The Global Field Academy is guided by Fontan Relational Education, a highly acclaimed personalized education program that utilizes research based and high quality materials in order to ensure that when our students graduate, they will be prepared to handle the rigors of a college curriculum and the demands of the global market. As a departure point, research to be utilized will include: Classroom Instruction That Works (Marzano, Pickering, Pollock, 2001), key learning approaches to meeting a variety of student needs is standards-based project-based learning (Buck Institute for Education, 2004), brain-based research (Kotulak, 1996) and (Kuhl,1994), project-based learning (Thomas, 2000), high levels of critical thinking (Bloom’s Taxonomy), Understanding by Design (backward design) (Wiggins and McTighe, 2001), student centered learning (Lea et al., 2003), integrating ideas to learn in authentic contexts (diSessa, 2000; Linn & His, 2000), integrating different learning modes (Gardner, 1993) and student choice (Bandura, 1997).
At Global Field Academy we understand the importance of using research-based educational practices and perform on-going studies to promote student achievement. In order to address how learning best occurs, faculty will be trained to: (1) design standards-based curriculum (using the principles of backward design); (2) align appropriate assessments to the standards; and (3) implement project-based learning activities that are aligned to standards and reflect research-based best practices, as detailed in the Buck Institute’s Project Based Learning Handbook.
Educators also design instruction that incorporates strategies detailed in Classroom Instruction That Works, by Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock. The following provides a detailed description of the standards-based instructional design process implemented at the the academy. The method, known as “backward design,” is an instructional design method with a strong research base currently being employed in reform efforts across the nation. Originally published in Understanding by Design, by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, this process of instructional planning provides educators with a method for aligning standards, assessment, and instruction. This process is one in which educators start with the desired results (personal goals and standards) – and then derive the curriculum from the evidence of learning (performances) called for by the standard and the teaching needed to equip students to perform.
The Global Field Academy will also utilize research to test and challenge existing models of theory and practice. For instance, educational researcher Benjamin Bloom examines in his 1984 article “The 2 Sigma Problem: The Search for Method of Group Instruction as Effective as One to One Tutoring.” In the article, Bloom established 21 variables for effectively improving student achievement that he tested in three different environments: (1) the conventional classroom, (2) mastery instruction, which is the same as conventional classroom with the addition of feedback and corrective procedures, and (3) one to one tutoring. Bloom found that one to one tutoring has the highest level of improving student achievement, Bloom’s research found that they could only combine no more than three of the 21 variables at a time to have positive results. In analyzing Fontan Relational Education, which Global Field Academy is largely based, their unique approach combines up to 18 out of the 21 variables at one time. It means that if Bloom found great results with three variables, students can experience exponential learning achievements with 18 variables.