Philosophies and Theories of Education & Methods of Teaching Reflection Paper

Philosophies and Theories of Education & Methods of Teaching Reflection Paper

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Section 2. Educational Philosophy and Learning Theories Educational Philosophy A sports coach should have a philosophy about how her team should play. For instance, a famous football coach at Ohio State was known for “3 yards and a cloud of dust.” His team ran the ball down after down. That was his offensive philosophy. In basketball, some coaches have a philosophy of slowing the game down, while others have a “run and gun” philosophy. As a teacher, you need a philosophy too. A teacher will be more consistent if he or she has a clearly thought-out philosophy of education. Here is a summary of some of the enduring philosophies of education: The perennialist educator is concerned with opening students’ minds to rational thought and truths found in the “classics,” works of great authors like Aristotle, Plato, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Shakespeare, and others. Some perennialists advocate a “great books” curriculum. Philosopher Mortimer Adler suggested three criteria for a book to be included for study: 1) the book has contemporary significance; that is, it has relevance to the problems and issues of our time; 2) the book is inexhaustible; it can be read again and again with benefit; and 3) the book is relevant to a large number of the great ideas and great issues that have occupied the minds of thinking individuals for the last twenty-five centuries. The essentialist believes that schools should exist to see that certain selected elements of the culture are passed on to succeeding generations. The primary focus of the essentialist is the subject matter, rather than the student. E.D. Hirsch suggested that schools teach “cultural literacy,” the things he thought every American should know. These include the ability to converse fluently in the idioms, allusions and informal content that create and constitute a dominant culture. From being familiar with street signs to knowing historical references to understanding the most recent slang, the essentialist believes that literacy demands interaction with, and reflection of, the culture. The progressivist believes that schools should focus on developing the unique talents, capabilities, and interests of each child. The emphasis is on the individual child, rather than on society or subject matter. The progressive curriculum emerges from the needs and interests of the students. Philosopher/educator John Dewey wrote many books explaining this approach in the first half of the 1900s. The reconstructionist believes that schools should be active agents of social change, leading the way to a new and more ideal social order. Students are encouraged to question traditions and traditional values and even the value of academic content. Under © 2017 5200 14 this philosophy, society becomes the subject matter, and the function of the student is to effect social change through skills and attitudes learned in school. The reconstructionist curriculum cannot be separated from the current events taking place within the community. The teacher serves as a guide and a leader. You can see how this is directly opposite to the first two philosophies. The existentialist believes that the most important human activity is the search for the meaning of one’s own existence in an irrational world. This philosophy is most concerned with developing the individual student. For the existentialist teacher, students are considered subjects, not objects. The existentialist curriculum could be anything negotiated between the teacher and the student, and the relationships between teacher and student are very important. Note that each of these philosophies is based upon a different idea about the purpose of education. You may identify with one or more of the viewpoints, or have a completely different idea of the purpose of education. The upcoming sections of this course will discuss various educational theories. These educational theories (or learning theories) are different from the educational philosophies in that the learning theories are focused on explaining how learning happens, as opposed to why education exists. However, you may also observe that some learning theories seem to be naturally aligned to support the goals a particular educational philosophy. © 2017 5200 15 Learning Theories and Theories of Learner Development In response to the B.B. King quote introducing this section, an educational psychologist might respond, “But how does one acquire learning in the first place?” After all, knowledge is not something that you can buy at the store! The field of educational psychology is concerned with understanding exactly how people think and learn, and applying this knowledge to make education more effective. “The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.” – B.B. King As you will read, educational psychologists have determined that certain teaching methods can lead to more effective teaching and learning. Yet, there is still much about the brain’s processes for acquiring new information that science has not clearly defined. In spite of remarkable advances in medical science and technology, researchers still have limited understanding of exactly how the human brain acquires and applies new information—in other words, how people learn. In fact, as you will read in the following material, this is an incredibly complex question. Not all educational psychologists even agree about how to measure that learning has taken place, much less how it occurs in the brain. However, over the years, several prominent educational psychologists have proposed theories about what learning is, how it occurs, and how to measure it. Note that the various theories described in this section are only theories—albeit influential, classroom-tested ones. As you read this course material, try to ask yourself: • Do you agree with any theorist more than the others? Why? • How will you know that your students have learned something new? • What is the value to you in knowing about an educational theory that you disagree with? • How might teachers of different theoretical approaches differ in their day-to-day work in the classroom? The concepts presented in this course can serve as anchors to hold your teaching steady. While there is no one theory that fully explains learning or can be applied in every situation, you should be equipped at any time to point to a theoretical basis for the teaching strategies you are using in the classroom. © 2017 5200 16 Metacognition Educational psychology is a field with many branches, and a teacher’s theoretical approach will influence many factors of his or her work. Some of these topics will be addressed in this course, while others will be addressed in later courses or will be topics you may wish to research on your own. For now, consider this: What are your assumptions about what learning “looks like” in a child. Take this opportunity to evaluate your own preconceptions about what learning is and how it occurs. © 2017 5200 17 Overview of Major Theories and Theorists Timeline of Learning Theory There are a few primary theories of learning that dominate the educational landscape. • • • Behaviorism Cognitive Learning Theory/Cognitivism Constructivism Some scholars consider cognitive learning theory an independent school of theoretical thought, whereas others group cognitivism as a kind of