“If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right.” – Henry Ford
In educational environments, the above quote should be amended to reflect the impact of the instructor belief on a child’s internalized belief in their capabilities. Over the years, researchers have taken on the important question of teacher’s expectations within the academic environment
. It is estimated that 5-10 percent of the variance in student performance
can be attributed to teacher expectations. As a result, we heavily screen for this dimension when we are screening prospective candidates to join our instructional team. Unless they can express a fundamental, unwavering belief in the potential of kids to achieve awesome things with technology, we know that they aren’t the right fit for our platform. While both subjective and objective data seems to support the importance of teacher expectations on student importance, we believe that parent/caregiver along with the child’s belief form the ultimate trifecta of achieving measurable outcomes in performance.
While it seems obvious, we find that when it comes to technology, kids do not carry any excess baggage. Many of our students haven’t been really exposed to these topics prior to coming to Digital Adventures. As a result, no one has had an opportunity to tell them what they can or can’t do. To ensure that we maintain this safe space, we don’t grade projects but we do track progress. This approach keeps kids focused on continuously improving their individual development. We also focus on having the kids complete a project at the conclusion of each session. This builds their confidence over time by repeatedly seeing that technology is not difficult or mysterious. In fact, they can build anything they set their minds to.
Although teacher expectations and child beliefs play a role in achieving outcomes, there is nothing more important than a parent’s belief in what their child can accomplish
. Not only does parental belief impact the activities that a child signs up for, but it also impacts how much the child enjoys a given activity. Whether in direct conversations, emails or phone calls, our parents at Digital Adventures consistently express their belief that their children are gifted in technology development. When we discuss some of the cool projects they have built or how they have added their own customization to a project rarely is there a surprise. Instead, there is a fundamental expectation that there child is going to build a mobile application used by millions or develop an automated algorithm to solve a really difficult challenge.
While we are still early days in terms of the development of our coding for kids – educational technology platform, there are strong indicators of the importance of teacher, parent and student belief in influencing the outcome. Our goal is to continue to push for improvements along these 3 dimensions so that kids can continue to grow in their individual skills.
So, what are some of the things you might want to do in order to support your child on their technology development journey?
1. Help them connect the dots between the topics they are working on with real life examples. For example, you can let them know that a team of developers designed the ATM software at the bank.
2. Allocate time to practice their technology development skills outside of their weekly classes. Most kids spend 35-40 hours in school each week and then depending on their grade level another several hours on homework. While we don’t give students homework because not all of our platforms are available without a paid license, we do recognize the importance of additional practice. Some of the platforms we use like Scratch are freely available and have enough capability that students of all ability levels can benefit from building projects.
3. Ask your child about what they worked on during their class time. With my kids, I’ve found that sometimes you have to structure your conversations differently to get them to actually tell me what happened during their school day. Some questions you might ask: what did you build? What software platform did you use? What did you find difficult? Did you enjoy the project? Do you want to do more projects like that?
We are looking forward to your continued partnership on this journey to develop inventors and innovators. If you have additional thoughts on how we might support our students and your children, please let us know!