Process versus Product

The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is in full effect.  Just this morning I have had several conversations with elementary teachers about process versus product shortly after reading an article in Education Week on assessments and other blogs of that nature.  Many teachers, including the literacy coach at my school, believe if we focus more on the process or writing or the journey of writing we will develop better, confident writers in all areas, no matter the subject or product.  While this is not old news, the product comes into play, as teachers plan and try to integrate technology.  They want students using technology and they have them use what they are most familiar with themselves.  Teacher-controlled outcomes may not be the best option as students need various outlets for their learning and expression.  Having a set product using a particular technology may work initially to get the teacher and students more comfortable with the technology.  Is the focus on the product or the process or both?  How does one do that?

Ideally, I would think a teacher would go into the process of teaching writing for example, with options for the students to produce whatever they choose as the end product and focus on the process in the most authentic way possible.  This way, the writer can creatively maneuver their way through the writing for its purpose and audience.  Learning the process to do many different things can serve students and teachers well because it can empower them to tackle things they may not already be familiar with more confidence, knowing that the subtle changes in their work would be towards refining their work towards any authentic product they might produce not the means to get there.

On the other end, the technology product may be the candy dangling in the student’s eyes or may be the light at the end of a tunnel for those who seek an end or closure to a particular area of learning.  It is hard not to think of product first, as we are a society that gives great value to what people actually produce, rather than their potential (unless you are college athlete and  considered to be a top draft choice by a professional team).  A product could be something a teacher feels more comfortable assessing.  Maybe a student does not feel a burden by the constant review or micro-managing or assessing of their own writing on a regular basis (as the process focus may involve) with a product being their grade and not the process?    If one is going to think of product first, I wish a teacher would think about the student individually when designing their teaching activities and what the student may need or what would build his/her strengths.  If I know a student has voice, not in their writing, but in the way they say things; I would encourage a podcast of some sort.  If a writer has voice in their writing and things just fly on the paper; maybe a blog or ebook.    

So in this debate of process versus product, what would you consider more important: Process? or Product?  or Mix?  Please share your thoughts.


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