A guide to classroom management: a scientific look at education (Latham, 1997)

A few small changes have been made to help with its clarity


Within this series of blogs I will address a revolutionary paper in classroom management written by Latham (1997). The blogs will focus on whether his ideas on implementing behavioral psychology principles within education, are still as appropriate to teacher training programmes today as they were in 1997. It will also consider if such ideas are being currently taught to new teachers or whether aspects/all of his ideas have stagnated into obscurity and are being generally ignored by educators.

The motivation behind Latham’s (1997) Eight Skills was his yearning to create a concise guide for teachers on classroom and behavioral management. In his research, he compared how different professionals (engineers, physicians, lawyers and teachers) dealt with finding solutions to specific problems within their respective fields. He noted, as seen in Figure 1, that ‘Other Professions’ used guiding core principles from which they generated their solutions, whereas within teacher training programmes teachers…

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Psychological definitions and theories behind the principles of behavioural managment

Within this blog I will address some of the psychological definitions and theories, which forms the background of my Latham (1997) blogs.

Incorrect behaviour

An incorrect behaviour is any behaviour, which does not follow the behavioural norms set within a teacher’s own classroom. For a behaviour to be incorrect, the correct and incorrect behaviour has to be defined by the teacher (Mather & Goldstein, 2001). Behavioural norms should not be confused with the behaviours, which a teacher deems as the norms of the perfect ordinary classroom (Bicchieri, 2010). Teachers have to set the behavioural norms within their own classroom (Latham, 1997). For example, if a student has spoken out of turn when answering the question and the teacher has not stated this should not be done; this is not the incorrect response within this teacher’s classroom. If the teacher has not stated this is an incorrect behaviour, the student won’t understand this is an incorrect response in the teacher’s eyes. Rule of thumb never assume in teaching!

The ABC of Classroom management.

All actions can be broken up into three parts (Skinner, 1953): Antecedents, Behaviours and Consequence. Antecedents are an “event or activity that immediately precedes a problem behaviour”, behaviours are the “observed behaviour” and consequences are “the event that immediately follows a response” (Freeman, n.d.).

Latham’s (1997) classroom management was trying to explain how to reduce the incorrect behaviour and increase the correct behaviour. To do this, teachers can deal with:

  • Antecedents by;
    • Decreasing the likelihood of antecedents which cause the incorrect behaviour
    • Increasing the likelihood of antecedents, which causes the correct behaviour.
  • Consequences by;
    • Reinforcing the correct behaviour
    • Punishing the incorrect consequence causing a decrease in the likelihood that the incorrect behaviour will occur again.

Punishment and Reinforcement.

According to behavioural psychologists, punishment “refer(s) to any change that occurs after a behaviour that reduces the likelihood that that behaviour will reoccur” (Cherry, N.A.). There are two types of punishment:

  • Positive
    • Adding a stimulus to remove/reduce the behaviour

E.g. Verbal reprimand

  • Negative
    • Removing a stimulus to reduce the behaviour

E.g. taking away a child’s toy.

The alternative to behavioural modification, according to operant conditioning, is reinforcement (Gordon, 2000). Reinforcement is “anything that increases the likelihood that a behaviour will occur” (Cherry, N.A.). There are two types of reinforcement:

  • Positive
    • Adding a stimulus to increase a desired behaviour

E.g. giving chocolate for good behaviour

  • Negative
    • Removing a stimulus to remove the increase the behaviour

E.g. screaming to get annoying students away from another student

Two areas, which confuse most people when dealing with the operant conditioning, is the difference between the terminology in their behavioural context and common context.

  • Positive does not mean “a desirable or constructive quality or attribute” (Oxford English Dictionary 3rd edition, 2010), in behavioural psychology it means that the behavioural will increase due to the adding a stimulus as a consequence to a behaviour.

Punishment doesn’t always refer to dealing with an incorrect behaviour; “infliction or imposition of a penalty as retribution for an offence” (Oxford English Dictionary 3rd edition, 2010). An example to explain this is; if a teacher reprimands a student for a bad behaviour, this might not be a punishment; if the antecedent for the bad behaviour is the student wanting attention. A teacher who gives the student attention will, most likely, increasing the likelihood of the behaviour happening again; thus by giving (adding) attention to the student, by “punishing them”, the teacher is reinforcing the behaviour rather than punishing it (Sweetland, n.d.).

