Driscoll and Martinez presented wonderful synopses of different theoretical approaches to teaching and learning in this week’s reading requirements. It was interesting to consider the historical perspectives of knowledge, truth, and learning from the lens of behaviorism, cognitivism, neuroscience, and psychometric theory. I appreciate the multiple perspectives to allow for a wider landscape that will guide our discussions on the different approaches to teaching and learning. I do think that I have considered these more philosophic approaches and have developed my own take, but in the day-to-day it is easy to get caught up in short-term solutions so you can just get things done and move on to the next task. However, I know it is much more meaningful, albeit a lot more work, to approach designing classes and course work from a framework that you adhere to, such as behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, or pragmatism. I know that every time I have run into an issue designing courses, once I take a step back and consider the objectives, how I want to measure those objectives, and then take the time to slow down in order to take a more systematic approach, I am able to come up with a workable solution that is grounded in theory and, ultimately, more effective.
During our last class meeting, we discussed these different frameworks and briefly touched on how we identify with certain theories. I think there are many benefits to each of the approaches and can see how they would work depending on the teaching/learning environment. I definitely think I would use a behaviorist approach when attempting to reinforce certain skills, while I might look at a cognitivist approach when attempting to chunk skills to teach a larger, more complex concept. However, I found that most views took a more extremist stance, that is, most adherents thought that learning could only occur when it happened under a very specific set of circumstances. Whereas pragmatism can take a much more measured approach. Under the pragmatist school of thought, learning could occur through both external experiences as well as internal processes, you are not confined to one or the other. This appealed to me as it allowed for me to pick and choose the best of the different approaches to use an element of each theory that fit a specific set of conditions for different learning environments. It is more adaptable for the students and subjects you are working with.
Something that has helped me so far in the Driscoll textbook has been the story of “Kermit and the Keyboard.” It has been beneficial to examine the different philosophies utilizing a real-world, authentic example. While each theory can play a role, and I can see how each chapter will tie in the scenario to highlight elements of behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, or pragmatism, I do think this example has cemented my own appreciation of pragmatism. Kermit is intrinsically motivated to learn based on his interests, an emotion that is ignored in behaviorism. Additionally, he builds on previous accomplishments and is rewarded when he practices songs he feels more confident playing. He utilizes both the instruction manual and his social networks when he runs into roadblocks, and has a strong background in formally learning music as a player of both the clarinet and saxophone. I think continuing to read about Kermit at the end of each chapter will help me better understand the different theories so I can more readily apply them during my day-to-day work.
Having reviewed the syllabus, I am excited about the objectives and outcomes of this course and what we will be working on this semester, particularly the literature review. I am currently on the research team of a national information literacy study called Project Information Literacy and I am contributing to a literature review on how blog readership is used as a source for lifelong learning. It is hard work! Even working in a team of experienced researchers, I am beginning to understand all that is involved in ensuring that the literature review is more than just a summary of what we read and can make a contribution on its own. I feel like I am constantly sitting back and observing how the rest of the team approaches writing literature reviews—definitely beneficial as I start to tackle this semester’s project. I took Dr. Luo’s ID&T 801 and we touched on what goes into a good literature review as well, so I feel like I have a good foundation of what it will take to complete this on my own. And yet, it is still somewhat intimidating to think of all the work it will take to write a comprehensive, thoughtful synthesis and analysis of the literature. We have a lot of work this semester to help prepare all of us to accomplish this big task, and I think it will be worth it!
This is my second semester in the instructional design and technology PhD program and I am still at the stage where I am intrigued by everything we discuss in class, and then all of those interests sound like potential research areas, aka I am still undecided. As a librarian, and one that wants to stay working within my specialty, I do have that to act as a filter and help narrow these potential topics. I am currently toying with the idea of evaluating Open Educational Resources (OER), professional development and instructional training for librarians, and assessing motivation in one-shot instructional information literacy sessions—which is a bit of library jargon, but one-shot sessions are the typical ways in which librarians encounter students and are pretty unique teaching environments. The literature review is a wonderful opportunity to explore some of these topics and determine if they are suitable for a dissertation.
But I have been considering using this assignment to help build a rationale for another project I am working on--creating a validated metacognitive self-assessment tool to measure student perceptions of their information literacy skills. This has been something I have considered after the professional organization of librarians in higher education revitalized our professional guidelines utilizing a more constructivist framework. I think this could have a direct impact on my job and help me take a realistic step toward starting a project I have found fascinating for a while. I am really looking forward to completing this class with more practice working on the valuable skill of writing a literature review as well as a completed product that I would hope to ultimately get published.