constructivism. The classification is not as important as the key ideas and contributions that each theory has made to education. Over the years, various educational psychologists and theorists advanced and built upon these theories. Understanding the major branches of learning theory, along with knowledge of some key theorists, will have direct application to your work in the classroom. © 2017 5200 18 Behaviorism Behaviorists believe that the only valid measure of learning is how a person behaves. To the behaviorist, a person’s inner thoughts and feelings are impossible to measure and therefore irrelevant to demonstrating learning. Important writers/researchers who shaped this viewpoint are Ivan Pavlov, J.B. Watson, E.L. Thorndike, and B.F. Skinner. To the behaviorist, behavior is the focus of instruction. Under this theory, the teacher can only reliably measure what a student can do. A teacher can measure if a student has learned to add 4 + 3 by asking him the answer. If the student has learned answer, he will prove his knowledge with a behavior by responding “7.” On the other hand, a student who behaves by answering “6,” or by shrugging, “I don’t know,” has behaved in a way that shows that he has not learned the principals of basic addition. A teacher cannot measure whether the student “loves math” or “appreciates art” because these thoughts or feelings are not objectively measureable. If a math teacher asks whether her students like math, they might say “yes” because they know what the teacher wants to hear. There is no way a teacher can know if that is what the student truly feels. To the behaviorist, learning is a reliable change in behavior. In the example above, the student could have guessed when he answered “7.” Just because the student gives the correct answer once, the teacher can’t assume that the student has learned. However, if the student consistently says “7” when asked to add 4 + 3 or 3 + 4, then it can be assumed that he has learned the answer. The best measure of learning is to ask the student to add 4 + 3 several weeks after the end of instruction. If the material is learned, it will persist and not be deleted from the brain immediately after a test; hence, the behavior will permanently change. On the other hand, if a student studies a quantity of material, passes a test, and then promptly forgets the material, the behaviorist would say that the student never learned, because his behavior was not changed for the long term. Looking at it this way, very little of what the teacher presents is ever learned. The behaviorist approach is best for teaching material with a specific, known answer, or accepted answers. Examples would be math facts such as multiplication tables; historical facts; scientific information such as the names of the bones in the hand or the Periodic Table; or the names of artists who painted specific works of art. Ivan Pavlov (Classical Conditioning) Ivan Pavlov was a Russian scientist who helped to develop the idea of classical conditioning. In his experiments, he found that when dogs were presented with food, they would salivate. Pavlov began to play a bell while providing the dogs food, and soon, the dogs began to associate the bell with food. They would salivate when they heard the © 2017 5200 19 bell, even if they had not yet received food. In other words, the dogs learned to associate the sound of the bell with food. The dogs were conditioned to expect food at the sound of the bell. Behaviorists call anything that triggers a response (in a dog or a learner) a stimulus. You can read more about Pavlov’s work at http://www.simplypsychology.org/pavlov.html. B.F. Skinner (Behaviorism and Operant Conditioning) B.F. Skinner helped to define behaviorism and built upon the idea of conditioning. He believed that people are conditioned to repeat behaviors that have good consequences and not to repeat behaviors that have bad consequences (recall positive and negative reinforcement from 5100). When a learner responds directly to a stimulus, he is demonstrating respondent conditioning (similar to Pavlov’s classical conditioning). However, Skinner built upon the idea by pointing out that, at any given moment, a person might behave in a way that was not triggered by any particular stimulus. When a learner’s spontaneous behavior is reinforced, this is called operant conditioning. The emphasis on reinforcement (giving a positive stimulus for desired behavior, and a negative stimulus for undesirable behavior) was one of Skinner’s major contributions to behaviorism and the field of education. Using stimuli and reinforcement to bring about a change in student behavior is called shaping. Read more about Skinner’s work at http://www.simplypsychology.org/operantconditioning.html. Teachers who apply behaviorism in their classrooms will want to make sure they give specific feedback to their students during the class day and also on student work. Positive feedback for good work or constructive criticism can be enormously helpful to students in helping them to shape their behavior. © 2017 5200 20 Teaching Strategies for Behaviorist Classrooms The behaviorist educator believes that knowledge exists on its own outside the human mind and that learning occurs when knowledge is transmitted to and acquired by learners. Therefore learning is the change in behavior due to external experiences or practices. Teaching methods consistent with behaviorist theory include: instruction which focuses on teaching sequences of skills beginning with lower level and moving to higher level skills, clearly stated objectives with test items matched to them, more individual work than group work, and traditional teaching and assessment methods (where the teacher lectures to the students and then assesses learning with a written exam, such as a multiple choice or fill in the blank test). A leading form of instruction based on the behaviorist approach is direct instruction, which is an instructional method for the explicit teaching of a skill set using lecture. The guiding principles of direct instruction are that every child can learn if he is taught, and all teachers can be successful when they are provided the tools of effective programs and delivery techniques. The basic components of direct instruction are: 1. Setting clear goals for students and making sure they understand these goals. 2. Presenting a sequence of well-organized assignments. 3. Giving students clear, concise explanations and illustrations of the subject matter. 4. Asking frequent questions to see if the students understand the work. 5. Giving students frequent opportunities to practice what they have learned. Consequentially stated, in direct instruction it is the teacher who is ultimately responsible for student learning; students should not be blamed for their failure to learn. “If the learner hasn’t learned, the teacher has not taught” (Tarver, 1999). While many of today’s educators favor inquiry-based learning, in the 1980s Robert Slavin of Johns Hopkins University found direct instruction to be an effective educational technique. Sources: Lindsay, J. (n.d.). What the data really show: Direct instruction really works. Retrieved from www.jefflindsay.com Tarver, S. (1999, Summer). A focus on direct instruction. Current Practice Alerts 2. Division for Learning Disabilities and Division for Research. © 2017 5200 21 Cognitive Learning Theory In contrast to behaviorism, cognitive learning theory/cognitivism focuses on the internal cognitive processes that occur during learning. In cognitive learning theory, the brain can be likened to a computer that receives information, processes it, and then responds based on what is processed. This approach focuses on learning large ideas rather than facts. These ideas are called concepts, generalizations, and beliefs. This approach also focuses on certain skills such as proving generalizations, testing and defending beliefs, and critical thinking. It sees the learner as active rather than passive in the learning process. Major writers about this point of view are Jean Piaget, David Ausubel, Lev Vygotsky, and Jerome Bruner. Some definitions are helpful at this point. • • • • Fact – Something that was true at one point in time and is not transferable to another situation. Examples: George Washington was the first President of the United States. 