Classroom Friendly Behavioural Logs

The easiest way to observe and manage behaviour is recording students ABC’s in a behavioural management logbook (Freeman, n.d.). These logbooks have been very popular in other areas of behavioural management (Klintwall & Eikeseth, 2014). They have often not been introduced into mainstream classrooms due to the number of students and the difficulty observing all their behaviours; which is understandable. However, if teachers follow Latham’s (1997) idea that 98% of behaviour should be ignored, if it isn’t affecting the validity of the classroom (Latham, 1992). This makes behavavioural management logs much more feasible to use in ordinary classrooms. Teachers can break down these logs into 7 parts. Here is an example of one I use.

First Column: Name, Time and Date

  • Make a note of the incorrect behaviour’s
    • Name
    • Time
      • Teachers should have a watch to record the time
    • Date

Second Column: Behaviour

  • Write down what the exact behaviour was and how many times this behaviour occurred

Third and Fourth Column: Behaviour Duration and Magnitude

  • Record the intensity of the behaviour and how long the behaviour occurred for.
    • Doing this allows the teacher to see progression, as well as observe if certain antecedents make the behaviour worse than others.
  • For magnitude I have created a scale where 1 to 5.
Level Descriptor
1 disruptive behaviour
2 zonal disruptive behaviour
3 complete disruptive behaviour
4 potential dangerous behaviour
5 dangerous behaviour
  • E.g.
    • 1 – student talks to a friend, but loud enough so peers hear.
      • The key is peers hear, as if he is not disturbing any other students besides him and himself, this behaviour needs to be ignored, while the students who are being quiet and doing their work need to be reinforced.
    • 2 – a student starts a conversation in one part of the classroom, so student learning was disrupted
    • 3 – a student starts shouting and drawing attention to himself, thus disrupting the wholes class’ learning.
    • 4 – a student starts manically running around the classroom
      • This is disrupting the learning in the classroom, as well as the student has the potential of hurting themselves
    • 5 – a student starts picking up chairs and throwing them at their fellows.
      • With any behaviour the teacher rates 5 on the scale, it is imperative the teachers/ councillor immediately workout what behaviours need to be reinforced or which antecedents need to be removed/ added to reduce the likelihood of this behaviour reoccurring. The student’s learning and the safety the staff or students are being negatively effected.
  • I couldn’t find any literature on any scales, which had a similar premise so sadly, I couldn’t back this up with hard science.

Fifth Column: Antecedents

  • Write down the antecedents
    • These can often be hard to observe, especially when teachers are actively teaching the class.
    • If a student is a repeat offender be aware of this and observe them more closely.
      • However, make sure not to appear to be singling the student out.

Sixth Column: Consequences

  • Teachers need to understand the antecedents first, which cause the incorrect behaviour.
  • Once the antecedents have been identified, the teacher must write down what strategy (using Latham’s (1997) principles) can decrease the incorrect behaviour and increase the correct behaviour.

Seventh Column: Effectiveness

  • Check if there is a reduction in the incorrect behaviour
  • Write down what has worked or failed to reduce incorrect behaviour

An example of a behaviour log I have used:

Teachers writing behaviour logs can be used as a antecedent for improved behaviour. If the student, who is committing the incorrect behaviour, sees the teacher writing in the log; they may modify their behaviour to avoid having it documented that they are committing the wrong behaviour.

This blog had two main purposes; the first was to help explain some of the terminology, which I will use in my future blogs and secondly it shows the behavioural principles, which Latham (1997) used to create his Eight Skills, which were based on hard science.


Bicchieri, C. (2010). Norms, preferences, and conditional behavior. politics, philosophy & economics9 (3), 297-313.

Cherry, K. (n.d.). What Is Punishment? Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/operantconditioning/f/punishment.htm

Freeman, R. (n.d.). Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence (ABC) Chart. In University of Kansas. Retrieved from http://www.specialconnections.ku.edu/?q=behavior_plans/functional_behavior_assessment/teacher_tools/antecedent_behavior_consequence_chart

Gordon, W. (2000). Behaviour modification. Regional Training Seminar on Guidance and Counselling. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/education/mebam/module_4.pdf

Klintwall, L., & Eikeseth, S. (2014). Early and Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) in autism. In Comprehensive Guide to Autism (pp. 117-137). Springer New York.

