Posts Tagged ‘Learner Centered’

Chapter 10 of Learner-Centered Teaching focuses on research about what helps and hinders the recall of information in college.

More importantly, though, are ways to teach for long-term recall.

  1. Teach students to space their practice. Basically, cramming does not help long-term memory.
  2. Use cumulative tests and exams.  Basically, keep re-testing the most important elements throughout the semester. Make all tests comprehensive.
  3. Have students spend time in reflection. The power of reflection causes students to make connections between the new information and what they already know.
  4. Ask students to explain what they have learned in their own words. This asks students to translate a new pattern into a familiar one.  One benefit is that instructors can tell whether students understand the material. Another is that the new pattern will be easier for students because it will be more familiar to them and easier for them to recall.
  5. Use as much visual information as possible.

Suggestions for students to improve their memories:

  1. Focus your attention on the materials you are studying. Do not multi-task.
  2. Don’t cram for exams.
  3. Structure and organize the information.
  4. Use mnemonic devices to help you remember details.
  5. Elaborate and rehearse information.
  6. Relate new information to prior knowledge.
  7. Visualize concepts.
  8. Teach new concepts to another person.
  9. Pay extra attention to information in the middle of the class.
  10. Vary your study routine.

I have included Guido Sarducci’s Five Minute University, for your viewing pleasure. (Father Guido Sarducci teaches what an average college graduate knows five years after graduation.)


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Chapter 9 of Learner-Centered Teaching is about patterns.

Since patterns exist everywhere, the ability  to recognize patterns is a valuable skill.

We should help students recognize the patterns that exist in our own content areas.  To a novice, the material presented may seem very random.  Build activities and demonstrations which show students how the material is interconnected and organized. Teach students how to use patterning in order to compare and contrast, show how things are similar or different, etc.

Students have been engaged in linear learning activities in the K-12 classroom.

Terry Doyle says that learner-centered teaching is about teaching students to recognize patterns.

  • Help students use their own patterns.  They can do this by re-wording, reflecting, etc.
  • Help students see the patterns, if they cannot.  Point out patterns in the course or in the content of the course and relate these to what the students know.
  • Help students make the patterns in the course content area more recognizable and familiar.

One approach from cognitive science which can help in developing instructional content is called interleaving.  Example problems can be interspersed with actual problem solving to improve learning. Students pay more attention to the examples when they know they will be expected to use the content to solve an immediate problem.

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Chapter 8 of Learning-Centered Learning is about using a multi-sensory approach.

The cognitive theory of multimedia has come up with five principles:

  1. People learn better from words and pictures than from words alone.
  2. People learn better when words and pictures are presented simultaneously.
  3. Words should be presented aurally rather than visually.
  4. People learn better when extraneous material is excluded.
  5. People learn better from a coherent summary that highlights relevant words and pictures rather than a longer summary.

What does this mean for our teaching?

Make sure we optimize our students’ ability to learn in the classroom and online by adhering to these principles. This may mean using videos, games, authentic learning, and concept maps.

Steve Covello, our Rich Media Specialist at Granite State College, has created a set of videos entitled  Teaching Beyond Text – Rich Media in Instructional Strategies.  This explains how you can do more than just add a video to  your course.

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There is a pertinent quote in chapter 7 of Terry Doyle’s book, Learning-Centered Teaching.

Pedagogies that take the social nature of learning tend to be more successful.  Students give witness that when they have opportunities to discuss, critique, and relate the material to their own lives, it becomes more meaningful and memorable.

Discussions are used in most, if not all,  online courses  at Granite State College.

This chapter provides rationales for using discussion, including:

  • It’s important to be able to express one’s ideas in the workplace.
  • Students need to hear the different views of their peers.
  • Research shows that learning is enhanced by discussion.
  • Most work is done in teams and groups and working in discussion groups may be good practice for this.
  • Discussion develops critical thinking skills.
  • Challenging or agreeing with others is an important tool in effective communication.
  • Discussion allows students to clarify their thoughts.

