Reverse the flow
Create a need to know the ideas presented in your course. Relevance is necessary. Begin by presenting the real problems to be solved during and after the course so that the knowledge and skills needed to solve them are apparent and relevant to the learning. These are the objectives students will create for themselves. We can certainly describe the boundaries of the course requirements, but not of the learning hoped for by your learners. Why and what do they hope to know and do with some expertise to feel confident to solve “wicked” problems? Course goals intersect with students’ personal learning goals, which allows for the development of self-directed learning practice. Read more about “Reversing the Flow” in Randy Bass’s article, Disrupting Ourselves: The Problem with Learning in Higher Education (see page 28)
Connected Learning: Relevance, the 4th R Video with comments through videoNot.es. Select the VideoNot.es link to access the video. As you watch, add your own notes and comments in response to the video. This is a great tool to create collaboration.
Apply How People Learn
1. Students come to the classroom with preconceptions about how the world works. If their initial understanding is not engaged, they may fail to grasp the new concepts and information that are taught, or they may learn them for purposes of a test but revert to their preconceptions outside the classroom.
2. To develop competence in an area of inquiry, students must: (a) have a deep foundation of factual knowledge, (b) understand facts and ideas in the context of a conceptual framework, and (c) organize knowledge in ways that facilitate retrieval and application.
3. A “metacognitive” approach to instruction can help students learn to take control of their own learning by defining learning goals and monitoring their progress in achieving them.
According to the cognitive research covered in How People Learn , environments that best promote learning have four interdependent aspects—they focus on learners, well-organized knowledge, ongoing assessment for understanding, and community support and challenge.
Learner-centered: Learner-centered environments pay careful attention to the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and beliefs that learners bring to the educational setting. Teachers must realize that new knowledge is built on existing knowledge—students are not blank slates. Therefore, teachers need to uncover the incomplete understandings, false beliefs and naïve renditions of concepts that students have when they begin a course. If these are ignored, students may develop understandings very different from what the teacher intends them to gain.
Knowledge-centered: Knowledge-centered environments take seriously the need to help students learn the well-organized bodies of knowledge that support understanding and adaptive expertise. Teachers are wise to point their students directly toward clear learning goals—to tell students exactly what knowledge they will be gaining, and how they can use that knowledge. In addition, a strong foundational structure of basic concepts will give students a solid base on which to build further learning.
Assessment-centered: Assessment-centered environments provide frequent formal and informal opportunities for feedback focused on understanding, not memorization, to encourage and reward meaningful learning. Feedback is fundamental to learning, but feedback opportunities are often too scarce in classrooms. Students may receive grades on tests and essays, but these are summative assessments that occur at the end of projects. What are needed are formative assessments that provide students with opportunities to revise and improve the quality of their thinking and understanding. The goal is for students to gain meta-cognitive abilities to self-assess, reflect and rethink for better understanding.
Community-centered: Community-centered environments foster norms for people learning from one another, and continually attempting to improve. In such a community, students are encouraged to be active, constructive participants. Further, they are encouraged to make—and then learn from—mistakes. Intellectual camaraderie fosters support, challenge and collaboration.
Attention. Use novel, surprising, incongruous and uncertain events to create the need, the desire to know more about what they are seeing. Pose and have the people presently engaged generate questions or a problem to solve from their own curiosity, experience, and imagination. Maintain interest (engagement) by lots of examples and stories, varying the elements of instruction and resource media.
Relevance. Emphasize relevance. Use concrete language and examples with which students are familiar. Provide examples and concepts that are related to learners’ previous experiences and values. Explain the utility of learning for both present and future uses.
Confidence. Help learners develop confidence by enabling them to succeed. Present a degree of challenge that allows for meaningful success. Show the student that his or her expended effort directly influences the consequences. Generate positive expectations. Provide immediate feedback and support. Help students estimate the probability of their own success by presenting performance requirements, evaluation criteria and examples.
Satisfaction. Provide opportunities to use newly acquired knowledge or skill in a real or simulated setting. Provide feedback and reinforcements that will sustain the desired behavior. Maintain consistent standards and consequences for task accomplishments. Manage reinforcement: keep outcomes of learner’s efforts consistent with expectations.
The need to know — adult learners need to know why they need to learn something before undertaking to learn it.
Learner self-concept —adults need to be responsible for their own decisions and to be treated as capable of self-direction
Role of learners’ experience —adult learners have a variety of experiences of life which represent the richest resource for learning. These experiences are however imbued with bias and presupposition.
Readiness to learn —adults are ready to learn those things they need to know in order to cope effectively with life situations.
Orientation to learning —adults are motivated to learn to the extent that they perceive that it will help them perform tasks they confront in their life situations.