Key Takeaway: Teachers sometimes treat their students differently from one another, focusing more on the low-performing students. As a result, feedback is given to these students in a manner that directs and controls their learning, rather than encouraging higher-level thinking. —Shekufeh Monadjem

Eddie Denessen (University of Leiden), Annelies Keller (University of Leiden), Linda Van Den Bergh (Fontys University), and Paul Van Den Broek (University of Leiden) formed a hypothesis stating that there is a difference in how teachers treat their students and that teachers offer more frequent and challenging interactions to those students who have high academic achievements and a higher socioeconomic status. 

Educational policies are calling for more individualized and differentiated ways of teaching in order “to promote the learning opportunities of each individual student. To reach this goal, teaching should be tailored to individual students’ needs.”1 But to what extent are the student-teacher interactions free from bias? According to the authors, “with differential treatment of students, teachers may exacerbate or reduce achievement differences in their classroom.” This behavior may result in teachers “treating their high-expectation students more favorably.”

A study conducted in eight fourth-grade classrooms in the Netherlands indicated that there was indeed a difference in teacher-student interaction, but contrary to expectation, teachers “interact more frequently with their low-performing and low-expectation students.”

The study also examined the feedback that was given to the students in the class. “Feedback can be the most powerful tool to support students’ learning, but effects depend on the quality of the feedback interactions.” Effective feedback needs to be related to a goal and directly applicable to the learning habits and thought processes of the student. Feedback can be given either in a directive or facilitative way. When giving directive feedback, “teachers tell students how to process information . . . carry out a task . . . or they ask questions for which they expect a certain answer.” This method can be successfully used when a new concept is taught. However, with the use of facilitative feedback, “teachers prompt students to think by asking them open-ended questions or by giving them hints that facilitate learning,”2 and therefore help students to construct their knowledge. This type of feedback is used to foster higher-level thinking and learning. 

Ultimately, it was observed by the authors that “teachers showed a rather directive style of teaching, more targeted at weaker students in their classrooms.” The low-performing “students were given more turns and more feedback.” It was also noted that the teachers provided these students with directive feedback, indicating that teachers took more control over these students’ learning.

Summarized Article:

Denessen, E., Keller, A., Van Den Bergh, L., and Van Den Broek, P. (2020), Do Teachers Treat Their Students Differently? An Observational Study on Teacher-Student Interactions as a Function of Teacher Expectations and Student Achievement. Hindawi Education Research International, Vol 2020.

Summary by: Shekufeh – Shekufeh believes that the MARIO Framework builds relationships that enable students to view the world in a positive light as well as empowering them to create plans that ultimately lead to their success.

Additional References:

  1. S. A. Parsons, M. Vaughn, R. Q. Scales et al., (2017). “Teachers’ instructional adaptations: a research synthesis,” Review of Educational Research, vol. 88, no. 2, pp. 205–242.
  2. J. M. Faber, C. A. W. Glas, and A. J. Visscher, (2018). “Differentiated instruction in a data-based decision-making context,” School Effectiveness and School Improvement, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 43–63. 

Key Takeaway: Teacher attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions are critical in how they have the potential to contribute to or reduce educational inequalities. —Matt Piercy

Kate M. Turetsky, Stacey Sinclair, Jordan G. Starck, and J. Nicole Shelton (2021) investigated psychological contributors to educational inequality and the far-reaching impact of teacher psychology. Teachers’ gender-biased perceptions, fixed mindsets, and disparate assessment were all examined. Systematic factors (ie. socio-economic and racial/ethnic disparities), the broader educational system and society, and parents all factor into educational inequalities. However, a field of research is burgeoning in how teacher psychology also plays a pivotal role. Further, changing teachers’ attitudes, perceptions, or beliefs is essential.

The authors investigated two significant questions:

  1. Which teacher attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs contribute to educational inequality?
  2. How does teacher psychology exacerbate or mitigate educational inequality?

Here are the major takeaways from the article:

  • Research confirms how teachers often hold more negative perceptions and expectations of students from marginalized groups but also assess them more negatively compared with advantaged groups. This disparate assessment is evidenced across several nations including New Zealand,1 Sweden,2 Brazil,3 Germany,4 and the United States.5 Patterns of such disparities, including high-stakes national exams, are evidenced by comparisons with blind evaluations.
  • Teachers overestimating students led to larger gains in math standardized test scores. Whereas underestimation predicted smaller gains. These effects strengthened as students increased in age and were larger for girls of all races and also Black and Latino boys.6
  • No substantive change in mathematics achievement or a narrowing of the gender gap was noted from 1999 to 2011. This is attributed to teacher gender-biased perceptions of ability between boys and girls in grade school.7,8
  • The authors cite a US university-wide study where 150 STEM professors and more than 15,000 students revealed how courses led by faculty with a fixed versus growth mindset led to a racial achievement gap.9
  • Focusing intervention on teachers may reduce educational inequalities even without specifically targeting students. Blind grading is one recommended strategy but also teacher training programs where high-quality instruction emphasizes the importance of engaging all students.10

Summarized Article:

Turetsky, K. M., Sinclair, S., Starck, J. G., & Shelton, J. N. (2021). Beyond students: how teacher psychology shapes educational inequality. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

Summary by: Matt Piercy — Matt appreciates how at the heart of the MARIO Framework is a passion to develop relationships and a desire to empower students to uncover their purpose while building upon strengths. Further, Matt is inspired by how the MARIO team supports educators and is quickly and nobly becoming a collaborative force in pursuit of educational equity.

