Tag Archives: Math

Feedback Loops Rediscovered at Florida State University

On page 81 in my book, there is a brief discussion of “feedback loops”. This teaching/learning strategy is so obvious and falls so easily out of any understanding of Polanyi’s tacit theory of knowledge that I am amazed to see it pop up in a recent research study as though a major discovery is being reported. Investigators at Florida State University claim that the “Mathematics Formative Assessment System” (MFAS) applied to kindergarten and first-grade students demonstrated learning gains of six weeks to two months worth of extra instruction. The technique calls for teachers to assess what the students understand, what they do not understand and then offer the right additional learning experiences to fix the missing or error-laden material in the students’ mind. Students are asked to explain their reasoning thus exposing to the teacher any misconceptions or procedural failures on the part of the students as they work on problems.
The real news here is uncovering the practical classroom management techniques needed to manage the formative assessment tasks. Since the MFAS process is different for each student, there is a challenge for teachers to deal one-on-one with each learner and develop the right instructional intervention to solve the cognitive problems experienced by each child. Perhaps a search for additional information on this could be found using the name, Mark LaVenia who was listed as the “methodologist” on the Florida State Team.