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Models of learning and teaching Dr. Charles Buckley Dr. Jo Maddern.

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1 Models of learning and teaching Dr. Charles Buckley Dr. Jo Maddern

2 Learning outcomes At the end of this session participants will be able to: Evaluate critically some of the key issues associated with variation theory and threshold concepts. Assess the practicality of, and ways that the above theories might inform practice. Reflect critically on personal conceptions of learning and teaching in relation to a selection of theoretical propositions covered in the session.

3 Threshold Concepts “…In certain disciplines there are ‘conceptual gateways’ or ‘portals’ that lead to a previously inaccessible, and initially perhaps ‘troublesome’ way of thinking about something.” (Meyer and Land, 2005, p. 373). Precedent Depreciation Irony

4 Hegemony (cultural studies)

5 Threshold Concepts ‘Retracing own days of innocence’ (Cousin, 2006) – Identify the key threshold concepts (2-3) related to your discipline. – Retrace your journey. – Explain to a colleague. – Listen and reflect.

6 5 key characteristics of threshold concepts 1. Transformative Ontological as well as conceptual shift. 2. Irreversible Once understood, unlikely to forget. 3. Integrative Exposes the hidden relatedness of a phenomenon.

7 5 Key characteristics of threshold concepts 4. Bounded Will have frontiers… 5. Troublesome Likely to involve ‘troublesome knowledge’ which is counter-intuitive, alien, or seemingly incoherent (Meyer and Land, 2003, p.7).

8 Liminal states and curriculum design Rites of passage (e.g. van Gennep, 1960 and Turner, 1969): Streamed video Cousin (2006) – Transformative – New knowledge and status – Problematic – Transformation protracted with oscillation – Demonstrates mimicry of new status

9 “Learning is both affective and cognitive and it involves identity shifts which can entail troublesome, unsafe journeys. Often students construct their own conditions of safety through the practice of mimicry… in this case, learning is the product of ritualised performances rather than integrated understandings” (Cousin, 2006: p. 5).

10 Threshold concepts and curriculum design 1. Jewels in the curriculum (Land et al., 2006) “A tendency among academic teachers is to stuff their curriculum with content, burdening themselves with the task of transmitting vast amounts of knowledge bulk and their students of absorbing and reproducing this bulk. In contrast, a focus on threshold concepts enables teachers to make refined decisions about what is fundamental to a grasp of the subject they are teaching. It is a ‘less is more’ approach to curriculum design.” (Cousins, 2006, p.4)

11 2. Listening for understanding ‘gaze back across thresholds’ cultivate a ‘third ear that listens not for what a student knows… but for the terms that shape a student’s knowledge’ (Land et al., 2006, p.200).

12 3. A ‘holding environment’ tolerate learner confusion and ‘hold’ their students through liminal states.

13 4. Recursiveness and excursiveness Learning involves a number of ‘takes’ and looping back on conceptual material – critique of linear approach. Learning is also a journey or ‘excursion’

14 Variation theory Meyer and Land (2005) argue that supporting students’ understanding towards grasping threshold concepts is enhanced by focusing on the notion of variation. At a basic level:

15 Variation theory The variation theory of learning is based on the idea that for learning to occur, variation must be experienced by the learner. Without variation there is no discernment, and without discernment there is no learning. (Marton & Trigwell, 2000).

16 Blended learning Blended learning can involve students learning through experiencing variation in aspects of what it is that they are studying (Oliver and Trigwell, 2005). Improvements in students’ performance attributed to an increase in choice (e.g. Entwistle & Ramsden, 1983; Ramsden, 1991, 2003),

17 Blending for variation Careful planning based on sound pedagogical principles. Forms? – Instruction – Mixed media – Encouraging students to identify their own views and relating those views to the scientific views – Letting students be confronted with each other’s views is a most powerful pedagogical tool (Fazey and Marton, 2002, p. 239)

18 Examples of variation using networked technologies. Echo 360 Brenda Smith Podcast

19 Variation in learning within disciplines In a group of three/four with colleagues from a similar discipline(e.g. within humanities, social sciences, arts, etc.), discuss how you might use principles of variation theory in a level 2 undergraduate module.

20 Blended learning and students’ approaches to study Approaches to learning are markedly influenced by the teaching and learning environment (Kember et al., 2008). Buckley et al., (2007) Sport students’ approaches to study and blended learning – 52 ASSIST survey n=144 – 23 item questionnaire: conceptions of learning – Judgements about Networked Learning Scale (Goodyear et al., 2003) – Focus group interviews n=19

21 Residential fieldwork trip, group presentation, reflective portfolio Technology regular asynchronous forum, web searching, videos, RSS feeds, podcasts Kolb Learning Style Inventory (Kolb, 1985) and The Learning Styles Questionnaire (Honey & Mumford, 1986).

