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Running head: PERKINS ANALYSIS 1

Perkins Analysis-Making Sense of the Game

Olga M. Herget

EDU510 The Cognitive Science of Teaching & Learning

Dr. Mary Mills


Perkins Analysis-Making Sense of the Game

In the textbook Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of Teaching Can

Transform Education, David Perkins proposes educators approach teaching and learning from a

new perspective. He believes deep learning requires learners to make sense of information in the

classroom, stay motivated to learn, and connect new knowledge to real life (2009). Perkins

compares learning in the classroom to how children learn to play a sport. They play for

enjoyment without necessarily knowing all the rules from the onset and practice their skills

because they enjoy the game. Perkins’ ongoing baseball analogy throughout his textbook helps

make sense of complex learning theories, promotes equitable learning, and inspires educators to

teach smarter.

Analysis and Application

Perkins Principles of Teaching- Play the Whole Game

Definition of the Non-example Learning Modifications

Perkins’ first Many social According to Perkins, teachers
principle focuses on studies classes focus on should not focus on elementitis and
helping students see the having students learn aboutitis but rather find solutions to
big picture, not just and recall facts and approaching complex lessons (2009, p. 37)
pieces of a concept, dates based on isolated Complex lessons are a good way to
even at the introductory world events. engage learners because they embrace
level (Perkins, 2009. Educators often students that asks, “why?” in class
p.38). This type of emphasize rote (Perkins, 2009. p. 30).
learning is not content memorization to Project Based Learning is an
based, but rather pushes develop foundational excellent tool to use in a social studies
learners to think and re- knowledge, yet it is not classroom. Teachers can focus on two to
think a topic and is conducive to deeper three key points of a topic and later
generally based on learning (The introduce other aspects of the topic. By
inquiry or performance Difference, 2017). getting students started at the “junior
in a broad sense Even more alarming, level”, teachers can spark curiosity,
(Perkins, 2009, p. 30). many history lessons provide time to explore a topic, and

Students are encouraged offer students only one motivate students (Aungst, 2016).
to immerse themselves perspective and come Middle school teachers Jody
in the learning process from one textbook. Passanisi and Shara Peters share excellent
and develop a deep Michael Conway ideas for Project Based Learning on the
understanding of a states, “Currently, most blog MiddleWeb (2013)
concept or skill. students learn history https://www.middleweb.com/8862/project-
as a set narrative—a learning-in-history-class/
process that reinforces Students should always start a
the mistaken idea that topic accessing prior knowledge and then
the past can be linking new knowledge to the previous
synthesized into a experience.
single, standardized
chronicle of several
hundred pages” (2015,
para. 4).
A non-example
of this principle occurs
when social studies
teachers present a
historical event as
isolated and only assess
student learning using
multiple-choice or fill-
in questions based on
rudimentary facts.
An additional
violation of Perkins
first principle is that
many high school
social study courses are
labeled World History
when in actuality the
majority focus solely
on Western civilization
(Stearns, 2009).

Perkins Principles of Teaching-Make the Game Worth Playing

Definition of the Principle Non-example Learning Modifications

In schools, many The public school According to Perkins,

students go through the educational system uses a commitment to learning is
motions of learning for purely variety of grading systems to shown through practice time,
extrinsic reasons. Extrinsic provide a concrete persistence, and a general
motivators in the educational representation of completion love of the activity (Perkins,
field include grades and of a task and to reflect quality 2009, p. 55)
praise received for good work of performance within an Educators need to find
(Smith, 2014). Extrinsic academic environment ways to emphasize the act of
motivation works only as a (Shindler, 2008). In school, learning over achieving a
short-term motivator. The students receive multiple certain grade in the class.
second principle focuses on grades throughout the course There are different methods to
the intrinsic motivation of of a unit of study because promote a positive attitude
students. Intrinsic motivation students (and parents) often toward learning including
will drive students to want to feel effort and completed  Focus on proficiency
learn because it creates an work requires a grade to have  Meaningful feedback
atmosphere of self-regulation meaning. However, the act of  Goal Setting
and personal satisfaction grading can be detrimental to  Choice in activity
through a challenge-seeking students. (De-emphasize, 2015).
environment (Kazakoff, A 2002 study at the Choice in the
2017). Simply stated, a University of Michigan found classroom can be reflected
learner will seek out that 80 percent of students through different practices
knowledge and learn about a surveyed based their self- such as allowing students to
topic because it interests worth on academic work in a group or alone,
them. To help students grow performance (Thomsen, having students pick which
as learners, teachers must use 2013). Low grades can lead to assignments to complete for a
ongoing assessment and low self-esteem, impede the grade, and offering flexibility
feedback to encourage desire to learn, and stop risk- with assignment turn in dates
understanding, not an taking in the classroom (Turner, 2010). By giving
academic grade (Perkins, (Shore, n.d.). students a voice, teachers can
2009). Punishing students for engage all types of learners in
doing poorly in school is a a classroom and instill
violation of the second intrinsic motivation in
principle because students students.
must have the mindset that
they can learn to believe the
“game is worth playing”

(Perkins, 2009, p.70).

