Teaching Style and Student Use of Analytic Concepts in Discussions of Controversial Issues
Author(s)Slater, R. Doyle
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AbstractThis study, investigating teaching style, was conducted as part of a curriculum development and research effort aimed at teaching students conceptualized skills considered useful in the analysis of public controversial issues. Approximately 220 junior students entering into an American history-problems of democracy two-year course sequence were taught the conceptualized analytic skills. Four teachers learned three teaching styles; namely, recitation, seminar, and socratic, The teachers used the three styles with small groups of students in discussions of case studies involving public controversial issues, In the discussions students were expected to use the analytic skills taught to them. This study investigated whether there was a differential impact of the three styles on student use of the analytic skills, Audio-tape recordings were made of "teacher-led" group discussions for analysis to determine whether the teachers were able to conform in their behavior to the three teaching styles, Additionally, tape recordings were made of "teacher-led" discussions (i.e., without tho presence of the teacher) for analysis to determine whether there was a differential impact of teaching style on student use of the analytic skills. An instrument for systematic observation of teaching behavior, adopted from an earlier similar study conducted at Harvard University, was used to determine whether the teachers conformed to the style models. Group discussions of issues in three case studies were scored by two trained observers using the observation system. A chi-square goodness-of-fit test was made to check inter-observer agreement in scoring. It was confirmed that the two observers were generally in agreement--of 288 chi-square computations, 47 were below the .50 acceptable probability lwel (not .05, as in the more common test of significance). The results obtained by the two observers were then analyzed using a three-way analysis of variance--teaching style by teacher by observation system category. It was determined that an overall style difference occurred although certain hypothesized category differences for the three styles failed to materialize. Individual category analyses showed significant style differences occurred in 9 of 15 categories. It was concluded that the four teachers were generally able to conform in their behavior to the three teaching styles. Next an analytic content observation system (ACOS) was developed to determine whether there was a differential impact of teaching style on student use of the analytic concepts. Two observers learned to use the system and scored the tape recordings of "teacher-less" discussions for three case studies. Again, chi-square provided the necessary test to determine whether the scorers were in agreement in their categorizations of student interacts considered to reflect student learning of the analytic skills. Only 1 of 72 chi-squares computed fell below the acceptable .50 probability level. A three-way analysis of variance was used--style by teacher by observation system category, to test for a differential impact of style. It was determined that no overall difference occurred among the three styles in student use of the analytic skills. There were, however, style differences reported for 1 of 16 categories. Further, an overall interaction of style and teacher was reported; an interaction of style and teacher occurred in three categories. It was concluded that, with the category exceptions noted, the study failed to show a differential impact of teaching style on student l earning of the conceptualized analytic skills.