22 Findings and implications Students with Deep and Strategic approaches somewhat more comfortable with a blended learning environment than Surface approach. Being actively involved in doing and/or having a visual stimulus “I personally prefer like videos and pictures and sound bytes rather than just like 19 slides of black and white, You remember if like there’s a funny video or if there’s just like a video, of an athlete, like I don’t know running or something like that it soaks in a bit, better because you can relate to what you’ve learned already” (David)

23 Students should be: encouraged to reflect and offered critical guidance on understanding the way they approach study within a blended learning environment. (In line with existing research e.g. Thorne, 2003; Sharpe et al., 2006). empowered and encouraged to take on responsibilities e.g. make contributions to course content. (In line with Pritchard et al., 2006;). Provide for shared learning experiences through communal constructivism(In line with Buckley and Donert, 2004 and Holmes and Gardner, 2006).

24 Changing Conceptions of Teaching Think-Do-Think or Do-Think-Do? “The discomfort of change is eased when people anticipate and plan how to manage it. One effective plan for overcoming the theory-or-practice dilemma described above is to aim to combine theory and practice into one rhythm of effort. In practical terms, that means taking either a think-do-think approach to enculturating thinking dispositions in the classroom, or a do-think-do approach.” (Tishman, Jay and Perkins, 1992).

25 Implications By focusing on threshold concepts you create more space in the curriculum. Understanding of threshold concepts can be cultivated through variation. Threshold concepts and variation encourage a deeper approach to learning

26 References Boulos, M.N.K., Maramba, I and Wheeler, S. (2006) Wikis, blogs and podcasts: a new generation of Web-based tools for virtual collaborative clinical practice and education BMC Medical Education, 6:41 (Available at: Accessed 13th September 2008). Accessed 13th September 2008 Bruner, J. S. (1990) Acts of Meaning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; Buckley, C. A. and Donert, K. (2004) Evaluating e-learning courses for continuing professional development using the Conversational Model: A review of UNIGIS. European Journal of Open and Distance Learning. Issue 2. Buckley, C. A. Norton, B. Owens, T. and Pitt, E. (2007) Blended learning for Sport Studies students and its relationship with approaches to study. British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, University of London 5-8th September Buckley, C.A., Pitt, E., Owens, T and Norton, B. (2007) Blended learning for Personal Development with first Year undergraduate Sport Studies students. On Reflection. Centre for Recording Achievement Cousin, G. (2006) An introduction to threshold concepts Planet 17 (pp. 4-5)

27 Entwistle, N.J. & Ramsden, P. (1983) Understanding Student Learning. London: Croom Helm. Fazey, J. and Marton, F. (2002) Understanding the Space of Experiential Variation Active Learning in Higher Education 3 (3) ). Holmes, B. & Gardner, J. (2006) E Learning. Concepts and Practice. London: Sage. Honey, P., & Mumford, A. (1986). The Manual of Learning Styles. Maidenhead: Peter Honey Associates. Kember, D., Leung, D. Y. P. & McNaught, C. (2008) ‘A workshop activity to demonstrate that approaches to learning are influenced by the teaching and learning environment’, Active Learning in Higher Education 9 (1): Kolb, D. A. (1985). Kolb Learning Style Inventory Version 3.1. Boston, MA: Hay Resources Direct.

28 Land, R., Cousin, G., Meyer, J.H.F. and Davies, P. (2006) Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge (3): implications for course design and evaluation, in C. Rust (ed.), Improving Student Learning – equality and diversity, Oxford: OCSLD. Marton, F. & Trigwell, K. (2000) Variatio est mater studiorum, Higher Education Research and Development, 19, pp Meyer, J.H.F. and Land, R. (2003). ‘Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: Linkages to ways of thinking and practising within the disciplines’, in Rust, C. (ed.), Improving Student Learning: Improving Student Learning Theory and Practice – Ten Years On. Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development. Meyer, J.H.F. and Land, R. (2005). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge (2): Epistemological considerations and a conceptual framework for teaching and learning. Higher Education 49, pp Oliver, M. and trigwell, K. (2005) Can ‘blended learning be redeemed?’ E-Learning 2 (1) (pp ) Prichard, J.S., Stratford, R.J., & Bizo, L.A. (2006) ‘Team-Skills Training enhances collaborative learning’, Learning and Instruction 16, (3):

29 Ramsden, P. (1991) A Performance Indicator of Teaching Quality in Higher Education: the Course Experience Questionnaire, Studies in Higher Education, 16, pp Ramsden, P. (2003) Learning to Teach in Higher Education. London: Routledge Falmer. Sharpe, R, Benfield, G., Roberts, G. and Francis, R. (2006) The Undergraduate Experience of Blended e-learning a Review of UK Literature and Practice. York: Higher Education Academy. Thorne, K. (2003) Blended Learning. How to Integrate Online and Traditional Learning. London: Kogan Page. Tishman, S. Jay, E. and Perkins, D. N. (1992) Teaching Thinking Dispositions: From Transmission to Enculturation Theory into Practice, 32(3), Turner, V. (1969). The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. van Gennep, A. (1960). The Rites of Passage. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.


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