EDST 837: Evidence of Learning in School and Everyday Life

/developed by Dr. Eugene Matusov/

Class Schedule and Place of Meetings
Info about Instructor & Office Hours
    Course Overview: The core 5 questions
    Instructor's expectations
    Typical structure of classroom meetings and participation in class
    Participation in class Web discussions
    Weekly projects
    Group project
    Final paper
    What I hope you will learn in the class
Feedback on the class
Estimated class workload per week

Class Schedule

TIME OF CLASS: Tuesday, 5:30-8:30 pm PLACE: Room 104 McDowell

First class meeting: February 10 (Tue.) Last class meeting: May 19 (Tue.)

Info about Instructor, Teaching Assistants, & Office Hours

INSTRUCTOR: Eugene Matusov, Ph. D.
For more info about the Instructor see Eugene Matusov's Home Web Page
Office: 206G Willard Hall; Phone: (302)-831-1266; e-mail: ematusov@udel.edu
Office hours: by appointment, Wednesdays

Overview: The core 5 questions

The purpose of the class is to examine goals, assumptions, values, definitions, functions, approaches to, and consequences of learning assessment in school and everyday life. On the one hand, learning assessment can guide people who provide guidance and communicate needs of education to a broader society; while, on the other hand, it becomes evident that is some cases, learning assessment can hurt learning. Our comparative focus on school and everyday life hopefully can help us to identify the core issues and possible approaches to address them. We will try to use different disciplines such as education, psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, and philosophy to approach the issue. I hope that discussions of the issues associated with learning assessment will help your in your future research and educational practices.

I treat the class as a journey for all of us. The issue of learning assessment is open for debate in many fields of social studies. My goal is to engage you in these debates and learn together with you.

The philosophy of the class is to provide a safe learning environment for you. There will be no exams. We are going to discuss social, individual, cultural, institutional, cultural, economic, and political implications for teaching strategies to elementary and secondary students in the classroom. The course is designed to encourage all participants (i.e., each student and the instructor) to engage in critical thinking and open discussions concerning evidence of learning in school and everyday life.

While discussing a variety of theoretical approaches, we specifically examine in depth a sociocultural approach to teaching strategies. We will examine these topics using the following five guiding questions.

Who wants to know evidence of learning and why? Can a person not learn anything?
Who defines what is learning, why and how? How is learning in school different from learning in everyday life?
Can be the assessment done for without testing and grading? What are the purposes, functions, and consequences for testing and grading?
Can be the learning assessment objective? Is there such thing as culture-free assessment of learning? What is the sociocultural foundation of learning assessment?
Can all children be above average? Can people learn the same? Can one insure one’s content of learning? Can learning be without failure?

I expect each of us (i.e., you all and me) to participate as a responsible member of the class who is willing to contribute to one's own as well as others' learning. The course involves extensive discussions and small group activities based on the readings, instructor’s and students’ class presentations, and several films. Individuals and/or groups will work on and present projects during the semester.

I want to work hard to develop a community of learners in our class. I expect that we all make mistakes (including myself) so we all can learn from them. I will try to avoid punishing for your learning from doing mistakes. I am committed to making the class meaningful and to promoting a safe and supporting environment for the learning of all class members (including myself as your instructor). I will also attempt to make the way of this class runs compatible with the content of the class. Many things are negotiable in the class except everyone's commitment to learning and meaningfulness.

Typical structure of classroom meetings and participation in class

Active participation in class and web discussions and small group activities is crucial for learning in this course. Class participation also includes playing active roles in creating a supportive atmosphere in which every participant's learning will be fostered. This involves both building on or disagreeing with arguments made by others.

I expect you to attend every class meeting. If you can’t attend because of special circumstances, please, let me know via e-mail (or by phone). I need this info to help you manage your own learning. Feel free to discuss and share with me whatever problems emerge that can affect your participation in the class.

Red_Arrow.gif (871 bytes)Orientation (5-10 min) -- whole-class sharing organizational issues and important info.

Discussion of the previous home assignment (50 min) -- group discussions of the assignment and emergent issues.

Break (10 min)

Reading discussions (1:30 hour) -- group discussions of the assigned weekly readings and emergent issues.

Weekly reading presentation (20 min) -- Eugene’s presentation of the assigned weekly readings to the whole class.

