This is the final installment in our four-post series on pedagogy.
Pedagogy is the art and science of education.1 To me, this means that while there is a tremendous amount of science (data) to guide us as educators, in each individual classroom, pedagogy is also an art. Sometimes it’s a paint-by-number, and everything fits in its place.
While other times it’s splatter paint, and you’re just hoping some of it sticks to the page.
With this in mind, let’s first look at some of the science behind interweaving CRAs into your pedagogy; then we’ll explore the art.
Science: What do the data show?
There are numerous places on this site where we showcase the science of pedagogy and the science of CRAs.
- In our summary of field-test data, we illustrate that CRAs improve readiness skills AND educators enjoy using them.
- Through the previous three blog posts, we endeavored to demonstrate how CRAs can be used to flip a classroom to be more student-centered, to boost developmental reading and writing instruction, and to assist educators with the difficult task of assessing writing.
- In addition, the Resources page includes a series of videos in which Dr. Pooja Agarwal outlines and explains the pedagogical techniques of retrieval practice and then ties these techniques to example CRAs.
These examples all serve to demystify pedagogy and offer instructors concrete steps to being thoughtful and intentional about classroom practice.
Art: 3 Important Notes for Successful Adaptation of CRAs
We know pedagogy is also an art. Though all the science can guide you, at the end of the day, your classroom will have elements that are unique. As you seek to be responsive to the specific needs of your students and adapt CRAs to your classroom, we offer the following 3 notes:
1. CRAs have been rigorously tested and revised based on instructor feedback.
Remember that the existing CRAs have been designed to improve college and career readiness and rigorously field tested to ensure their usability and effectiveness. Use them as a starting point, but be sure to use them. Let their science add the structure to your art.
2. The style of instruction and assessment is paramount.
Most CRAs are designed such that content can be easily substituted, so you may not need to create a new lesson from scratch to address the content you have in mind. The structure of CRAs is deliberate, and scaffolding is key. Each of the CRAs offers students the opportunity to check skills in class discussions and small groups before moving into individual work. Although you may substitute content and rework assignments to fit your classroom, the structure of CRA delivery and assessment is important to maintain.
3. Use what works for you.
We know readiness, but you know your students. If you only have time for one activity out of a CRA, that’s great. If you teach 9th graders and need to adjust the length of an assigned essay, feel free to do so. Remember, the goal is to improve college and career readiness; CRAs are meant to be challenging in order to prepare students for the kind of skills that will be expected of them when they reach college and the workforce. The key is encouraging and assessing skill development, not just mastery of content knowledge.
Art + Science: Creating Your Own CRAs
Finally, we know that many of you may love CRAs and would prefer to really dive into adapting them to your classroom or even using the elements to create your own CRAs. For this reason, we created the CRA Template, which is an editable document you may use to collect elements from various CRAs into one document or to design your own assignments using the CRA structure. Before you jump in, we recommend you watch the video below, which outlines the recommended steps for using the CRA Template to create your own CRAs.