The Wonderful Works of God: Chapter 2 The Knowledge of God

I am reading through The Wonderful Works of God by Herman Bavinck and am using the free discussion guide by Charles Williams as a writing prompt in order to organize my thoughts and learn more as I study this classic Christian book.

If this interests you, please follow along and feel free comment with your thoughts either on this post or on Twitter.

I. Man’s Highest Good (p.1-7)
II. The Knowledge of God (p.8–15)

  • 1 (pp.8–10): How does man come to enjoy God as his highest good (John 17:1–3)? How do such realities shape the church’s confession of faith?

Man comes to see God as his highest good by responding to God. He is constantly saying “I shall be your God and you shall be my people.” He stays steadfast and consistent, repeating that phrase even after his people dove into sin, made golden a golden calf to worship,  and whored themselves out after other gods. Today, as we dive into our clean, modern sins and idolatry, God continues to repeat this phrase to us.

Until we come to see God as our highest good, we will force God to repeat his refrain. The path forward, like the gospel is simple and clear. We come to enjoy God as our highest good when we come to realize that what God says is true. That when he comes to us after we whore ourselves out to other Gods and repeats his refrain, “I shall be your God and you shall be my people.” He is not merely stating a legal position as a judge to a defendant. He is saying so much more. 

Being the people of God means being children of God. 

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:4-7)

It means being disciplined and loved by a perfect Father. 

“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:12)

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

It means complete forgiveness and reconciliation.

“In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Ephesians 1:5-10)

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

Yet, also like the gospel, living or enacting it is incredibly complex and beyond our human capacity. For us alone, seeing God as our highest good has been made impossible due to our sin. Yet with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26) for he has given us his Spirit. And with the Holy Spirit, we cry out “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15). And when we walk in step with his Spirit, we will not sin and we will produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26).

When we get this, when we walk in step with the Spirit, our gratitude ought to drive us to worship. 

I think that, when we as a church understand that God truly is man’s highest good there will be something fundamentally different in our actions. We will waver less because we are confident in the goodness of our God. This allows us to stand against cultural sins. Importantly, it also changes how we stand against cultural sins. On the one hand, we won’t simply wall ourselves off from the world to create a private Christian enclave that we seldom leave. On the other, we won’t demonize people who are antagonistic to our faith.

More positively, seeing God as our highest good will make us, and the church more joyful. We will be more joyful because we are remembering that good things on Earth are not ultimately important. We will be more joyful because we will be remembering that, no matter what comes in the here and now, God, our highest good is with us (1 Corinthians 3:16, Romans 8:38-39). This joy is powerful enough to transform suffering and makes hope possible in the deepest of pain (See Psalm 42 and the entire book of Job).

I think that coming to enjoy God as our highest good is a difficult process because we are sinful and the world is full of good distractions, in addition to the bad ones. The Holy Spirit enables us to live our lives as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2) so we do not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-26).

  • 2 (pp.10–15): In what ways does the knowledge of God in Christ differ from knowledge of anything else? How does the origin, object, and essence of the knowledge of God inform the nature and content of faith in God? // What is theology, and how should the study of it be pursued?

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:1-3) 

“The knowledge of which Jesus speaks here obviously has its own peculiar character. It is different from all other knowledge that can be obtained, and the difference is not one of degree but of principal and essence. This becomes apparent at once when we begin to compare the two kinds of knowledge with each other. The knowledge of God of which Jesus spoke differs from the knowledge of created things in its origin and object and in its essence and effects.” (Bavinck, 10)

One key difference between the knowledge of God in Christ and knowledge of anything else is that we only receive knowledge of God as a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). Of course we may and hopefully do use rational arguments on our journey to faith, but the Bible is clear faith is a gift from God, whereas we can obtain knowledge in any other realm through our senses as a type of common grace.

