It's official – social interaction enhances learning

Sometimes basic research is needed to confirm what you thought you knew all along. The BBC is running an interesting report from the Institute of Education in London confirming a few suspicions about the importance of social interaction in learning, particulalry interaction with a teacher. Although the report focuses on school kids I think it's likely there's something in there for education at all levels and to be honest the overall message will be a familiar one to many.

“A focus on content delivery, tests and targets in secondary schools interferes with learning, young people say. Research involving children in the second year of secondary school suggests they regard the social aspect of school as highly valuable. Researcher Eileen Carnell, from the Institute of Education in London, said this could be used better to develop collaborative learning.”

The BBC's write-up of the report is largely a good read but I'm not entirely convinced by the closing statement.

“The new focus on 'assessment for learning' could help – but only if the emphasis is on learning and not 'performing', test results or levels of ability.”

The assessment for learning referred to is likely this strategy for 3-14 year olds from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). Assessment and in particular formative assessment is important but I've never been in a meeting where someone's complained that learners today are underassessed.