Latham, G. (1992). Interacting with at-risk children: The positive position. Principal, 72 (1), 26-30.

Latham, G. (1997) Behind the Schoolhouse Door: Eight skills every teacher should have. Logan, Utah: Mountain Plain Regional Resource Center, Utah State University.

Mather, N., & Goldstein, S. (2001). Learning Disabilities and Challenging Behaviors: A Guide to Intervention and Classroom Management. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. pp. 96-117. Retrieved from http://www.ldonline.org/article/6030

P. (2010). In A. Stevenson (Ed.), Oxford Engish Dictionary.Oxford Dictionary of English(3rd, p. 1386). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

P. (2010). In A. Stevenson (Ed.), Oxford Engish Dictionary.Oxford Dictionary of English(3rd, p. 1440). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Skinner BF. (1953). Science and Human Behavior. Free Press: New York.

Sweetland, R. (n.d.). Reinforcement and Punishment. In Homeofbob. Retrieved from http://www.homeofbob.com/cman/intrvntns/beehav/renfrcmnt.html


A guide to classroom management: a scientific look at education (Latham, 1997)

Within this series of blogs I will address a revolutionary paper in classroom management written by Latham (1997). The blogs will focus on whether his ideas on implementing behavioral psychology principles within education, are still as appropriate to teacher training programmes today as they were in 1997. It will also consider if such ideas are being currently taught to new teachers or whether aspects/all of his ideas have stagnated into obscurity and are being generally ignored by educators.

The motivation behind Latham’s (1997) Eight Skills was his yearning to create a concise guide for teachers on classroom and behavioral management. In his research, he compared how different professionals (engineers, physicians, lawyers and teachers) dealt with finding solutions to specific problems within their respective fields. He noted, as seen in Figure 1, that ‘Other Professions’ used guiding core principles from which they generated their solutions, whereas within teacher training programmes teachers were not given a robust skill set to deal with various classroom and behavioural management problems.

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 22.57.29Figure 1. (Latham, 1997)

Latham’s Skill 8 “The ability to manage behaviour ‘scientifically’ ” specifically calls for the need to manage behaviour “scientifically”. In order to make education more scientifically based he created a set of basic behavioural paradigms within education. Basic paradigms are needed for any subject, including education, to start to be treated scientifically (Kuhn, 1962). Latham’s (1997) initial paradimn is that behaviours within the classroom are modfiable. There is continous support for the concept of modifiable behaviour; Kelderman (2014) stated “all behaviour is modifiable unless there is neurolgoical defects”. To modify these behaviours Latham (1997) created a robust arsenal of behavioural management skills to deal with unwanted behaviours. These eight basic skills are shown below:

  1. The ability to teach expectations
  2. The ability to get and keep students on task
  3. The ability to maintain high rates of positive teaching to pupil interactions
  4. The ability to respond non-coercively to inappropriate behaviour that is consequential
  5. The ability to maintain a high rate of risk-free student response opportunities
  6. The ability to serve problem behaviour students in the primary learning environment (i.e. the classroom)
  7. The ability to avoid being trapped
  8. The ability to manage behaviour “scientifically”

Seventeen years after Latham’s paper, I wanted to observe if Latham’s ideas have been adhered to. I therefore reviewed the “PGCE Survival Guide” (Handley, 2010). Its thoughts on behavioural management were as follows, “You can (and should) read about as many different behaviour management techniques, but the real learning will come kinesthetically, through practice.” Such an approach is exactly what Latham warns about when he states that behavioural management shouldn’t be taught through experience, or indirect reading around teaching. He states, instead, behavioural managment should be taught as explicitly as any other aspect of teaching. To support this premise an OFSTED report (Ofsted, 2014) observed the following statistic, when asked if they had be trained to deal with behaviour: “Of the 418 teachers who responded, nearly a third of secondary teachers and a fifth of primary teachers who had experienced such training said it was not very useful … A third of the teachers surveyed said they had been given no training or professional development on dealing with behaviour.”

