Monthly Archives: September 2012

Reflections – Week 4 Behaviorism

Jen Harvey led the first part of this class on the psychology of behaviorism.

Mentioned were Gagne’s 9 levels of instruction and the Keller Plan. Interestingly I have been able to draw many parallels between these behaviorist approaches and the teaching methods used in my school. Keller’s Personalised System of Instruction in particular shares a number of elements:

  • Emphasis on clear learning objectives for each learning unit
  • The organisation and presentation of content in meaningful units that can relate to each other e.g. mastery of a unit may be a required pre-requisite to move on to the next unit.
  • Use of “Proctors” or individuals either external mentors or advanced students who can provide help to the learner.
  • The importance of using the written word as the preferred tool for instruction in the PSI may be looked upon as a limitation of the media available at the time (1960s). The various digital media at the disposal of teachers and learners today would provide more variety in instructional terms.
  • The learner proceeds at their own pace.

An activity in class asked us to draw the typical classroom. The vast majority of the room choose to draw a traditional Irish classroom with a teacher at the front speaking and the learners arranged in neat rows diligently listening. This is still the standard classroom model today. I think that the internet is providing many young people with alternative, more individually paced paths to get to what they actually want to know themselves. It might just be that online learning is already shaping how many students learn but it happens largely outside of a schoolroom which is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Reflections – Week 3

We discussed more about the psychology of learning and the some of the leading scholars associated with each. The main points of interest I took from this session were concerned with Vygotsky’s social constructivist “zone of proximal development”. It is a concept that very naturally sits within my experiences of teaching as I often encounter students where we gauge what they can handle on their own and what they will need from a teacher or mentor to reach a certain level of understanding. I may also be slightly biased towards this perspective. As I teach online I am aware that a more cognitive in/out approach to teaching would mirror too much the computers I spend my days working with and result in a boring and unengaging experience for learners. The humanistic elements of social constructivism allow me to aim for a more individualised and student centered approach.

Reflecting on what learning theory(ies) my school is based on I would at this stage it is based mainly on constructivist and social-constructivist principles. I will be looking into this further when researching for the paper on learning theories.

Reflections Week 2

This week we discussed the learning theories of behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism and social-constructivism. My undergraduate degree included a psychology component so much of it was familiar though it had been a while. It was an interesting experience trying to remember the famous names associated with each of the learning theories as they were mentioned. As an undergrad I probably leaned more towards behaviorism. In retrospect that was probably due to the strong behaviorist structure of my own primary and secondary education.

I was asked to reflect on what learning theory my teaching practice would fall into and how the various learning theories fit into the curriculum where I teach. I am having some trouble deciding whether it is cognitivist or social constructionist or both. It could be argued that there is a behaviorist basis to it also but I think this argument could be made to almost any form of teaching as any successful teaching method should result in a change in behavior.

I think the class is certainly getting the impression that social constructivism is the most popular learning model amongst researchers and academics and that an educator dictating to a class room of silent students is not the optimum method of teaching.

We were also introduced to experiential learning styles of Kolb’s Learning cycle and Race’s ‘ripples’ model of learning and threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge. I like the idea of troublesome knowledge. It is interesting to analyse what it is that blocks a learner from being able to fully understand a new concept and how that learner can be helped.

Kolbs cycle of learning Diagram of Race's ripples model of learning.

Reflections Week 1

I met course facilitators Muirrean and Roisin and the rest of the class. It is made up largely of professional educators mainly from the tertiary/training sector.

Over view of course and timetable for the first year explaining the continuous nature of assessment and how assignments are staggered.

The Learning Theory Applied paper will be about the context I work in and will also include a presentation.

There will be a professional development interview on 14 January.

The course involves a lot of reflection. I will be asked to continuously reflect on what I have learned and how that impacts on my learning philosophy.

There was a lot of emphasis on developing a learning philosophy. Through reflection it is expected that this will be challenged and change during the course.

Very helpful introdcution to LTTC library by a DIT librarian.

I recorded my hopes, fears and expectiations for the course and also my personal development plan to this point. This will be added to my e-portfolio for reflection on later in the course.

Kevin O’Rourke gave us an interesting talk on the nature of e-learning and what it means in terms of the education the online student recieves (education vs training) and to consider more deeply what education should be. This ties back into the learning philosophy I need to develop.

Overall it was a good start though as usual when I had a camera pointed at me I began talking at approx 300 words per minute and may be completely unintelligible 🙂