All 2 entries tagged Stem

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May 28, 2018

More on the Ladder of Communication

Follow-up to The ladder of communication from Improving communication, engagement and resilience in STEM classrooms in South Africa

This diagram can be usefully viewed from both the perspective of the teacher and that of the learner.

To bridge the communication gap between themselves and the learner, an effective teacher will need to know about both the concept to be learned, and the learner’s ability to learn.


Knowledge about the concept involves a deep, structural knowledge of how the concept progresses, and depends upon the teacher having ‘a clear grasp of the underlying structure of the mathematics [or science] being learnt (Haylock 2014:3). For STEM experts who often quickly understand concepts at a high level, this decompostion of a concept can be a challenging task. However, once achieved, it can add further insight and appreciation of the concept.


Once the teacher can break the concept down into the basic steps, they can then tailor those steps to the needs of the learner. Not all learners will need every step and sub step along the ladder. Some learners will be able to make bigger leaps of learning than others, and some will need smaller steps. Individual assessment of pupils will indicate their particular needs.

An effective learner needs to know that it is possible to break the learning down into manageable steps, and that effective help can somehow be recruited.


When faced with a gap in the rungs of their learning ladder, many learners conclude that this is down to their lack of ability. This assumption is not helpful as it leads to the learner giving up on the learning task. They need to realise that , if they are staring at a jump that is too big, then all is not lost. Rungs can be added. Too many times learners blame themselves for not being able to make a huge leap, when really they could achieve it if the progression was manageable for them.


They might not find the best help to fill in the rungs from the first person they ask, or the second, but effective help can be recruited eventually. The rungs can be filled in. They might ask another learner, or their teacher, or search the internet. Knowing that they have both the right to learn, and the ability, given manageable steps, empowers learners to take the responsibility for learning for themselves and eventually prevail.




Expert knowledge ; Teacher needs to know the underlying structure of the concept, and match the steps to the needs of the learner


Learner needs to realise that:

  • The learning can be broken down into manageable steps
  • Effective help can be recruited


Learner’s 2ndstep

Learner’s 1ststep

Learner current knowledge


April 27, 2018

Press release

The wonderful team that is helping change STEM education in Gauteng:

https://warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/taking_the_sting/


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