Knowledge of God also differs from knowledge of anything else in its object. Knowledge in math, science, literature, etc revolves around a creature’s perception and we can obtain it without a personal relationship. For example, someone can tell us all about China and we can learn a lot from that, but without going there, exploring the country and meeting the people, our knowledge is based only on someone else’s description. “In this sense, information is an affair of the head only. But real knowing includes an element of personal concern and involvement and an activity of the heart” (Bavinck, 13).

Truly knowing China involves knowing a lot about China and deeply understanding the language and culture. But truly knowing God involves being like Christ. 

“But He (Jesus) knew God by direct, personal sight and insight; He saw Him everywhere, in nature, in His word, in His service; He loved Him above all else and was obedient to Him in all things, even in the death on the cross. His knowing the truth was all of a piece with His doing it. The knowledge and the love came together.

Indeed, to know God does not consist of knowing a great deal about Him, but of this, rather, that we have seen Him on our life’s way, and that in the experience of our soul we have come to know His virtues, His righteousness and holiness, His compassion and His grace.” (Bavinck, 13)

This is what makes knowledge of God in Christ so distinct from other types of knowledge. We do not need an in depth knowledge of theology, church history, or even the Bible to have knowledge of God. We simply need to know Him and have faith in Him. 

“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)

According to Bavinck, “Theology is the science which derives the knowledge of God from his revelation, which studies and thinks into it under the guidance of His Spirit, and then tries to describe it so that it ministers to His honor.” In practice, this encapsulates much more than just the Bible, though the Bible will play a key role in theology. In fact, the theologian must interpret the world “out of God, through God, about God, and does this always to the glorification of His name.” (Bavinck, 14).

In more modern language, this means we must interpret our theology and our entire lives through the lens of the Bible.

The 5 Pillars of Explicit Instruction

Like many educational approaches, the outer edges of explicit instruction are vague. But thankfully scholars have put in the effort to define its core components. The term explicit instruction first gained traction in the early 1990s to refer to “unambiguous, structured, systematic, and scaffolded” instruction (Archer & Hughes, 2011). 

In order to determine what researchers meant when they referred to explicit instruction, Hughes, Morris, Therrien, and Benson reviewed 86 studies mentioning a variety of key phrases associated with explicit instruction and found that it has 5 key components (2017).

Pillars of explicit instruction

Hughes, C. A., Morris, J. R., Therrien, W. J., & Benson, S. K. (2017).

Pillar 1: Segment Complex Skills/Content

This strategy is rather straightforward. Instead of starting out with the whole kit and caboodle, break it up into smaller chunks. The chunks are not just pieces of information, but time as well. Complex skills and knowledge should be taught step-by-step over time. The time may be as small as a single lesson or as large as an entire unit. 

Ideally, students will be able to achieve consistent success in one chunk of the skills/content before moving on to the next. The chunks should be taught cumulatively, meaning that students will continue to practice the skills/content they have already mastered along with the new subset of skills/content.

Scientific Method Example: There are a variety of ways that I like to segment the various skills/content I teach my students. In science class, one complex skill all students must learn is how to apply the scientific method. Depending on where you look, there can be anywhere from 6-9 steps. So, I segment this by teaching one step at a time. However, even when breaking this down into single steps, the steps each have their own unique substeps students must master before they can successfully apply the scientific method. 

Step 1: Ask a question

Scientific Method Example: I first teach my students that an observation precedes a question and that we use knowledge gained from our senses to generate questions. Next, I define what a scientific question is (must be testable). Then we generate some examples and non-examples. 

Pillar 2: Draw Student Attention to Important Features of the Content through Modeling/Think-Alouds

Modeling and think-alouds are used extensively in this pillar. The goal is to both show and tell students how to solve a problem or complete a task. Both modeling and think-alouds should be kept brief and consistent language should be used. Consistent word choice acts as another que, helping students remember the next step in a procedure, subset of the skill, part of the content.

Scientific Method Example: As I model making observations and asking scientific questions, I am conscious to consistently use various keywords as I provide numerous examples. 