Additional References:

1. Meissel, K., Meyer, F., Yao, E. S., & Rubie-Davies, C. M. (2017). Subjectivity of teacher judgments: Exploring student characteristics that influence teacher judgments of student ability. Teaching and Teacher Education, 65, 48-60.

2. Hinnerich, B. T., Höglin, E., & Johannesson, M. (2015). Discrimination against students with foreign backgrounds: Evidence from grading in Swedish public high schools. Education Economics, 23(6), 660-676.

3. Burgess, S., & Greaves, E. (2013). Test scores, subjective assessment, and stereotyping of ethnic minorities. Journal of Labor Economics, 31(3), 535-576.

4. Sprietsma, M. (2013). Discrimination in grading: Experimental evidence from primary school teachers. Empirical economics, 45(1), 523-538. 

5. Glock, S. (2016). Does ethnicity matter? The impact of stereotypical expectations on in-service teachers’ judgments of students. Social Psychology of Education, 19(3), 493-509.

6. Jamil, F. M., Larsen, R. A., & Hamre, B. K. (2018). Exploring longitudinal changes in teacher expectancy effects on children’s mathematics achievement. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 49(1), 57-90.

7. Robinson-Cimpian, J. P., Lubienski, S. T., Ganley, C. M., & Copur-Gencturk, Y. (2014). Teachers’ perceptions of students’ mathematics proficiency may exacerbate early gender gaps in achievement. Developmental psychology, 50(4), 1262.

8. Cimpian, J. R., Lubienski, S. T., Timmer, J. D., Makowski, M. B., & Miller, E. K. (2016). Have gender gaps in math closed? Achievement, teacher perceptions, and learning behaviors across two ECLS-K cohorts. AERA Open, 2(4), 2332858416673617.

9. Canning, E. A., Muenks, K., Green, D. J., & Murphy, M. C. (2019). STEM faculty who believe ability is fixed have larger racial achievement gaps and inspire less student motivation in their classes. Science advances, 5(2), eaau4734.

Key Takeaway: In today’s globalized world, it is imperative that all students are able to use their unique voices and actively participate in conversations. In order to foster meaningful participation in the classroom, educators need to develop strong and trusting relationships with their students. Challenging the notion of what it means to be inclusive provides educators with the opportunity to re-imagine modern education by prioritizing relationships and placing human values at the center of the teaching and learning experience. —Taryn McBrayne

“It is essential to place the relationship between the teacher and the student at the core of teaching,” says Ann-Louise Ljungblad (Department of Education and Special Education at University of Gothenburg). Ljungblad shares her study on the theoretical perspective, Pedagogical Relational Teachership (PeRT), to promote trustful teacher-student relationships as a foundation for student participation and inclusion. The author, in conjunction with Biesta (2007),1 proposes that a new type of inclusion, known as “the incalculable,” be introduced into classrooms. 

As the article explains, this form of inclusion emphasizes student “subjectification” (Biesta, 2009)2 by considering “if, when and how students are given opportunities to participate in education and emerge with their own unique voices,” which Ljungblad (2016)3 believes is one of education’s main purposes. 

According to Ljungblad, the PeRT theory provides a third way for students to access knowledge, in addition to traditional individualist and collectivist approaches, whereby the relationship between teacher and student is leveraged. Relational pedagogy, the main component of the PeRT perspective, values relationships, and Ljungblad believes that “learning and knowledge can be seen as a result of relationships.” More specifically, the author explains that it is the relationship between students and their teachers that significantly impacts learning in what is referred to as the “in-between space.”3 Here, Ljungblad explains that, “since meanings are shared and located ‘in-between,’ we have to embrace this gap, and PeRT is a theoretical inclusive perspective that highlights this essential space.” 

To showcase the role of student-teacher relationships in increasing student participation, the author references a self-conducted, micro-ethnographic study in 2016 which surveyed one hundred children ranging in age and physical and intellectual ability.3 The results of this study suggest that “the teachers’ pedagogical tactfulness created space for the students’ unique voices to emerge.” Put simply, the manner in which teachers interacted with their students, namely a “listening and empathetic pedagogical stance,” positively influenced their levels of participation. 

The author outlines three dimensions of the PeRT model in the article: 

Dimension 1 – According to Ljungblad, “PeRT emphasizes a positive rights 

claim for teachers to actively support students,” meaning that acting based on what is in the best interest of the child and what allows them to achieve their potential serves as a way to encourage participation. These “positive rights” stem from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of a Child (CRC) and the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education. 

Dimension 2 – Inspired by Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory model, the PeRT model is multidimensional and “shows how different aspects of relational teachership are closely intertwined, from a micro-level to a macro-level.” Through adopting this model, teachers are challenged to change their teaching practices in order to relate to their students and to embrace student collaboration to best meet their needs. 

Dimension 3 – Shifting from Vygotsky’s Didactic Triangle, the PeRT inspired Relational and Didactic Star emphasizes the importance of relational adaptations in the classroom environment to encourage participation. Although a traditional triangle model “emphasises the purpose, content and methods [of teaching],” Ljunglad suggests that it does not “illuminate the people who participate in the teaching community.” Ljungblad argues that PeRT combines the two pedagogical approaches (didactic and relational), therefore creating potential for “double-meaning making” to occur for students. As the author shares, “these two facets of meaning-making are important when teachers develop relational and didactic adaptations to create accessibility to the content.” 

Ultimately, more studies are needed to further understand the complexities of relational values in inclusive education. However, PeRT is “an invitation to scholars and practitioners to use the multi-relational model as creative

inspiration to seek new knowledge and understanding about participation, accessibility and equity.” It is through positioning the teacher-student relationship at the heart of teaching that all students’ voices can be heard. 

