|[ Teaching and Learning Forum 2001 ] [ Proceedings Contents ]|
Figure 1: Conceptualisation of the New Rhythm
Figure 2: Phase 1 of the Journey of Learning
The second phase of the journey involved applying the concept of mentoring (Spencer, 1996; Harnish & Wild, 1994) within the community of learners. We originally asked the question how do we each achieve our personal and collective goals of the unit within the 15 week semester. A problem based (Radloff, 1998) framework was used to identify constraints such as student's and lecturer's prior knowledge and skills, weekly curriculum sequence and resourcing implications. Solutions were found with mentoring and modelling (Wild, 1995) and these became significant key factors as we later reflected on the rhythm we were creating. Given that mentoring involves working with the 'expert other' this key factor guided the conceptualisation of the community of learners to fruition.
The third phase of the journey involved operationalising the constructivist approach to further develop the concept of the community of learners. Andragogy, as detailed in Table 1, provided a framework which also enabled the integration of technology within a 'real' life context. At this phase we defined our lecturing role to involve mentoring, modelling active life long learning strategies, developing deep meaningful learning contexts and collaborating. Mentoring allowed us as lecturers to support and enrich each other in our personal learning journeys to create up to date learning environments. Modelling involved specifically addressing the application of technology and learning theories. Knowledge was made explicit by drawing on and directing students to current information sources such as journals, books, online catalogues, databases and Internet sites. Through reflection, it became obvious that our personal love of learning and passion for the unit content was critical to developing the synergy of the learning environment. We believe our enthusiasm and commitment enhanced the development of the community of learners and from this point we could feel a new rhythm developing. The initial units' content and assessment strategies were reviewed and modified by us to reflect a unified approach to achieving curriculum and Faculty outcomes and ensure a constructivist, student centred approach was evident.
A prime consideration in the structuring of the learning environment was our perception of the way students approach learning. We recognised that only the students themselves could construct their own knowledge therefore we decided the role of the student was one of a learner who is involved in higher level thinking processes of analysing, synthesising and evaluating. Technology was considered integral to the process of identifying, gathering and recording their own learning. Inherent in the concept of the community of learners was collaboration where novices and experts discuss and debate issues. Students were to be encouraged to become proactive members of groups and undertake various roles including that of leadership. Online collaboration would be implemented as a method to solve problems and facilitate student to student mentoring and working towards becoming independent self regulated learners. Choice and negotiation were built into their learning and assessment for the purpose of encouraging them to be responsible decision makers and in control of their own learning.
We believed the nature and structure of the assessment would drive the delivery of the unit and achieve outcomes. Therefore, we decided assessment should be criterion referenced, public and explicit. Students were to use technology to develop creative products and portfolios to demonstrate their learning. This would include collaborative development of checklists and rubrics to assess work presented using self, peer and lecturer assessment.
Throughout the delivery of the units, technology facilitated the exploration and collaboration of learning both online and in the regular weekly classes. For example WebCT was the vehicle for group communication, lesson content and public display of students final products.
|Aspects of learning environment||Constructivist application||Application to ED 128 Teaching, Learning and Assessing||Application to ED 458 Using Technology in the Classroom|
|Adapted from Changing the conversations about teaching, learning and technology: A report on 10 years of Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow research, ACOT (1995).|
Figure 3: Rhythm of Learning
Phase four allowed us to evaluate the journey of learning by asking a number of key questions. What was different now in comparison to our previous teaching? To what extent had we achieved student centred learning? How appropriate was student centred learning for students we taught? Did the application of constructivism contribute to deep and meaningful learning? Had we allowed students to be in control of their own learning? How effective was allowing students to be responsible for their own learning and assessment? What aspects of mentoring were successful and should the mentoring role be further strengthened? The answers to these questions are discussed below and they identified synergy, mentoring, modelling and continuity of learning as the key beats to the new piece - the rhythm of learning. We identified our current teaching as different from previous teaching practice in the following ways. Firstly, we actually used the learning theories themselves not only referred to them as theoretical examples. Students reported they had a firm grasp of learning theories and technology applications. For example students reported on learning experience reflections in their journals:
"...we all decided it was a really good learning experience, we all learnt from each other and our computer skills increased".Students used the learning theories in their own journey, deep and meaningful knowledge and skills were economically acquired. Secondly, the locus of control was placed with the students. There was a clear change of role for us from controlling the delivery of the course and the assessment to engaging the students in higher level thinking and independent learning involving an awareness of outcomes, choice and negotiation. We believe that we encouraged a student centred learning focus to a high degree as verified by student feedback. These comments are taken from journal reflections:
"I find doing the case studies during tutorials very helpful as it helps apply the theories to different classroom situations that we may face one day. It's also good to get a range of different opinions and points of views from everyone".
