Saturday, November 03, 2007

Educational Technique #3:

Tinkering

One of the techniques that I have come to embrace in what I call tinkering. Tinkering is taking a
formalized lesson plan that gets used the same way day after day and systematically changing various aspects of it.

The advantage of tinkering is that we sometimes land on alteration that immediately improves the number of correct answers, or improves the level of student's attending, or the rate of their reponses. Another advantage is that it can help promote generalization by altering the stimuli used in the lesson.

For example, I used to teach a calender group. The old lesson plan had me labeling months or the days of the week. I tinkered with this plan by mislabeling different dates at random. The students thought it was pretty funny. It increased their amount of attending. It also gave them a way to practice being assertive while being polite.

There are a few caveats to tinkering. The first being that it very often doesn't produce anything helpful. The second is that in a formalized lesson plan where data are collected, tinkering should be done at the end, when all data have been collected. This is because altering the format may invalidate the data. New tutors or teachers are often avid tinkers. However, it has been my experience that they usually require guidance as to when to tinker and when to stick to formalized lesson plan.

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