“I observed the lion roaring with my sense of hearing. I observed the lion chasing the zebra with my sense of sight.” 

This gives students more exposure with the vocabulary and provides a familiar format for them to later apply the skill themselves. I then tell my students that we need to link our observations to our questions.

“I am going to use my observation of the lion chasing the zebra to create a question. Why is the lion chasing the zebra?”

Pillar 3: Promote Successful Engagement by Using Systematically Faded Supports/Prompts

After the initial set of modeling and explaining, teachers should still provide students with a substantial amount of support. This helps to ensure a high rate of initial success. As students find success in applying the skill/content, teachers should gradually remove support and give students more independence. This process should repeat until students are able to successfully complete work with full independence.

Scientific Method Example: Students will start applying the skill of asking scientific questions using the exact same structure I used in my examples in scenarios that are, initially, similar as well. This initial similarity helps students to successfully apply the skill. Then I gradually withdraw the support by having students make observations and ask questions in scenarios that become significantly different from the examples I taught at the beginning of class.

Pillar 4: Provide Opportunities for Students to Respond and Receive Feedback

Frequent opportunities to respond gives students frequent practice, which ensures that the teacher is able to give frequent feedback. This is a flexible strategy and can easily be applied to group, pair, or individual work in a variety of forms including oral, written, and action. It can also be used to informally assess a variety of knowledge depths and types including factual, procedural, conceptual, and conditional. In addition, these opportunities can be scaffolded, allowing all students to access the opportunity to respond.

Scientific Method Example: As my students are practicing the skill of making observations and asking scientific questions I walk around the room and provide feedback to different groups of students. I also keep the work periods relatively short by bringing the class back together to do brief whole-class activities.

For example, I may write a question on the board and ask students to raise their hand if it is a scientific question. This gets all students participating. I then confirm the answer. “It is a scientific question.” or “It is not a scientific question.”

I quickly shift into a Pair and Share activity (Students already did the “Think” step by raising or not raising their hand). “Tell you neighbor why this is/isn’t a scientific question. Ready… GO!”

During the whole-class activities I am able to get a rough gauge on the class’s understanding and can adjust my teaching as I go. After a few brief whole-class activities I redirect my students to their individual/small group work.

Pillar 5: Create Purposeful Practice Opportunities

Practice after the initial lesson reinforces what was learned and is important for generalizing and transferring new knowledge and skills. What is important is that the teacher is intentional with the practice opportunities they craft for their students. Whatever form the practice takes should be accompanied with feedback.

Scientific Method Example: See the example for pillar 4.

As you read through this, hopefully it became clear that many of the pillars should be applied at the same time. For example, if you are providing students with purposeful practice in class (Pillar 5) you should also be providing live feedback (Pillar 4). In giving feedback, you will find that students benefit from additional modeling/thinking aloud (Pillar 2) because they need more support (Pillar 3) as they practice that particular segment of the content (Pillar 1).

Citation:

Archer, A. L., & Hughes, C. A. (2011). Explicit instruction: Effective and efficient teaching. New York: Guilford Press.

Hughes, C. A., Morris, J. R., Therrien, W. J., & Benson, S. K. (2017). Explicit Instruction: Historical and Contemporary Contexts. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice32(3), 140–148. doi: 10.1111/ldrp.12142

The Wonderful Works of God: Chapter 1 Man’s Highest Good

I am reading through The Wonderful Works of God by Herman Bavinck and am using the free discussion guide by Charles Williams as a writing prompt in order to organize my thoughts and learn more as I study this classic Christian book.

If this interests you, please follow along and feel free to give your thoughts on the questions and my answers.

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The Wonderful Works of God by Herman Bavinck

Chapter 1: Man’s Highest Good

  • 1 (pp.1–3): What is man’s highest good? What distinguishes man from the rest of creation with respect to God, and the enjoyment of him? Why is creation unable to satisfy man’s deepest longings?

