17 April, 2013

Curriculum Theory Synopsis: Experiential Curriculum Theory

Experiential Curriculum Theory

The experiential influence on curriculum in America can be traced back to the 19th century and is most notably associated with proponents that include Rousseau, Dewey, and Evers.  The primary focus of experiential education was to include within the general curriculum an element of individual development that was arguably missing from the more traditional approach that focused specifically on intellectual and social development.  The process to infuse curriculum that included material that addressed individual development proved difficult and ultimately centered on an attempt to include activities and experiences that students showed an elevated interest in (Posner, 2004).

Ives and Obenchain (2006), while conducting research on the effects that experiential education had on higher order thinking in secondary schools, established three critical elements that experiential education-based curriculum should adhere to,
First, learning should include opportunities for student-direction.  Second, learning through EE [Experiential Education] includes curriculum connections to the real world.  Critical reflection is the third essential element of EE and permeates every aspect of an EE program... an internalized inquiry process (p.65).
Richard Gibboney (2006) argued in a reflective article about the influences of Edward Thorndike versus John Dewey on school reform that theory and ideas proposed by John Dewey have been set aside from curriculum in the 20th century.  Ives and Obenchain (2006) mirrored this concern and attributed it to a narrowing of curriculum as lead by the essentialist or back-to-basics movement similarly influenced by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002.  Both authors encourage educators to continue to adhere to experiential theory and attempt to influence curricula to encourage better educational experiences for students.


Ives, B., & Obenchaini, K. (2006). Experiential education in the classroom and academic outcomes: For those who want it all. Journal of Experiential Education, 29(1), 61-67.

Posner, G. (2004). Analyzing the curriculum (3rd Ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Gibbony, R. A. (2006, October). Intelligence by Design: Thorndike versus Dewey. Phi Delta Kappan, 88(2), 170-172.

10 April, 2013

Curriculum Theory Synopsis: Behavioral Curriculum Theory

Behavioral Curriculum Theory

Behaviorism was the dominant school of though in psychology through the 1950's.  With proponents of the theory that included Pavlov, Thorndike, Skinner, Watson, and Premack, the theory adheres to a view that identified the learner as a passive participant to environmentally produced stimuli.  The act of an individual responding to an environmentally produced stimulus becomes conditioned overtime as dependent upon reinforcement.  Behavior is therefore based on an external stimulus and response (Learning Theories Knowledgebase, 2010).

Operant behaviorism as prescribed by Skinner and Keller (as cited in Becker, 1991) is often the most associated approach aligned to curriculum theory.  An operant behaviorist approach to learning is measured by the ability to condition an individual to react or respond in an intended manner based on experience or stimulus.  To influence learning is to control the type and frequency of an experience to arrive at an intended response by the individual (Ormrod, 2008).  As it applies to curriculum, the behaviorist includes processes of discrimination learning, chaining, and verbal learning that when carefully sequenced and explicitly taught lead the learner into the ability to apply and address additional complex cognitive structures (Becker, 1991).

The theory's current influence on curriculum and instruction is frequently associated with Response to Intervention; a model that applies carefully structured assessment and progress monitoring practices with a tiered approach to curriculum and instruction (National Center on Response to Intervention, 2009).  Curriculum that subscribes to an operant behavioral approach such as Direct Instruction programs, are often successfully used where all else fails; with our most at-risk students identified as needing the most effective and intense instruction available (Engelmann, 2007).

Becker, W.C. (1991). Toward an integration of behavioral and cognitive psychologies through instructional technology.  Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 7(1) 1-18.

Engelmann, S. (2007). Teaching needy kids in our backward system: 42 years of trying.  Eugene, OR: ADI Press.

Learning Theories Knowledgebase. (2010). Behaviorism at Learning-Theories.com.  Retrieved from www.learning-theories.com/behaviorism.html

National Center on Response to Intervention. (2009). What is RTI [Fact Sheet]. Retrieved from www.rti4success.org.

