We form Manners to Morals and Perspectives sections by grade level completed in the spring. As much as possible, sections of Scholars are of the same grade level in these courses. Sometimes, to create an even balance between sections, a group may be a mix of two adjacent grade levels, such as third and fourth or fifth and sixth.
Scholars request elective courses based upon their interests and affinities, and we perform scheduling based upon those requests. We do not section elective courses by ages or grade levels and so participants should expect elective courses to include a mix of ages. Scholars, regardless of age, have varying degrees of experience and expertise with course topics they will explore during their time at DECATS. Research highlights these additional benefits of multi-age groupings:
- Differences in perspective across multi-age groupings are more likely to allow for Scholars to engage in perspective-sharing and “cognitive conflict,” facilitating opportunities for them to learn from one another (Piaget 1976, Brown and Palinscar 1986).
- Improved self-esteem and attitudes toward school, as well as increased time on task (Ramsey 1998, Veenman 1995).
- Increased motivation, as Scohlars benefit form instruction tailored to their interests rather than age-based objectives or benchmarks (Banks 1991).
Mentors design lessons that respond to the wholistic needs and interests of learners rather than just their age.