6 + 1 = 7. Concept – A generalized idea of a category. Examples: tiger, car, economy, or primate. Generalization – A statement that is true most of the time and can be proven. Examples: “If the supply of a product exceeds the demand for that product, the price will go down.” “People who have lost their eye sight compensate by developing stronger than normal hearing.” Belief – Something that a person believes to be true (even if it isn’t). Your behavior will be based on your beliefs. A simple example when a child who fears the “Boogie Man” hides under his bed. Even though this creature does not exist, the child exhibits fear because he believes it exists. Rote learning, as exemplified by Behaviorism, has some merit and is useful for things we need to memorize for convenience sake such as the alphabet or times tables. But, for the most part, learning is more meaningful when students are given the opportunity to play with, apply, manipulate, and assimilate new ideas into their own schema (Nunley). Schemas are organized ways of understanding the world. Proponents of the cognitivist view emphasize the role of the learner’s environment, brain patterns, and the search for meaning when developing new knowledge. Environment The search for learning is inborn. Humans have a natural drive to understand their environment. This can be observed in babies who look when they hear a sound, touch anything they can reach, and put anything they can grab into their mouths, even © 2017 5200 22 disgusting things. There is a drive to learn things important to them. Try a thought exercise: If you had never been in a desert before and were suddenly teleported into the middle of Arizona, alone, with a scheduled pickup in five hours, what would you do? You would use your current concepts to try to understand the environment. You have a concept of plants so you would interpret some of the items in your environment as plants because they come out of the ground and are green. You might not know their names, but you know they are plants. You might see some little mice-like creatures running around and would decide, correctly, that they are rodents. You might see a snake that is different than any snake you have seen, and if it looked aggressive, you would know to move quickly away from it. You might want to inspect some of the plants more closely to see what they are like. As you got hotter you might want to find some shade to cool and protect you from the sun. In other words, you would try to understand your environment enough to survive until you got picked up. What if your scheduled pickup was in two days? Would you have a need to learn more, like what you could eat or where you could get water? Whenever a student’s environment changes they will want to find out what is going on. Jean Piaget, an educational theorist, called this “equilibrium”: humans want balance, we want to know what is going on in the environment. You may have heard of the “fight or flight” instinct, which describes humans’ innate awareness of the environment around them and ability to respond to it. Like adults, children are curious about the world around them. Even teenagers are curious, even if they want to appear to be too “cool” to show it. This curiosity is one of the driving forces of learning. Use it. Try to develop students’ curiosity about what you have to teach them. Brain Patterns The brain seeks patterns. When encountering some new stimulus, a person wants to know how it fits into what he already knows. If a toddler has a dog and sees a cat for the first time, he may call it a “doggie.” The parent then has to explain the difference between a dog and a cat. When the child sees a skunk, he may call it a “kitty.” Again, an explanation would be helpful, so the child can set up a different category in his/her brain. If the child then sees another type of cat and calls it a “kitty,” the parent is happy because the child has correctly assimilated the new stimulus into the proper category. As has been said previously, when teaching something new, relate it to something the students already know. Then use compare/contrast activities or making tables and charts to help students see patterns. In earth science a teacher could have several samples of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. Before teaching these concepts, the teacher could put them in a pile and ask students to separate them into groups based on similar characteristics of the rocks. After they have classified the rocks then the teacher could critique their work and demonstrate why some were misclassified. Then, the teacher could © 2017 5200 23 teach the concepts of the three types of rocks. Meaning Meaning is made in the mind. Students in the behaviorist teacher’s classroom might memorize, “George Washington was the first President of the U.S. serving from 17891797.” However, if they have no concept of what a President is, what the U.S. is, or when 1789-1797 was they will have no meaning in their mind. It is just like the parrot saying “Polly wants a cracker.” Concepts are created in the minds of learners. You might have a concept of a sports from a picture, but a former owner of the car would have a different concept of it from driving one for several years. Do they both have a concept? Yes. Do they have the same concept? No. Do they both have some meaning for a sports car that does not exist in the mind of a 9 year old who is told to memorize, “The 1966 Ford Mustang was a sports car”? Cognitive teachers believe that teachers must go beyond memorization and develop meaning. Return to the example of George Washington. A cognitive teacher would try to develop a concept of George Washington, President, the U.S. and 1789-1797 in the students’ minds. This could be done with pictures, maps, timelines, and some reading. Once the students have these concepts, then the sentence “George Washington was the first President of the U.S., serving from 1789-1797,” would make sense; in other words, it would have meaning. A specific group of cognitive psychologists have developed what is called a “constructivist” approach to education. Their idea is that students construct their own meanings. This theory is described in detail in the next section. Another key contributions of cognitive learning theory is the concept of cognitive load, which posits that the brain, like a computer, can only process a certain amount of information at a given time. Each of the following variables demand a certain amount of the brain’s processing power, so teachers should try not to overload students with more information than their brains can process at a given time. Consider the path of information through the brain’s processor as described by cognitive