A current teacher (Didau, 2013), blogged about his first teaching experience: “my Post-graduate Certificate in Education… I felt hopelessly unprepared for my first teaching practice, but then I expect that’s true of most or many, but despite lots of classroom experience… my behaviour management was woeful and my ability to cope with the stresses and strains of the NQT year left me a shambling and ragged mess.” These two pieces of evidence support the view, some teacher training programmes in the UK do not include such elements or are not teaching key elements of behavioural management. These elements are essential for teaching, because they prepare teachers to meet the range of behavioural challenges that are sure to be encountered within the classroom environment.

Although this argument is very UK focused, research by Hayden, Thompson and Levy (2007) states that “There is no indication that the situation [in the US] differs …[to] other countries … as Australia, Germany and the Netherlands revealed very few courses explicitly referring to discipline… professional standards for teachers in the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada (Ontario) and the Netherlands include little about classroom management skills”.

To reverse this current problem within educational training, there appears to be some government/university agendas within the UK, which are trying to amend this problem, as shown in a paper produced by the (National College for Teaching, & Department for Education, 2012), which stated, “Trainees should know about scientific research and developments, and how these can be applied to understanding, managing and changing children’s behaviour.” This is a very positive initiative working towards what Latham (1997) suggested and I feel, if it is adopted, it will lead to a better level of understanding of behavioural management within the UK. Therefore Latham’s (1997) suggestion of the need for including a basic understanding of behavioural management across all teacher training programmes, and understanding the importance behavioural managements within teaching are as invaluable today as they were when Latham developed the Eight Skills in 1997.

Latham (1997) wanted to create a basic standard of education so that new and inexperienced teachers could deal with behavioural problems scientifically (Latham’s Skill 8 “The ability to manage behaviour ‘scientifically’ ”). Below are six reasons why I feel teaching behavioral management scientifically is useful for teachers:

  1. It allows new teachers to have a basic understanding of classroom management; so they go into each new class better prepared.
  2. It results in a decrease in poor practice amongst new teachers. According to Allen (2010) malpractice is often caused by new teachers trying to find a solution to a problem within the initial classes, as they do not have a set of specific rules/guidelines to follow. Their often well- meaning/innovative solutions are often not always the best solution to the problem.
  3. Giving a scientific knowledge basis to teaching practice allows for teachers to become wiser faster. In a previous blog I observed the progression of learning (psuf10, 2014). According to Wheeler (2013) you need a sufficient knowledge base before becoming appropriately wise and creative in a given area.
  4. If new teachers are able to control their classes more effectively at an earlier point of their teaching career, educational standards should increase.
  5. By having an appropriate ‘tool kit’, new teachers will feel more empowered in how to deal with students within a classroom environment; morale will improve as attrition will decrease.
  6. It allows educational research to progress faster. Creating proper paradigms within behavioural education allows for these paradigms to be disputed which leads to progression of any scientific field (Kuhn, 1962).

An example of how to treat behaviour scientifically is the best way to explain the brilliance behind Latham’s ideals as seen below.

For example, if a student has not handed in homework.

First Step – Set Expectations:

State what your expectations are about homework (Latham’s Skill 1 “The ability to teach expectations”). These should include:

  • When during the class it should be handed in.
  • What happens if you haven’t done the homework, but do have a valid excuse.
  • Clear and concise consequences should be set, which will occur if a student doesn’t hand in a homework assignment.

As a consequence of the above the student understands the expectations behind the homework set. This means they should understand what the incorrect behaviour is, and what the consequences of committing an incorrect behaviour are.

Secondly Step – Homework is not handed in, but a valid excuse is given:

Ask the student why the homework assignment was not handed in.

  • If a student had a valid excuse and you do not ask, the student may perceive you as cruel which can affect the coercive environment of the classroom (Latham’s Skill 3 “The ability to maintain high rates of positive teaching to pupil interactions”).
  • Asking why the assignment was not handed in shows “care”, which is part of MUSIC model that is a curial part of education (this will be mentioned in a later blog) as well, it presents a positive learning environment (Latham’s Skill 3 “The ability to maintain high rates of positive teaching to pupil interactions”) because it shows the students you are reasonable.
  • The difficulty comes when students are breaking expectations with a valid excuse e.g. they did not come in before the class to tell the teacher that the homework assignment was not completed due to for example, another more pressing school/family commitment. The expectations about homework should always be followed through and a teacher must avoid compromising their expectations (Latham’s Skill 1 “The ability to teach expectations”). Compromising can lead to more students not doing their homework, however, as mentioned earlier student may become resentful if you never can compromise. This is something you have to judge depending on the situation.