Summarized Article:

Ljungblad, A.L. (2021). Pedagogical Relational Teachership (PeRT) – a multi-relational perspective, International Journal of Inclusive Education, Vol. 25 (7), 860-876. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603116.2019.1581280

Summary by: Taryn McBrayne—Taryn believes in the power of student voice and, through the MARIO Framework, strives to create more opportunities for both educators and students to regularly make use of this power.

Additional References:

  1. Biesta, G. (2007). “Don’t Count Me in. Democracy, Education and the Question of Inclusion.” Nordic Studies in Education, Vol. 27 (1), 18–29. 
  2. Biesta, G. (2009). “Good Education in an Age of Measurement. On the Need to Reconnect with the Question of Purpose in Education.” Educational Assessment, Evaluation & Accountability, Vol. 21(1), 33–46. 
  3. Ljungblad, A.L. (2016). Takt och hållning – en relationell studie om det oberäkneliga i matematikundervisningen [Tact and Stance – A Relational Study About the Incalculable in Mathematics Teaching]. PhD diss., Gothenburg Studies in Educational Sciences, 381. Gothenburg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis.

Additional Reading: 

Key Takeaway: School leaders, educators and teachers will benefit greatly from professional development in relation to “(i) creating environments that are high in emotional support, (ii) fostering children’s ability to develop, practice and enhance self-regulation skills, and (iii) promoting children’s oral language development in the early years” (Walker And Graham, 2021). —Matt Barker

Walker and Graham (2021) (Queensland University of Technology) present findings from the first year of a longitudinal project following 240 students in a primary school serving disadvantaged communities. The study aims to investigate relationships between “child characteristics, classroom interactions, and the quality of the teacher-student relationship.”

The authors identify that child characteristics, including gender, the ability to self-regulate, and language competence, impact teacher-child relationships. Specifically, “(i) girls, (ii) children who are better able to self-regulate, and (iii) children who are less hyperactive were more likely to have a close relationship with their teachers.”

The findings of the study suggest that children with higher language scores clearly correlate with “school readiness, self-regulation, both child and teacher-rated relationship quality, and [fewer] problem behaviours.” Children with lower language scores correlate with “fewer school readiness skills, poorer self-regulation, more problem behaviours and less close and more conflictual relationships with teachers.” The authors suggest that underlying language difficulties could also drive less positive relationships between students and teachers.

The authors note that a child’s attitude towards their teacher has a greater influence on teacher-student relationships than a child’s attitude towards school. Moreover, “the quality of classroom interactions, in particular emotional support, enhanced the development of close teacher-student relationships. A lack of positive emotional support contributed significantly to conflictual teacher-student relationships.”

The authors’ findings support those of Buyse et al. (2008)1 in identifying a link between child behavior issues and teacher-student conflict. The authors additionally note that “classroom climate is also linked with teacher-student relationship quality.” Of note, classes with high instructional support have more teacher-student conflict. The authors speculate that children who are at high risk are “likely to enter school with lower self-regulatory and language skills and may therefore be less able to respond to the greater intellectual and linguistic demand that is associated with higher levels of instructional support, leading to higher rates of teacher-student conflict.”

Schools and classrooms that have high emotional support have the following characteristics:

  • Little conflict between teachers and peers
  • No shouting/punitive management measures

In addition, teachers:

  • Are responsive to the emotional and learning needs of students
  • Are warm and calm
  • Smile and laugh
  • Provide effective individualised support
  • Soothe students as needed
  • Engage socially with genuine interest
  • Provide opportunities for independence and responsibility
  • Create learning activities that harness students’ interests
  • Provide choice

To support the development of self-regulation skills, teachers can provide opportunities “to engage in repeated practice of activities which develop the core components of self-regulation such as working memory, cognitive flexibility and problem-solving.”

To support the development of a child’s oral language, teachers can use a rich vocabulary in “elaborative social and instructional conversations.” This is supported by the modelling of “conceptually and intellectually rich instructional language,” where the teacher takes time to both pause and explain the vocabulary.

Summarized Article: Walker, S., & Graham, L. (2021). At-risk students and teacher-student relationships: student characteristics, attitudes to school and classroom climate. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 25(8), 896-913.

Summary by: Matt Barker—Matt loves how the MARIO Framework empowers learners to make meaningful choices to drive their personalized learning journeys.

Additional References:

1. Buyse, E., Verschueren, K., Doumen, S., Van Damme, J., & Maes, F. (2008). Classroom Problem Behavior and Teacher-Child Relationships in Kindergarten: The Moderating Role of Classroom Climate, Journal of School Psychology, 46 (4), 367–391. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2007.06.009.

Key Takeaway: For students with disabilities to be successful in inclusive classroom settings, teachers must implement evidence-based, high-leverage practices to help students meet the required social, emotional, and behavioural demands in the general education classroom. Social, emotional, and behavioural skills must be explicitly taught, just like academic skills, to create effective learning environments where all students can thrive both academically and socially. —Bernadette Gorczyca

In 2017, The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the Collaboration for Effective Educator, Development, Accountability and Reform Center (CEEDAR) at the University of Florida published a list of 22 evidence-based, high-leverage practices (HLPs) to help teachers reach and improve the outcomes for students with disabilities in the general education classroom.1