learning theorists. • • • © Perception: Learners receive information through each of the five senses, and this incoming information requires brain power to experience and to interpret. Attention: The brain works best when it is focused on its task. While the human brain is capable of processing information from more than one source at once, like participating in one conversation while eavesdropping on another, this will require a greater cognitive load. Memory: Learning occurs in the short-term memory (where information comes in 2017 5200 24 through the senses and is processed). After processing, information is stored in the long-term memory but will be re-accessed through the short-term memory. Jean Piaget was a Swiss psychologist who helped to bridge the gap between cognitive learning theory and the next theory, constructivism. © 2017 5200 25 Constructivism Constructivism is the prevailing theory of learning in American education. Though other theories are applied in certain settings or situations, constructivism will likely be a go-to theory in your classroom and a term you encounter in ongoing professional training. Constructivism is an approach to teaching and learning based on the premise that cognition—learning—is the result of “mental construction.” Constructivists believe that knowledge is constructed by the learner through his or her experiences. Students learn by fitting new information together with what they already know. Constructivists believe that learning is affected by the context in which an idea is taught as well as by students’ beliefs and attitudes. In other words, when a learner experiences something new, she must reflect on whether the new information fits with their existing understanding of the world. If it does not, then the learner must adjust her understanding. Firsthand experience is of great importance to the constructivist educator. The goal of the constructivist approach is to provide a set of conditions that will lead students to construct new knowledge in a way that makes sense to them and hopefully addresses the instructional objectives for the lesson. The four facets of constructivism are: 1. Learning is the creation of knowledge structures from personal experience 2. One person’s knowledge cannot be completely transferred to another because of personal experience, age, gender, race, ethnic background, knowledge. 3. Constructivism does not invalidate consensus, but it allows for a personal view of the world. 4. Individuals may add to, delete, and/or modify views after sharing multiple perspectives. Also, there are two variations on the constructivist approach. Cognitive Constructivists like Piaget and Bruner suggest individuals hold a view based on the ability to assimilate information into existing constructs and then develop new ideas. When a learner receives support to assimilate new information, this process is called scaffolding. Think of learning scaffolds as analogous to construction scaffolds. While a builder works on the low floors of a skyscraper, the scaffolds are only a few stories tall. However, as the building rises into the sky, the scaffolds will become higher. Gradually, as the building is complete, the scaffolds are removed to reveal the completed structure. Scaffolding works in a similar way for cognitive structures. Good scaffolds begin by supporting the learner at the current level of knowledge, and helping them to build upon this knowledge. As the learner’s knowledge increases, the scaffolds change to reflect the learner’s growing knowledge. Finally, once the learner has constructed a stable concept (like a completed building in the learner’s mind), the scaffold is removed and the learner can exercise his new knowledge on his own. © 2017 5200 26 Social Constructivists like Vygotsky and Bandera believe learning takes place in a social environment using psychological tools, language, math or diagrams, to reach a shared understanding of a subject. Constructivist teaching is based on recent research about the human brain and what is known about how learning occurs. Caine and Caine (1991) suggest that brain-compatible teaching is based on the following twelve principles: 1. “The brain is a parallel processor.” It simultaneously processes many different types of information, including thoughts, emotions, and cultural knowledge. Effective teaching employs a variety of learning strategies. 2. “Learning engages the entire physiology.” Teachers cannot address just the intellect. 3. “The search for meaning is innate.” Effective teaching recognizes that meaning is personal and unique and that students’ understandings are based on their own unique experiences. 4. “The search for meaning occurs through ‘patterning’.” Effective teaching connects isolated ideas and information with global concepts and themes. 5. “Emotions are critical to patterning.” Learning is influenced by emotions, feelings, and attitudes. 6. “The brain processes parts and wholes simultaneously.” People have difficulty learning when either parts or wholes are overlooked. 7. “Learning involves both focused attention and peripheral perception.” Learning is influenced by the environment, culture, and climate. 8. “Learning always involves conscious and unconscious processes.” Students need time to process ‘how’ as well as ‘what’ they have learned. 9. “We have at least two different types of memory: a spatial memory system and a set of systems for rote learning.” Teaching that heavily emphasizes rote learning does not promote spatial, experienced learning and can inhibit understanding. 10. “We understand and remember best when facts and skills are embedded in natural, spatial memory.” Experiential learning is most effective. 11. “Learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat.” The classroom climate should be challenging but not threatening to students. 12. “Each brain is unique.” Teaching must be multifaceted to allow students to express preferences. Jean Piaget Jean Piaget defined himself as an epistemologist, an individual interested in the process of the qualitative development of knowledge. As he says in the introduction of his book Genetic Epistemology: “What the genetic epistemology proposes is discovering the roots of the different varieties of knowledge, since its elementary forms, following to the next © 2017 5200 27 levels, including also the scientific knowledge.” Along with the theory of epistemology, Piaget believed that children pass through four periods of mental development. © 2017 5200 28 Summary of Piaget’s Stages of Development You can read about Piaget’s stages at http://www.simplypsychology.org/piaget.html. Piaget suggested that individuals construct their knowledge and that information cannot be just poured into an individual’s mind via instruction. The process of how individuals construct knowledge is known as constructivism. Key concepts: • Adaptation • Assimilation • Accommodation • Equilibration If a boy has a German shepherd, he knows that it is a dog and knows its characteristics from experience. If he sees a collie he will know that it is also a dog since it is very similar. Expanding a concept based on new experiences is called assimilation. In order to build additional concepts of animals, a child must have a basic concept of one animal before they can differentiate among other animals. If a boy has a dog, goes for a ride with his © 2017 5200 29 parents, and sees a cow, he is likely to call the cow a “dog” because that is the only animal he knows. His parents will tell him the name for