The theoretical framework that will be used to guide this study of how teachers can be successful with the NGSS will be that of transformational teaching. The NGSS is asking teachers to step outside of their comfort zone of traditional teaching and look at teaching as not as a director on a stage but as a guiding facilitator to new knowledge and how to blend with previous ideas and beliefs.
Transformation teaching theory based on the works of George M. Slavich and Philip G. Zimbardo, who believe that the multitude of contemporary teaching strategies blend to meet the needs of building relationships with students to foster development of content while allowing students to transform their beliefs, attitudes, and skills of learning ( HYPERLINK “https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Slavich%20GM%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=23162369” Slavich, G. & Zimbardo, P, 2012). Students ultimately need to be in control of their education and learn to understand how they learn to apply the knowledge to the world. The teacher will act as a facilitator to engage students in active-learning and assist in how to make this knowledge fit to their previous beliefs. The term “motivational leaders” can describe how teachers are seen for students to see their potential for learning and gaining skills for their next adventures. ( HYPERLINK “https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Slavich%20GM%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=23162369” Slavich, G. & Zimbardo, P, 2012).
The two theories of learning that apply to transformational teaching consist of the constructivist and social constructivist, as best described by Piaget and Vygotsky respectfully, as students being actively engaged in a discovery process through social collaboration. The contemporary styles of learning and instruction that coincide with these theories are active learning, student-centered learning, collaborative learning, experiential learning, and problem-based learning. See Table 1 for an explanation of each approach.
Table 1: Contemporary approaches to learning and classroom instruction
Approach Brief description Example activities References
Active-learning Instructors actively engage students in the learning process by assigning guided activities and exercises that require students to articulateand communicate ideas, explore attitudes and?values, and utilize higher-order cognitive strategies?such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation One minute paperDebating topicsRole-playingDaily JournalThink-pair-shareAnalyzing/reacting to videosCollaborative learning groupClass discussion Bonwell and Eison 1991;
Johnson et al. 2006;
Meyers and Jones 1993;Moeller 1985;
Richmond and Kindelberger Hagan 2011;
Yoder and Hochevar 2005Studen-centered learning Instructors assign primacy to students’ needs, abilities, interests, and learning styles by making them active learners and giving them autonomy and control over the choice of subject matter, learning methods, and pace of study, which in turn increases students’ responsibility for learning and helps them develop skills to actively choose and manage their educational goals Self-initiated assignmentsSelf-paced teaching?bookletsSelf-directed learning kitsSchool-based action?research projectsLearning logsRole-playingClass activities and?fieldwork Brandes and Ginnis 1986;
Brown Wright 2011;
Hannafin et al. 1997;
O’Neill and McMahon 2005;
Weimer 2002Collaborative learning Students learn best when they tackle problems andquestions with peers—especially more knowledgeable peers—insofar as such experiences provide students with opportunities to learn new problem-solving strategies and to debate ideas in a way that challenges their understanding of concepts Jigsaw classroomGroup roundtablesPaired annotationsSend-a-problemThink-pair-shareThree-step interviewTeam pair soloCircle the sage Aronson and Patnoe 1997;Barkley et al. 2005;
Johnson and Johnson 1974;
O’Donnell et al. 2006;
Slavin 1977, 1995;
Smith et al. 2009;Svinivki and McKeachie 2011Experiential learning Instructors promote learning by having students directly engage in, and reflect on, personal experiences that takes place in four stages (concrete experience, reflection, abstract conceptualization, and activeexperimentation), leading to increased knowledge, skill development, and values clarification Keeping a reflective journalObserving phenomena?or behaviorConducting interviews?or experimentsParticipating in discussion boardsPlaying games or?simulationsTaking field tripsRole-playingBuilding a model Beard and Wilson 2006;
Kayes et al. 2005;
Kolb and Fry 1975;
Kolb and Kolb 2005;Maudsley and Strivens 2000;Miettinen 2000;
Moon 2004;Svinivki and McKeachie 2011Problem-based learning Instructors (called “tutors” or “facilitators”) facilitatelearning by having students tackle complex, multifacetedproblems in small groups while providing scaffolding,modeling experiences, and opportunities for self-directed learning, which enhances students’ content knowledge, and increases their academic self-efficacy, problem-solving skills, collaboration skills, and self-directed learning skills Small-group teamsClarifying concepts and termsDeveloping and testing hypothesesDelegating research workloadStudying privatelySynthesizing and reporting new information Amador et al. 2006;
Boud and Feletti 1997;
Duch et al. 2001;
Loyens et al. 2008;
Svinicki 2007Source: ( HYPERLINK “https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Slavich%20GM%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=23162369” Slavich, G. ; Zimbardo, P, 2012).