In their article, Mabel O. Rivera (University of North Carolina, Department of Educational Specialties) and Glennda K. McKeithan (University of Kansas, Special Education Department) focus on the practical application of four social/emotional/behavioural high-leverage practices (HLPs 7-10) identified by the CEC and CEEDAR that teachers can use to help students with special needs improve academic achievement and social skills. Research findings show that “the use of evidence-based practices can produce a moderate-strong effect on academics and behaviour.”2,3 To reach students with diverse needs in less restrictive environments, teachers must be prepared to teach “foundational skills in order [for students] to master content objectives and develop the social, emotional, behavioural skills needed to work collaboratively with others, problem solve, consider different perspectives, accept constructive feedback and appropriately resolve conflicts in school and in life.”4

HLP7: Establish a consistent, organised, and respectful learning environment Teachers can create effective, safe learning environments through direct instruction of culturally responsive rules, procedures, and expectations. When teaching and reviewing rules and procedures, teachers should explain why a rule is needed and provide examples and non-examples alongside what students can gain from learning the skills being taught.5 “Teachers can integrate instructional routines that reinforce active listening, cognitive engagement, working memory, self-advocacy and respectful interactions as they plan and deliver instruction across settings.”6,7

Examples of practical application of HLP7:

  • Explicitly teach organisational and time management skills.
  • Assign notebook buddies so students can share responsibilities and collaborate to improve note taking and organisation skills.
  • Employ non-confrontational methods when redirecting students.
  • Use intentionally assigned seats.

HLP8: Provide positive and constructive feedback to guide learning and behaviour “Consistent, ongoing assessment and evaluation of student needs linked with purposeful, ‘teacher talk’ during instruction is a key component of a quality learning experience which is directly linked to academic and social/behavioural success.”8,9 Feedback should be aimed to, “minimise embarrassment and maximise the potential.”

Examples of practical application of HLP8:

  • Feedback should be goal-oriented and allow students to recognise their strengths and reflect on their needs.
  • Explicitly teach students the difference between negative and constructive feedback and how to respond to critical feedback.
  • Celebrate students’ abilities.

HLP9: Teach social behaviour Social behaviour should be taught explicitly by teachers and students should be provided with opportunities to develop age-appropriate social and communication skills “to reinforce the awareness of the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of others.”10

Examples of practical application of HLP9:

  • Teacher talk/think-aloud.
  • Include direct instruction for interpersonal, communication and self-management skills, as well as culturally responsive classroom and school-wide behaviour expectations.
  • Model respectful relationships with your students and between students.
  • “Be aware of the ‘psychosocial aspect of adolescence’ as many students at this age are easily embarrassed and may lack academic and/or social confidence.”11

HLP10: Conduct functional behavioural assessments to develop individual student behaviour support plans When students with disabilities do not respond to typical instructional strategies, McLeskey et al. (2017)3 recommend conducting a Functional Behavioural Assessment (FBA) to develop a Behavior Support Plan (BSP). An FBA will provide a formal assessment of behavioural data for an IEP team to understand the reasoning behind an interfering student behaviour. A subsequent BSP will identify evidence-based practices to target the function of the behaviour. For this process to be successful, general and special educators must collaborate effectively to collect accurate data on the interfering behaviour, meaning that “documentation of what happens right before (antecedent), during (behaviour), and directly after the behaviour occurs (consequence) is essential.” Only then can the IEP team work together to create, “a hypothesis statement…to identify the function of the behaviour…”12 If the function is not accurate, then the BSP will not be effective.

Summarized Article: Rivera, M. O., & McKeithan, G. K. (2021). High-leverage social, emotional and behavioural practices for students with disabilities in inclusive settings. Educational Review, 73(4), 436-450.

Summary by: Bernadette Gorczyca—Bernadette loves the MARIO Framework because it centers student voice and choice, empowering students to take ownership over their personalized learning journey to become confident, self-directed learners.

Additional References:

1. Ball, D. L., & Forzani, F. M. (2011). Building a common core for learning to teach: And connecting professional learning to practice. American Educator, 35, 17.

2. Cheryan, S., Ziegler, S. A., Plaut, V. C., & Meltzoff, A. N. (2014). Designing classrooms to maximize student achievement. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1, 4–12.

3. McLeskey, J., Barringer, M.-D., Billingsley, B., Brownell, M., Jackson, D., Kennedy, M., . . . Ziegler, D. (2017, January). High-leverage practices in special education. Arlington, VA: Council for Exceptional Children & CEEDAR Center.

4. Bryant, D. P., Bryant, B. R., & Smith, D. D. (2019). Teaching students with special needs in inclusive classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

5. Suskie, L. (2018). Assessing student learning: A common sense guide. Indianapolis, IN: John Wiley & Sons.

6. Holzberg, D. G., Test, D. W., & Rusher, D. E. (2018). Self-advocacy instruction to teach high school seniors with mild disabilities to access accommodations in college. Remedial and Special Education, 40, 166–176.

7. Hueske, A. K., Endrikat, J., & Guenther, E. (2015). External environment, the innovating organization, and its individuals: A multilevel model for identifying innovation barriers accounting for social uncertainties. Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, 35, 45–70.

8. Andersson, C., & Palm, T. (2017). The impact of formative assessment on student achievement: A study of the effects of changes to classroom practice after a comprehensive professional development program. Learning and Instruction, 49, 92–102.

9. Riley, N., Riddell, S., Kidd, E., & Gavin, R. (2018). Feedback in a future-focused classroom. Literacy Learning: The Middle Years, 26, 31. ISSN: 1320-5692.

10. Johns, B. H., Crowley, E. P., & Guetzloe, E. (2017). The central role of teaching social skills. Focus on Exceptional Children, 37. doi:10.17161/fec.v37i8.6813.