Third Step – Homework is not handed and no valid excuse is given:

  • Commend the student for the previous times they have handed in their homework, this positively reinforces the correct behaviour; which maintains a positive teacher to pupil interaction (Latham’s Skill 3 “The ability to maintain high rates of positive teaching to pupil interactions”).
  • When punishing the student, the punishment should be negative. A negative punishment is the removal of stimulus e.g. detention is the removal of their free time. It should never be a positive punishment e.g. a verbal or physical A positive punishment is when you add a stimulus to reduce the behavior. In this context positive does not mean “a desirable or constructive quality or attribute” (Oxford English Dictionary 3rd edition, 2010).

To understand the different kinds of punishment and reinforcement dictated by a behavioural psychologist look at figure 2.

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 22.57.43Figure 2 (Karlsson, 2012).

Figure 2.

  • Punishment should be used sparingly to discipline students; as too much can be ineffective and can do more harm than good because it destroys the risk free learning environment (Latham’s Skill 5 “The ability to maintain a high rate of risk-free student response opportunities).
  • The expectations about homework should always be followed and a teacher must avoid compromising their expectations (Latham’s Skill 1 “The ability to teach expectations”).

Fourth Step – Reinforce:

  • Positively reinforce the student’s correct behaviors throughout the next week, so they are motivated to maintain the correct behaviours. The positive reinforcement balances the ‘stick with some carrot’ – the punishment with some reward.
  • Try to get the student more interested in the work. According to Jones (2007) interest causes intrinsic motivation, which in turn will make the student more likely to be motivated to complete the homework next time.

Fifth Step – Reflect and Observe:

  • Finally, the teacher must try to observe and solve what is causing the incorrect behaviour. The assuption, within behavioural psychology, that all behaviour is caused by a preseeding stimulus (Oliver, 1980). This stimulus is reffered to as the antecedent (Skinner, 1953). To modify the behaivour efficiently, the teacher must identify these antecedent stimuli and inhibit them (Center, 1999). These antecedent stimuli can be affecting them from any aspect of their lives; school, home, friends etc. (Center, 1999). Finding the cause of the behaivour can reduce the chance of this or any other incorrect behaviours from occurring again. Two examples of antecedents, accordant with the homework example, which could have led to the incorrect behaviour are:
    • If student did not understand the expectation (Latham’s Skill 1 “The ability to teach expectations”), make sure the student, when next receiving homework understands which day it is due and that there will be consequences if it is not handed in on time.
    • Make sure there are no nonacademic problems; e.g. at home or within school. These non-academic problems could be the cause of the incorrect behaviour, rather than the student simply not wanting to do the homework. Thus, it is imperative that teachers are observant, they talk to the student and/or the counsellor and/or other supporting agency about any concerns they may have.

From my example and the information contained within the blog I have hoped to convey three points about Latham’s Eight Skills:

  • Firstly, even though Latham’s paper is over seventeen years old, his ideas are still relevant to a modern classroom.
  • Secondly, the importance of including clearly understood/outlined behavioural management practices within a classroom environment. This view is further supported by many young teachers in their dissatisfaction with the current teacher-training programmes and their lack of clearly defined guidelines on classroom management.
  • Thirdly, that Latham’s 8 Skills are crucial in helping to create an academic “tool kit” which can help teachers preempt how to effectively deal with problems which could arise within their classroom.

Through this series of blogs I will firstly consider each of Latham’s Eight Skills of classroom management and secondly, I will reflect on how each skill can empower young teachers within education. For each skill I will give an example, which will demonstrate each skill in action.

Hopefully these blogs will give young teachers a better insight on how to create a standard philosophy to engender good classroom behaviours. Using the examples of each of the skills in action, I hope to give young teachers ideas on how each skill can be used effectively to empower them as they embark upon their teaching career.


Allen, K. P. (2010). Classroom Management, Bullying, and Teacher Practices. Professional Educator, 34(1), n1.

Center, D. (1999). Strategies for Social and Emotional Behavior: A Teacher’s Guide. http://davidcenter.com/.