The various approaches to student learning allow for a higher level thinking while incorporating reading, writing, discussing, and engaging in problem-solving. The higher order conceptual thinking arrives through the analysis, synthesis, and evaluation done while working collaboratively. The teacher is essential in molding the curriculum to meet the abilities and learning styles of all students, their interests, and needs to be successful. Each activity shapes the student’s experiences with discovery and allows for self-responsibility for learning.
The ideology of transformational teaching entwines with a few other principles and theories that are considered fundamental aspects to its existence. These principles include constructivism, social constructivism, social cognitive theory, transformative learning theory, transformative leadership, and intentional change theory. Each of the following principles and theories associated with transformational teaching is summarized in Table 2 below.
Table 2. Theoretical underpinnings of transformational teaching
Theory/Principle Key features Select References
Constructivism Knowledge is generated via experiences that challenge current understanding and belief (i.e., “learn by doing”)
Learning activities and exercises must involve reflection and discourse
Instructors involve students in the discovery of the process to engage higher-order cognitive skills (e.g., analysis, synthesis, evaluation) Piaget 1926; see also Lord 1997;
Vygotsky 1978, 1986Social constructivism Social contexts and interactions are critical for learning because they
(1) provide information about important symbol systems (e.g., logic, language) and
(2) expose students to more knowledgeable peers
Instructors provide guided opportunities for interaction and discourse, and focus on students’ individual needs Vygotsky 1978, 1986; see?also Bruner and Haste 2010;
Keaton and Bodie 2011;
Pritchard and Woollard 2010Social Cognitive theory Individuals exert intentional control over their functioning and life through their actions
Actions are determined by efficacy beliefs (i.e., judgments regarding likely success), which are self-generated but also influenced by others
High self-efficacy is associated with several desirable outcomes (e.g., more positive attitudes, and greater persistence and academic success) Bandura 1986, 1993,
?1997, 2012a, b; Schunk and Mullen 2012; Schunk and Pajares 2009
Transformative learning theory Students learn by revising their habits of mind (i.e., ways of thinking, acting, etc.) and points of view (i.e., attitudes, values, beliefs, etc.)
Change occurs when students solve and discuss problems while reflecting on their interpretations, habits of mind, and points of view
Instructors serve as facilitators who engage students in interdependent discovery involving problem-solving, discourse, and critical reflection Cranton 2006; Dirkx 1998;
?MacGregor Burns 1978;
?Mezirow 1978, 1991,
?1994, 1995, 1996,
Intentional change theory Sustainable change in behavior, thoughts, feelings, and perceptions involves five steps:
?(1) identify the ideal self and vision for future;
?(2) identify real self and compare to ideal self;
(3) devise a development plan with
(4) experiment and practice with new behaviors, thoughts, and perceptions; and
(5) develop helpful personal
Instructors can promote attitudinal and
?behavioral change by guiding students
?through these five steps or “discoveries” Boyatzis 2006 a, b, c,
Boyatzis and Akrivou 2006
Transformational leadership theory Leaders empower, inspire, and challenge Individuals to transcend their own self-interests in order to exceed traditional expectations, and realize a shared vision of personal and collective excellence
Instructors accomplish this by employing the four components of transformational leadership, which include: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration Avolio and Bass 1995;
Bass and Bass 2008;
Bass and Riggio 2006, 2010; Rafferty and Griffin 2004
Source: ( HYPERLINK “https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Slavich%20GM%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=23162369” Slavich, G. ; Zimbardo, P, 2012).
Each of these underlying principles lends itself to the values and insight of transformational teaching. The constructivist avenue speaks of how being actively involved during the discovery of content leads to students learning best (Piaget 1926), and the social constructivist notion implies that these discoveries are more impactful during social interaction between classmates while sharing their newfound knowledge (Bruner and Haste 2010; Vygotsky 1978, 1986).