that animal is “cow” and explain the differences between dogs and cows. Later, when he sees a horse, he may call it a cow because it is more like a cow than a dog. Again, his parents will explain that the animal is a “horse” and explain the differences. Creating new concepts is a process called accommodation. In this manner, he will gradually add concepts for the animals he encounters through direct experience and via instruction. Adaptation, assimilation and accommodation are the dominant component of intelligence. Repetition, generalization, and differentiation-recognition are three processes that aid in adaptation. Piaget suggested that through processes of accommodation and assimilation, individuals construct new knowledge from their experiences. The formalization of this process is the theory of constructivism, which is the articulation of the mechanisms by which knowledge is internalized by learners. When individuals assimilate, they incorporate the new experience into an already existing framework without changing that framework. Additionally, Piaget also felt that individuals are motivated to attempt adaptation when their equilibrium is upset. He called this the process of equilibration. People are driven by a need to understand their environment. When something upsets the balance, we are motivated to figure things out. For example, if a student knows all the animals in his/her environment and you show him/her a video of a duck-billed platypus, that animal will not make sense to the student. The student will be motivated to want to know what it is because it does not fit into any concepts he has. Teachers who wish to incorporate Piaget’s theories into their classroom should establish a way to help students assimilate new knowledge into their current concepts. For example, if you are an elementary teacher, you might want to have an Animal of the Week program to expand the students’ concepts of animals. Lawrence Kohlberg (Stages of Moral Development) Lawrence Kohlberg was an American psychologist who built on Piaget’s work and proposed stages of development that describe a person’s moral development throughout his or her lifetime. In Kohlberg’s model, moral development is the development of an autonomous self, capable of being motivated by abstract principles understood as a kind of “mathematical” solution to conflicts of interests. The teacher’s role is to raise moral issues, let students reason them out and discuss them, and then come to their own conclusion. It is NOT the teacher’s role to try to coerce students into accepting the teacher’s decision. Kohlberg’s six stages were grouped into three levels: pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional. © 2017 5200 30 Level 1: Pre-conventional Stage 1: Obedience and punishment orientation (How can I avoid punishment?) Stage 2: Self-interest orientation (What’s in it for me?) Level 2: Conventional Stage 3: Interpersonal accord and conformity (The good boy/good girl attitude) Stage 4: Authority and social-order maintaining orientation (Law and order morality) Level 3: Post-Conventional Stage 5: Social contract orientation Stage 6: Universal ethical principles (Principled conscience) Kohlberg’s theory of moral development may not be true of everyone in a culture. In addition, some researchers suggest that the moral dilemmas are too far removed from the experiences of children in a contemporary society. Females may be judged at lower levels of development due to socialization of values that include understanding, helping, and cooperation as more important than an orientation that favors justice, fairness, and individual rights. Nevertheless, Kohlberg’s theory can be helpful to teachers who want to engage their students in “real world” thinking by presenting them with moral or ethical conflicts and inviting the students to devise solutions to them. © 2017 5200 31 Social Constructivism Lev Vygotsky (Social Development Theory) Lev Vygotsky was a Russian psychologist and constructivist. His key contribution to learning theory and constructivism was the idea that learning occurs through interaction with one’s environment. He proposed a zone of proximal development (ZPD). The zone of proximal development can be described as the span between what a child can do on his own and what he can do with help from a teacher or more knowledgeable peer. Teachers who want to apply the ZPD in their classrooms can look for opportunities to provide guided practice to their students, which will help to boost their learning from one plateau into the next. They can also pair more knowledgeable students with less knowledgeable ones for group work, so that students have the chance to progress in the ZPD with the help of a peer. Scaffolding should always occur within the learner’s ZPD. Erik Erikson (Stages of Psychosocial Development) Erik Erikson (1902 – 1994) is best known for his theory on social development of human beings. He extended Sigmund Freud’s five stages of development to eight stages of development, adding three stages in adulthood. Each of the eight stages is marked by a conflict. The result of the conflicts is a favorable outcome known as “virtues.” Like Kohlberg’s stages of moral development, Erikson’s theory is particularly applicable to teachers who are seeking to develop the whole child. It can also be helpful in understanding what may motivate learners at a particular developmental stage. To Erikson, the teacher’s role is to help learners understand the central conflict they face at a given developmental stage and provide encouragement to learners seeking to develop the key virtue for that stage. Read more about the prevailing characteristics of the stages of learning of Eriksons’s theory at https://erikerikson.wikispaces.com/Eight+Stages+of+Development Remember that even among experts and experienced educators, there is disagreement about the accuracy and relevance of each of these theories. However, each theory offers a way of approaching your students and framing your responsibilities as their teacher, and you may find different theories helpful for different situations you face in the classroom. Your role is to develop an understanding of each theory to the point that you can use them when you need them in the classroom. © 2017 5200 32 Learner-Centered Classrooms “Good teaching happens when competent teachers As previously mentioned, constructivism is “Good teaching happens when competent the prevailing theory in American teachers with non-discouraging education today. Since the constructivist personalities use non-defensive approaches educator believes that learners construct to language teaching and learning, and knowledge through their experiences, the cherish their students.” learner’s experiences in the classroom are of paramount importance. Depending on Dr. James E. Alatis when and where you went to school, this Dean Emeritus, may be a paradigm shift for you. When School of Languages and Linguistics, you were in school, your teacher may have Georgetown University led an organized classroom of students who followed his careful instructions through a series of lectures, worksheets, and written activities. But classrooms focused on learner experiences can be more “messy.” Each learner might be working to solve a problem in a slightly different way. The effective teacher will still have control of behavioral issues, be able to redirect students who are off task, and interact student-by-student to answer questions and prompt new ways of thinking. This is a learner-centered