11. Domitrovich, C. E., Durlak, J. A., Staley, K. C., & Weissberg, R. P. (2017). Social-emotional competence: An essential factor for promoting positive adjustment and reducing risk in school children. Child Development, 88, 408–416.

12. Sam, A., & Team, A. F. I. R. M. (2015). Functional behavior assessment. Chapel Hill, NC: National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder, FPG Child Development Center, University of North Carolina.

Key Takeaway: Across three studies, students’ belief in a growth mindset only predicted increased engagement in math learning for those students who also had sufficient metacognitive skills to monitor their own learning.  Thus, metacognitive skills, when paired with a growth mindset, provide complementary skill sets and may be particularly beneficial for students in low socioeconomic school settings. However, the impact of these interventions could vary depending on contextual factors, such as socioeconomic status and teacher-student relationships, and should be taken into consideration. —Kristin Simmers 

In their article, “More Than Growth Mindset: Individual and Interactive Links Among Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Adolescents’ Ability Mindsets, Metacognitive Skills, and Math Engagement,” Wang et. al (2021) (University of Pittsburgh) emphasize the following key ideas in relation to Self-Regulation: 

  • Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) shows motivation can help learners; however, metacognitive skills are likely needed for students to fully engage with learning and monitor their overall progress.
  • Recent research suggests the impact of growth mindset may be context specific. Students from low socio-economic status (SES) contexts are more likely to demonstrate fixed mindsets about academic ability and are more likely to benefit from developing growth mindsets. 
  • If students lack sufficient metacognitive skills, a growth mindset alone may not increase learner engagement. As Wang et. al states, “Metacognitive skills may be necessary for students to realize their growth mindset.”
  • Positive teacher-student relationships are likely a significant factor in supporting the development of metacognitive skills and a growth mindset, as well as promoting academic engagement. 
  • Teachers should create environments that support metacognition and growth mindset within their specific contexts. 

Self-Regulated Learning (SRL)

To help further understand the lens of SRL in the context of metacognition and growth mindset, Zimmerman and Moylan’s (2009)1 SRL model proposes three phases of the learning process: forethought (before learning), performance (during learning), and reflection (after learning). In this model, metacognition is present in each stage, and it is plausible that students who are metacognitively able to monitor their learning process may also be more motivated to persevere and demonstrate a growth mindset. Conversely, if a student does not have sufficient metacognitive skills, simply believing in a growth mindset may not significantly improve student learning engagement. 

Math Metacognitive Skills & Growth Mindset

Flavell (1987)2 defines metacognition as the awareness and regulation of one’s thoughts, and Zimmerman & Moylan (2009)1 identify planning, monitoring and evaluating as three skills generally involved in metacognitive regulation. Meanwhile, Dweck (2000)3 defines growth mindset as a belief that intelligence is malleable, rather than fixed. Thus, the study shared in the article suggests that motivation may be beneficial to students, but metacognitive skills are also likely needed in order for students to optimally engage with math learning.4

Ultimately, academically vulnerable students may particularly benefit from metacognition & mindset interventions.4,5 

Summarized Article

Wang, M. T., Zepeda, C. D., Qin, X., Del Toro, J., & Binning, K. R. (2021). More Than Growth Mindset: Individual and Interactive Links Among Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Adolescents’ Ability Mindsets, Metacognitive Skills, and Math Engagement. Child Development. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13560

Summary By: Kristin Simmers—Kristin supports the MARIO Framework’s efforts to connect teachers and researchers to improve student learning.

Additional References:

  1. Zimmerman, B. J., & Moylan, A. R. (2009). Self-regulation: Where metacognition and motivation intersect. In D. J. Hacker, J. Dunlosky, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.), Handbook of metacognition in education (pp. 299–316). New York, NY: Routledge. 
  2. Flavell, J. H. (1987). Speculation about the nature and development of metacognition. En F. Weinert y R. Kluwe (Eds.), Metacognition, motivation, and understanding (pp. 21-29).
  3. Dweck, C. S. (2000). Self-theories: Their role in motivation, personality, and development. East Sussex, UK: Psychology Press.
  4. Rosenzweig, E. Q., & Wigfield, A. (2016). STEM motiva- tion interventions for adolescents: A promising start, but further to go. Educational Psychologist, 51, 146–163. https://doi.org/10.1080/00461520.2016.1154792 
  5. Schneider, W., & Artelt, C. (2010). Metacognition and mathematics education. ZDM-International Journal on Mathematics Education, 42 (2), 149–161.

Key Takeaway: Teacher language within general and special education classrooms differs for students with autism, resulting in potentially negative impacts. Numerous studies have shown that open-ended questioning and language-rich environments are linked to positive academic achievement and communication development, especially for students with disabilities like autism who may struggle in these areas. —Amanda Jenkins

By analyzing six types of teacher language (open-ended questions, language models, close-ended questions, directives, indirect requests, and fill-ins), Sparapani et al. (2021) found that teachers generally use more directives and close-ended questions when interacting with students with autism, “potentially limiting their opportunities to engage in rich exchanges that support learning and development.”  

The study looked at teacher language in kindergarten to 2nd grade general and special education classrooms and found that while special education classrooms had more language usage overall, both settings had language that consisted primarily of close-ended questions and directives (69% in special education classes, 60% in general education). Open-ended questions were rarely asked in either setting to students with or without autism. Numerous studies and research have shown open-ended questioning fosters active engagement, improves communication skills, decreases problem behaviors, and increases academic growth. 

