CAPSC March 2013 Meeting Follow up

 Intellectual Engagement

 Dr. Sharon Friesen, Vice Dean Education, University of Calgary, was in attendance to discuss how to keep our students engaged in learning. 

She began by discussing the implications of using a credit based class system that isn’t then weighted correctly with the standardized tests, meaning the higher credit classes don’t necessarily carry the same weight on the tests.  These types of methods for learning may need to change in order to support and challenge student learning.  The expectations of a student’s base knowledge may need to be revised, as we now live in a society with an abundance of information that can be easily accessed.  The methods by which students learn may need to start relying on helping children make connections within all of the information, rather than just memorizing data.

Dr. Friesen referenced, What Did You Do In School Today?, a national study that was done to analyze student engagement, learning and teaching.  The following are some of the findings she discussed that came from that study.

According to the study, student engagement can be measured in three ways:

1 – Social engagement – That is, can the student participate in academic and non-academic endeavors such as sports, clubs and positive relationships?  This area is what fosters a sense of belonging.
2 – Institutional engagement – These factors indicate a student’s value in the school outcomes.  Attendance and positive homework habits would be examples of this.
3 – Intellectual engagement – This is reflected by a student's interest and motivation.  Quality of instruction plays a factor here. 

Over 500,000 students have now participated in the study.  The survey gleans opinions from students about how relevant school is to them and what it is that provides them with a positive learning environment. 

On page 14 of the report there is a representation of "Instructional Challenge".  A summary of this is a follows:

When the challenge to the student is high and their skills are low = Student anxiety
Low challenge and high skills = Student boredom
Low challenge and low skills = Student apathetic towards learning
High challenge and high skills = Interested and successful students

She did note that Alberta does have high levels of anxiety among students, a fact that is very concerning.

Dr. Friesen also discussed a few other points that have been extrapolated from the study:

Schools and teachers do make a difference.  In fact, she said that the teacher outweighs socio-economic factors when it comes to student engagement.

Homework completion and attendance (ie. a student being where they are supposed to be) both drop significantly by the time a student reaches grade 12.  By grade 12, attendance has dropped to around 60%.

A student’s interest and motivation reaches a low in grade 10.

She named three practices a teacher needs to follow in order to keep students engaged:

1 – Cognitive investment – ie, the teacher needs to have good knowledge of what they are teaching
2 – Instructional style – Be interesting and challenging and conform to learners
3 – Authenticity

Some discussion followed this, particularly relating to the curriculum.  Teachers are instructed to teach an almost impossible number of outcomes, when it may be more important to focus the curriculum towards higher level outcomes. 

She ended the evening by encouraging parents to ask their children lots of questions.  She also wanted parents to make sure to ask the teacher and principal questions and to advocate when necessary. 

May Meeting

Our next meeting will be the final CAPSC meeting of this school year, so we encourage our members and the public to join us for the final session.  Our meeting will be held on Tuesday May 21st, 7:00pm AE Cross School library (3445-37St SW). 

Full details to follow, so tuned tuned to our website.

CBE Council of School Councils (COSC) Follow Up

In lieu of a regular member meeting this month, CAPSC encouraged it's members to join our executive in attending the 2nd COSC meeting of the school year on April 17th.  

Our president Jeff Bowes was in attendance and wanted our members to know that we are currently working on ways to keep our membership informed regarding the upcoming trustee elections in fall 2013.  We will continue to update you as plans are finalized.

For COSC meeting agenda and follow up, please refer to the CBE web page.


It's never too early to join CAPSC!  As the 2012-2013 school year winds down, we are already planning for next year, and now you can too!  Purchase next year's membership now and stay ahead of the game.  CAPSC is already busy lining up great guest speakers and topics for next year and you don't want to miss out!  Please see our web page for membership information, or contact our Communications Coordinator for more information on how we can support you and your school council.

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