classroom. Compare the key features of the teacher-centered and learner-centered classrooms: Source: Cook, J. & Cook, L., 1998 © 2017 5200 33 An example recently observed is a “Biomes in a Box” lesson in which students used various forms of technology including the social media, texting and blogging resources to research their particular biome. They constructed the climate conditions of that biome using various raw materials at their disposal. In the end, they presented their biome to the class with an oral discussion of the climatic elements involved with that biome. The students were so proud and so actively involved in their learning. It was a great success. However, there was some “organized chaos” along the way. The teacher in this classroom put aside her own sense of order, or her preconceived ideas of how a student should attain new knowledge, to give her students the opportunity to tackle a new challenge and do meaningful learning in the process. Unfortunately, in many cases, teachers are on “autopilot” when they teach a unit of instruction, meaning they have taught it this way for years so there is no reason to change now. How many teachers really think about how students learn when they teach a unit? Some are just content to assign students a chapter to read or a worksheet to complete without consideration for the learner. Designing the lessons around how students learn and access information will ultimately be less taxing for the instructor, freeing him/her to participate in the learning rather than be the final deliverer of that learning. Teachers need to consider the learners and the learning process when constructing their lesson plans. “Students should be presented with real life problems and then helped to discover information required to solve them.” – John Dewey Sources: Bell, A.W. (1982). Treating student misconceptions. Australian Mathematics Teacher 38(3), 11-13. Bednar, A. K., Cunningham, D., Duffy T. M. & Perry J. D. (1995). Theory into practice: How do we link? In G. J. Anglin (Ed), Instructional Technology: Past, present and future. Englewood, Co: Libraries Unlimited, pp 100-112. Cass, G. & Csete, J. (1995). Educational technology in the 1990s. In G. J. Anglin (Ed.), Instructional technology (2nd ed.), (pp. 27). Englewood, Co.: Libraries Unlimited, Inc. Cook, J. & Cook, L. ( 1998, July). How technology enhances the quality of studentcentered learning. Quality Progress, 31 (7), 59-63. Duckworth, E. (1987). “The Having of Wonderful Ideas” And Other Essays on Teaching and Learning. New York: Teachers College Press. Harmon, S.W. & Hirumi, A. (1996, May). A systemic approach to the integration of © 2017 5200 34 interactive distance learning into education and training. Journal of Education for Business, 71(5), 267-271. Retrieved from EBSCO business search on Galileo: http://www.galileo.gsu.edu. Jordan, R. & Spencer, J. (1999, May). Learner centered approaches in medical education. British Medical Journal 318(7193), 1280-1283. Retrieved from EBSCO business search on Galileo: http://www.galileo.gsu.edu. Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. American Educational Research Journal 32(3). 465-491. Retrieved from http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=00028312%28199523%2932%3A3%3C465%3ATATOCR%3E2.0.CO%3B2-4. Tapscot, D. (1999, February). Educating the net generation. Educational Leadership 56(5), 5-11. Retrieved from EBSCO business search on Galileo: http://www.galileo.gsu.edu. Thornburg, D. (1995, April). Student-centered learning. Electronic Learning 14(7), 18-19. Retrieved from EBSCO business search on Galileo: http://www.galileo.gsu.edu. © 2017 5200 35 Teaching Strategies for Constructivist and Learner-Centered Classrooms Direct Experience Real, direct experience is the best way to learn, however, it is not always possible. The best way to learn what a cat is would be to observe and play with some cats. The same would be true for dinosaurs, alligators, and Tasmanian devils, however, those experiences aren’t possible for a variety of reasons. If real experiences are not possible then the closest to real experiences should be sought from simulations, videos, still pictures, and models. If a teacher wanted to teach about Paris, it would be best, but impossible, to take the class to Paris. Other ways to teach about Paris include: • A video of Paris • Pictures of Paris including major attractions • A person who has visited Paris who could share his/her experiences • A map of Paris • Internet sites of Paris Reflection Provide time for reflection on new learning. A famous educator in the early half of the 20th Century was John Dewey. Many believed he said we “learn by doing.” Actually, he said we learn by experience and reflection. Reflection was a key element in his idea of how people learn (Dewey, 1938). Reflection will allow the subconscious to help discover patterns that might not be immediately apparent to the conscious mind. This can be done by providing time for: • • • small group discussion writing of individual reflection papers or journal writing. Often putting ideas into words helps the left and right hemispheres of the brain work together to clarify the ideas. specific open-ended questions or problems supplied by the teacher Personal Interpretation Students respond to their perception (interpretation) of a stimulus or stimuli, rather than to the stimulus itself. Police know that different people see different things whenever they interview witnesses to an accident. There are different recollections of the events. This does not mean some witnesses are lying. Based on their location in relation to the event, © 2017 5200 36 the level of their attention, previous experiences, and even their mood, these will affect what they notice. The same is true in the classroom. Sometimes a person’s interpretation of the situation affects perception. A traditional view is that there is a stimulus, the phone rings, that leads to a response, picking up the phone. In reality this isn’t always how it works. Has your phone ever rung and you think it might be Master Card calling again about your late payment, so you don’t answer the phone? Or the phone rings and you look at the Caller I.D. to see who it is before you answer? You may even be tired and decide to let the answering machine pick up the call. Cognitive psychologists say that rather than stimulus > response, the sequence is more like: stimulus > perception > consideration of the alternatives > response While S >R works for animals, sometimes, often, humans are more thoughtful and purposeful in our responses. In different situations we will see the same stimulus in different ways. A hammer is a great tool for driving nails. However, if you hear a sound in the house and you have left a hammer in the room, you may respond to the hammer not as a nail driver but as a “burglar basher.” Behaviorism assumes that everyone will react to a stimulus in the same way; cognitive teachers understand that people respond differently. So, what does this have to do with teaching and learning? • • Be specific in your wording of statements and questions. Think of how they may be misconstrued and select language that is most likely to clearly communicate your ideas. Check for perceptions. If you show a picture of a man by a mosque, you know what it is but don’t assume the student will. Ask “What do you see? What do you think is happening in this picture? What is the man doing? How would you react if you were the man in the photo?” Cognitive Structures The goal of learning