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tipping point and high leverage

Posted By: Gabriel Della-Piana on November 5, 2003
Finding POTENTIALS for tipping points is a useful application of the concept to education. Here is one illustrative thought.

If it is that point in time, that occasion, when an idea, product, or practice spreads rapidly and widely, then one appication to education is certainly how to create such moments.

Tipping point is of course related to scaling up and its opposite (not scaling up) of educational strategies. So if one wants to create a tipping point in such a context here is how one might go about it.

1) Look for recently implemented educational strategies.

2) Conduct observations, interviews, and document collection over a period of time from initial tryouts to the point where at least someone or a few actors have reached "fluency" in application. You will have to define fluency for the performance.

3) Try to account for why many actors in the implementation have reached a plateau on implementation or have "trivialized" the technique in ways that do not attend to context and the adapations needed for variations in context. In other words they go through the motions. Teachers working as a team in "looking at student work" are asked: "How did you decide you are through with this session?" They answer: "We went through this checklist they gave us and so we are finished".

4) Since this is a familiar phenomenon, you WILL find the trivialization. Then you will need to make sense of the why and if you can find the key, that one little thing that will move a large number of the trivializers, you will have a strategy for creating that tipping point.

5) Now you can go through a similar set of steps with other strategies such as looking at data (the outliers, the wrong alternatives chosen on multiple choice tests of achievement, disaggregation of data from some theoretical perspective, looking at 100 pieces of student work on the same task with student explanation of the work to another student to find regularities of educational significance, and so on).
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 The tipping Point by Bruce Rosenbloom on October 1, 2003
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