Bavinck answers the question, “What is man’s highest good?” in the very first sentence of his book. God. This view isn’t going to be breaking any new ground for a Christian, however, this view is the Christian’s foundation. This can be seen by looking at just about any catechism (Westminister Catechism, Luther’s Catechism, New City Catechism, etc). 

Next, Bavinck then shows how humans are different from other creatures, we have a special awareness mere animals lack. We have our special awareness, an awareness beyond the physical due to being created in the image of our God. An identity that is indestructibly true, whether we are Christian or not. This is a grace that God has lavished upon all of humanity which constantly reminds us and calls us to Him, even if we ignore it.

A hint of this calling lies in how we can never be fully satisfied in our physical world. Bavinck goes on to explain how, even though we think with our physical brains, thinking is a spiritual activity that transcends yet connects us to physical reality. It is in this spiritual search for connection that we hope to find meaning. “This yearning for an eternal order, which God has planted in the heart of man, in the inmost recesses of his being, in the core of his personality, is the cause of the indisputable fact that everything which belongs to the temporal order cannot satisfy man. He is a sensuous, earthly, limited, and mortal being, and yet he is attracted to the eternal and is destined for it.”

We are always striving for meaning by calling things good, bad, or otherwise. Yet, if there is no God, no ultimate arbiter of good and evil, how is there any ultimate good? Any ultimate bad? Without some sort of God/s, the universe merely is.

We may attempt to find this meaning through science, the arts, philosophy, pleasure, but our hearts will always remain unsatisfied if our search stays in these things because they can only point to an order, point to a meaning, they cannot prove or provide one. Our hearts can only rest once they have found meaning in “Divine goodness.” 

  • 2 (pp.3–6): What great goods can pursuing science, the arts, and humanitarianism obtain? What limitations do each of these contain? // What distinguishes a knowledge of science, philosophy, and the humanities from the wisdom of God? Must the two be at odds with one another? In what ways do we find them at odds with one another in the heart of man? // What happens when we make these great goods (philosophy, art, humanitarianism) our ultimate good? // Where is man’s starting point for wisdom (Prov. 1:7)? How ought the knowledge and wisdom of God order our knowledge of science, art, and philanthropy?

While great good and beauty can come from science, the arts, and humanitarianism, these goods, even though they come from God, fade. Through science we have achieved great heights and can cure diseases, alleviate suffering, and expand prosperity (HumanProgress). Yet, we have also used science to find creative ways to destroy life and have often marred God’s creation with immense human caused suffering.

At their best, the arts helped us analyze the human condition and pointed us towards Christ. The arts have brought us, me included great joy. Yet, we have also turned art into a glorification of ourselves, and occasionally even into an outright celebration of sin.

Humanitarianism follows a similar path. We care for and help people, yet turn that into an ultimate good, turning humanitarianism (a good thing) into humanism (a bad thing).

The Bible provides a contrast to a human-centric, or atheistic approach to knowledge. The Bible lays the claim that knowledge has the fear of God as its beginning (Proverbs 1:7). This means that the Christian views the world, including science, the arts, and humanitarianism through the lens of the Bible. And it is this type of knowledge that is highly stable and valuable. 

When we apply the fear of God to knowledge, we can restore knowledge to its proper position. Instead of using incredible technology to kill smaller, unborn humans we can use it to provide life-saving surgery to smaller, unborn humans. In addition, we can use the biblical lens to view secular art properly. We do not need to simply throw it away and isolate ourselves. We can see the skills involved in the art’s creation, we can better understand both the sinful human condition and the creative glories contained within mankind through art from Christians and non-Christians alike. 

In short, the application of knowledge through a biblical lens does not mean we isolate ourselves and only consume “Christian” goods. In fact, doing so will often lead to us consuming goods of inferior quality. It means we view, enjoy, and critique both Christian and non-Christian works in the sciences, arts, and humanities in such a way as to further enrich ourselves and the world.