As Sparapani et al. state, “These data might suggest a need for teachers to include scaffolds, modifications, materials, and/or other adaptations into classroom activities rather than rely on oral language, such as the use of directives and/or close-ended questions, for students with limited language and lower cognitive skills.” More research and development needs to be done to provide teachers with an understanding of the impact their language and questioning practices have on their students.

The authors also indicated that teacher language is related to the individual student’s symptom severity, vocabulary skills, and cognitive ability. The study used multiple standardized tests to determine base-line levels of functioning and skills of the individual participants. Then the researchers focused on the individual student experiences in general and special education settings through the use of video observations and analysis. In both settings, students exhibiting more severe autism symptoms were addressed with mostly directives and significantly less open-ended questions. Special education teachers were more likely to address individual students and general education teachers addressed students in groups more often. As Sparapani et al. state in the findings, “the language environment within special education classrooms may not adequately prepare students for the linguistic and social pragmatic directives within general education classrooms . . . [and] may create an instructional barrier for learners with autism who transition between settings.”  

As special education policy focuses on creating a least restrictive environment and as inclusion/collaborative classroom models increasingly become the norm, students with autism are spending more of their academic time in the general education setting.  This study highlights that it is the teachers and paraprofessionals responsibility to monitor the language used in their teaching practices and to ensure a language-rich classroom experience. Best practices, such as using open-ended questioning and language models, give all students the opportunity to develop academic and communication skills vital to success.

Summarized Article:

Sparapani, N., Reinhardt, V. P., Hooker, J. L., Morgan, L., Schatschneider, C., & Wetherby, A. M. (2021). Evaluating Teacher Language Within General and Special Education Classrooms Serving Elementary Students with Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Published. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-021-05115-4

Summary by: Amanda Jenkins—Amanda strives to help students effectively communicate their strengths, weaknesses, and goals, and believes the MARIO Framework provides the structure and foundational skills for students to take ownership of their learning, inside and outside of school.

Key Takeaway: In the past two years, education all over the world has been forced to adapt and embrace online learning. Students and teachers alike had to become more proficient in using technology—some navigating with ease, and others finding it more challenging. However, just as educator presence and student self-efficacy is important and impactful in the classroom, these two factors are also crucial to successful online learning. —Nika Espinosa

Lim et al.’s (2021) study, “Making online learning more satisfying: The effects of online-learning self-efficacy, social presence, and content structure” is the first to consider how social presence may matter more when learners have lower online learning self-efficacy and, separately, when the content is less structured. Here, the authors analysed readily available research on topics such as online learning, learning satisfaction, social presence, and online learning efficacy to help guide their hypotheses and research questions. 

This study was conducted with university students in Singapore. In order to establish variables, the researchers focused on a single discipline, manipulated instructor presence through the use of vocal tone, and utilized the life events of a historical figure, which provided the authors with both structured and unstructured content. The authors also used four different videos that included one of the following factors: 

  • high instructor presence and structured content
  • low instructor presence and structured content
  • high instructor presence and unstructured content
  • low instructor presence and unstructured content 

The authors measured variables using 7-point scales, adapted to fit the context. The different hypotheses and research question studied are listed below:

  • Hypothesis 1 (H1): Online learning satisfaction is higher when instructor presence is high versus low.
    • The results show that there is a positive correlation between high instructor presence and online learning satisfaction, which is consistent with studies already published. It is clear that the students appreciated social presence during the lesson, especially when the lessons are unstructured. Lim et. al quotes Rosenthal and Walker (2020).1 and Wilson et.al (2018),2 “Instructor presence does not necessarily lead to more learning, but students have greater preference and liking of online formats with higher levels of instructor presence and find it easier to pay attention to those formats.”
  • Hypothesis 2 (H2): Online learning self-efficacy is positively associated with online learning satisfaction.
    • The authors also found that students with high online self-efficacy were observed to have more learning satisfaction. The consideration to develop online learning efficacy in students also aligns with the findings of Artino (2008),3 Lim (2001),4 and Womble (2007).5 
  • Hypothesis 3 (H3): The effect of instructor social presence on learning satisfaction is more positive for students with lower online learning self-efficacy.
    • The third hypothesis, however, did not prove to be statistically significant. Again, this connects to considerations for developing online learning self-efficacy in students in order to increase learning satisfaction. 
  • Hypothesis 4 (H4): The relationship between instructor presence and learning satisfaction is more positive for unstructured content than for structured content.
    • “The pedagogical takeaway here is that, even with highly structured content, instructor presence can enhance the learning experience, but it has more benefit for less structured content.” 
  • Research Question 1: Does learning satisfaction differ between unstructured and structured content?
    • The researchers found that there was no difference in learning satisfaction between the differences in content, and this could be attributed to different learning styles and preferences of students.

In conclusion, the findings suggest that we need to develop learner online self-efficacy and enhance instructor presence during online learning in order to develop self-directed learners that will benefit greatly from virtual lessons. Just as we develop our students’ self-efficacy and acknowledge the importance of our social presence during face-to-face learning, as the world continues to shift and technology becomes more prominent, we need to consider further enhancing our pedagogical practices for online learning.

Summarized Article:

Lim, J. R. N., Rosenthal, S., Sim, Y. J. M., Lim, Z.-Y., & Oh, K. R. (2021). Making online learning more satisfying: The effects of online-learning self-efficacy, social presence, and content structure. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/1475939x.2021.1934102

Summary by: Nika Espinosa – Nika believes that personalized learning is at the heart of special education and strives to collaborate with educators in providing a holistic, personalized approach to supporting all learners through the MARIO Framework.

Research author Sonny Rosenthal, Ph.D., was involved in the final version of this summary.

