Monday, February 16, 2009

How We Learn- William Glasser

How We Learn
10% of what we READ
20% of what we HEAR
30% of what we SEE
50% of what we SEE and HEAR
70% of what is DISCUSSED with OTHERS
95% of what we TEACH TO SOMEONE ELSE
~William Glasser

Remember the lectures in college when the teacher just spoke and you were expected to listen and take notes? Well according to Glasser you might remember 20% of what the professor said. If you had a professor that showed notes, images, tables or graphs, you might remember 50% of what was said. This kind of teaching is so ineffective. Yet it is the style still used by most colleges, many high schools and middle schools and even in some elementary schools. Students need to experience things personally and have an opportunity to interact with others. Ultimately, we would want students to teach someone else something. Unfortunately that is not what always happens, even with the best intentions. But all students can work together when given the correct cooperative framework. When given this framework and a meaningful project or task, students will retain up to 80%.

One personal example of this happened when I was teaching third grade about 8 years ago. I was teaching the students how to do lattice multiplication. It is an algorithm in the Everyday Math program our district was using. I talked about it. I modeled it. I answered questions and let students practice on the board. Even with all of this, poor Connor just could not figure out how to do it. He was getting so frustrated and I didn't know how else to explain it. Fortunately, I intended on allowing the students to solve problems in pairs using white board slates and dry erase markers. If it wasn't for Brandon, Connor would never had learned lattice multiplication. Not only did Brandon explain it to Connor better than I did, but they took turns helping and teaching each other with every example. 80% of what you experience and 95% of what you teach. That was Connor and Brandon and I never forgot that day.

So, I have been shaped by Glasser. All lesson that I taught and now observe must have a some sort of small group or paired work component. I like lessons that flow from the whole class to the small group and finally to the individual student. I like lessons that require the student to work together on a task or game. The kind where you need to experience the learning first-hand. Too often teachers skip from the whole class lesson to the individual work. They skip an essential step and then wonder when only 50% of the students know what to do.


danw said...

There is a lot of wisdom in that framework. Are you familiar with the work of Doug Fisher? This book is a great example of his approach to the Gradual Release of Responsibility, which goes from modeling, to guided, to collaborative to independent.

dcowart said...

Thanks for commenting. I did follow your link to Amazon. I have never come across this book but I will add it to my every growing list of books I must read.

Speaking of gradual release of responsibility, I just had a meeting with a young teacher who seemed to work very hard but not smart. She worked twice as hard as her students. She buzzed around the room trying to conference and troubleshoot every situation. My point, she needed to give the students some responibility for their learning. I was tired just watching her and her students were observers instead of active participants.

Anonymous said...

I gave a workshop to Thai secondary math teachers and had them rank Glasser's categories of how we learn. Interesting results. What I want to know: is there any research or further commentary or professional development activity that helps to further substantiate the hierarchy of learning?
Harvey Garn

Guy W. Wallace said...

These percentage number "claims" have been disputed...

Suzanne said...

I believe there is no research to support the precise percentages, but my own personal experience supports the increasing order of understanding and owning what I learn.

Suzanne said...

Hi everyone, I like this blog...

I think the numbers are merely an attempt to rank the power of learning modes in an intuitive and poetic manner. Ironically, I read the list a long time ago and never forgot it! Of course, I did climb the ladder of better retention when I relayed the list to colleagues, incorporated it into lesson plans, etc., so it really wasn't so ironic after all.
I love it! Go Glasser!

To Anonymous, how did the Thai math teachers rank the categories?

Anonymous said...

Hi does anyone know the reference for William Glasser's quote? Or where I can find it to reference myself?


Denise Callaway said...

I worry about some of these "trick" techniques for teaching the basic algorithms of math. I think sometimes we get caught up in the "tricks" when KISS would work better. Keeping it simple, the kid may have caught on much quicker. Also, we get so caught up in technique...if one method doesn't work, teach another method. It's not the path, sometimes, but the destination. If you have them tied up in frustration because they have to learn THAT method, they start building a wall in math and get it in their head that they aren't math people.

A secondary math teacher

The Artsy French Teacher, tpt said...

I've always thought this quote, ascribed to Glasser, interesting. However, I've just been researching it for a Teachers Pay Teachers Product and went to the Glasser website where you will find NOTHING about this. That piqued my curiousity, so I found this site: which shows its origins and proves that we do have to take what we find on the Net with a grain of salt...sorry but I know I would not want to be promulgating false info even if it is neatly packaged.
The Artsy French Teacher, TPT