  • 3 (pp.6–7): What great paradox did Augustine conclude resides in the heart of man with respect to the pursuit of God as man’s highest enjoyment and good? Where does this enigma find its solution?

Augustine said that the heart of man was made for God and that it is destined to always seek but never find rest, until his heart rests in his heavenly Father’s heart.

Reflections on Integrating Tech into the Elementary Classroom

It is now about 5 weeks into the school year and enough time has passed for me to reflect on how things are going.

One thing I have learned is that adding one piece of tech to my teaching may be simple for me, but it is not so straightforward for my 5th and 6th grade students. This year, I wanted to use Quizlet in my classroom as a way to incorporate retrieval and spaced practice but it has not gone well yet. I thought it would be simple. I can have my students make an account and then they just need to join the class by watching me model it on the projector and following the printed out instructions (with pics!). Fifteen minutes of set up for a years worth of learning.

Not so fast.

I have students who struggle to translate the printed instructions to their iPad’s screen (English is their second language). I have students who forgot their email and/or password. With the first round of tests coming up, I still do not have every student signed up. And I recently found out I gave some people access to my Quizlet class that are not even in the country I teach. Oops.

I like to think I am a competent, well-planned teacher who has a handle on basic tech, but adding this has given me my doubts. I am planning on giving one more push for Quizlet because I am convinced of the efficacy of retrieval and spaced practice. It would be a powerful tool to use as a class warm-up. And a great way for faster students to review at the end of a class (I am less convinced of Quizlet’s usefulness outside of the classroom because the internet is too full of distractions). However, no tool is worth making my life or my students’ lives harder. If this next push doesn’t work, I will simply cut my losses and use some good ol’ fashioned physical flashcards.

Not All Tech is a Nightmare

On the bright side, my class science website has gone swimmingly. I had students glue a QR code to the back cover of their notebooks and it’s only a scan away. The way I use my website is to have students read and take notes on articles that are related to what we are learning in class. The plan is for students to read and take notes on two articles per chapter. I am also requiring them to do a simplified version of an MLA citation that will become a full blown MLA citation by the end of the semester.

One thing I am seeing with this is that my students still require explicit teaching in this area. The first time we did the activity, too many students wasted time because they were unsure of what to write down. This was my fault, I assumed the activity was simple, because it would be simple for me. My 5th and 6th grade students are not me, they are still learning how to take notes. 

To remedy this I drew their attention to the article title, headings, and bolded words and explained how to use them in their notetaking. At this point, my students were largely able to do it on their own and I was able to provide timely help those who needed more guidance.

Final Reflections

Tech can be great. It can also be a great headache. We need to be smart about how we use and incorporate it. Even when our plan is backed by science (retrieval practice and spaced practice) and each step is literally spelled out and modeled by the teacher (as in my case), if students cannot use the tech, it isn’t going to be worth it, even if the tech is amazing. Teaching is hard enough. Don’t make it harder by giving yourself a tech headache. 

Find something that fits these three categories:

  1. Works for you
  2. Works for your students
  3. Is backed by research

If either of the first two are lacking, you will have a headache, and your students probably will too. If the third is lacking, you are likely doing your students a disservice.

Teaching The Scientific Method: Background Research

If you teach primary science, then you will inevitably find yourself teaching the scientific method.

2013-updated_scientific-method-steps_v6

  1. Asking A Question
  2. Background Research
  3. Hypothesis
  4. Design Experiment
  5. Test and Retest
  6. Analyze Data
  7. Draw Conclusions
  8. Communicate Results

 

Background research is the cornerstone of any experiment, even in elementary school because your students will use their background knowledge to come up with their hypothesis.

The best way to develop background knowledge is to teach with the science of learning in mind. If you are new to this and want more information, Anita Archer and Retrieval Practice both have some excellent examples and can walk you through how to apply the science of learning to your teaching.

Background Knowledge

Before planning a lab it is helpful to start with some questions.