Additional References:

  1. Rosenthal, S., & Walker, Z. (2020). Experiencing live composite video lectures: Comparisons with traditional lectures and common video lecture methods. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 14(1), A08. https:// doi.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2020.140108
  2. Wilson, K. E., Martinez, M., Mills, C., D’Mello, S., Smilek, D., & Risko, E. F. (2018). Instructor presence effect: Liking does not always lead to learning. Computers & Education, 122, 205–220. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2018.03.011
  3. Artino, A. R. (2008). Motivational beliefs and perceptions of instructional quality: Predicting satisfaction with online training. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 24(3), 260–270. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2729.2007.00258.x
  4. Lim, C. K. (2001). Computer self-efficacy, academic self-concept, and other predictors of satisfaction and future participation of adult distance learners. American Journal of Distance Education, 15(2), 41–51. https://doi.org/10.1080/08923640109527083
  5. Womble, J. C. (2007). E-learning: The relationship among learner satisfaction, self-efficacy, and usefulness. Alliant International University. https://www.learntechlib.org/p/119496

Key Takeaway: Providing teachers with instructional strategies, coaching, and feedback to effectively manage student behavior will benefit teachers and students alike. Employing effective classroom management techniques can pave the way for positive teacher-student relationships and create a safe space for students to learn, improve behavior, and increase academic achievement. School leaders should look for opportunities to offer authentic, long-term, multicomponent professional development for classroom management practices, such as through peer coaching. —Bernadette Gorczyca

In the educational research article, “Professional development for classroom management: a review of the literature,” Wilkinson et al. (Department of Educational Psychology, University of Connecticut) present a review of empirical literature examining 74 professional development (PD) in-service studies on classroom management in the United States from 1984-2018. 

Wilkinson et al. (2021) set the stage for their review by first establishing research-based best practices for teacher professional development. As part of the review, the authors cite additional research that suggests, “PD opportunities should be job-embedded, occur long-term with ongoing supports (e.g., demonstrations, observations, feedback, reflection), focus on content, align with other school initiatives, provide opportunities for active learning, encourage collaboration among teachers, and include coaching.”1, 2, 3 

The article then establishes the importance of this review by drawing a link between classroom management practices and student achievement, finding that, “The ability of teachers to organize classrooms and manage student behaviour is critical to achieving positive educational outcomes for students.”4,5,6 

Unfortunately, there is a lack of classroom management pre-service training and training for teachers active in the field, especially for special educators and secondary teachers. Moreover, the training that is offered is often generic and short-term, leading to little development in skills and application.

Major takeaways from the article:

  • “A clear gap exists between what research shows regarding effective delivery of PD and what teachers in schools experience. Although generic, one-time PD aligns with practical logistics (e.g., time, expense, scheduling convenience), it is important to consider PD outcomes in the context of basic learning theory.”
  • Instead, school leaders should offer “multicomponent PD for classroom management as the most effective approach. Across all studies that demonstrated desired results, the most frequently identified components of effective PD were didactic training, coaching, and performance feedback.” When persistent challenges continue after attending PD training, schools can organize internal, ongoing additional supports such as one-to-one coaching and/or performance feedback for individual teachers. 
  • Moreover, classroom management training should “[make] appropriate adaptations and considerations for the cultural and contextual characteristics of teachers, school settings, student needs, and community values.”
  • Future research should include:
    • an analysis of classroom management strategies and an examination of PD components and the effect on teacher/student behavior in order to develop innovative, effective PD practices; 
    • studies dedicated to secondary teachers as well as K-12 elective and special education teachers.

Summarized Article:

Wilkinson, S., Freeman, J., Simonsen, B., Sears, S., Byun, S. G., Xu, X., & Luh, H.-J. (2021). Professional development for classroom management: a review of the literature. Educational Research and Evaluation, 1–31. https://doi.org/10.1080/13803611.2021.1934034 

Summary by: Bernadette Gorczyca – Bernadette loves the MARIO Framework because it centers student voice and choice, empowering students to take ownership over their personalized learning journey to become confident, self-directed learners

Additional References:

  1. Darling-Hammond, L., Hyler, M. E., & Gardner, M. (2017). Effective teacher professional development. Learning Policy Institute. https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/sites/default/files/product-files/Effective_Teacher_Professional_Development_REPORT.pdf
  2. State, T. M., Simonsen, B., Hirn, R. G., & Wills, H. (2019). Bridging the research-to-practice gap through effective professional development for teachers working with students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Behavioral Disorders, 44(2), 107–116. https://doi.org/10.1177/0198742918816447
  3. Yoon, K. S., Duncan, T., Lee, S. W.-Y., Scarloss, B., & Shapley, K. L. (2007). Reviewing the evidence on how teacher professional development affects student achievement (Issues & Answers Report, REL 2007–No. 033). U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest. https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs/regions/southwest/pdf/rel_2007033_sum.pdf
  4. Korpershoek, H., Harms, T., de Boer, H., van Kuijk, M., & Doolaard, S. (2016). A meta-analysis of the effects of classroom management strategies and classroom management programs on students’ academic, behavioral, emotional and motivational outcomes. Review of Educational Research, 86(3), 643–680. https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654315626799
  5. Oliver, R. M., & Reschly, D. J. (2007). Effective classroom management: Teacher preparation and professional development. National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED543769.pdf
  6. Stronge, J. H., Ward, T. J., & Grant, L. W. (2011). What makes good teachers good? A cross-case analysis of the connection between teacher effectiveness and student achievement. Journal of Teacher Education, 62(4), 339–355. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487111404241

Key Takeaway: The implication of this review is that a lack of preparation prior to supporting students with disabilities in PE class, particularly those with visual impairments, can lead to indirect and direct bullying of the students by teachers, paraeducators, and peers. As special educators, we must include PE teachers and paraeducators in IEP meetings and ensure they feel prepared to modify and adapt their program for learners with disabilities. —Erin Madonna

Lindsay Ball and colleagues completed a systematic review of the literature around bullying of students with visual impairments in the Physical Education (PE) setting. The purpose of their review was to describe the current experiences of youth with visual impairments in order to develop avenues for future research around issues of bullying in physical education classes. 