Ormrod, J.E. (2008). Human learning (5th ed.). Upper Sadler Reiver, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.

11 March, 2013

A Skeleton Outline of a Curriculum Theory

In his text titled Analyzing the Curriculum, Posner (2004) suggested that educators subscribe to an eclectic approach to curriculum - a try everything and see what sticks approach.  This post will outline an idea for a new curriculum theory that similarly borrows from aspects of other theories, but differs from Posner's (2004) suggested smattering of approaches to focus more on an evolutionary use of those theories. While this post is merely a skeleton from which a theory on curriculum could emerge, the articulation of the purpose statement and following premises provide insight into my thoughts on education from which to expand.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of curriculum is to increase individual stability within society while fostering individuality.  It includes an understanding of where the current society stands in reference to economy, justice, and morality.  It includes an understanding of where the current society came from in reference to history as it relates to civil rights and economy.  It includes understanding societies' proposed direction for continued growth and survival.

  • The point here is that individuals are products of society.  It remains the goal of the society to assure that the individuals produced [regardless of by birth or other means] becomes not only a consumer of that society but a contributor.  The greater the opportunity provided of the individual to choose how they wish to contribute to society, the greater the opportunity of the individual to find an inherent and self gratifying way to contribute to the society.

Premise 1

Essential to these understanding is schooling in Reading, Writing, Mathematics  and Reasoning & Logic.  These essentials should be taught without fault to students in primary grades.  Upon mastery of these essentials  students will also engage in additional introductory content courses that include - science, theology, psychology, sociology, and fine arts.  As students progress from primary to secondary school choices regarding service based content including firefighting, military, police, medicine, and teaching will also be available.
  • This premise borrows heavily from a traditionalist/essentialist back to basics curriculum theory.  However, once essential knowledge has been acquired by students  there is a quick transition to attend to a more experientialist approach.  The goal being to encourage not only intellectual and societal growth but also individual growth.

Premise 2

In secondary school students will have the opportunity to further hone their interests in areas that appeal to them and will be provided additional opportunities to expand their curricular interests through the introduction of identified skill sets needed for advancement within specific fields.   A heavy emphasis will be placed on society's current business models and include opportunities for students to explore research and development aspects for future business.
  • While this premise seems to remain experiential in nature, as students begin to identify what they will want to specialize in, initial instruction will return to an essentialist approach - similar to an apprentice type scenario - until students again possess the essential skills needed for manipulation and application of those skills within the greater spectrum of curriculum they are learning.

Posner, G.J. (2004). Analyzing the curriculum (3rd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

26 February, 2013

Curriculum Theory: Adoption of a Traditional Theory

Traditional Theory versus Experiential Curriculum: An Open Challenge

Adopting the Traditional Theory posited by theorists such as E.D. Hirsch and Bennett (as cited in Posner, 2004) I would like to challenge my colleagues to recognize that there is a set of pre-determined skills that every child should learn.  This is in direct conflict with the Experiential Curriculum Theory and specifically one of Dewey’s major assertions (Posner, 2004).

Contrary to the Experiential approach that, “…assumes that the curriculum is more or less the same as the very process of living and that no two individuals can or should live precisely the same lives” (Posner, 2004. p. 48).  Traditionalists recognize that there are critical knowledge, basic skills, and societal ideals that provide a society with the very backbone needed to survive.  An example of the importance of this aspect can be understood by conducting a simple review of history.  In each societal existence there remains a common need for members of the society to understand and adhere to basic principles set by the greater society for the safety and growth of the groups existence.  While these basic principles have changed over time as societies have evolved, we exist now in a society that places a strong emphasis on basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics.  If those basic skills are not taught by teachers or learned by students  within the society, society would find itself lacking in potential for increasing individual and societal growth.