The social cognitive theory, ones self-efficacy plays a vital role in how successful they can in functioning based on their beliefs and actions towards this outcome. Faculty members are needed as leaders to set expectations for their students own beliefs on success, the harboring beliefs that others may have for students potential success, and how the teacher has beliefs in both the student and oneself for success (Bandura 1986, 1997, 2012a).
As learners improve their understanding of content, they change their “frames of reference” and begin to alter the habits of mind and points of view. This modification infers how transformational learning theory applies to problem-solving while discussing and reflecting on what has changed throughout the learning process. Teachers assist students in becoming more aware and critical of these references through more interactive experiences with others through group work, critical reflectivity, and discourse. Achievement of changes in thinking, attitude, and beliefs can occur through more interdependent discovery activities where the student engages in real-world applications to make meaningful connections with everyday life. According to theory, Mezirow (2000) proposed four ways a student could learn: (1) elaborate on the previous frames of reference;(2) learn new frames; (3) transform habits of the mind; (4) transform their point of view.
Intentional change theory makes an individual look within themselves to find the desirable and sustainable changes that are needed to meet the needs of their future self. The idea of honest assessment within our strengths and weakness will allow the individual to compare who they are now and where they would like to be ideally in the future. A learning plan can be devised to tailor the experiences, with the guiding assistance of close personal relationships, to practice new routines, thoughts, behaviors, perceptions, and feelings (Boyatzis and Akrivou 2006). A transformational teacher will facilitate the process to allow students the ability to find their ideal self and stimulate hope in finding their weaknesses and strengths and turn them into the future vision of themselves. The teacher will cultivate an atmosphere of learning where the young adult will develop new patterns of thinking and be encouraged, as well as supported, by all who will promote and encourage the growth within.
The last theory that has a place in the dealings of transformational teaching is transformational leadership. Each teacher is a leader within their classroom, their school community, and of their professional development. Transformational leadership’s purpose is to encourage and challenge others to become self-less and work as a whole to achieve a level of high function (Barling et al. 2010; Bass 1985; Bass and Bass 2008; Bass and Riggio 2010). Each person involved in this unit will commit to shared visions and goals while being innovative with challenging problem-solving skills, and being supportive and mentoring those that need guidance. The leadership role will mentor, guide, and involve all members as equals. Transformational leadership, not often applied to a classroom structure, shares all the above criteria to meet the goals, set by a teacher, for the collective group of students to share and find inspiration with one another. Teachers are the mentors for all students to be successful, not only in content but in building career and self-efficacy within. Transformational teachers will look at each person individually and spend time making sure they are contributing members to the group and how to keep them on their path to enlightenment. There are excellent opportunities for motivation, within a classroom, that not only increase self-intrinsic motivation but enables students to share in the process of motivating others to reach their full potential.
Through all the theoretical underpinnings involved with transformational teaching, there are fundamental principles that a transformational teacher may want to apply to their students and classroom to make all more effective in their transformation. The three major principium involve facilitating mastery of course concepts, exalt learning strengths and skills needed for discovery, succor the student’s beliefs, attitudes, and values for today and the future.
Although wanting students to master content is not unique to transformational teaching, how the students achieve this goal may look different than in a traditional class setting. Transformational teachers adapt lessons to match the needs of the students, such as focusing on students interests, various assignment types to meet the directives of the activity and needs of the student, and more opportunities for self-paced learning. Given the opportunity, students can explore others viewpoints, challenge the opinions given, react to what is happening in class, and play an active role in creating the lessons presented. Instead of having the students take a passive role in the class, the more collaborative they can be with the teacher/class the more they are willing to facilitate in the alteration process.
One primary goal for students in any school atmosphere is to learn and how to apply this newfound knowledge in the real world. We as teachers want students to develop the necessary skills and abilities to take this with them through there next future endeavors. Various methodologies are available for transformational teachers to apply, but according to (), “learning labs,” collaborative problem-solving pods, would encompass the learning with others approach of social constructivism and gain valuable tools from working with their peers(Piaget 1926; Vygotsky 1978, 1986). Within these ‘pods”, students can share in the discovery process leading to analysis, synthesis, communication, and evaluation. Students will become masters of the material and ” teach” one another to ensure all are achieving together as a whole unit, as the goal of transformational leadership and encouraging each to meet their individualized plans as implied in intentional change theory.
