What should teachers do in order to maximize learning outcomes for their students?
Focuses on what students are doing, not what teacher is doing What is the student learning? How is the student learning? What conditions promote student learning? Is the student retaining / applying learning? How does current learning facilitate future learning?
Lack of confidence central component that prevented students from doing well (Introductory course - beginning communication) How to develop learning confidence in students? Her example: “boat building” Closer to home: Office 2007??? How to connect research on learning to practice in the classroom 5 key changes
Introduce the basic elements to Weimer’s learner-centered approach Identify costs and benefits to each of the changes suggested Discuss the variety of approaches currently used by McKendree faculty that are learner-centered Different disciplines have different needs and/or issues associated with each type of change
1.Balance of power 2.Function of content 3.Role of teacher 4.Responsibility for learning 5.Evaluation purpose and processes Changes are not independent, but interact in a variety of ways
Faculty are in control Content, pace, assignments, due dates, evaluation, communication Syllabus language as evidence Of course we are (or should be): Students are not capable (lack maturity, do not have good study skills, not prepared, do not care about learning) Faculty are capable Big question: Can one design course activities and assignments that responsibly give students more control over learning?
Combination of faculty and student decision making Benefits Students gain confidence – initial resistance changes to increased motivation Increases feeling of ownership of class Practical examples: Assignments selected from array of options Fixed due dates – own scheduling decisions Syllabus development General course policies and evaluation methods (Developmental Biology) Topics covered (Evolution)
Can one design course activities and assignments that responsibly give students more control over learning? How much power is enough? How much freedom can they handle? When do teachers compromise professional responsibilities? Others??
Content plays major role in instructional decisions Common assumption: More is better How much content is enough? Entry level vs. advanced courses Memorization vs. understanding Future uses of content: Need to continue to learn new content (it’s impossible to teach everything about anything) Old understandings replaced by newer understandings (need to relearn past content)
Goal – develop learning skills (accessing, organizing, evaluating) that students will use later to understand new (or revised) content Content is “used” not “covered” Develop knowledge base (current use) Develop more general learning skills Create learner awareness Big question: How to balance establishing a knowledge base with the development of learning skills
Practical approaches: Think developmentally – learning skills build on one another How to interpret a textbook figure Make short learning activities routine Students spend 5 minutes at end of lecture summarizing Take advantage of learning center professionals Use supplementary materials U101 “How to get good grades is college”
How much content is enough? Focusing on learning skills reduces amount of content covered students require more time to access same amount of content – less efficient As skills develop, efficiency improves How do we change attitudes about role of content (among faculty) What about students at different skill levels? How do I tailor generic learning skills to specific content? Others??
Current approach remains largely teacher centered Active area of change with increased awareness / implementation of active, collaborative, inquiry-based approaches Learner-centered approach Teacher as gardener, midwife, guide, and/or coach Learners are required to do more of the actual work as teachers take a more advisory role
Do learning tasks less Students summarize info Less telling – more student discovery In-class syllabus test Do more modeling Demonstrate how an “experienced” learner would approach a task (adopt-a-paper) Get students to learn from (and with) each other
Do you intervene (if so – when)? What do you do when you intervene? Provide answers vs. fine-tuning questions Others??
Actions required of students – they need to accept responsibility for learning Faculty contribution is to provide conditions that promote growth and movement toward autonomy Show students value of learning Make content relevant Lead student to resources Monitor progress and provide feedback Consequences for student behavior
Involve students in process of setting classroom climate Have students identify climates where they have learned effectively in the past Get feedback on classroom climate Help students face poor exam performance Accepting responsibility for assignment details Empowering students to fix problems Establishing guidelines for how students should address problems that arise during group work
How do you move from a rule-based system to one that relies on individual responsibility How do you establish consequences for students not taking responsibility for their actions (or inaction)? Others??
Evaluation used to generate grades AND promote learning Grades do not equal learning Faculty and students both perform evaluations Students learn how to self-evaluate and participate in evaluating their peers Grades strongly influence students beliefs about themselves Evaluating everything decreases students motivation to develop independent learning skills (the only things worth learning are things that you get points for)
Review periods focus on integration of content, organization, identifying emphasis Use the exam to promote learning Provide additional short answer questions Have students write a question that they expected, but did not show up Debriefing the exam Self-assessment activities Increase sense of responsibility and confidence in assessing their own understanding Peer reviewed activities
Should students have any involvement in the actual grading process Potential benefits Students take self and peer assessment more seriously if they are actually real Accurately assessing the quality of their own work and that of co-workers is an important skill in the work place
Resistance: From students From other faculty Developmental approach: Students skills, background, and maturity change over time Start up time is important since learner- centered approaches differ from most prior classroom experiences Early development of basic skills facilitates more learner-centered approaches in the future