I have had the following email conversations with students regarding the assignment. I hope they may be helpful to others to see.
|Is it alright to base a essay on behavioural theories even though it was used for the seminars?||Yes, of course. This could be a good topic for the assignment.|
|Basically the assignment seems quite broad
so is it asking us to pick a topic that is quite
specific such as Piaget's work or group work's effectiveness
or formative assesment, or is it asking us to pick a broader
topic such as the nature/ nurture debate or assesment as a whole etc.
i'm really sorry to bother you with such a daft question but i'm juststuck as to how specific it's meant to be.
|This is not a daft question at all. The
assignment title is quite vague and it is important to clarify the scope
of what you plan to do.
My advice would be that the more you narrow it down, the better. Even "Piaget's work" is pretty broad, so "Piaget's theory of cognitive development" or "Piaget's theory of knowledge" might be a better focus.
Basically you need to choose a topic where there is (1) enough theory for you to be able to outline and discuss it (but not too much or the essay may lose focus) and (2) some relevance to practice (all theories will have some relevance, but for some the links will be easier to make than others).
|I am looking at Piagets stages of development theory, so what i have done firstly is to introduce what i am wanting to achieve through writing the assignment. I have then discussed the theories which Piaget outlined ie. sensori-motor etc - the main stage which i am going to focus on is the second stage (i think) 4 -7 years. In this he looked at the idea of conservation which i also want to look at and this is how i will link it with education and my experience as a learner. I will discuss the observations which i made whilst in a school, but will also talk about my own experience of not understanding conservation for eg. arguing will my brothers over the amount of pop we had, simply because we had different sized glasses etc. I also want discuss my thoughts on Piagets stages -do children move through stages at the same time? is this valid? - also looking at the ability grouping within classrooms. Finally i will conclude looking at whether Piaget was right and valid - the adv and disadv of this theory.||I think what you have written sounds like a
good outline for the assignment.
One of the problems with this kind of essay is always to focus it enough. Piaget's theory is a huge topic, so it is good that you intend to concentrate on one aspect of it, but even this is a big topic. Be careful that you don't make it too general. One suggestion, for example, would be to focus on a particular experiment that P did and how he interpreted it, its implications for teaching and learning, etc.
Remember that Piaget did not say that children all move between stages at the same age - the ages were only ever really a guide. The important thing was the idea of a progression.
Piaget's theory of development is quite a hard one to choose since its implications for practice are not easy to see. However, you have some ideas about this which seem appropriate. To produce a good essay from it I think you will have to think it out quite carefully.
I decided to go with the idea of looking at nature/nurture withparticular emphasis on musical ability as suggested. I have come up with an essay plan and was wondering what you think.
People viewed as gifted in many areas particularly maths, chess and music. Classical idea was that it was a gift from the Gods. Ideas have changed over time (become more environmentalist) therefore should we be developing our educational system.
High IQ parents have children with high IQ levels. Not exactly the same due to environmental factors. eg length of time at school. Therefore does schoold improve are intelligence, or at least academic ability.
A general level of talent is natural ability. Child musical prodigies are believed to have an innate natural ability. However people with musical parents may not just be talented just because of genetics, but due to an enthusiasm passed through the family.
The influence of practice and training.
The influence of social factors.
Implications for general education-
If classes divided too early it may not be fair on children who are able, but have not received as good education before. Class divisions should be flexible so children can move divisions. All children should be given an equal opportunity. If education is the more important factor in developing ability then is it fair putting some children in Grammar schools where they are seen to receive better education.
Implications for musical education-
Many schools short of resources so the most 'talented' pupils are given the chance to learn, but if talent can be extracted through teaching its unfair to rule other pupils out.
All children should be encouraged.
Those with motivation should be encouraged even if they don't have a natural ability.
Talent is partly due to nature, but environmental factors also affect it. Although some children may seem more naturally able, with a high level of education, practice and motivation others may overtake their level. Therefore the school system should not focus on what children can do at present, but what they could achieve.
|I think the basic idea is good and your plan adds useful detail. This could be a good essay. One thing that I would warn you though is to be careful to avoid making unsubstantiated 'common sense' statements. For example, when you say that ideas have become more environmentalist, can you provide evidence for this? Ideally you should cite a study that claims to show this. Or when you say that length of time in school affects IQ: again, you need evidence. It is OK to use your own experience, or the experiences of other people (friends, family, etc), and this is evidence, but be careful not to over-generalise - what is true for you may not be for others. It is also important to be critical of any evidence presented: don't just accept it at face value.|
|Here is my essay plan:
Title; "Critically assess the relevance of Piaget's pre-operationalstage to education in the light of your own experience as a learner".
Summary of what I've done;
- Brief intro to Piaget
- Other pre-operational stage findings, mental operations, animistic thinking, egocentrism.
- Piaget & Inhelder, 3 Mountains Task
- Borke (1975)
|Your outline looks good. You have focused well and seem to have plenty of direct evidence to cite. My only question would be about making clear any implications of this for education. You haven't said explicitly what these might be, but I assume they will be made clear in the writing?|
|I am doing my assignment on "SIBLINGS": the effect that the relationships between siblings and between siblings and parents have on a child's education. What proportion of the essay should be about the relevance this topic has to a child's education, as there is more information about the theory of siblings etc. compared to actually relating it to education? I have included about my personal experience of primary school, realting it to how I was helped by the fact that I had an older sister there. Is this okay?||Sounds like an interesting topic.
I would suggest that the majority (ie half to two-thirds) should relate to the implications for education. Have you got enough material for this? Obviously you also need to describe the theory and much of it will have implications - you may have to draw these out a bit (ie make them explicit).