This chapter talks mainly about face-to-face discussions, but many of the important points to consider are also important for online discussions.

  • One thing to think about is whether the discussion will take place in groups or among all members of the class.  If in groups, make sure the students know how to work in groups.  If not, teach them what they need to do.
  • Another thing is the discussion question(s). Some instructors find this to be difficult.  The questions must be open-ended.  These can include questions which ask for evidence, clarification, cause and effect, hypotheses, and more.
  • The third thing to consider is the discussion method.  Will you have a guided discussion, a debate, role playing, or something else?
  • What happens after the discussion ends?  Do students write a summary, a reflection, a mind map, or do they do nothing? Are students assessed on what happens in the discussions?  They should be, especially if discussions are a large part of the class.

Beth Rubin provides good guidelines for managing an online discussion in this video.

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Who are learners and how do we get to know them better?

Chapter 5 of Terry Doyle’s book, Learner-Centered Teaching,  has some good insights on ways to get to know your students.

One interesting thing in this chapter is a list of standards all teachers should work toward:

  1. Establish a safe classroom.
  2. Strive to make the work the students do be of value to them.
  3. Provide evidence of student success.
  4. Establish a caring classroom.
  5. Use best practices.

(from Rogers, S. ,  and Renard, L (1999) Relationship-driven teaching. Educational Leadership. September, 34-37 )

Sharing Control and Giving Choices

Chapter 6 of this book considers sharing control with students.  There are many things that need to be decided every term. Usually the instructor decides these things, but can students be given a voice?

Here’s a modified list:

  • Textbook
  • When exams will be given
  • Attendance policy
  • Late work policy
  • Due dates for major papers
  • Groups formation
  • Topics for papers or projects
  • Discussion guidelines
  • Rubrics for self-evaluation and evaluation of peers’ work
  • Whether rewriting should be allowed
  • Whether to allow re-testing

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In Chapter 4  of Learner-Centered Teaching, Terry Doyle talks about feedback

Here are some key points about giving feedback:

  1. Feedback is most effective when both students and teachers are actively involved.
  2. Assignments should be given so that students can see the  benefit of paying attention to the feedback.
  3. Give feedback that tells the student how to improve.
  4. Link feedback to a rubric.
  5. Give feedback as soon as possible.
  6. Use language the students can understand.
  7. Make the feedback very specific.
  8. Relate feedback to the learning goals.

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In Chapter 3 of Learner-Centered Teaching Terry Doyle considers Authentic Learning.

Authentic learning is a pedagogical approach that allows students to explore, discuss, and meaningfully construct concepts and relationships in contexts that involve real-world problems and projects that are relevant to the learner (Donovan, Bransford, & Pellegrino, 1999)

Authentic instruction will take on a much different form than traditional methods of teaching. The literature suggests that authentic learning has several key characteristics.

  • Learning is centered on authentic tasks that are of interest to the learners.
  • Students are engaged in exploration and inquiry.
  • Learning, most often, is interdisciplinary.
  • Learning is closely connected to the world beyond the walls of the
  • classroom.
  • Students become engaged in complex tasks and higher-order thinking
  • skills, such as analyzing, synthesizing, designing, manipulating and
  • evaluating information.
  • Students produce a product that can be shared with an audience outside
  • the classroom.
  • Learning is student driven with teachers, parents, and outside experts all
  • assisting/coaching in the learning process.
  • Learners employ scaffolding techniques.
  • Students have opportunities for social discourse.

from http://emp.byui.edu/FIRESTONEL/bio405/readings/Inquiry/authentic_learning-meridian.pdf

The Educause White Paper Authentic Learning for the 21st Century: An Overview by Marilyn Lombardi has some great information too. The Abstract below may entice you to dive in.

Learning-by-doing is generally considered the most effective way to learn. The Internet and a variety of emerging communication, visualization, and simulation technologies now make it possible to offer students authentic learning experiences ranging from experimentation to real-world problem solving. This white paper explores what constitutes authentic learning, how technology supports it, what makes it effective, and why it is important.

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