Never in neutral, always engaged.

This post was supposed to be about a great differentiation lesson. But when I asked students to evaluate their experience, something else, that I cannot ignore, happened.

Last week in grade 10 extended mathematics classes, I did a differentiated lesson on applications on parabolas, where students chose their task based on their Sternberg learning style (analytical, practical or creative).

I wanted to hear from them, whether they thought the activity suited them as learners, and whether it was a worthwhile strategy.

I posed the statement, (which, in hindsight, I wish I had thought through more carefully) “I enjoyed the learning style task last week, it suited my learning preferences.”  Students could respond that they

  • strongly agreed
  • agreed
  • were neutral
  • disagreed
  • strongly disagreed

I realize now that allowing the choice of “neutral” was a mistake on various levels:

  1. I should force students to decide whether they agree or disagree
  2. I do not have as clear results as I would like because there were too many options
  3. But mostly, why on earth should I allow my students to be “neutral” about anything in the class.  They should have an opinion, and be engaged in the learning.  I want to know their thoughts on the issue. “Neutral” tells me nothing.

***A car cannot drive whilst in neutral, and a student cannot learn whilst in neutral.***



Here are the results of the survey, of two classes.

There may well be other issues to address here, but first I would have liked to know where those “neutral” students would stand.

About eadurkin

Originally a HS Mathematics teacher from New Zealand, currently working as Associate Principal in the Secondary School at Canadian Academy, an international school in Kobe, Japan. Married with two children.
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