“Extreme factory model of instruction”

Rogoff et al. (1996) quote this example of an “extreme factory model of instruction” from a chemistry teaching in a study by McRobbie and Tobin (1995).  So many constraints: “the program,” “the timeline,” “the certification processes.”  And a very clear articulation of the transmission model.

I’m reading about situated learning and communities of practice; this example shows how subversive these alternative models of teaching and learning can really be.

Factory model

Factory model

 “The way the lessons are run at the moment they are completely teacher directed … If I maintain control we will make progress through the work program, students will learn more, and learn more efficiently.  I’m setting out to get this information into the kids’ brains as efficiently as possible (although sometime the schedule has to be adapted to meet the learning needs of the students), and be a transmissive model of teaching I can guarantee that there will be a greater percentage of students with the desired quantity of knowledge at the end. We are trying to meet timelines, and we are intolerant of digression. The greatest part of my teaching is geared to keeping the students moving along and on task. Getting the work done according to strict timelines is very important to us because we have negotiated to cover a certain amount of chemical science in a set amount of time as set out in the accredited work program and we also have to meet the external requirements of the certification processes for student achievement.

I believe I have all the knowledge the students need for their course.  I see the learner as absorbing knowledge and I transfer some of that knowledge by having students take down notes …

In order to get understanding you’ve got to be able to remember the basic facts that you are investigating. If you can’t remember basic facts you can’t get to the next step of sorting out relationships between facts. Almost every student is capable of being taught how to memorise large bodies of information quickly and I believe I can teach them that … If students don’t understand they should memorise the important information regardless and allow understanding to occur later in its own good time.  I’m sure the brain will make the connections that are necessary if they have the basic knowledge memorised even if it may take a while.”

McRobbie & Tobin, 1995, pp. 7-8

McRobbie, C., & Tobin, K. (1995). Restraints to reform: The congruence of teacher and student actions in a chemistry classroom. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 32(4), 373-385.

Rogoff, B., Matusov, E., & White, C. (1996). Models of teaching and learning: Participation in a community of learners. The handbook of education and human development, 388-414.


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