Didau, D. (2013, October 27). The times they are a changin’: how can we improve the PGCE? In Learning spy. Retrieved December 19, 2014, from http://www.learningspy.co.uk/featured/times-changin-can-improve-pgce/

Handley, T. (2010). PGCE Survival Guide Incorporating# pgcetips. Lulu. com.

Hayden, M., Thompson, J., & Levy, J. (Eds.). (2007). The Sage handbook of research in international education. Sage.

Jones, B. D. (2009). Motivating students to engage in learning: The MUSIC Model of Academic Motivation. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 21(2), 272-285.

Kuhn, T. S. (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Latham, G. (1997) Behind the Schoolhouse Door: Eight skills every teacher should have. Logan, Utah: Mountain Plain Regional Resource Center, Utah State University.

National College for Teaching, & Department for Education. (2012). Improving teacher training for behaviour. Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and Improving the Quality of Teaching and Leadership. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/200406/TA-00079-2012.pdf

Ofsted. (2014). Below the radar: low-level disruption in the country’s classrooms. Ofsted Report. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/379249/Below_20the_20radar_20-_20low-level_20disruption_20in_20the_20country_E2_80_99s_20classrooms.pdf

Oliver, R. L. (1980). A cognitive model of the antecedents and consequences of satisfaction decisions. Journal of marketing research, 460-469.

P. (2010). In A. Stevenson (Ed.), Oxford Engish Dictionary. Oxford Dictionary of English (3rd, p. 1386). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Psuf10. (2014, February 16). A walking tour of the pathway to wisdom [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://psuf10.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/a-walking-tour-of-the-pathway-to-wisdom/

Skinner BF. (1953). Science and Human Behavior. Free Press: New York.

Wheeler, S. (2013). Learning Theories for the Digital Age [Online Slideshow]. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/timbuckteeth

A walking tour of the pathway to wisdom

My previous blog the: “Introduction of the Higher Learning Stage of the Spiral Model of Learning.” (Psuf10, 2013) introduced my theory of the spiral model of learning. However, I realised that I need to give some background to make a coherent argument to propose such a theory. This blog will give the background; in addition it will explain what areas the next few blogs will address.

According to Biggs (1999) there are two basic kinds of learning: surface and deep learning (figure 1) (Marton & Säaljö, 1976; Wheeler 2013).


Figure 1.

Surface learning is when students learn basic facts and information about a topic, but they do not consider the relationship between them. In surface learning there is not much focus on context and further progression. The isolation of this information means students do not see the usefulness of the information, thus causing the information to be forgotten more readily (Rusbult, 1978). Deep learning is when information is given context to allow for higher level of thinking and observation.

According to Deep and Surface Approaches to Learning (2011) much of the current educational system is based on surface learning. It is more important for students, when given information, to be able to recall than understand the information and the context around it.  Burnett, Pillay & Dart (2003) stated there needs to be a shift towards deep learning to improve educational standards.

To back up their claim, Burnett, Pillay & Dart (2003), studied the effects of surface and deep learning on different aspects of learning. Their:

“Results indicated that the secondary school students in this study who use a Deep Approach liked and enjoyed learning new things and viewed learning as a product of experience … Additionally, students who adopted a Surface Approach to learning reported that they were not good at learning, and also adopted an Achieving Approach. … Finally, students who adopted an Achieving Approach also had a Deep Approach, liked learning new things, viewed learning as developing understanding and indirectly viewed learning as a product of experience and as developing social competence.”

Another finding was deep learning caused an increase in developing social competence and personal change to child’s behaviour towards education. These findings seem to provide valid evidence that deep learning is a better way of learning and creating more socially aware, and proactive students. The findings can be observed in figure 2.


Figure 2.


Figure 3.

As seen in figure 3 Wheeler (2013) combined the theory of deep and surface learning with theory of DIKW. Originally DIKW was a theory, which suggested the path through understanding was made up of 4 parts: data, information, knowledge and wisdom. According to (Bellinger, Castro & Mills,2004; Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom, n.d.) their definitions are:

  • Data = fact and skills based information, which is needed for students to progress to higher stages of understanding.
  • Information = data which has been given its meaning by giving it a label or definition
  • Knowledge = information which has been given context by linking information through patterns, sequences and categories.
  • Wisdom = using accumulating knowledge to create well-educated decisions or judgements. According to Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom (n.d.) wisdom is shared by everyone.