  1. What content knowledge will my students need in order to perform the lab?
  2. What procedural knowledge will my students need in order to perform the lab?

And the all important follow up question. How will I know my students have that knowledge?

Content Knowledge

The first question will always depend on what type of lab you are doing, because different labs require different knowledge. 

For example, pretend for a moment that you are planning common elementary lab on rates of plant growth.

Before beginning the lab, your students should at minimum know…

  1. The basic anatomy of a plant (roots, stem, leaves, flower, petal, etc)
  2. How a plant gets nutrients (roots and soil)
  3. How a plant makes food (photosynthesis)

How will you ensure that you students know this? Test it! Now, you need not always create a test, the point is that you must assess your students’ understanding of this knowledge in some way. It would be best if your students do not have access to a neighbor, their book, or notes during this assessment. The purpose of these limitations is to help you accurately assess your students. Do they actually know it? Note: The assessment does not need to be for a grade. No-stakes assessments can be very strategic! And time saving for you too, no stakes=no grading!

Ideally you will have enough time to reteach information to correct misperceptions but that will not always be possible.

Procedural Knowledge

Procedural Knowledge: knowing how to do something

First, this type of knowledge is often difficult for students to grasp because it is not by itself. You always map the content knowledge onto the procedural knowledge. 

With procedural knowledge, I think there are two main questions:

Do I want my students to learn what happens? Do I want my students to know how to set up and perform the experiment along with learning what happens?

Your students will need to have the procedural knowledge to make observations and record data. This will seem simple to you, but it is not for them, remember, you are an elementary science teacher. Review with your students. A great way to review is to use physical objects and have students make observations together. Monitor their responses. You will need to check to make sure they are scientific observations, not opinions or inferences.

In many elementary experiments, gathering data is straightforward. However, you still need to teach it. Anyone who has ever watched a group of elementary students measure distance, weight, volume, or temperature knows that it isn’t second nature for our students.

We should explicitly explain how to take measurements and model it. Give multiple, short in class assignments where students take different types of measurements depending on what your experiment will be. After all, if they gather bad data, how will they be able to trust the experiment’s results?

As far as designing the actual experiment, it can be a smart choice to reduce the level of procedural knowledge needed. 

For example, instead of having your students set up an experiment and plan the steps, you can provide them with the set up and steps.
“Ok class, we have three pea plants that are in the same type of soil with the same amount of water, the only difference is their location. One will be in full sunlight, one will be in half sunlight, and the other will be in the dark.”

Doing this allows your students to focus on applying their content knowledge. It greatly reduces their cognitive load, and increases the chances of them learning from their hypothesis. However, you obviously do not want to keep your students here, dependent on their teacher to perform an experiment. The solution is to explain why each plant has the same soil and water. And then to explain why you are only changing the amount of sunlight.

Then, as the year goes on, have your students design more and more of the experiment. 

Procedural knowledge must be tested too! If your students do not have it, they have no hope of a successful experiment. So, assess it!

Background knowledge is key. We must teach and ensure that our students have both the content and procedural knowledge that our lab demands. If we do this, then our students will learn more, labs will be less stressful, and I have found that students have more fun if they know what and why they are doing something.

Give them knowledge, make fun possible!

Research Apértif: Quizzing in Middle-School Science: Successful Transfer Performance on Classroom Exams

According to dictionary.com, an apértif is a small drink of alcoholic liqueur taken to stimulate the appetite before a meal. This research apértif is likewise designed to stimulate your mind’s appetite.

If you enjoy the appetizer, click-through at the bottom of the page for the main course!