We must not view these needs for critical knowledge as limiting.  They are the building blocks from which creativity stems.  Further, command of fundamental knowledge facilitates acquisition and engagement in higher order thinking.  Thus, regardless of the negative connotation of teaching students to mastery in basic skills [reading, math, and writing] these skills provide the very foundation of knowledge needed to advance learning.

How does society gain from reducing education of its youth to the whims of what the youth is interested in rather than that what the greater society has determined as important.  It is only through the manipulation of norms that we have the potential to be creative.  There is no chicken and egg discussion – there is no deviation from the norm without the existence of a norm to manipulate.


Posner, G.J. (2004). Analyzing the curriculum (3rd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

15 February, 2013

Motivational Theory: Corrective Reading [Conclusion]


Evidence of careful consideration and balance in understanding the importance of encouraging students to transition from extrinsic motivation toward  intrinsic motivation when learning is apparent within the Corrective Reading's (2008) approach to program design and delivery techniques.  The application of goal-oriented motivational strategies that foster effort based attribution to success and setbacks assists learners in understanding that learning and the acquisition of skills and knowledge increases self-efficacy.  In identifying that the Corrective Reading (2008) program contains strong elements of both extrinsic and intrinsic motivational strategies, and that the direct instruction design has a strong evidence base that supports increase in student affect (Carnine, 2000), educational institutions choosing to implement this program should do so with confidence.

Regarding the Corrective Reading (2008) program and the perceived problem posited within the initial post suggesting that, corrective programs fail students as the result of lacking motivational substance, the alleviation of this motivational concern provides implementors not only confidence in using the program, but also more time to focus on implementation issues rather than program adoption concerns.  For example, implementors can spend more time discussing student and teacher progress within the program.  Implementation discussions [rather than discussion on program adoption] provide opportunities for implementors to measure and report on student and teacher success as well as identify opportunities for additional professional development directly related to the use the program.


Carnine, D. (2000). Why education experts resist effective practices and what it would take to make education more like medicine [Online exclusive]. Thomas B. Fordham Institute: Advancing Educational Excellence. Retrieved April 1, 2000, from http://www.edexcellence.net/issues/results.cfm?withall=doug+carnine&search_btn.x=0&search_btn.y=0

Engelman, S., Hanner, S., & Johnson, G. (2008). Corrective reading: Series guide. Columbus, OH: McGraw-Hill

06 February, 2013

Motivational Theory: The Corrective Reading Program [Part 2]

Correctie Reading & Attribution Approach to Motivation

The Corrective Reading (2008) program, being an intensive reading intervention program recognizes that students that place into the program may either attribute their lack of reading success to intrinsic or extrinsic factors that are as Martinez (2010) indicated, either stable or unstable and either controllable or uncontrollable.  Evidence of this can be found in the scripted routine cards that remind teachers to provide positive verbal reinforcement to students as they [the students] indicate that learning [or successful application] of a skill or strategy occurred.  These occurrences of praise encourage students to recognize that the effort that they put forth during the lesson lead to the successful acquisition [or application] of a skill or strategy that was taught.  Martinez (2010) posited,
Effort is arguably the most desirable attribution.  Effort is universally adaptive because if a person has experienced success, that person will continue to apply effort in the future.  If there has been a failure or setback, there is recourse to trying again and trying harder (p.170).
Not only is Martinez's (2010) point evident in the scripted routines within the program, but it is also embedded in the design of the program that is based on students learning to mastery.

The goal of attributing success and setbacks to student effort through attention and engagement during instruction is also encouraged during the professional development that teachers engage in prior to teaching the program.  It is critical that teachers understand the importance of controlling the learning environment ~ that is, the instruction that is being provided so that students are able to understand and internalize what is being taught.  When student errors occur they are identified as information of either ambiguous instruction or the need for additional practice.  The teacher models the correct understanding [as provided by the program] encouraging students to re-process the pattern of instruction that is being provided and then engages the students in trying again (Marchand-Martella, Slocum, & Martella, 2004).  Upon completion of the teacher-directed instruction whereas students are brought to a high level of success in the skills or strategies that were taught, students are provided student-centered activities to complete.  During the student-centered activities students engage in applying what was taught [and learned at a high level of accuracy] during the teacher-directed instruction in a meaningful way that is independent and reflective of student learning.  The successful application of learning at an independent level reinforces that learning is related to effort.  The message to the students is, with hard work, attention to detail, and practice, you will learn; all of which are prominent elements within the domain of effort.


