Statements or actions by students / DEMONSTRATE LEARNING / to help form a coherent picture, to eliminate confusion and frustration, and to reinforce major points to be learned.
Closure has FIVE critical attributes:
Students (not the teacher)
NOT the Teacher!
Learning is a two-way street. Both the teacher and the students must DO something with the content of the lesson for learning to occur. To make sense of ideas, students need to put those ideas together in their own minds in their own ways. This is the process of personal knowledge construction. One hears a great deal about eliciting prior knowledge. But it is equally important to elicit post knowledge. What have students learned from the lesson? The conclusion may seem obvious to the teacher, but do the students see and understand it? Professor Kathleen Fisher Interactive Science Workshop Series: Annenberg Channel. 2007.
Learning dead ends when students are not given an opportunity to demonstrate personal learning at the close of a lesson. At the end of a lesson (or a chunk of learning), the important question isn’t “What did you teach?” It is “What did students learn?” “To say that you have taught when students haven’t learned is to say you have sold when no one has bought. Madeline Hunter Mastery Teaching 1962. How can the teacher know what students have learned? How can students know what they have learned? Closure occurs in a lesson when students are asked to summarize their learning. The person doing the work is the one growing the dendrites. Pat Wolfe Brain Matters: Translating Research into Classroom Practice 2006 . If the teacher summarizes what was just learned, fine, but then the students must also summarize to make it part of their own nervous systems. After all, there should be no doubt that the teacher can summarize the lesson. J. Ronald Gentile Instructional Improvement 1988. For students to “remember” their learning, they must close the learning in a way that is congruent with the learning in the objective: content, level of thinking
“In 1949 Donald Hebb, a visionary psychologist, proposed what came to be known as Hebb’s Law. It states, “Neurons that fire together, survive together and wire together.” Many neuroscientists concur that this is the physiological basis for memory. Experience changes the way synaptic connections are made and increases the probability of firing in a predictable association with other neurons.” Pat Wolfe Brain Matters: Translating Research Into Classroom Practice 2006
When a lesson content contains more than one chunk of learning, ALL chunks must be included in the closure.“In general, about 20% of the variation in achievement of individuals is accounted for by their participation in the classroom learning process. . .The amount of active participation in the learning is an excellent index of the quality of instruction. Bloom, Benjamin. Human Characteristics & School Learning 1983. If students learn by doing, we need to get ALL students to do. There are two ways a teacher can elicit active participation–covertly and overtly. If we want our students to learn, we just have to make sure we use every way we can to get every student actively involved. Carol Cummings Teaching Makes a Difference 1986. From Marzano’s research in Classroom Instruction that Work, the brain represents learning in two ways, linguistically and non-linguistically.
In 1885 German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus conducted one of the first studies on memory, using himself as a subject. Ebbinghaus assumed memory would be strengthened through repetition. He memorized lists of nonsense syllables in his native language and then tested his memory of the nonsense words at intervals ranging from 20 minutes to 31 days.The learning curve–which looks like the graph at the left– is today known as “The Forgetting Curve.”
Ebbinghaus found that:
- a given piece of learning is forgotten by more than half of the audience in ONE HOUR!
- 7% of the audience retains the learning after one day
- 8% retains the learning after two days, and
- 1 percent of the audience remembers the learning after 31 days.
Ebbinghaus’ research on retention teaches us that the speed of forgetting is directly related to the difficulty of the material, the amount of material, and the meaningfulness of the material. Use closure to let students make meaning of chunks of information throughout the learning as well as at the end. Ebbinghaus concluded that the forgetting happens most rapidly right after learning occurs but then levels off over time. Ebbinghaus, H. (1913). English edition. Memory. A Contribution to Experimental Psychology. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.
CLOSURE: Statements or actions by students / DEMONSTRATE LEARNING / to help form a coherent picture, to eliminate confusion and frustration, and to reinforce major points to be learned.
In developing a closure you can ask and answer five questions.
- Who does the closure?
- What do students do in closure?
- What do students summarize?
- How much of the learning do students summarize?
- How many students do the summarizing?
The Benefits of Closure
|For Learners||For Teachers|
|Increases rate and degree of learning.||Lets teacher effectively monitor and diagnose learning.|
|Increases transfer (association) between and among learnings||Lets teacher adjust learning to prevent misunderstandings or incorrect learning.|
|Increases student motivation (particularly as it is related to the variables of success, knowledge of results, interest, and level of concern)||Increases teacher motivation as more students are more successful more of the time.|
|Improves long-term memory (retention).||Decreases the need to reteach.|
- ALL students means ALL students. You can’t sample answers from selected students and know that 100% of your students have learned.
- If the teacher does the summary, the teacher is the one who learns. TEACHER SUMMARIES DON’T COUNT AS CLOSURE!
- If students close on only some of the content, they learn only some of the content.
- If the closure isn’t congruent with the objective, it isn’t a closure at all.