The last principle a transformational teacher will do is promote change within each students learning attitudes, beliefs, and values (). If a student can speak, debate, and reflect on the material presented a teacher can not deny that the student has grasped the meaning of learning. The more a student can question and give insight to problem-solving the more they are altering their self-efficacy within the content scope but with their learning schema. Once again, if a student is offered time to converse with their peers, these social interactions will offer the support and various viewpoints to examine and discuss to encourage the positive change (Boyatzis 2009; Brock 2010; Mezirow 2000). The transformational teacher will want to set high achievable goals for each student to meet. These are different for each person, but with the right amount of guidance, positivity, encouragement, and determination all can be successful. A positive, personalized approach to feedback during the learning process can ensure a transubstantiate long-term effect on their self-efficacy and intrinsic motivation to continue the discovery process (Bandura 1997, 2012a; Dahlgren et al. 2005; Dweck 2006).
The accomplishment of these basic principles of transformational teaching is engrained in the contemporary approaches listed in Table 1. These highly support the framework of how teachers can make transformational changes to ensure reaching their learning goals. All of these principles can stem from each of the theories presented in Table 2 and lead to core methods for implementation to meet transformational teaching objectives.
Six core methods discussed by Slavich & Zimbardo (2012), to achieve the transformational teaching objectives and employing these strategies in a classroom setting, will not only promote change from the role of the teacher, but the students will gain great strides in one’s metamorphosis during the learning and discovery processes. The methods are (1) establishing a shared vision for a course; (2) providing modeling and mastery experiences; (3) intellectually challenging and encouraging students; (4) personalizing attention and feedback; (5) creating experiential lessons for further enrichment; and (6) promoting ample opportunities for pre-flection and reflection.
The first of the methods asks that teachers establish a shared vision or goal as to what the students aim to achieve over the quarter or semester. The vivid picture will motivate and enact behaviors to reach personal goals while increasing their intrinsic value. It can sure as a temperature guide to know what expectations are due and prioritize time management (Bass and Riggio 2010). Setting the goals early will allow students time to master fundamental skills, explore various perspectives of the content, and provide time for potential interventions (Hermann et al. 2010; Wilson ; Wilson 2007). They should be aware that this will be a collaborative process and the use of one another is a strategic process to allow lasting, meaningful growth to occur from within and with others. A transformational teacher within the classroom can ask the following questions: “What do we know? What do we wish we knew? How do we work together to acquire that knowledge? Moreover, how will that knowledge move us forward?”(Slavich ; Zimbardo, 2012).
The transformational teacher will also want to establish a methodology for modeling to promote refinement in the student’s attitudes, values, and beliefs about learning from experience, leading to the second core method of promoting mastery and modeling. The modeling approach shows students how to tackle problem-solving individually and in group environments. Once teachers address remediation, if needed, most students will become student “teachers” and assist one another in the discovery process. The peer instruction often improves conceptual learning and the development of a deeper meaning of what learning indeed is (Cortright et al. 2005; Crouch and Mazur 2001; Lasry et al. 2008). If a teacher can model how to approach a difficult task, they are also sharing how to stay motivated and not be defeated. The motivation and growth mindset is vital for the students to see and duplicate. If a student can view adults overcoming obstacles, then the student can gather new outlooks and experiences on how to confront difficult problems and not be threatened or challenged intellectually. If a fixed mindset is in place, the student often disengages and in turn, fails to prosper in learning and to experience discovery ( Dweck 2006, Mercer and Ryan 2010). Students need these problematic hurdles in order to develop skill sets to survive and conquer academic pressures and become successful in future endeavors. Group work can also ease the frustration and confront issues as a whole instead of independently (Svinivki and McKeachie 2011; Zimbardo et al. 2003). These approaches allow enhancement of learning and developing new attitudes, skill, and beliefs, with critical developments about transformational teaching.
Along with the second core method of transformational teaching, the third method addresses the necessity of the teacher to academically and intellectually challenge the students learning while encouraging self-efficacy. The challenges presented through the classroom curriculum will engage students to reexamine their attitudes, values, and beliefs while expanding thinking to a higher level of functional thinking. The intellectual stimulation, presented in a myriad of ways, to the student, but the purest form is in framing questions. The teacher can start with basic and increase in difficulty based on the prior knowledge and beliefs (Erickson 2007; Taylor 2007; Mezirow 1997). The teacher can present task as less daunting and share how the students can use the skills already possess as well as the newly founded self-discoveries. These hurdles will hopefully manifest academic success and personal development.