Perkins Principles of Teaching-Work on the Hard Parts

Definition of the Principle Non-example Learning Modifications

The third principle has A non-example of To be able to work on

two important components: Perkins’s third principle can the “hard parts” students need
teachers must anticipate the occur during the first years of to put in conscious effort to
“hard parts” and students teaching a World Language. practice and understand the
must practice the “hard parts” Unexperienced educators current task and think about it
of learning. The goal is might not allow students to in new ways (Perkins, 2009).
improvement of skill set, not submit quiz corrections on Learning a foreign language
mindless practice without assessments. In addition, a requires consistent practice
meaning. Perkins warns lack of experience hinders the and opportunity for
educators not to follow the ability to anticipate which independent practice, and
heart-and-minds theory concepts will prove most self-reflection (Broad
because it does not often difficult for students and how Instructional, n.d.).
work. A student’s intent to to work with grammar in Veteran teachers
improve is often hindered by creative ways. recognize the value in test
lack of understanding of Many first-year world corrections. This practice is
feedback and time constraints language teachers rely on an excellent strategy to stress
in the classroom (2009, p.81). “drill and kill” grammar student accountability,
practice and numerous pre- reinforce the importance of
designed worksheets, which material, and practice the
do not reflect much meaning “hard parts”. Students may
to students’ lives. This is a correct assessments in class
violation of the third principle with a peer, explain in their
because all students need own words why the answer is
authentic opportunity to incorrect, and submit a
practice skills in a meaningful corrected answer.
way to correctly “play the Kelly Jackson, a
game” (Perkins, 2009). mathematics professor,
believes test corrections
support students by helping
with the “hard parts” such as

computational errors and

learning gaps (Jackson,
Veteran teachers are
also able to incorporate more
learning strategies due to
experience and confidence in
the classroom. An excellent
method to work with
grammar is guiding students
through activities in sentence
combining, sentence
expanding, and sentence
manipulating (Simpson,
2018). These activities allow
student to practice using
knowledge while analyzing
how and when to use it. A
teacher can then create
sentences based off students’
interests, hobbies, and

Perkins Principles of Teaching-Play Out of Town

Definition of the Principle Non-example Learning Modifications

According to Perkins, A non-example of Teachers need to be

many students have trouble “play out of town” is a world aware of learning situations
transferring learning from one language lesson that does not that offer transfer
situation to another (Perkins, require active thinking nor opportunities for students.
2009). Educators must help incorporate culture as part of Furthermore, teachers must
students use “high road the objective. Spanish II design learning activities,
transfer” to ensure students study a unit based on which empower students to
understanding and getting around town, driving learn on a whole level
connections. The easiest way directions, and formal (Perkins, 2009, p. 131).
to understand this principle is commands. All activities and Effective world

to think of the connections we information reflect the town language teachers include
make every day. Tennis where students live, without culture in the classroom to
players who want to win the mentioning a Spanish- promote the access of prior
Grand Slam must be able to speaking location nor the knowledge, encourage
transfer athletic skill to clay, customs of the location. The discussion, and help students
grass, and hard courts. All teacher provides a vocabulary make connections to the real
three locations require the list, grammar points, and world.
ability to run, hit, and serve, requires students to complete An excellent method
while adjusting for the a final project at the end of to use for transfer of learning
different speed conditions of the unit. This is a violation of is inquiry-based learning. The
the court. the fourth principle because teacher could approach the
This principle is very the teacher has done all the unit by giving students time
important because the entire work and the students have to research what a typical
goal of education is to prepare not made a connection town in Spain looks like,
students to take acquired between local and foreign modes of transportation used,
knowledge and understanding town life (Perkins, 2009, and how a Spaniard would
of the world and apply them p.124). give driving directions
to real-life situation (Perkins, (formal versus informal
2009, p. 114). commands). The students’
reference points are the town
they live in and the modes of
transportation they use. As the
unit progresses, students will
be able to identify similarities
and differences between the
two parts of the world. This
promotes understanding of
other people and cultures.

Perkins Principles of Teaching-Uncover the Hidden Game

Definition of the Principle Non-example Learning Modifications

In Perkins’ textbook, A non-example of this The practice of

he describes the “hidden principle occurs when a teaching is full of “teachable
games” as the parts of teacher does not take the time moments”. Many educators
learning which are not to grasp teaching can anticipate what the

apparent at the surface level opportunities to help students “hidden games” in learning
(Perkins, 2009). Perkins find the “hidden game” Many look like for students. Perkins
believes the “hidden games” students accept facts at face uses multiple examples in his
are the key to igniting value and do not question text of how to help students
curiosity in our students about concepts or ideas on a deeper solve problems on their own.
learning and helping them to level. A World Language
raise their own educational World Language teacher can modify the
bar (Perkins, 2009, p. 136). students are often required to reading activity through
Hidden games can be difficult read authentic reading providing multiple reading
to access due to a variety of materials related to course strategies. Strategies may
factors from student content. It can be very include
complacency to frustrating to sit down, see a  Students read sections
misunderstood human cues. two-page article on the aloud to one another.
importance of friendship in  Students identify cognates
the target language, and only and infer meaning of
recognize a few words. words.
Teachers who do not provide  Students write main idea
reading strategies for students of each paragraph and
are in violation of the sixth share ideas with each
principle because they are other.
causing students to feel  Provide students with
overwhelmed and burdened graphic organizers to
(Perkins, 2009). identify main idea(s).
The “hidden game” is
allowing students to be
responsible for their own
learning while working on
comprehension skills.
Teachers should start out with
shorter readings, or “junior
versions”, to show students
the value of the activity,
ensure transfer, and practice
the “hard parts” (Perkins,
2009, p.140).

Perkins Principles of Teaching-Learn from the Team


Definition of the Principle Non-example Learning Modifications

In his sixth principle, A non-example of this To modify this lesson

Perkins stresses the principle is teacher-centered an instructor can provide
importance of learning from learning. Many high school students with activity and
others because “thinking and and higher-level education sport categories and use
learning always develop in a classes still operate in this Think, Pair, Share to have
sociocultural context (2009, manner. Teachers who rely on students generate a
p. 172). Perkins proposes this method of instruction vocabulary list. This learning
teachers should not benefit from conveying strategy is an excellent
emphasize solo work but information quickly and method to increase student
rather encourage controlling the content. engagement and participation
collaboration and sharing of An example of teacher- by raising student comfort
experiences. based learning is requiring level (Sampsel, 2013). Ideas
One of the greatest students to use a pre-made can thrive because different
teachers the world has ever vocabulary list for a World students bring their own life
know is Socrates. Socratic Language unit on sports and experience into the mix of
teaching emphasizes higher- after school activities instead learning thus generating new
order thinking and requires of having students discuss and learning. Students who live in
students to work together to share which sports and a lower-income city can tailor
analyze concepts and ideas activities they participate in on the list to activities and sports
(Paul & Elder, 1997). a daily basis. A set list of they are interested in and
Educators of today words may include activities have experienced.
must remember students are such as boating, golf, and Another important
not a homogeneous group. hang-gliding. If the student reason to encourage
According to population is mostly lower- interaction and learning with
Bronfenbrenner’s model, income city students, this list peers is working with others
students bring their family’s may not activate thinking can help clarify both the
traditions, expectations, and throughout classroom “hard parts” and the “hidden
beliefs into the daily activities. game” (Perkins, 2009).
classroom (Bronfenbrenner, This is a violation of
(1994). the sixth principle because it
does not allow for student
interaction and only engages
student at the lower-levels of
Bloom’s Taxonomy
(Conventional, Teacher-
Centered, 2007).

Connections & Reflections

The goal of education is to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to

succeed beyond their school years. In today’s classroom, student learning often happens in a

bubble. Educators need to find ways to provide authentic learning opportunities to all students.

As I read the chapters in Perkins’ textbook, I kept coming back to one main concept; for deeper

understanding to occur, educators must help students to make connections to previous and new


To encourage and facilitate active learning, educators must understand the important roles

of memory, transfer, and social context. All three components play a vital role in the learning

process. The human brain accesses information using three different methods short-term

memory, long-term memory, and working memory. Perkins principles help break down learning

theories into manageable pieces. Principle Two Make the Game Worth Playing and Principle Six

Learn from the Team are key players in activating prior knowledge. Both principles require

teachers to create an environment of inquiry, discovery, and facilitate sharing among peers.

Transfer of information requires students to make connections at the personal level,

identify knowledge gaps, and make real-life connections (Stenger, 2017). According to Perkins,

many students have trouble transferring learning from one context to another. (Perkins, 2009).

Principle Three Work on the Hard Parts and Principle Four Play Out of Town require teachers to

recognize where students are experiencing difficulty, create opportunities to work with

knowledge, and practice skill sets in different contexts.

The final puzzle piece to learning is social context. Urie Brofenbrenner, a developmental

psychologist, introduced the education field to an ecological systems theory of child

development. The five-system model of social contexts demonstrates how experiences shape the

development of human beings throughout their lives. The five models are Microsystems,

Mesosystems, Exosystems, Macrosystems, and Chronosystems (Bronfenbrenner, 1994). When

children are young, learning primarily occurs at the Microsystem level. As children mature and

social circles expand, social interactions increase within other systems. Perkins’ principles of

learning relate directly to Brofenbrenner’s systems because they emphasize the importance of

learning with and through others. In a school environment (Mesosystem), peers are an invaluable

resource and often help the learning process by sharing tips, information, and life-experiences

(Perkins, 2009).

As an educator, I am committed to being a life-long learner and hope to instill a love of

knowledge in my students. Incorporating Perkins principles into my teaching will benefit my

students threefold. Firstly, I had never really thought about approaching my teaching as a whole.

Second language acquisition is often broken down into pieces and not presented as a whole

concept. Secondly, I was pleased to discover I was already incorporating some of Perkins’

principles into the culture of my classroom. I believe strongly in students working together,

helping each other, and constructing new learning from previous knowledge. Thirdly, I will

continue to find ways to make “the game worth playing”. Intrinsic motivation is difficult to elicit

from adolescents. By continuing to create an active and challenging learning environment, I hope

to inspire curiosity and create life-long learners.



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