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Hi everyone :(


I am in my final year of study on a BA Hons Early Childhood and Education Studies. At the moment I am doing my dissertation, the title is 'What learning is contained in a worksheet?' It's due in on the 29th April...Aargh!! :oxD:(


I have almost finished the analysis of my questionnaire responses and found that most people have responded with negative comments about worksheets. Some people have responded with positive comments but despite posing the question 'What learning is contained in a worksheet?' I have received few comments. I accept that this may be because there is limited learning in a worksheet, but would just like to 'double-check'. I have done a forum search and read tons of posts regarding worksheets but I have been unable to find much information regarding the learning content of a worksheet. HappyMaz was also very kind and shared her findings from her dissertation research which examined whether the use of worksheets was appropriate for use in pre-school.


I would be extremely grateful if you could try and answer the following question:


What learning is contained in a worksheet?


Please, please try to respond to this post. I am happy to share my findings once I have completed my dissertation.





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Depends on the worksheet!

It can be used to reinforce a concept and I saw that being done in some schools in the states. The teacher stood at the front of the class, all the children had a pot of crayons and a worksheet and she asked them to colout the ball behind the dog red. Not much learning for the children but a way of en masse testing!


In fairness some children like them because it's what they use at home.


Still used frequently in settings because they're available in all the resource books.


Not much help I know but you should be using the information you've already got as more information now may put a different slant on your findings. :o

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Not much help I know but you should be using the information you've already got as more information now may put a different slant on your findings.


It's just one question! Thank you for your response mrsblazer :oxD

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I was kinda hoping HappyMaz would come along and answer the question! :o As well as all the other lovely people out there :(

Well I have been trying, sienna but somehow my words keep coming out flippant, sarcastic and not a little pompous. :(


This is really one of those 'how long is a piece of string?' questions. In some ways, it rather depends on the adult's motives for giving the child the worksheet - what did they intend the child to learn from the worksheet?


My initial response was to say there is no learning in a worksheet, however that wouldn't do your question justice. Since you haven't asked us to consider one particular worksheet, I have to give my broad response to worksheets generally which is always difficult because it is such an emotive topic.


So, given that I come from a perspective that whatever a worksheet aims to 'teach' children, this can be learned in much more effective and enjoyable ways, here is what I think.


When doing a worksheet, children learn that some adults like it when children sit at a desk doing paper and pencil-based activities. They learn that they can get praise for drawing or colouring neatly within pre-drawn lines, or being able to copy pre-drawn symbols faithfully. They also learn that some adults at times prefer activities which can be completed quietly and individually. If they regularly do worksheets they may learn that there is always a 'right' and 'wrong' answer and that success relies on 'right' answer as often as possible.


I know this probably isn't what you were looking for but if anything else occurs to me I'll come back and add it. You may have opened a rather large can of worms here, and no doubt others will be along soon to add their own ideas and opinions. All I would say is that whenever you mention the word 'worksheet' in a room full of early years practitioners there is always a sharp intake of breath, and before you know it passions are aroused and people get very defensive of their positions.


It certainly is a controversial issue - which is why my working title for my research project was "Worksheets - the love that dare not speak its name". xD



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Perhaps it's the name that's emotive? 'work'-'sheets' If it were called something else would we feel the same way about them, is it a case of 'a rose by any other name...' but what positive name could they be given that would make us like them? Is there a time and a place for them? Does a colouring book given to a child have the same stigma, or a dot to dot? Hmm


I know I came across a load when I was tidying out my cupboard, and they were eagerly pounced upon by the children, they were spot the difference and can you find the same shape sheets from a good few years ago. They almost got into a fight over them and I had to photocopy them! I think some of it is that children who have older siblings see them doing things like that for homework and they see it as 'grown up'. But other children genuinely DO like these things and if we are planning for individual interests we perhaps have to ask if there's a place for them?


Hmm, kind of contradicting myself here. Rambling a bit too!