While presenting the intellectual challenges, the teacher may need to provide emotional and instrumental support for some students finding these methodologies difficult. A teacher can create a classroom atmosphere that takes into account student differences, needs, and desires. The students need a voice in how the to best structure the classroom for the best possible learning (Avolio and Bass 1995; Podsakoff et al. 1990). A teacher can provide this emotional support by discussing issues with students independently or collectively, such as the beginning of the school year, or if classes change during the year. Students like to be heard and will usually react well if they feel a choice in their learning. If instrumental support is vital, more time can be awarded for assignments, less stringent requirements based on individual abilities, various types of assignments based on learning styles and preferences, and even assistance from others (Furnham et al. 2011; Loo 2004; Price 2004; Zhang et al. 2012). These small changes based on transformational teaching can lead to more individual student motivation and incite on how changing their frame of reference will allow gains in self-confidence to reach their personal and academic goals.
The fourth core method of transformational teaching concentrates on highlighting students’ strengths and weakness and how these should be tailored to meet their self-plan of learning with personal attention and feedback. A transformational teacher needs to maximize a students’ capabilities with each lesson and allow growth and practice in the various skill sets to be learned and discovered while making sure to use the appropriate difficulty (Bandura 1997, 2012a). The feedback, obtained from the teacher, based on how well a student does on a lesson or from a discussion, can lead to critical reflection for all parties involved and how to best meet the needs of the learning plan through the participant’s attributes (Erickson 2007; Mezirow 1978, 2000). Often transformation of self will occur if feedback is constructive and direct on how to best make alterations to the course of action towards the learning plan. Each student’s needs will vary, and by focusing on one’s needs at a time, this will show that a personal stake is warranted for their success, leading to self-motivation, change in learning attitudes and beliefs, and possible achievement gaps to lessen (Gaskill and Woolfolk Hoy 2002; Haak et al. 2011).
To enhance the curriculum presented, transformational teachers will best serve the students learning by offering experiential lessons. This fifth core method provides opportunities for students to transcend the boundaries of the classroom and assist in reshaping their frame of reference. These lessons tend to be more meaningful as students will apply skill sets and knowledge to relevant problems within their environment (Bandura 2012a; Bass 1985; Boyatzis 2006a; Mezirow 2000; Piaget 1926; Vygotsky 1978). Students find these lesson more useful, and enjoyable since they can share their personal experiences and reactions while enhancing the learning outcomes. These shared responses often result in greater self-awareness and insight into held thoughts and beliefs (Gross Davis 2009). The transformational teacher will make these available as often as possible and allow students more choice on what they would like to examine within the realm of the content presented. The student tends to feel more vested and have greater self-worth allowing more effort to be put forth. The excitement will show in their progress and report of events. The learning curve will increase and allow students to reflection during the process of how the learning plan is progressing.
Since transformational teachers need to know where a student stands with their prior knowledge and beliefs, pre-reflection and reflection activities would be essential in developing lessons for discovery and meaningful experiences, as stated with the sixth and final core method. The pre-reflection process provides meaningful insight on knowing what attributes students bring to the classroom not only for independent work but also for peers to understand and critique where different perspectives lay and used for problem-solving. Many may feel this is a waste of time, but gathering information on what the students know will change the course of action on how to best present new material. Students often know quite a bit, but how they have shaped their knowledge is where the direction may need to be realigned to meet the needs of content and the learning goals.
After a lesson, reflection best suits the student by sharing what new perspectives have been gained or still need tweaking for full understanding. The process can be done individually or as a group but each person should be responsible for their own and share out with at least one other person (Mezirow, 1998). The reflection can lead to self- discovery about how their attitudes, values, and beliefs may have changed throughout the experiences. These insights may provide information on how to make changes to meet the goals of learning.
All the underpinning theories, principles, and core methods of transformational teaching lend themselves to developing lessons that enable students to become better problem-solving, ambitious learners that have the ability alter how, why, and what they accept into their mind and skill sets. The opportunities and support will need to be present by the transformational teacher for each student to become proficient and successful in their endeavor for growth and knowledge.