Using Precision Teaching for a better future

*Article originally written as a blog post for The Precision Teaching Book website in January 2013.

For my 2013 New Year’s resolution I have chose a lofty goal: help as many people as possible learn to use Precision Teaching (PT). I chose this as my resolution because I firmly believe PT embodies a life altering behavioral/educational system. In essence PT has the following advantages.

1. Precision Teaching helps define the critical pinpoint (problem or target) in need of change. While advantage number one may seem commonplace, most people have a very difficult time producing a precise pinpoint. Very often people will use verbs that disguise or obfuscate the true active behavior. For example “understanding the civil war,” “solving problems,” or “verbally aggressing to others” provides three inadequate descriptions of behavior. Instead of “understanding the civil war” Precision Teaching pinpoints exactly what the person does such as “says fact about civil war.” Rather than “solving problems,” “writes answer to multiplication problem” offers a much more explicit description. And “verbally aggressing to others” misleads people. A much better target uses the pinpoint “yells insult at teacher.”

Notice also how most people often describe behavior in the “Present Progressive tense” which communicates the activity in progress: hitting, smiling, running – when do they end? Pinpoints use the “Simple Present tense” to express the idea that the action repeats. And we care more about behavior that repeats than behavior that continues when we measure pinpoints. Without a proper pinpoint reliably detecting and measuring the behavior turns into a challenge.

2. Precision Teaching has one of the most advanced recording systems for human behavior. People who use PT learn how to precisely count behavior in time. The resulting data often take the form of the workhorse measure “frequency.” Frequency epitomizes a sensitive, informative measure. Think about one student who answers 8 math facts correct with 2 incorrect in a minute and another student who answers 16 math facts correct with 4 incorrect in a minute. Both have a score of 80% correct, but who has a better grasp on math facts (incidentally most everyone uses percent correct for decision making)? Would you feel comfortable saying both students have the same competency? Of course not, one student has answered twice the amount as the other even though both have the same accuracy. Frequency matters because our decision making matters.

3. Only Precision Teaching has the one-of-a-kind Standard Celeration Chart. The alternatives pale in comparison (see early blog post for a direct comparison). Two major advantages; the Standard Celeration Chart allows chart readers to see how fast learning occurs (called celeration) and how easily, or difficultly, learning progresses (called bounce or variability). Furthermore we can quantify those two measures. We can live in the world where we know the value of how fast and how easily someone has learned something. We can make exquisite comparisons for any intervention used. No longer do we have to rely on adjectives (e.g., describing trend changes as as rising slowly, moderately, or steeply) for communicating progress. No longer must we subject our decision making based on the vagaries of the chart design we make or someone makes for us – which will always change based on the whims of the chart maker causing potential problems in interpretation and communication. Additionally, a plethora of change measures tell us if the intervention has produced significant or insignificant results. We owe it to our learners and ourselves to use the best possible charting system out there for time series analysis. That the Standard Celeration Chart provides so much more information than typical linear line graphs is not a debatable notion. Let’s arm the world with a productive tool!

4. Precision Teaching has a series of interventions and analytical techniques prompting us never to give up on the learner. Indeed, the PT system exudes problem solving solutions starting with the pinpointed behavior, precise measures, carefully displayed behavior on the Standard Celeration Chart, and also covering quantitative and qualitative measures telling the chart reader exactly what has, and what will, happen with the targeted behavior. I would also point at the time of this blogpost the authors of The Precision teaching Book has started working on a second book devoted exclusively to problem solving (tentative title: Applying Precision Teaching to Behavior and Learning Challenges: The Is-Does Problem Solving System).

Join me

If you read this blog I hope you have actively started using Precision Teaching (or call yourself a veteran Precision Teacher). But if you find yourself on the fence or want to learn PT you can do the following:

-Join the SClistserv with over 350 members

-Make friends and professional connections with different Facebook groups: The Standard Celeration Society, The Fluency Channel, SCC Chart Share

-Ask professional questions and receive direct answers on the Forum at The Precision Teaching Book.

The stakes for educational and personal change have hit an all time time. From global competition with jobs to helping people become contributing members of science, business, and other important sectors of society, we need a method to foster competency and greatness. Precision Teaching forms an important piece of the puzzle. Namely, PT helps us measure behavior and make decisions. Those data judgements concern whether and intervention helps or hinders personal learning growth. And in the end, failure to make good decisions can mean failure thrive. I believe people attracted to Precision Teaching share the personal urgency to discover sensible and robust solutions for learners. I hope you join me in my News Years resolution teaching others, or learning yourself, how to use Precision Teaching.


*To read the original post on The Precision Teaching Book website, click here!

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