is to help students develop their cognitive structures, or schemata, which are one’s perceptions of objects, events, ideas, etc. This can be done by teaching concepts and generalizations initially, helping students clarify these ideas based on additional information, helping them clear up misconceptions, and helping them see additional patterns or ideas. Some useful techniques are: • • © Focus on concepts and generalizations, and use facts only as illustrations not as objects of learning. Relate what is taught to concepts, beliefs, and values the students have previously 2017 5200 37 • • • • • • • • • • • learned or to ideas and issues of concern to students. Attempt to make the classroom environment conducive to learning, that is, a climate that is accepting, non-judgmental, non-threatening, mutually respectful, and cooperative rather than competitive. Personalize content by relating what is taught to real life concerns. Give students options in projects or activities so that they can make the material meaningful to themselves. Attempt to cause students to THINK rather than memorize. This would utilize Bloom’s higher levels including application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Since all behaviors are strongly affected by self-concept, the teacher would attempt to help students develop a positive, yet realistic, self-concept. This implies high expectations for all students. Help students identify and clarify their values. Respond to student misbehavior by trying to determine how they perceived the situation in such a way that their behavior made sense. Once this is done, the teacher can try to find ways to change the student’s perception so that their behavior will be different in the future. Instruction may take a direct approach, like Piaget’s and Ausubel’s ideas suggest, or an indirect approach like Bruner suggests. Provide a variety of activities related to the same ideas so that if a student does not learn from one activity they will have another opportunity. This would include, among others, auditory, visual, and tactile/kinesthetic activities. By providing a variety of activities and experiences, the teacher is also providing the opportunity for the student to use his/her natural memory system for recalling experiences. Be respectful of differences in points of view and culture. Life Experiences As often as possible relate what is being taught to students’ life experiences. One question students often have in mind is, “Why do we have to learn this?” Learning won’t be real, meaningful, or understandable until students can relate it to themselves or to previous ideas. If there is any way you can connect what you are teaching to things that interest them or help them to meet their needs, then you will have gone a long way to helping them learn. One time an English teacher was starting a unit on poetry. Knowing this question would be on the students’ minds, he copied the words of several popular songs. After passing them out he asked, “What type of literature are these?” Of course, the answer was poetry. That did not make students fall in love with 19th century poetry, but they were more open to it since they liked some types of poetry themselves. © 2017 5200 38 Sources: Ausubel, D., Novak, J. & Hanesian, H. (1978). Educational Psychology: A Cognitive View, (2nd ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. Bruner, J. (1960). The Process of Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Bruner, J. (1966). Toward a Theory of Instruction. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press. Bennett, C. I. (1990). Comprehensive Multicultural Education. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Caine, R. & Caine, G. (1991). Making Connections: Teaching the Human Brain. Alexandria, VA; Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and Education. New York: Collier Books. Dunn, R., Beaudry, J.S. & Klavas,A. (1989).Survey of Research on Learning Styles. Educational Leadership 46(6), 50-58. Dunn, R., & Dunn, K. (1993) Teaching Secondary Students Through Their Individual Learning Styles. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of Mind. New York: Basic Books. Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice. New York: Basic Books. Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., Holubec, E. J., & Roy, P. (1984). Circles of Learning: Cooperation in the Classroom. Washington, D.C.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Mehan, H., Hubbard, L., & Villanueva, I. (1994). Forming academic identities: Accommodation without assimilation among involuntary minorities. Anthropology and Education Quarterly 25(2), 91-117. Nunley, Kathie F. (n.d.) Why Layer Your Curriculum? Retreived from http://help4teachers.com/why.htm Piaget, J. (1976) The Child and Reality. NY: Penguin Books. Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service (1996). Ages and Stages of Child and Youth Development: A guide for 4-H Leaders. Retrieved from https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/NCR/NCR-292.html © 2017 5200 39 Purkey, W. (1970). Self Concept and School Achievement. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Rotter, J. B. (1966). Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychological Monographs, 80. Skinner, B.F. (1976). About Behaviorism. New York: Vintage Books. Slavin, R. (1990). Cooperative Learning: Theory, Research, and Practice. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Thorndike, E.L. (1914). Educational Psychology. New York: Teachers College. Thorndike, E. L. (1969). Selected Writings from a Connectionist’s Psychology. New York: Greenwood Press. Watson, J. B. (1958). Behaviorism. New York: W.W. Norton. Wertsch, J. V. (1991) Voices of the mind: A sociocultural approach to mediated action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Zuehlke, J.S. (1994). Understanding Learning Styles from a Cultural Perspective. Journal of the Texas Middle School Association, 11-16. © 2017 5200 40 The Humanistic Approach Like constructivism, humanistic education is student-centered, but in contrast to constructivism, the humanistic approach gives greater attention to the role of noncognitive variables in learning; specifically, students’ needs, emotions, values, and self-perceptions. This means that the learner is a unique individual who brings a unique set of experiences and needs to the instructional situation. Second, the role of the teacher is of facilitator, helper, and partner in the learning process. The effective facilitator, teacher, is one who is able to set a climate that values and emphasizes the unique experiences and needs of each learner. Third, the act of learning is highly personal. The most valuable learning takes place when what is learned is perceived to be necessary, important, or meaningful to the individual. This is analogous to the idea of “experiential” learning and is based on such elements as self-concept, self-evaluation, intrinsic motivation, perception, and discovery. Fourth, since the goal of humanistic education is to help learners become self-actualizing persons, curriculum, (or content) is not an end, but rather a means of promoting the goals of humanistic education. Fifth, since individual growth and development do not take place in isolation, growth is maximized in a cooperative, supportive environment. Competition is typically viewed as detrimental to the process of humanistic instruction. The leading psychologists who shared the humanistic approach to instruction were Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, and