The Pace Method
Pace has developed its instructional systems to distinguish the Pace classroom from traditional education environments. A Pace System utilizes small successes in order to help programs and students achieve great successes. Any learner, even those with a history of learning failure, can develop and harbor a “tailwind” of successful learning experiences to push continued progress and development.
In a Pace System, the learner takes ownership of the learning task and shoulders responsibility for their own learning. A wise man once said, “Nothing teaches like success.” If students can see and feel their progress, and if they can credit themselves and their own focused effort for said progress, they will develop the necessary motivation and independence to achieve learning goals quickly and consistently.
The Pace design and work process keeps the learner constantly informed of their progress and engaged in their learning. A Pace program keeps students aware of the connections between their daily classwork and their overall learning goals. Over time, the self-pacing and self-checking in a Pace student’s workflow leads to positive self-reinforcement, more self-confidence and self-esteem, more independence and motivation, and higher levels of scholastic achievement.
Aside from motivation and confidence challenges, students must be managed in classrooms with widely varied combinations of learning needs, styles, and functional levels. In order to create a cycle of success for each learner, immediate and consistent progress is of utmost importance. This careful focus on ensuring immediate, consistent success maximizes learning from the very start, whether students are learning to read and write or preparing for high school equivalency testing.
Two Success Frameworks
Programmed InstructionInstructional Text Format
The unique instructional format and structured work process of a Pace tutorial is referred to as Programmed Instruction. Interaction between program and student is called Programmed Learning.
- 1) Small Steps Pace’s unique “programmed” design begins with a well-defined lesson objective, represented by a 10-item Practice Test and two 10-item Mastery Tests. These 10-item assessments identify all the distinct sub-skills required for lesson mastery. Pace designers can then work backwards to “frame” the lesson objective into the smallest possible conceptual steps.
- 2) Active, Constructed Response Pace lessons are broken into numbered parts called “frames.” Each frame provides a small bit of instruction or information, or it may ask the student to construct a written response. Pace students are constantly interacting with the program in the form of constructed responses; they are never “passively” reading for more than a frame or two.
- 3) Immediate Feedback In the Pace work process, students construct responses to all frames on a page, then they check their answers to those frames on the following page. Immediate feedback is crucial for student motivation and consistent progress; the student always knows whether they are on the right track because feedback is never far removed from their constructed responses. This “framing” of instruction and immediate feedback also allows the student and teacher to quickly determine where the student went wrong and overcome learning breakdowns.
- 4) Self-Pacing All learners have an optimal rate of learning. A Pace System, through its specially designed tutorials, develops self-pacing skills and allows each independent learner to establish a “learning rhythm.” It teaches students how to learn. More specifically, it teaches students how they learn, which is the true definition of education.
- 5) Learning Validation Any effective program has learning validation or evaluation built in. In a Pace system, learning is validated all along the way at many levels. Within the lesson, students are constantly reminded of their progress through the “Read, Write, Check” work process. Each Pace lesson contains a 10-item Practice test, which familiarizes students with self-evaluation and test preparation. Each lesson also has two 10-item Mastery Tests to verify mastery of the lesson objective. Finally, Pace programs contain their own diagnostic pre/post-testing systems and they coordinate closely with standardized assessments such as TABE 11/12.
The Systems ApproachLearning Management Process
A Pace System delivers instruction and assessment through a teaching/learning process referred to as the Systems Approach.
- 1) Orientation Orientation involves presenting the instructional program as the student’s resource – a Pace program is designed to help them teach themselves the skills they need to advance. In orientation, a Pace Facilitator should aim to distinguish the Pace classroom from a traditional education environment and to have the students take ownership of the program and their learning goal.
- 2) Diagnosis Diagnosis is the process of identifying basic skills competencies and deficiencies. Pace Systems offer a method of diagnosis, either through Pace diagnostic testing or through standardized assessments such as TABE 11/12 or CASAS. Precise identification of skill gaps and competencies is the first step to ensuring success in any basic education program.
- 3) Prescription After diagnosis, learners may be assigned an appropriate Study Schedule. Pace Systems are very flexible in their use, because objectives are broken down into very small bits. They can be used in conjunction with multiple standards or objective frameworks, easily coordinate with other curricula, and function as a core basic education curriculum or as a supplement.
- 4) Learning Management Learning Management involves a careful trade-off between providing assistance and maintaining student independence and “learning rhythm.” The instructor in a Pace classroom acts as “Facilitator of Learning.” The system and programmed instructional design allows the Facilitator to assist learners one-to-one when and where they are needed most. Learning Management should also involve a systematic method of providing feedback – effective feedback is central to the success of any program.
- 5) Evaluation In a Pace system, evaluation occurs within the lesson, at the end of the lesson, and at the end of an individualized prescription or instructional phase. After Evaluation, the process repeats at Step 3 (Prescription), until the student has reached their learning goal or graduated to another class or program. Evaluation should consider the learning manager, the overall prescription during an instructional phase, and any adjustments to learning management that can be made moving forward.
Nothing Teaches Like Success
These methods, developed through years of research in basic education settings, provide an avenue for successful self-pacing and consistent learning progress. Through many small, sequential learning successes, students working with a Pace System develop a cycle of learning success and come to expect success in any learning environment.