Students working on tablet

Studying Blended Learning Models in the Classroom

CTL researchers are studying the early adoption of blended learning models by a variety of primary and secondary schools in California and New Orleans. Schools participating in these separate initiatives funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation are adopting “rotation” models of blended learning where students rotate between an online learning station and other instructional activities in the classroom or in a lab. Schools and teachers are continually refining their models of blended learning and their selection of online programs as new technologies and programs emerge and teachers observe firsthand how different students experience the blended learning and online instruction. So far, online programs are being used mostly for additional practice or enrichment and not as the primary source of instruction.

Given the rapid pace of refinement, research is necessarily at an early stage. Yet some findings are emerging. For example, administrators and teachers are asking for online programs that are not only adaptive, but also assignable so that teachers have greater control over the online content students work on and a better ability to align it with classroom instruction. Also, administrators and teachers need time to develop confidence in the validity of reports about students -- and ways to integrate reports from different products on the same students. To a large extent, teachers are continuing to rely on their intuition and own assessments to judge student progress rather than on data from the online programs. As blended learning models and products mature, we expect findings to likewise evolve.

Stay tuned for the release of the official reports. Detailed research findings on both projects from the 2011-12 school year will be publicly disseminated later this summer. Findings from our research on the use of Khan Academy for the 2012-13 school year will be published in December 2013.

Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance—
Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century

What can practitioners, researchers, and policymakers in education do to support children and adolescents to strive for and achieve success in school and life in the face of 21st-century challenges? CTL, funded by the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education, investigated this question in a new brief, Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance—Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century. It comes at an important and exciting time as research and practice in education, technology, psychology, and other fields point to a movement to incorporate these factors more prominently into educational priorities. Highlights include a framework to understand the research, a discussion of traditional and emerging approaches to measurement, a review of ways of promoting these factors in learning environments, and recommendations for practitioners, researchers, and policymakers. The role of technology is explored as an important theme. In sum, the report investigates the possibility that grit, tenacity, and perseverance are not just fixed traits but can be malleable and teachable, creating potential for new paths to increase success for all students. For an additional perspective, KQED distilled the report to a how-to guide for practitioners.

CTL's Christopher Harris's Article Selected by NSTA as "Research Worth Reading: Summer 2013"

Harris authored the article selected by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) from published articles in science education in 2012 as a contribution to improving the link between research and practice. The article, "Examining Teachers’ Instructional Moves Aimed at Developing Students’ Ideas and Questions in Learner-Centered Science Classrooms, " will be shared with NSTA’s membership of over 55,000 K-20 teachers, faculty, and science supervisors. Harris wrote the article with Rachel Phillips of the University of Washington and William Penuel of the University of Colorado.