Arthur Combs. Although the research appears dated, these instructional approaches still remain the same today. In 1986, Shapiro identified the following instructional principles associated with the humanistic approach to instruction: 1. Emphasis on the process of learning; 2. Self-determination, as reflected in learner autonomy, self-direction, and selfevaluation; 3. Mutual caring and understanding among teachers, learners, and others (connectedness); 4. Relevance of material, including readiness of the student to learn; 5. Integration of affect and cognition in the teaching-learning process; 6. Preference for affective and experiential learning approaches; 7. Equity, consensus, and collaboration through democratic participation in the learning process; 8. A personal growth orientation that stresses self-actualization via self-awareness; 9. A people orientation based on trust and a positive view of humanity, such as is reflected in McGregor’s “Theory Y;” 10. Emphasis on individualism; 11. A concrete, pragmatic view of reality; © 2017 5200 41 12. Self-evaluation that emphasizes formative over summative evaluation; and 13. Variety and creativity, as reflected in spontaneity, originality, and diversity in learning. © 2017 5200 42 Effective Environments for Effective Instruction As you review the various theoretical approaches to learner development, it may seem daunting to think of integrating each into your classroom. However, remember that theoretical consistency isn’t the goal—your students’ learning is the goal, and each theory is a tool to help you accomplish this end. In 5100, you learned about the classroom environment primarily in terms of the classroom setup, organization, and discipline (classroom management). Now, in this course, you have learned about the most important part of your classroom—your students—and how they develop and grow. Your interactions with your students also contribute to the classroom environment. As you have learned, your objective should be to create a learner-centered classroom environment, drawing upon the physical space, organizational tools, behavioral expectations, and most of all, your knowledge of students. Here are some tips to create the most effective learning environment. As you review this list, consider how this information builds upon what you learned in 5100 and thus far in this course. • • • • • • • • Technologies and instructional practices must be appropriate for the learners’ level of prior knowledge, cognitive abilities, and learning and thinking strategies. The classroom environment, particularly the degree to which it is nurturing or not, can significantly impact student learning. Individuals learn best when material is appropriate to their developmental level and presented in an enjoyable, interesting way. Early and continuing parental involvement in schooling and the quality of two-way communications between adults and children can influence student development. Awareness and understanding of developmental differences among children, with and without emotional, physical, or intellectual disabilities, can facilitate learning. Educators need to be sensitive to individual differences. Language, ethnicity, race, beliefs, and socioeconomic status can all influence learning. Careful attention to these factors in the instructional setting enhances the possibilities for designing and implementing appropriate learning environments. When learners perceive that their individual differences in abilities, backgrounds, cultures, and experiences are valued, respected, and accommodated in learning tasks and contexts, the level of motivation and achievement are enhanced. Effective learning takes place when learners feel challenged to work towards appropriately high goals; therefore, appraisal of the learner’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses, as well as current knowledge and skills, is important for the selection of instructional materials of an optimal degree of difficulty. © 2017 5200 43 • • Ongoing assessment of the learner’s understanding of curricular material can provide valuable feedback to both learners and teachers about progress toward the learning goals. Self-assessments of learning progress can also improve students’ self-appraisal skills and enhance motivation and self-directed learning. The goals and expectations for schooling have changed quite dramatically during the past century. New goals suggest the need to rethink such questions as: “What is taught?,” “How is it taught?,” and “How are students assessed?” As you establish your classroom, ask these questions of yourself and strive for continuous improvement. Learner-centered environments attempt to help students make connections between their previous knowledge and current academic tasks. Student motivation for learning increases when they see connections between what they do in the classroom and what they hope to do in the future. Student attention increases when classroom activities are relevant to their other interests. © 2017 5200 44 In summary, the following instructional practices will be observed in effective classrooms: © Authentic Assessment Student knowledge should be assessed through various methods, i.e. in a lab setting, a handson assessment might be used. Challenging The curriculum should challenge the student to encourage lifelong learning. Cognitive Students must be encouraged to incorporate inquiry into the learning process. Collaborative Cooperative learning experiences should be planned into the instruction. Constructivist (e.g. discovery learning) Students must build on prior knowledge. Democratic All students are equal and respected for their differences. Developmental All teachers must be aware of various stages of development to determine age appropriate activities. Experiential Students must be encouraged to venture out and try. Holistic Instruction should be interdisciplinary, cross content area, so that students see the whole of education. Reflective Both teachers and students must reflect, often through a journal, on what has been learned and how learning could have occurred differently. Social Students need to interact with peers. 2017 5200 45 Student Centered instruction © 2017 Lessons are predicated on the student being the instructional center. 5200 46 Additionally, the following practices should NOT be observed in a classroom that incorporates good teaching practices: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Competition in school grades stressed Failure to acknowledge the varied characteristics of students Failure to encourage students who are reluctant or having problems Inconsistent, unfair, or inequitable treatment of students Rote memorization of rules and/or rote practice emphasized Teaching by telling; whole class directed instruction Teaching isolated topics Testing for the sole purpose of assigning grades Tracking or leveling students into “ability groups” Use of low-level learning objectives Use of worksheets, timelines (listing facts and dates) Use of rote activities and/or rote drill and practice Use of questions that require only yes/no responses Use of coercion, sarcasm, or ridicule Use of harsh, negative, non-specific feedback Use of pull-out special programs Use of and reliance on standardized tests Use of these practices may negatively impact learning. Factors impacting student learning will be discussed in greater detail in the next section of the course. © 2017 5200 47
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