Precision Teaching is a systematic measurement system that guides instructional decision making. Precision Teaching effectively and efficiently strengthens fluent responding by reinforcing high frequency responding. To do this, Precision Teaching relies on a very precise and sensitive measurement system that "tells a story" through the data presented on a chart (see above image). This learning picture allows the chart to function as an analytical tool. Read more below to learn about Precision Teaching!
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What is fluency?
Fluency is the ability to engage in a behavior effortlessly and with accuracy. Great examples of fluent behavior are 1) Tiger Woods swinging his driver, 2) Mozart playing the piano, 3) a bank teller counting money, and 4) a chef chopping an onion. All of these individuals perform their skill without hesitation and with near perfection. Fluency can be found in academics as well! Teachers are fluent in the subject areas they teach. Precision Teaching methods are excellent at building performance to these high standards, or fluent levels.
From where did Precision Teaching originate?
Precision Teaching was developed from the science of learning, or behavior analysis, which is a subset of psychology. Ogden Lindsley, a student of B. F. Skinner, sought to bridge the gap between behavior analysis and education. Therefore, Dr. Lindsley applied the principles he learned from Dr. Skinner to education. He developed the sensitive measurement system, the Standard Celeration Chart, and with his students, began to establish key features and methods of Precision Teaching.
Why Precision Teaching?
In comparison to many other teaching techniques, Precision Teaching is an evidence based practice. Data from within subject, group, and longitudinal studies show that the Precision Teaching method is both effective and efficient. The largest study of Precision Teaching is the Great Fall Precision Teaching Project in Great Falls, Montana (Beck & Clement, 1991). For 15 years, students of Great Falls received Precision Teaching training. Schools were randomly assigned to either 1) receive PT services or 2) serve as the control groups where students were taught using traditional educational methods. Teachers who used PT allowed student performance to guide advancement through a curriculum sequence. The first review of the project in 1975 compared performance of struggling students in grades 1-4. Fifteen of the 19 experimental-control group comparisons performed significantly better on post-test examinations. In 1979, students in 1st through 4th grades who received Precision Teaching methods significantly out performed the control groups in areas of reading, math, and spelling, as measured by the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Similar results were replicated throughout the course of the project.
How is Precision Teaching different from traditional education?
1. Precision Teaching is a subset of Behavior Analysis, a field of Psychology. It does not come from the School of Education.
2. Mastery is defined beyond 100%. Sally and Bobby both earned 100% the same test. However, Sally completed the test in 15 min and Bobby needed an hour. Obviously, there is a difference between these two learners. Percent correct unfortunately masks this important difference. Therefore, in addition to 100% accuracy, Precision Teaching uses well researched frequency aims (performing a skill at a certain speed) to serve as the criteria for mastery.
3. Data collection! Not only does Precision Teaching incorporate a different measurement system, Precision Teaching instructors constantly collect data on a number of academic behaviors.
4. Precision Teaching believes that the "child knows best," not the instructor. In other words, the child's behavior guides the teacher. Instead of forcing a child to learn a particular way, Precision Teaching identifies the individual learning style of that child.
5. Just because something was "taught" from the perspective of the instructor does not mean that learning occurred. Furthermore, just because a student says they "know" something, does not mean that they actually do. We rely on the behavior data and the well researched standards to identify if the student understands a particular concept and is proficient at a specific skill.
6. Precision Teaching relies less on instruction and more on practice.