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Children would eat sweets all day too, given the option Cait!! :oxD


I think that if we all agree that children 'learn' through their senses, in active, exploratory ways, then this discounts worksheets. It's not even about the content of worksheets it's about the learning 'style' of them, definately not kineasthetic, I believe.


So if you are asking what learning is contained in worksheets maybe you need to look at 'learning styles'.


found this LEARNING STYLES -childrens


only had a quick scan but didn't see any 'worksheets' in the suggested activities. (although word bingo is suggested for children who have a 'visual' learning style.


I like Maz, could list 'negative' learning derived from using worksheets COMPARED to teaching same concepts through more sensory/active methods.



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If you have time could you give some examples of worksheets to adults and ask them what the learning intention of each is, obviously remove whatever its says at the top of the sheet.

You might be surprised by their answers.

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I may be completely off the ball here and my post be may be of no use to you whatsoever, but for the first time in 20 years I now have experience of worksheets since returning to college to do my level 3.


One tutor asks us the questions, listens to our answers and then summarises it all, telling us what answers to put in. Another gives us the worksheets and asks us to fill in our answers and discusses our findings after all sheets have been completed.


The first tutor uses these worksheets as a way of reinforcing what we have already learnt to be the answer. For the second tutor it seems to be a way of asking us to dig deep and use the information that we already have in our minds to find what we think is the correct answer. (To be honest there are times when I dig so deep for the answer, I wonder if there are any brains in there at all!! :oxD )


I also know that as a mum supervising my 6 year olds homework, that these are being used to reinforce what my son has already learnt in school and that they usually follow a theme for the month. Every day has a different theme as well. Monday is maths, Tuesday is creative writing etc.


Don't know if my post is much help to you but I thought I would add my 10p worth.


Good luck with the dissertation.

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So if you are asking what learning is contained in worksheets maybe you need to look at 'learning styles'.


Thank you Peggy, the reason my research title is 'What learning is contained in a worksheet', is because my tutor (my dissertation superviser also) at uni advised so. I have been unable to get my head round the title since the beginning, but decided to stick with it. I initially wanted to look at whether they (worksheets) were developmentally appropriate for use in the Early Years. I am not suggesting that there is learning in a worksheet, I just wanted to see if there was anyone on here that had found learning in a worksheet...I read your post from a while ago (sorry haven't learnt how to do a link yet, despite Cait giving me instructions) and you had numbered several reasons as to why worksheets were inappropriate for under 8's. I respect everyone's opinion but I would like to make clear that I am not suggesting that there is quality learning contained in worksheets.


I already know what learning is not contained in a worksheet. If I have taken your post in the wrong way, then please forgive me. I'm a tad stressed :o

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Hello Sienna, I hope you enjoyed your first day in your new job.


Re your dissertation, Im not sure that at this late stage that there is any more mileage in getting any more data for your dissertation. Even though the data you have perhaps doesn't answer the question as you had hoped, you still have plenty to say about the responses you did get. This is therfore a good opportunity to reflect on the questions you asked and the responses you got as well as analysing the methodology you used.

Years ago when I did my MEd, my research was very complex and I had heaps and heaps of data to plough through. Although my research did have some interesting conclusions, much of my dissertataion was about how I would have done things diferently, what questions I would like to ask next, why I didnt get some of the responses I expected to etc etc. This is all part and parcel of learning how to do research.


Possibly one of the reflections that you will be making is that it was difficult to find what learning there is in a worksheet beacuse you asked people who in general dont agree with using them. (Im assuming that of course because I dont know who you asked). If you asked a group of people who use them all the time, you would get a different perspective.


On a final note, as others have said, there IS learning in a worksheet, just not the sort of learning you were expecting (ie 'negative' things are still learned). You could explore in your analysis how the learning you hoped people would express was not in fact expressed and look at why that is.


God luck with your write up, I loved doing mine as I saw it take shape but had real problems keeping to within 20000 words!

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