Participation in our class Web discussions

I expect you to read all the messages and contribute minimum of three messages per week (not including weekly assignments), which can involve messages of various lengths on a subject initiated by you or replies to somebody else's messages or assignments (excluding class announcements and replies to them). The Web discussion will be based on readings, your observations from your practicum experiences, class discussions, your questions, your past experiences, your comments, and my guiding questions. One of the three required messages should be a report about your reading group discussion (i.e., issues, dilemmas, and interesting examples) jointly composed by your reading group. If you missed a group discussion of the weekly readings, you should provide an individual commentary on that reading. More than three postings are welcome.

Red_Arrow.gif (871 bytes)How to write web messages: Focus on interesting, personally relevant, and provocative ideas, challenging teaching dilemmas, questions, and information so your message is worth to read for the other class members (including me). Try to bring illustrating examples for your ideas. Your personal experience is always a good source for examples and interesting thoughts. Make the subject of your message as informative and attractive as possible (provocative subjects often attract readers’ attention).

Support other students by replying to their messages and responding to their replies on your own messages. In your reply, refer the original author by name (otherwise, if a big discussion emerges people may lose track to whom you refer) and quote or paraphrase the referred points from the original message (so people know with what you agree or disagree). If you are agree try to say why. If you are disagree with the original author try to be respectful by appreciating author’s position and by providing justification for your disagreement.

Your message is especially successful when it generates a discussion.

I know that some of you may feel uncomfortable exposing your thinking to the entire class – but students from my previous classes found that it was fun after a couple of weeks. Don't worry about spelling – think only about communicating your ideas. Nobody judges or grades your web contributions.


I expect you to read the minimal readings indicated in the parentheses in the reading list.I hope that the readings will help you to reflect on teaching practices.

The assigned readings consist of a textbook and assigned articles. Weekly reading will usually involve about 40-50 pages.

Because I do not expect you to read all assigned papers (although you are welcome to read all of them), we are going to discuss reading in the four following phases in class:

While reading the papers, I would like you to focus on how the readings relate to your life experience, your interests, and future career.

When reading and discussing papers, please, try to focus on issues and problems relevant for (your) teaching rather than try to remember "facts" for exam (there are no tests or exams in our class). You may find useful the following guiding questions:

What struck you as interesting about this paper?
How is it relevant to your experience as a becoming researcher and educator? Why?
How do points or claims made in this paper relate or compare to those brought up in other readings for this course?
What aspect of the paper did you find problematic or did you disagree with?
What questions did the paper raise for you? What have YOU learned from the paper?

Remember that each reading group should post a report of its discussion of literature that aim to provoke a web discussion and/or to inform the other students about important issues.

One copy of each assigned paper are available at the Reserve Book Room on the first floor (you can borrow a paper for 2 hours).

I believe that grading interferes with students’ learning because making mistakes is an important component of learning and should be safe. Since we have institutional requirements for grading, I want to provide my grading philosophy.

I expect all students who honestly put their efforts in their own and fellow student's learning to get "A." This involves timely fulfilling all the requirements (i.e., class participation, active working in small groups, reading assigned literature, participation on the class web, active and responsible involvement in the group projects, and developing final paper on your interest) and having ownership for your own learning. I believe that you are the highest authority of your own learning. I promise to do as much as I can to meet your learning needs. The grades below "A" will be decided on an individual basis. I'll try to let you know during the course, if you work becomes below "A" in my judgment.

Let me know if you have better ideas about grading (remember, our class is about evidence of learning in school! :-)

There won't be tests or exams.

Warning.gif (151 bytes)Note: If you are really concerned about your grade at the end of the class, consider submitting me a draft of your individual final paper in advance for my feedback before publishing it on the web. If you decide to do that try to do it as early as possible.

Monthly Feedback on the class
In addition to the traditional University evaluation at the end of the class, I really want your regular feedback on the class so we can improve it down the road. So I want to ask you to fill out feedback survey forms several times during the course. The reports of the feedback will be prepared timely and published on our class Web. I also plan to discuss them in the class. You are welcome to send your questions, comments, and/or suggestions via e-mail or raise them during the class or office hours. I appreciate your help and partnership in running the class and making it comfortable and meaningful for every member.

Estimated class workload per week
Below is our rough estimation of students' workload per week (in hours) (I averaged time if work does not occur every week):

Type of students' engagement Time
Participating in Web discussions 4.0
Reading for the class (40-50 pages per week) 3.5
Preparing for the final paper and group project (on "average") 1.0
Attending classes (twice a week) 2.5
Total: 11.0

Your biweekly feedback will probably help us to correct some of these numbers.

Last changed: September 05, 2001. Created by Eugene Matusov. FrontPage