Playing to Learn : How After-School Clubs Influence Teachers’ Beliefs About Instruction
Schlosser, Linda K.
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The purpose of the study was to uncover teachers’ emerging beliefs and perceptions about developmentally oriented instruction as they participated in professional development workshops and applied the strategies learned with students in after-school clubs. Twenty experienced, urban teachers volunteered to attend monthly workshops where they engaged in math games, simulations, and problem-solving activities based on the Common Core and modeled by college faculty. Teachers used the activities to offer 90-min weekly math clubs for sixth-and seventh-grade students at their schools. Twelve pre-service teachers enrolled in a college course on adolescent development acted as volunteers at the clubs. Data were collected through (a) questionnaires and rating scales, (b) informal group interviews, and (c) weekly electronic journals. Data collected revealed changes in teachers’ beliefs about and perceptions of effective instruction as they applied game-based activities in the after-school club settings. Eighty percent of the teachers reported high levels of student engagement and greater sustained interest in problem-solving, and connected their observations to beliefs about game-based learning as an effective and age-appropriate instructional strategy. Pre-service teacher volunteers reported similar observations: The majority of club members were actively engaged in solving complex problems during game-like activities, particularly when volunteers used scaffolding strategies to support students’ participation.