The Art and Science of Teaching: A Comprehensive Framework for Effective Instruction

By Robert J. Marzano | Go to book overview

4 What will I do to help students generate and test hypotheses about new knowledge?

When executed well, the three design questions discussed thus far move students to a point at which they have a good understanding of new information (declarative knowledge) and can perform new skills, strategies, and processes (procedural knowledge) with some fluency. These are noteworthy accomplishments. If the teacher wishes to move students beyond these levels of knowing, then students should be engaged in tasks that require them to experiment with the new knowledge. In the vernacular of this design question, students must generate and test hypotheses about the new knowledge.


In the Classroom

Let's look in again on our classroom scenario. After students have some basic information about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Mr. Hutchins assigns the following task:

You are observing the interactions of those individuals who made the ultimate deci-
sion to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What are some of the
other alternatives the committee probably considered? What criteria did they use to
evaluate the alternatives they were considering, and what value did they place on
those criteria that led them to their final decision? Before you gather information
about this issue, make your best guess at the alternatives and criteria you think they
were considering. Then reexamine your guess after you have collected information
on the topic.

Given its complexity, the assignment will last the remainder of the unit. Mr. Hutchins organizes students into groups of five to gather data on the task. Each

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