EDUC3325 - Week Four Reflections
Wow, the end of September already - where did the time go?
Well, one month into the fall 2006 semester and I'm very impressed with the "work ethic" of the students in the EDUC3325 course this week. We had a bit of an attendance "glitch" on Monday night as a surprising number of students attended the Mariah Carey concert in Calgary (sounds like everyone had a GREAT time). Anyways, most of the students were able to attend the first part of the class and we were able to critically review the five major types of instructional software (drill & practice, games, simulations, tutorials, problem solving). Almost everyone had completed their Reading Assignment on this topic (although some people finished at the last minute) - so they had enough "raw data" to use to create their group summaries for each of the five categories. Similar to last week, each group sent me their summary via the digital drop box and I "patched" it all together into a summary - which we then posted to our Blackboard site. For the students that were left - we then started the PowerPoint Learning Theories assignment. Still can't beat Greg Kearsley's Theory in Practice (TIP - http://tip.psychology.org/index.html) site as a good starting point for the students to learn about the various major learning theories.
The focus of the PowerPoint Assignment is for the students to select a learning theory and then provide an overview and summary:
- A brief introduction or overview to the learning theory you have selected
- Names of researchers involved in developing this theory (this screen should also include an picture of at least one of the researchers)
- Key principles of this theory
- Implications for education and/or technology integration
A fair number of students attended the optional tutorial session on Wednesday night in order to complete the lesson plan assignment (I'll be sure to post their completed work next week), work on their PowerPoint assignments and two of the Jenn's completed their online discussion summary on our course wiki (http://www.writely.com/View.aspx?docid=ah89t3ngg2jw_0g25sqg). Wow, now that Google has taken over writely.com - I have been VERY impressed with the performance of this wiki tool!!
Outside of this course, our Teaching & Learning Centre at the University of Calgary hosted Dr. Craig Nelson from Indiana University. Craig is a retired biology professor who has a PASSION for teaching. He helped create the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning and his written extensively on fostering critical thinking and mature valuing across the curriculum. A lot of his thinking is based on William Perry's (1970) work with Harvard Undergraduates. Perry suggests that undergraduate students move through various phases of thinking from Dualism (right versus wrong or as Craig states "Sergeant Friday" stage - just give me the facts), to multiplicity (decisions based on opinions - feelings and/or intuition - rather than analysis or Craig's Baskin Robbins - multiple flavors - becuase I feel like it stage), to contextual relativism (understanding decisions within disciplines or Craig's "Teacher Games") to committment (contextual decisions or Craig's "owned games").
Craig stresses that it is our role as educators to help students move through these four stages (studies have found that most undergraduates only reach the multiplicity phase). He suggests that an emphasis on teaching critical thinking and small group work (inside and outside of the classroom) can help facilitate this process. And he states:
"Grade inflation is our task. We should be focused on educating - not sorting students. Increased grades should REALLY mean increased learning!!"
Hopefully, I'll be writing more about how I'm trying to incorporate Craig's ideas into my own teaching practice in the coming weeks?