Anyone Can Succeed in Academics. Here’s How.

Tutors for All achieves huge gains in Literacy with a new approach to learning. This fall, T4A debuted our “Meta-Cognitive Framing Activities” approach for the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Youth Scholars Program. The participating Youth Scholars are Boston Public High School students. Students who took part in the program grew an average of three grade levels in reading comprehension from Spring 2013 to the December 2013, the equivalent of getting three years of education in one calendar year. The following is adapted from the final report we submitted to MGH’s Center for Community Health Improvement in December 2013 detailing the results of the program:

“Traditional discourses about improving student performance focuses on increasing standards and providing high-level coursework. However, while providing quality content area instruction is essential, there is little evidence to suggest that this–in and of itself–can lead to the gains in high school and college degree attainment for which we are striving. Therefore, recent research has begun to look toward other nonacademic factors that play a role in a Scholar’s schooling experiences. These nonacademic factors, often called “noncognitive factors”, such as persistence, self-regulation, motivation, work habits, organization, and learning strategies, have been shown to have a demonstrated effect on education outcomes.” (Farrington et al., 2012) (Emphasis added.)

Source: University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, Literature Review, June 2012

Source: University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, Literature Review, June 2012

In response to the growing body of research that highlights the importance of non-academic factors such as academic mindset and self-regulating academic strategies in student success, Tutors for All designed a new tutorial format to directly address these “non-cognitive factors” alongside direct skills-based instruction. Our tutors are trained and equipped to enable their students to move from being passive recipients of academic content to becoming active, conscientious, and productive scholars.

This semester at our MGH program, all tutorials were focused around a ‘Metacognitive Framing Activity’ (MFA). The MFA’s are strategies designed to help students internalize knowledge and self-regulate learning. While the MFA’s primarily provide examples for how they may be used to supplement the acquisition of literacy skills, they can be modified to support learning in other content areas. MFA concepts include: Think Aloud, Visualization, and Three-Step-Reading. Tutors and students integrated these activities into their sessions as they read a section of the student’s text book, reviewed the students notes, or other provided classroom material that addresses the content students need to learn. The second section of the tutorial, the skills section, would then use the MFA to practice whatever skill/assignment/project/problem that student is struggling with a specific content area. For students struggling with Reading Comprehension the results were tremendous. Click the graph for a larger view of the specific numbers:

Note: Student’s 7 and 8 did not take the GRADE assessment in spring 2013. Therefore we have omitted their fall 2013 tests scores from the overall growth calculation. All students were in 10th or 11th grade at the time of the second assessment.

We look forward to posting our Spring semester results in May!

– Chris Baginski

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *