Life’s work leads to fellowship

Forty years of sustainable research has earned John and Rebecca Moores Professor H. Jerome Freiberg a fellowship with the American Educational Research Association.’

The AERA fellowship is composed of a group of people who have made significant contributions to the field of educational research. Freiberg has received various awards in his 36 years with the University, but the AERA fellowship is effectively a lifetime achievement award.

‘I’ve been in education for 40 years. Being a fellow of the American Educational Research Association comes from long term sustainable research,’ Freiberg said.

The AERA fellowship is a new program comprised of researchers from all over the world. Freiberg will meet with this group in April.

AERA has more than 26,000 members, composed of educators, administrators, researchers, counselors, graduate students, and behavioral scientists. It is the largest education research group in the U.S.

Freiberg’s recent work includes the development of teaching models for elementary school students.’

Freiberg’s methods are co-implemented with teachers to develop a new method of successful teaching and learning. The method provides a framework allowing teachers to use creative ways to captivate student interest, and implement a structured learning environment.

Freiberg’s teaching structure has proven successful for a wide range of students.’

Videos of his method being implemented in a classroom of 3-year-old children from low-income backgrounds show teachers instilling classroom rules in children without being overbearing.’

The 3 year olds learned rules for acceptable behavior through songs, allowing them to be vocal participants rather than enforcing a passive and submissive attitude in the educational process.

‘What works is consistency without rigidity,’ Freiburg said.

The method transfers to older students as well.’

The suburban middle-class Duston High School in England contacted Freiberg to help them with unruly and disobedient students.’

‘The teachers at this school would post the students’ best papers on the wall, and kids would come up and set fire to them,’ Freiberg said. ‘I recommended a system where each student would select their best work for the week to be posted in the hallway. This gives them an active role in the teaching process. And then, instead of burning the papers on the wall, they would actually ask for them back.’

Freiberg’s methods worked for a range of students, from low-income to middle class, and for black, white, Hispanic or international students. He attributes this success to extensive research.

‘Trial and error is very inefficient. I use research and data to drive teaching and learning. We looked at data over a two-year period of 350 students.’

Freiberg said he strives to prevent problems in the classroom, to allow the teaching process to progress efficiently and teach children discipline for life.

Certain students are assigned classroom responsibilities. Obligations differ depending on age group and individual teaching style. Some duties include discipline and attendance monitors, class homework managers and computer problem specialists.’

The duties have been specialized so if the teacher is absent from class one day, a student will be in charge of the classroom. The level of participation is so high the students can teach each other.’

Freiberg has documented cases in his classrooms of elementary-age students assuming control of the class. It is a collaborative effort among the students and has been scientifically proven to work. In one documented case, the names of disruptive students were taken down by their peers and documented for classroom misconduct. The reports were turned in the next day when the teacher was present.

Freiberg directs 24 research centers with about 2,000 students where he conducts most of his research laboratory.

‘Research and teaching are joined at the hip. To be a good teacher, you have to be up to date in my field. To be up to date means that you have to continue doing research.’

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