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January 2003 | Volume 45 | Number 1
Robert Marzano, a long-time supporter of standards-based education, sometimes finds affirmation in surprising places—such as from the U.S. Navy's Fighter Weapons School (also known as “Top Gun”). “My son is a Navy fighter pilot and I've learned a lot about education from watching his journey through the Navy,” he said.
For example, when Marzano's son first arrived at the school, he was handed a list of 22 advanced tactical strategies that he had to master by the time he graduated from the 12-week course. He was scored “on what we would call a six-point rubric,” Marzano said. And, unlike what was suggested in the popular movie Top Gun, the pilots aren't ranked—there isn't any number one pilot. “You either are—or are not—a Top Gun graduate.”
Toward the end of the course, soon-to-be Top Gun pilots participate in the ultimate performance-based assessment: they must fly against a fighter pilot from another country. (“It's all ceremonial, of course.”) As an expert, the Top Gun pilot has mastered 22 tactical strategies and, as an expert, the pilot is “allowed to pick and choose the strategies to use” to win.
The parallel to what a teacher does in the classroom is obvious, Marzano suggested. “There are some instructional strategies that seem to have a good track record,” he noted. As professional educators, “we should know what those strategies are and have expertise in every one of them.” As a professional, however, “you pick and choose what you use and don't use” to win in the classroom. And in this case, stated Marzano, winning means that all students learn.
What does recent research suggest about classroom management? Follow this link [audio clip] to hear Robert Marzano's answer to this question.
[Transcript of audio clip featuring Robert Marzano.]
Different teachers have different rules and procedures. However, every teacher should have rules and procedures no matter how good you are, no matter how easy your kids are. They say that to walk in the door and not have rules and procedures is a setup for disaster, because, at some point, people need structure—and at some point, that structure might break down. If you don’t have the rules and procedures in place, you are in trouble.
Let me jump to disciplinary intervention because that is a little more controversial. Some people hear discipline and they think punishment. And they think punishment is physical punishment.
First of all, nobody says physical punishment not only works nor is appropriate. However, there have been some interesting studies on disciplinary intervention. The one I like the best is the meta-analysis by Stage and Parole. They looked at over a hundred studies and they identified four categories of disciplinary intervention: punishment (a negative consequence if you break a rule), reinforcement (is not a negative consequence for breaking a rule but you reinforce positive behavior), the third is a combination of punishment plus reinforcement, and the fourth would be no immediate response—the teacher doesn’t necessarily attend to the disruption right there, but after-the-fact talks with the student and reasons through.
They rank-ordered those in terms of their impact on student behavior. Punishment plus reinforcement had the biggest impact followed by reinforcement, followed by punishment, followed by no immediate response. Actually “no immediate response” lagged fairly far behind.
The bottom line is that, in their [Stage and Parole] research and in the research of others, a reasonable system [that] employs both positive reinforcement for acceptable behavior and negative consequences for unacceptable behavior is the strongest approach.
Copyright © 2003 by Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
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