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Instructional Risk in Education : Why Instruction Can Fail - by Stuart McNaughton (Hardcover)

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This book is based on the idea that instruction carries in-built risks, and instructional practices can be counterproductive unless used with care. Referencing a wide range of approaches to increasing effectiveness, Instructional Risk in Education provides an explanation of why some forms of instruction are less powerful than they should be, grouping the risk into three categories: too much support, too little support and misdirected support. Elaborating on rather than advising against these forms of instruction, it illustrates how teachers can use instructional practices effectively through managing risk and being adaptive in their use of them in the many and dynamic microsystems of the classroom.

The book is unique in bringing together disparate evidence from a range of research areas across core curriculum areas of English Language Arts, mathematics and science, for a theory of ‘Instructional Risk’ which proposes that instructional approaches carry known and predictable risks. The book develops our understanding of what it means for a teacher to be an adaptive expert and how that expertise requires detailed knowledge of the risks of what we do. It is designed to fill in one part of the knowledge that teachers need, but also contribute to the wider awareness of the complexity of teacher judgments. The risks, mostly in the form of unintended side effects, compromise one or more criteria for learning (robustness, fluency, transferability, generalizability and educational significance). The book focuses on the expertise required to overcome risks, which are exaggerated for children from communities that are not well served by our schools. The book is also a critique of research that is 'programmatic' and limited to experimental evidence and summaries of that evidence which are uncritically developed into statements about ‘What Works’.

The book uses a repeated structure: describing an instructional design such as scaffolding, providing evidence for how it is effective, providing evidence for side effects, and finally explaining how to prevent or manage the risks. Written to be both an explication of the theory through repeated examples as well as a technical resource, this book will be vital reading for lecturers and postgraduate students of education and educational psychology.

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