Background Research/Lit Review

1. the act of retrieving answers to questions during testing can enhance and modify memory for the tested information
2. A limitation: most studies have used identical questions on initial and final tests
3. Recall, then rereading produces a higher success rate on application questions than reading alone
4. Initial quizzing on target concepts may promote performance (relative to no quizzing) on novel application exam questions
5. Multiple choice quizzing effects are generally smaller than short-answer quizzing effects

Experiment 1

1. 142 seventh grade science students participated in the study: Final sample was 61 students
2. Quiz questions required matching a term to a definition. Test questions required matching a definition to a term. Testing near transfer.
3. three quizzes: pre-lesson after reading the chapter, post-lesson, and 24hrs before the exam
4. Quizzes improved term-response exam performance by 12-15%
5. Quizzes improved definition-response exam performance by 9-10%
6. Quizzing promoted near transfer of target content in a classroom setting

Experiment 2

1. 142 eighth-grade science students: Final sample included 90 eighth-grade science students
2. Focused on application questions (more required transfer than experiment 1)
3. three quizzes: pre-lesson after reading the chapter, post-lesson, and 24 hrs before the exam
4. Quizzing with application questions improves final test performance on related application questions.
5. Quizzing with term-response questions does not improve final test performance on related application questions

Discussion of Experiments

1. Spaced testing with feedback enhances the flexibility of knowledge
2. Quizzing application concepts in a concrete context promoted transfer and better retention of definitional information on a final test
3. repeated multiple choice quizzes with feedback can enhance performance on novel exam questions
4. Term-response questions did not increase performance on application exam items

Link to Article
Quizzing in Middle-School Science: Successful Transfer Performance on Classroom Exams

Citation
Mcdaniel, M. A., Thomas, R. C., Agarwal, P. K., Mcdermott, K. B., & Roediger, H. L. (2013). Quizzing in Middle-School Science: Successful Transfer Performance on Classroom Exams. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 27(3), 360–372. doi: 10.1002/acp.2914

How to Teach Critical Thinking: A Summary’s Summary

Critical Thinking Can Be Taught

1. Teach strategies and principals and integrate those principals into your teaching

Teaching Critical Thinking for General Transfer

1. Transfer is only possible when there is a relationship between topics.
-Ex: Writing a paragraph will not improve your ability to use a shading technique in drawing
2. Even seemingly related topics do not always allow for transfer.
-Ex: Estimating the area of rectangles does not improve ability to estimate the area of other geometric shapes
3. Teaching general critical thinking skills leads to limited success

Transfer And The Nature Of Critical Thinking

1. Critical thinking is not a generalizable skill because “analyze, synthesize, and evaluate” mean different things in different disciplines
2. Goals for critical thinking must be domain specific
3. There are some logic rules that transfer across domains, but students will struggle to apply them to new, unfamiliar domains

Critical Thinking As Problem Recognition

1. Challenges to transferring knowledge: Deep and Surface Structure
-Deep structures: Deep structures are often abstract and difficult to understand. Understanding the deep structure requires many examples (rich knowledge of surface structure)
-Surface structures
2. Speed recognition of deep structure
-problem comparison (2 worked examples with differing surface structure and the same deep structure)
-Teach the sub-steps of a process (label the sub-steps) to make knowledge more flexible

Open-Ended Problems And Knowledge

1. Critical thinking for routine and open-ended problems relies on extensive stores of domain knowledge.
2. Knowledge helps by…
-Improving the recognition process
-Allowing working memory to treat disparate groups as pieces of a single unit. (Frees up space in your working memory)
-Enabling you to deploy thinking strategies
3. Even experts struggle to think critically outside of their domain of expertise!

How To Teach Students To Think Critically (4 Steps)

1. Identify what is meant by critical thinking in your domain. Be specific.(Think like a scientist is not a helpful goal.) Identify what tasks would demonstrate critical thinking. Explicitly teach and have students deliberately practice said tasks.
2. Identify the domain content students must know. Identify the knowledge students need to successfully complete the tasks in step 1. This will involve uncomfortable, but necessary trade-offs. We interpret new information in light of what we know.
3. Choose the best sequence to learn the skills and knowledge.
4. Decide which skills and what knowledge should be revisited across years

Link to Article

How to Teach Critical Thinking