Engelman, S., Hanner, S., & Johnson, G. (2008). Corrective reading: Series Guide. Columbus, OH: McGraw-Hill

Marchand-Martella, N. E., Slocum, T. A., & Martella, R. C. (2004). Introduction to direct instruction. New York, NY: Pearson Education Inc..

Martinez, M. E. (2010). Learning and cognition: The design of the mind. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill, Pearson Education Inc..

29 January, 2013

Motivational Theory: The Corrective Reading Program

About Corrective Reading:

The Corrective Reading program (Engelman, S., Hanner, S., & Johnson, G, 2008) is an intensive reading intervention program that most closely subscribes to the operant conditioning and cognitive information processing approaches to learning.  Utilizing a direct instruction approach as applied to student learning, the Corrective Reading program (Engelman et al, 2008) directs its attention on teacher and student interaction throughout the presentation of instruction. The direct instruction model encourages high levels of student-teacher interaction throughout lessons stimulated by teacher engagement in specific critical behaviors aligned with best practices and careful monitoring of student responses (Huitt, 2003).  This approach, when executed with proficiency, directly impacts four basic effects of motivation as outlined by Ormrod (2008):

  • Individuals' activity and energy levels are increased
  • Clear expectations direct individuals toward explicit goals
  • Mastery teaching promotes peresistence in activities
  • Unambiguous instruction promotes the use of evidence-based learning strategies that are highly generalizable.

Corrective Reading & Goal Oriented Motivation

The Corrective Reading program (Engelman et al, 2008) is most closely aligned to a goal oriented model of motivation that appears to be extrinsic in its approach.  As provided by Gredler (2009), goal oriented models of motivation center around behavioral intentions that encourage mastery learning, progression and attainment of skills, and an increase in self-efficacy through the experience of success.  Through the use of a carefully constructed program design coordinated with effective delivery practices, the Corrective Reading program (Engelman et al, 2008) addresses each of the goal oriented intentions.  For example, through on-going progress monitoring tools and clearly defined remediation strategies that parallel carefully planned corrective feedback and encouragement, the Corrective Reading program (Engelman et al, 2008) is created to hinge on student mastery of information that is presented.  Carefully sequenced activities that follow a track based model encouraging mastery of pre-skills that build upon each other until they can be applied as rules across multiple occurrences provides students with an understanding and the recognition of self progression as new skills are learned.  As Bandura (1994) indicated, the attainment and the recognition of success, in this case the acquisition of academic skills, breeds an increase in self-esteem as well as self-efficacy as students progress through the program.

While the Corrective Reading program (Engelman et al, 2008) is carefully constructed to encourage extrinsic motivation through a goal oriented model of motivation that is effective in keeping students engaged in instruction and interested in learning, it is important to recognize that there is an embedded approach within the program focused on fostering intrinsic motivation that is closely aligned with the attribution approach to motivation.


Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In V.S. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human behavior (Vol.4, pp. 71-81). New York: Academic Press. (Reprinted in H. Friedman [Ed.], Encyclopedia of mental health. San Diego: Academic Press, 1998).

Engelman, S., Hanner, S., & Johnson, G. (2008). Corrective reading: Series Guide. Columbus, OH: McGraw-Hill

Gredler, M. E. (2009). Learning and instruction: Theory into practice (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Huitt, W. (2003). The information processing approach to cognition. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved from http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/cogsys/infoproc.html

Ormrod, J. E. (2008). Human learning (5th ed.). Upper Sadler River, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.