"Having tutorials is great as we get to interact with the other student and get their opinions on different ideas and theories and have discussions about the topic so its more easy to understand when there is a range of opinions about the situation".
"Overall I found this class very good and I enjoyed it a great deal. I find having the lecture as well as the tutorial great as it helps to understand the information without having to just decipher it yourself in your spare time, it gets you thinking and gives a range of views from others".However, such an approach did not always meet all the demands of student learning styles. One can not assume that students will automatically be autonomous learners. Many students were dependent on the transmissive mode and found choice, time management, negotiation and collaboration difficult. Through modelling and mentoring, many students were supported in their growth towards independent learning styles. This was especially evident through the online learning environment supported through the use of WebCT. The issue of developing autonomous learners supported through technology requires further exploration by us and at a Faculty wide level.
"We all felt that each individual in the group was able to competently achieve some of the objectives so far. We have all increased our skills in many different areas as outlined in the stated outcomes/objectives".
It appears that our constructivist approach to teaching contributed to deep and meaningful learning. Other lecturers have verified that transfer of knowledge and skills occurred in other units. Mentoring played a critical role in supporting student's learning under a constructivist approach. This approach afforded the students opportunities to review, apply what they had learnt and help peers both online and within the tutorial groups. Developing group assessment tasks extended the mentoring role in a less formal way. For example, in developing teacher interviews, interviewing the teacher, summarising the results and identifying the underlying theory, sub parts of an assessment task required students to tell each other what they understood and in turn reaffirm and consolidate their own knowledge.
Mentoring was also critical to our lecturing role. For example without the 'expert other' some of the goals and outcomes for students would not have been achieved to the extent they were. These aspects of mentoring were most successful and we believe the mentoring role could be further strengthened by making this explicit as a learning strategy to students.
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Harnish, D. and Wild, L. (1994). Mentoring strategies for faculty development. Studies in Higher Education, 19(2), 191-201.
Herrmann, A. & Kulski, M. (2000). Foreword. In A. Herrmann and M. M. Kulski (Eds), Flexible Futures in Tertiary Teaching, pii. Published papers of the 9th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 2-4 February 2000. Perth: Curtin University of Technology.
Radloff, P. (1998). Do we treat time and space seriously enough in teaching and learning? In Black, B. and Stanley, N. (Eds), Teaching and Learning in Changing Times. Proceedings of the 7th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, The University of Western Australia, February 1998. Perth: UWA. http://cleo.murdoch.edu.au/asu/pubs/tlf/tlf98/radloff-p.html
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Straker, L., Jones, S. and Tucker, B. (2000). Course evaluation on the web (CEW): A 'learning community' tool designed to enhance teaching and learning. In A. Herrmann and M. M. Kulski (Eds), Flexible Futures in Tertiary Teaching. Proceedings of the 9th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 2-4 February 2000. Perth: Curtin University of Technology. http://cleo.murdoch.edu.au/confs/tlf/tlf2000/straker.html
Taylor, P. (1998) Constructivism: Value added, In B. Fraser & K. Tobin (Eds), The International handbook of science education. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic.
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|Please cite as: Trinidad, S. and Albon, R. (2001). Tapping out new rhythms in the journey of learning. In A. Herrmann and M. M. Kulski (Eds), Expanding Horizons in Teaching and Learning. Proceedings of the 10th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 7-9 February 2001. Perth: Curtin University of Technology. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2001/trinidad.html|