However, overtime this basic structure has been updated by multiple researchers (fig 3.). These categories are: Transformation (wheeler, 2013), Meta-Knowledge (Giarratano and Riley, 1998), Experience (Bellinger, Castro & Mills, 2004), Theory (Bellinger, Castro & Mills, 2004), Laconic and Vision (Carpenter and Cannady, 2004):

  • Transformation = evaluation and analysis of your current knowledge to see which is most appropriate for the stimulus. Different people will differ in their analysis and evaluations because of different knowledge bases, which were used to create their wisdoms. Such transformations cause the creation of opinions. These opinions can be novel, thus transformation is the source of creativity.
  • Meta-knowledge = the sum of your knowledge you have in this area. Thus it is knowledge of multiple interconnecting knowledge bases. As well as the cognitive explanations to link them together.
  • Experience = continuous use of knowledge in areas where the knowledge is relevant.
  • Theory = Using knowledge to create ideas to explain paradigms of knowledge. These theories can be novel to the individual; this is one of the first areas of creativity. This is one of the ways of creating new data for others
  • Laconic = this is when you start creating shortcuts in your knowledge. Your knowledge becomes more succinct, making it simpler to process. This allows you to view things as whole rather than a sum of its parts.
  • Vision = your view of the future, using wisdoms to mould the world into an image that an expert has created. This is where an expert moves their field of experience forward. This is one of the main ways of creating new information for others to learn.


Figure 4.

The stages can be observed in figure 4 (Eisenberg, 2012; Bellinger, Castro & Mills, 2012; Beck, 1999; Giarratano and Riley, 1998; Carpenter and Cannady, 2004; Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2002; Wheeler, 2013)

As you can see through figure 3 and 4 the learning of “data” and “information” are the areas associated with the less useful parts of education : extrinsic and surface learning (psuf10, 2013; Eisenberger & Shanock, 2003). Thus the philosophy intrinsic within education should be to make students reach Meta knowledge. However for this to occur, engagement in the subject is essential, as seen in figure 5 (Bellinger, Castro & Mills, 2012). Engagement is what causes students to move through each of the stages.


Fig 5.

Here is an example of how this process can be explained through music:

  • Data is the basic forms of music e.g. Notes.
  • Information is putting certain notes together gives you chords.
  • Knowledge is the knowledge that putting certain chords together in this particular order gives you a song.
  • Transformation is creating an opinion on which genre of music you like the best by analysing and evaluating your knowledge of the genres you know. However, it should be noted that even within the specific genre there are different wisdoms, which allows for creativity e.g. creating your own play style or music.
  • Meta-knowledge is having a wide repeat of songs, which you can play as well as a deep understanding
  • Experience is the continuous playing of the songs
  • Theory is playing around with song rifts and trying to create rhythms lyrics and other creative thoughts around the area of music your playing.
  • Laconic is where you play songs so much that you do not remember the notes, the playing is almost automatic.
  • Wisdom is knowing certain songs when played in a specific style, are part of a specific genre of music.
  • Vision is creating your own style of music and play style of songs which can be picked up by people who are learning

Overall this blog was an introduction to the area of understanding and how it fits into a model of understanding (fig 5.). I hope you understand the idea of deep and surface learning and the differences between each stages of the DIKW. If you have any questions please comment underneath, I would love to hear your thoughts though feedback.

My next few blogs will consider the different kinds of competency-based learning and which kind of competency-based learning is most effective in allowing people to gain knowledge.


Biggs, J. (1999). Teaching for quality learning at university: what the student does. SRHE and Open University Press imprint.

Marton, F., & Säaljö, R. (1976). On qualitative differences in learning – It outcome as a function as a function of the learner’s conceptions of the. British Journal of educational Psychology,46(2), 115-127.

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How the international phonological alphabet can help students with phonological dyslexia

According to Zeiger’s blog (2013), more homographic languages seem to have a lower number of people with dyslexics. A homographic language has a 1 to 1 correspondence between written symbols and phonetic sound (Trask, 1995). An example of such a language is Japanese (Dyszy-Chudzinska, 2009). English is not such a language and according to George (1972), increasing the homographic nature of the English language could help people with dyslexia. In the English alphabet (Roman alphabet), letters often have a number of different phonetic sounds (Iribarren, 2007). The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is a more homographic solution in representing the English language (Heterography and homography, 2013; Trask, 1996). According to Funnell and Davison (1989) people with dyslexia have problems with phonetically rules with both reading word out load and spelling. Teaching people with dyslexia the IPA would increase the homographic nature of written English. This could increase the accuracy of people with dyslexic in reading and spelling.

