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Choosing tasks at an appropriate level of difficulty

As experienced teachers know and as research has confirmed, students are most likely to engage with learning when tasks are of moderate difficulty, neither too easy nor too hard and therefore neither boring nor frustrating (Britt, 2005). Finding the right level of difficulty, however, can be a challenge if you have little experience teaching a particular grade level or curriculum, or even if students are simply new to you and their abilities unknown. Whether familiar or not, members of any class are likely to have diverse skills and readiness–a fact that makes it challenging to determine what level of difficulty is appropriate. A common strategy for dealing with these challenges is to begin units, lessons, or projects with tasks that are relatively easy and familiar. Then, introduce more difficult material or tasks gradually until students seem challenged, but not overwhelmed. Following this strategy gives the teacher a chance to observe and diagnose students’ learning needs before adjusting content, and it gives students a chance to orient themselves to the teacher’s expectations, teaching style, and topic of study without becoming frustrated prematurely. Later in a unit, lesson, or project, students seem better able to deal with more difficult tasks or content (Van Merrionboer, 2003). The principle seems to help as well with “authentic” learning tasks—ones that resemble real-world activities, such as learning to drive an automobile or to cook a meal, and that present a variety of complex tasks simultaneously. Even in those cases it helps to isolate and focus on the simplest subtasks first (such as “put the key in the ignition”) and move to harder tasks only later (such as parallel parking).

Sequencing instruction is only a partial solution to finding the best “level” of difficulty, however, because it does not deal with enduring individual differences among students. The fundamental challenge to teachers is to individualize or differentiate instruction fully: to tailor it not only to the class as a group, but to the lasting differences among members of the class. One way to approach this sort of diversity, obviously, is to plan different content or activities for different students or groups of students. While one group works on Task A, another group works on Task B; one group works on relatively easy math problems, for example, while another works on harder ones. Differentiating instruction in this way complicates a teacher’s job, but it can be done, and has in fact been done by many teachers (it also makes teaching more interesting!). In the next chapter, we describe some classroom management strategies that help with such multi-tasking.

Providing moderate amounts of structure and detail

Chances are that at some point in your educational career you have wished that a teacher would clarify or explain an assignment more fully, and perhaps give it a clearer structure or organization. Students’ desire for clarity is especially common with assignments that are by nature open-ended, such as long essays, large projects, or creative works. Simply being told to “write an essay critiquing the novel”, for example, leaves more room for uncertainty (and worry) than being given guidelines about what questions the essay should address, what topics or parts it should have, and what its length or style should be (Chesebro, 2003). As you might suspect, some students desire clarity more than others, and improve their performance especially much when provided with plenty of structure and clarity. Students with certain kinds of learning difficulties, in particular, often learn effectively and stay on task only if provided with somewhat explicit, detailed instructions about the tasks expected of them (Marks, et al., 2003).

Questions & Answers

is economics important in programming world?
Abdul Reply
What is oppunity cost
Kudzanayi Reply
it refers wants that are left unsatisfied in Oder satisfy another more pressing need
Osei
Thank bro
Kudzanayi
is the second altenative to foregone
swedy
How does monopoly and imperfect competion;public goods externalities ass symmetric information, ommon property ressourses; income distribution Merit goods and Macroeconomic growth and stability causes market failure?
Gcina
it is where by a labour moves from one place to another
Amoako Reply
yh
Osei
another
Amoako
yh
Osei
ok
Amoako
what is mobility of labour
George Reply
who best defined economics
paul Reply
what are the importance of economics
Adwoa Reply
answer
Asamoah
trade should be best
Aakash
help to know how our government operates in which system
swedy
1. To solve economic problems. 2. To predict economic event. 3. It also offer intellectual training to students.
samuel
How price elasticity can affect the markets of certain goods
Rhoda Reply
Heyy thanks for the teaching
Easter Reply
what is labour
Arthur Reply
Mental and physical ability of human being is considered as labour.
JEYARAM
and usually provided by human
KEMAWOR
is all human effort both physical and mental abilities to work
Asamoah
why is it that most countries in Africa abuse available resources
Okeoghene Reply
What is economics
Bright Reply
economics is a science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends, scarce means which have alternative uses.
prince
Why is scarcity a mind problem in economics
Alima Reply
because of the problem of allocation of resources
Osola
unequalled distribution of resources
Agyen
thanks
Alima
scarcity is a mind problem due to circumstances like when a particular product is demand in a high rate at the market.
Saihou
scarcity defines limited in supply relative to the demand them. so scarcity is a mind problem in economics because wants are unlimited while resources are also limited.
prince
it is a mind problem because it's one of the fundamental issue address by economics human wants are unlimited and resources available are limited this makes the study of economics essential
rashid
its a fundamental issue
zahid
it's not a mind problem, I think it's a economic problem, how to allocate scarce resources to satisfy need and want of society
Samiullah
Identify the different sectors in the economy
Moses Reply
what is economics
Moses
economic is study of human behaviour according to how they satisfie their numerous want
Osola
Economics is a science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scares resources.
JEYARAM
economic is study of human behaviour according to how they satisfie their numerous want
Amar
what is the law of demand
Adugbire Reply
the lower the price the higher the quantity demanded vice versa is true
Nadhin
yes
vivek
yes ooh
Asamoah
right
samuel
what are relationship between unemployment and economic growth
Weness Reply
no relationship
Awuah
When there is economic growth, there is increased opportunity in employment. When there is no economic growth mean there is recession causing a decline or downsizing in employment opportunities.
Teescou
unemployment or employment determined by the level of economic growth
Osola
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Source:  OpenStax, Educational psychology. OpenStax CNX. May 11, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11302/1.2
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