23 January, 2013

Motivational Theory & Corrective Reading

Impact of Motivation on Corrective Reading Interventions

Motivational theory remains a key component in understanding how and why students learn.  The discussion of student motivation and its effect on student learning is a consistent element discussed across multiple learning and developmental theories (Ormrod, 2008). Motivation as a discussion topic has been used within education to question or validate instructional delivery practices, curriculum/program use, and classroom management procedures.  Three prominent motivational theories often ascribed to in education include; Expectancy model, Goal oriented model, and Attribution theory.

  • Expectancy Theory
    • The Expectancy theory states that student motivation is an outcome of how much the student wants a reward [Valence], the assessment of the likelihood that the effort will lead to an expected performance [Expectancy] and the belief that the performance will lead to reward [Instrumentality](adapted from MSG, n.d.). .
      • Valence is the significance associated by the student about the expected outcome. It is an anticipated [not the actual] satisfaction that a student expects to receive after achieving the goals
      • Expectancy is the faith that better efforts will result in better performance. Expectancy is influenced by factors such as: Student capability of the learning task, Student understanding of how to contribute within the classroom, Student connection to peers and the teacher.
      • Instrumentality is the faith that if the student performs well, then a valid outcome will be actualized.
  • Goal Oriented Model
    • The Goal Oriented theory states that student motivation is the result of the desire to develop the self by acquiring new skills, mastering new situations and improving one's competence.  Two prominent orientations within the theory are discussed as students with learning goal orientation or students with performance goal orientation (Dweck, 1986; Gredler, 2009).
      • Learning Goal Orientation Characteristics: 
        • seek feedback on past performance to evaluate current performance
        • focus on improving skills and acquiring knowledge, and are less concerned with making mistakes
      • Performance Goal Orientation Characteristics
        • approach situations with the goal of gaining approval from peers and teachers
        • seek to demonstrate and validate the adequacy of their competence in order to receive favorable judgments and avoid negative judgments
  • Attribution Theory
    • The basic premise of this theory is that people want to understand their environments and, therefore, strive to understand why certain events happen. In the classroom, the understanding students have about the causes of past events influences their ability to control what happens to them in the future. For example, if students fail a test, they will probably attribute that failure to a specific cause, such as (1) lack of ability, (2) lack of effort, or (3) poor instruction. The selected attribution will affect their subsequent motivation to engage in similar learning activities (Anderman & Anderman, 2009. sec.1).
As our nation continues to focus on reading and closing achievement gaps across subgroups [as reported by the National Assessment of Educational Performance - NAEP] educators often comment [perceive] that remedial and corrective reading programs fail students as the result of lacking motivational substance.  These perceptions can result in a potential avoidance of certain evidence-based programs, the development of a culture of excuses for student failure, or the subscription to alternative popular literature approaches that lack evidence to support their use.

The next few posts will focus on a review of an evidence-based corrective reading program targeted for student in grades 3-12 identified as reading more than 1 -1.5 years behind their peers for evidence of embedded motivational strategies.  The program, simply titled, Corrective Reading was authored by Siegfried Engelmann, Susan Hanner, and Gary Johnson (2008) and is published by McGraw-Hill . Reporting will focus on the identification, application, and benefits of motivational strategies embedded within the program and identify any areas of motivation that may be lacking.


Anderman, E, & Anderman, L (2003-2009). Attribution theory. Retrieved from www.education.com

Dweck, C.S. (1986). Motivational processes affecting learning. American Psychologist, 41, 1040-1048.

Engelman, S., Hanner, S., & Johnson, G. (2008). Corrective reading: Series Guide. Columbus, OH: McGraw-Hill

Gredler, M. E. (2009). Learning and instruction: Theory into practice (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Management Study Guide (n.d.) Expectancy theory of motivation. Retrieved from www.managamentstudyguide.com

Ormrod, J. E. (2008). Human learning (5th ed.). Upper Sadler River, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.

