one or [ improve this article] yourself. See the talk page for details. .
MacBeath, J., Mearns, D., & Smith, M. (1989). Home from school: Its current relevance. Edinburgh: Scottish Education Department; Glasgow: Jordanhill College.
MacBeath, J./MVA. (1989, 1990). Talking about schools. Edinburgh: Scottish Education Department, Her Majesty's Stationery Office.
MacBeath, J., & Turner, M. (1991). Learning out of school. Edinburgh: Scottish Office The Scottish Office was a department of the United Kingdom Government from 1885 until 1999, exercising a wide range of government functions in relation to Scotland under the control of the Secretary of State for Scotland. Education Department; Glasgow: Jordanhill College of Education.
MacBeath, J. (1997). Learning to achieve. London: The Prince's Trust.
MacBeath, J. (Ed.). (1997). The code of practice. London: The Prince's Trust.
Strathclyde Regional Council. (1995). Parentprompts. Glasgow: Strathclyde Regional Council.
Walberg, H. (1985). Homework's powerful effects on learning. Educational Leadership, 42(7), 76-79.
John Macbeath Rev. Dr. John MacBeath, a Scottish Preacher, was minister of Cambuslang Baptist Church from 1909 to 1921 or 1922. He was later minister of Haven Green Baptist Church, Ealing, from 1942 to 1949. His first wife Margaret died during this pastorate, on 16 November, 1947. is Director, Quality in Education Center, Strathclyde University, Glasgow, Scotland.