E T S Praxis Series

Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 (0524)

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Sample Test Questions

Current section: Essay > Essay Response

Directions:  Questions 1 and 2 require you to write short answers. You are not expected to cite specific theories or texts in your answers; however, your responses to the questions will be evaluated with respect to professionally accepted principles and practices in teaching and learning. Be sure to answer all parts of the questions. Write your answers in the spaces indicated in the response book.

Sample Question 1

In his self-analysis, Mr. Payton says that the better-performing students say small-group work is boring and that they learn more working alone or only with students like themselves. Assume that Mr. Payton wants to continue using cooperative learning groups because he believes they have value for all students.

  • Describe TWO strategies he could use to address the concerns of the students who have complained.
  • Explain how each strategy suggested could provide an opportunity to improve the functioning of cooperative learning groups. Base your response on principles of effective instructional strategies.

Sample Response That Received a Score of 2:

Mr. Payton has to be creative to find strategies that will address the concerns of the students who have complained and still support the strengths of cooperative learning. One way he can do that is to assign these students a variety of roles in which they can share their insights and knowledge with others in a way that will provide them recognition and will help other students. He can also build specific requirements that provide for individual work into the cooperative work, either before the groups meet or as the groups are working. This individual work provides the more able or motivated students with an opportunity to demonstrate their insights and knowledge and be given appropriate credit for them. The individual work can also serve as a basis for the group work.

Sample Response That Received a Score of 1:

I understand why these students are concerned. But Mr. Payton shouldn't just give up on cooperative learning groups. I had a situation like this, when four really bright and eager kids just didn't want to work with students who were less able or less motivated. One thing he could do would be to assign his groups very carefully, so that one of the complaining kids is in each group. He could then use a system where he begins the cooperative work by regrouping, numbering the kids in each group 1, 2, 3, 4. First, all the "1's" work together, all the "2's" work together, and so forth. All the kids who complained would have the same number. After they have had the opportunity to work together on an advanced level, the groups would reform. The "1's" could go back to their own groups and share with them what the "1" group came up with. In this way, they have the intellectual stimulation of working together first, and then the status of sharing with other kids.

Sample Response That Received a Score of 0:

Probably the best thing he can do is to let the complaining kids work individually. They are only going to resent the less able kids and will probably end up insulting them. The kids who are complaining will learn more if they work individually and can push themselves to their limits. The other kids can work at a level more appropriate to their ability.

Sample Question 2

In the introduction to the lesson to be observed, Mr. Payton briefly mentions the modification he has or has not made for some students. Review his comments about modifications for Jimmy and Burns.

  • For each of these two students, describe ONE different way Mr. Payton might have provided a modification to offer a better learning situation for each.
  • Explain how each modification could offer a better learning situation. Base your explanation on principles of varied instruction for different kinds of learners.

Sample Response That Received a Score of 2:

For Burns who is a bright, independent learner, providing him the opportunity to take extra responsibility for mastering challenging material and figuring out how to help his classmates understand it might help him to be more open and positive in his classroom behavior. For example, he might use more complex materials to access information, or might create a program using technology to share his knowledge and insights with others. For Jimmy, Mr. Payton might have a conference with him to find out how he was expected to learn social studies in the past and why he is so accepting of failing social studies. This conference may lead to a strategy such as the use of information presented visually or orally, or the use of graphic organizers to access information, or an alternate means of demonstrating his understanding if written assessments are part of the problem.

Sample Response That Received a Score of 1:

Jimmy is a very interesting student to consider. He has a history of failure, and seems to accept the fact that he may fail again. However, he seems quite outgoing so he might be willing to try if approached right. I think the first thing Mr. Payton could do would be to sit down and talk with him. He needs to try to figure out why Jimmy failed in the past. He might ask him if he has any ideas about how he learns best—and things teachers have had him do that don't help him. Then, with this information, Mr. Payton might be able to come up with some approaches based on Jimmy's learning style. If Jimmy says he hates to read, Mr. Payton needs to find a way for him to access the information other than reading! Another thing Mr. Payton might do is adjust what he expects Jimmy to learn. Jimmy says he has problems with "a lot of dates and stuff." But he may be interested in other aspects of history—why people did the things they did, for example. By tailoring the study of history to aspects that might be more appropriate for Jimmy, Mr. Payton might have a better chance of helping Jimmy succeed.

Sample Response That Received a Score of 0:

I think the modification he should make for both students is to be much clearer about what the expectations of the course are. Sometimes students are tuned out or bored because they just don't know what is expected of them. Maybe Mr. Payton needs to post his expectations prominently in the room so that both of these students can see what is expected. The expectations also need to indicate what is required for passing, so that Jimmy and Burns will know what the limits are.