16 January, 2013

Supervision & Evaluation: Summative Phase

Summative Phase of Supervision

As per this curriculum and instruction appraisal model’s cyclical nature, the summative phase of supervision is both cumulative and ongoing.  Reports are generated upon the completion of each coaching visit as part of the observation/coaching form and are provided to teachers during post-coaching follow-up conferences.  The feedback is precise and reflects directly that which was observed, discussed, or coached at the time that the supervisor [or instructional coach] was in the classroom.  The summary of each meeting results in the identification of those behaviors that have been observed or identified as model and those behaviors that will continue to be targeted for additional coaching.

The cumulative nature of this model provides for an opportunity for a supervisor to create a data set indicative of staff needs over time.  The data set can be translated into a formal schedule of professional development to be provided throughout the school year.  The professional development can be differentiated among staff further reflecting a developmental approach.  Teachers identified as model teachers can be encouraged to assist or lead professional development in the domains in which they have been found to be exceptional.


The curriculum and instruction appraisal model provided within these posts would be best aligned with an evaluation model that subscribed to a clinical approach to teacher rating focused on evidence-based practices aligned to the domains of:

  • Professionalism
  • Classroom management
  • Curriculum use
  • Instructional delivery

The use of a clinical approach provides for a shared understanding between staff and administration of what constitutes excellence in teaching and provides for the greatest opportunity to increase student learning.  The use of backward design to tease out critical behaviors within each domain that can be directly taught to teachers and measured in terms of proficient use and consistency provides for seamless supervisory support for teachers to reflect upon and use to improve classroom practices.  A cyclical and cumulative supervisory model that reflects frequent classroom visits by administrators and clear concise feedback on critical behaviors that affirms excellence and identifies the need for improvement as aligned with the greater evaluation process is a necessity in education and would provide for a significant improvement in teaching and student learning.

11 January, 2013

Supervision & Evaluation: Formative Stage Phase 2

The Coaching Stage

During the coaching stage, the information gathered and discussed during the investigatory stage's post observation meeting is translated into one of two tracks of supervision [support] for a teacher.
  1. A teacher is assigned for additional coaching at a frequency of two visits per month
  2. A teacher is identified as being a model teacher and is assigned follow up coaching at a frequency of one visit every other month
Coaching is scheduled as either announced or unannounced visits and can be initiated by the supervisor, an instructional coach, or the teacher.  Announced visits provide teachers an opportunity to prepare for the coaching visit.  Preparation may include:

  • Additional practice of the lesson that the coach will see
  • Identification of certain aspects of a lesson that the teacher would like modeled by the coach
  • Identification of critical behaviors that the teacher has been working on within the classroom that they would like to showcase during the visit
Unannounced visits provide an opportunity for the supervisor or coach to provide support in classes representative of a lesson taught during a typical day.  The unannounced visit also reinforces the importance for teachers to be prepared daily.

Coaching visits last between 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the critical behaviors and type of coaching that occurs in the classroom.  Types of coaching include:
  • Observation with written and oral feedback
  • Modeling
  • Co-teaching
  • Side-by-side coaching
The forms used for coaching are the same forms used during the initial observation, as the critical behaviors do not change.  The form provides the opportunity for the supervisor to document support provided in the classroom during each coaching.  The professional development support that is provided through coaching is therefore individualized as teachers will be working on different critical behaviors throughout a school year based on individual levels of proficiency.

The follow-up meetings that occur during the coaching stage include affirmations of growth and mastery of critical behaviors observed as glows, and provide an indication for the need for additional work on critical behaviors identified as grows.  The coaching strategies modeled, coached, or observed during a coaching visit are documented and provided to the teacher.  The collection of support forms provide teachers an opportunity to self-reflect on their progress toward the goal of being identified as a model teacher in each of the respective teaching domains.