For the study, 114 participants reported on their experiences in PE with a broad age range represented due to the retrospective nature of some of the included studies. Ball et al. (2021) oriented their work with the definition of bullying posed by Chester et al. (2015)1 and Stough et al. (2016);2 Bullying is “the intentional behavior to physically or emotionally harm another, which occurs through an imbalance of power.” Exclusion of youth with visual impairment, when done with intention, was considered bullying in the context of this review. The team focused their review around three questions:

  • “What types of bullying are youth with visual impairments experiencing during PE?”
  • “When/how does the bullying take place and by whom?”
  • “What are the outcomes of the bullying?”

Overwhelmingly, this review makes clear just how common bullying of youth with visual impairments is in the PE setting. As they describe the frequency found within the studies they reviewed, Ball et al. (2021) point to the findings of Bear et al. (2015)3 reporting that young people with visual impairments are likely to be bullied twice as frequently as peers without disabilities. Social-relational bullying was by far the most common form found in the reviewed studies, with 86% of studies reporting exclusion, marginalization, isolation, and other forms of discrimination present in PE experiences. Dishearteningly, 93% of studies indicated that the bullying occurred during PE class time with 93% of studies showing peer-to-peer bullying and 50% of studies revealing the bullying was perpetrated by the educators themselves.

While the rate of bullying may appear shockingly high, it is upon review of Ball et al.’s (2021) data where we begin to understand the systematic structures which have allowed for this bullying to persist. “PE teachers are often ill prepared to teach children with visual impairments due to a lack of adequate preparation. This lack of knowledge leads to unnecessary exclusion, both intentional and unintentional, of students with visual impairments from participation during PE.” 

Underprepared educators are unable to create an environment where students with visual impairments are empowered and included. As Ball et al. (2021) point out “efforts made by teachers to promote a climate that is autonomy-supportive are the foundation of positive perceptions of inclusion, according to the perspectives of children with disabilities.”

They even go further to share Jimenez-Barbero et al.’s (2020) recommendation that, “when Universal Design for Learning is utilized in PE, all students with or without disabilities benefited from it. Physical educators can create a climate of acceptance and empathy that fosters participation by all students which may lead to increased self-esteem and decreased bullying of students.”

When considering the outcomes of the bullying experienced, Ball et al. (2021) describe how negative feelings towards physical education can persist through adulthood, often manifesting in the form of avoidance of physical activities. This impact has long-reaching implications for the health and well-being of those with visual impairments. Allowing youth with visual impairments to participate fully in physical education classes, rather than restricting their participation because of a fear of risk, perception of weakness, or other limits has the potential to positively impact their self-esteem. “Autonomy, competence, and dignity of risk are all critical components of an individual’s self-determination, which has a large influence on an individual’s motivation to participate in physical activity.”

Ball et al. (2021) also touch upon the question of self-advocacy as a possible counter-action to bullying. In the majority (86%) of participant responses, no resolution to the bullying occured. There was evidence that when the student with visual impairments ceased to be perceived as an “easy target,” the bullying also ceased. If students with visual impairments are supported in harnessing the power of their own voice, we provide alternate paths to confronting bullying and changing the paradigm that has allowed bullying to persist in PE classes.

It is important to note that this review was limited in part by the fact that not much was known about the participant’s backgrounds or the training of the PE teachers and paraeducators involved. The retrospective nature of some of the included studies may also have resulted in details being forgotten or reported PE practices being inconsistent with current practices.

Summarized Article:

Ball, L., Lieberman, L., Haibach-Beach, P., Perreault, M., & Tirone, K. (2021). Bullying in physical education of children and youth with visual impairments: A systematic review. British Journal of Visual Impairment, 02646196211009927.

Summary by: Erin Madonna — Erin philosophically aligns with the MARIO Framework’s deeply rooted belief that all learners are capable, and she firmly believes in MARIO’s commitment to the use of evidence-based practices drawn from the field of multidisciplinary research.

Research author Lauren J. Lieberman, Ph.D., was involved in the final version of this summary.

Additional References:

  1. Chester, K. L., Callaghan, M., Cosma, A., Donnelly, P., Craig, W., Walsh, S., & Molcho, M. (2015). Cross-national time trends in bullying victimization in 33 countries among children aged 11, 13, and 15 from 2002 to 2010. The European Journal of Public Health, 25(Suppl. 2), 61–64. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckv029
  2. Stough, C. O., Merianos, A., Nabors, L., & Peugh, J. (2016). Prevalence and predictors of bullying behavior among overweight and obese youth in a nationally representative sample. Childhood Obesity, 12(4), 263–271. https://doi.org/10.1089/chi.2015.0172
  3. Bear, G. G., Mantz, L. S., Glutting, J. J., Yang, C., & Boyer, D. E. (2015). Differences in bullying victimization between students with and without disabilities. School Psychology Review, 44(1), 98–116. https://doi.org/10.17105/SPR44-1.98-116