Block Schedules vs. Traditional SchedulesAnd Their Effects On Science Achievement, Inquiry Skills and Attitudes Regarding Science Debbie Murphy Evaluating Research Fall 2004
Introduction • Our job as educators is to teach students how to learn. • We need to provide students with opportunities to use their cognitive processes. • Does the block schedule offer students greater opportunities than the traditional schedule?
History of the Block Schedule • 1994 National Commission on Time and Learning proposed that the school day needed to move its focus from scheduling of time to learning. • The report recommended implementing block schedules to give teachers more time to engage students in activity based learning opportunities.
Benefits of the Block Schedule • Relieves the fast-paced, pressurized atmosphere • Provides opportunities for in-depth learning (inquiry, research, cooperative learning, etc.) • Reduces daily administrative tasks • Offers teachers and students innovative ways to interact and accomplish their objectives
Current Research on Achievement Test Scores • Despite the popularity of the block schedule, research findings are mixed in regard to achievement test comparisons. • The problem with standardized tests is that they focus more on content than processes.
There’s More To Science Than Achievement Tests! • According to the National Science Education Standards, inquiry is central to science learning. • Highly effective teaching strategies require higher level thinking skills such as inquiry, cooperative learning, exploration, analysis and synthesis. • A 90 minutes class schedule gives teachers time to provide opportunities for in-depth learning.
Why Would Schools Abandon the Block? • Budgetary concerns • Poor preparation and ongoing training for teaching in the block • Lack of variety - for a block schedule to be successful, teachers must use a wide variety of instructional strategies • Poor utilization of the block time
Research Plans • Compare the amount of inquiry activities in block and traditional schedules • Compare the attitudes of students toward science in block and traditional schedules • Compare test scores in block and traditional schedules • Determine if lack of ongoing training in instructional strategies was a factor in the abandonment of the block schedule
References • Arnold, D.E. (2002). Block schedule and traditional schedule achievement: A comparison. NASSP Bulletin, 86(630), 42-53. • Bottge, B.J., Gugerty, J.J., Serlin, R., & Moon, K. (2003). Block and traditional schedules: Effects on students with and without disabilities in high school. NAASP Bulletin, 87(636), 2-14. • Canady, R., & Rettig, M. (1995). Block scheduling: A catalyst for change in high schools. Gardiner, New York: Eye on Education. • DiBiase, W.J., & Queen, J.A. (1999). Middle school social studies on the block. The Clearing House, 72(6), 377-384. • Evans, W., Tokarczyk, J., Rice, S., & McCray, A. (2002). Block scheduling: An evaluation of outcomes and impact. The Clearing House, 75(6), 319-323. • Eisner, E. (1985). The educational imagination. New York: Macmillan • Jenkins, E., Queen, A., & Algozzine, B. (2002). To block or not to block: That’s not the question. The Journal of Educational Research, 95(4), 196-202. • Lawrence, W.W., & MacPherson, D.D. (2000). A comparative study of block scheduling and traditional scheduling on academic achievement. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 27(3), 178-182. • National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. (2000). Pursuing excellence: Comparisons of international eighth-grade mathematics and science achievement from a U.S. perspective, 1995 and 1999. (NCES Publication No. 2001- 028). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. • National Commission on Excellence in Education (1983). A nation at risk. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. • National Commission on Time and Learning (1994). Prisoners of time. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. • Rettig, M.D., & Canady, R.L. (2003). Block scheduling’s missteps, successes and variables. School Administrator, 60(9), 26-31. • Shortt, T.L., & Thayer, Y.V. (1999). Block scheduling can enhance school climate. Educational Leadership, 56(4), 76-81. • Veal, W.R. (1999). What could define block scheduling as a fad? American Secondary Education, 27(4), 3-12. • Veal, W.R., & Schreiber, J. (1999, September 19). Block scheduling effects on a state mandated test of basic skills. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 7(29). Retrieved October 11, 2004, from http://epaa.asu/epaa/v7n29.html • Viadero, D. (2001). Despite its popularity, block scheduling’s effect on learning remains unproven. Education Week, 21(5), 38-40.