An interesting case study is the one of Louise. Research by Funnell and Davison (1989) looked at a woman who had been diagnosed with both phonological dyslexia and dyspraxia. They compared using the Roman alphabet  verses the IPA in a number of tasks, which tested spelling, reading and remembering novel stimuli. Funnell and Davison (1989) found when words were shown to her in the format of IPA her ability to read, spell, and remember of novel stimuli were significantly better when Louise used IPA compared to the Roman alphabet. According to Funnell and Davison (1989) a possible reason for the results was, the subject could not use her lexical knowledge. There are two pathways in how language is analysed, according to the dual-route theory: lexical knowledge and sub lexical (Morton & Patterson, 1980). Lexical knowledge is a mental dictionary, which stores your vocabulary (Pritchard et al., 2012). While the non-lexical is a person’s strategy of pronouncing words, using a word’s constituent parts e.g. graphemes, phonemes and letters (Heterography and homography, 2013; Pritchard et al., 2012). Funnell and Davison (1989) stated errors which dyslexics make in pronunciation and spelling occur because of  “lexical capture”. Lexical capture is when dyslexics make a error by guessing the word using a similar word in their lexical knowledge (Pritchard et al., 2012). Funnell and Davison (1989) presumed the reason for such a lexical strategy (Pritchard et al., 2012) in the case of Louise was because at early age she had hearing problems. Following the assumption of Funnell and Davison (1989); any condition, which effects the non-lexical processing of letters, will cause the person to rely more on their lexical knowledge.

Hopefully the strategy of using the IPA for reading and spelling will do two things. Firstly IPA would force dyslexics to use their non-lexical pathway. This is because words in this alphabetic format would not be stored in their lexical knowledge. Thus people with dyslexic would have to use their sub lexical analysis of words, thus practicing it. This would hopefully mean that though constant use; people would be trained to use their sub lexical processes. Secondly, just making the English alphabet more homographic could improve reading, spelling and ability to learn of people with dyslexia.

Many of my blogs have looked at how technology can be used in education to help students learn. When researching this, I came across a number of programs, which in conjunction could help implement the IPA strategy to help people with dyslexia. Firstly there are lessons on YouTube, which teach people the IPA. Secondly there is a tool, which converts text to IPA. Finally, Huckvale (2009) created an overlay for a regular keyboard, which allows you to type in IPA. Using these programs together, people could become fluent in IPA and use it day to day activates.

Overall it seems using IPA instead of the Roman alphabet could significantly help people with dyslexia in learning. As a person with dyslexia, this research has motivated me to try to practice what I am preaching and see if using IPA can make a real difference in my learning.


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The best course in University so far

Originally this blog was going to be about science of education has broken my formal education. No longer will I sit in a lecture, thinking it must be the best way of learning. Or when I learn almost nothing in a lesson, I know it is not just me, it can be the teaching.

However towards the end of my blogs I changed my mind. Science of education has not broken my formal education; it has given me a new way of approaching education. My new philosophy on learning is, by starting learning by yourself and use the teacher’s notes as guidelines. Previously I have solely relied on the teachers notes, I have created over 100 mind-maps and box full of SAFMEDS. Thinking back now I ask for what? Out of these countless number of memory aids, how many of them do I remember? Even more important how much of it did I enjoy learning the information? The answer two both these questions are not much.

This is the sad thing about the current broken educational system. Students see learning as a means to and end, the learning is something you plough though to get to what you really want. However under different circumstances you can love what is being taught. Science of education would have been tedious if it had followed the time old tradition of peddling though old, out-dated theories. We have had this type of teaching for almost our entire life lives. When Jesse decided to design this class under the model of the MUSIC model, it transformed the class from a teaching cage to learning environment. Which almost everyone I have talked to have enjoyed.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this model and could easily say this has been my favourite course in my whole university career. I feel that such methods of teaching could be used across the whole of university. Including my other third year model.