In this week’s assigned readings, we covered Martinez and Driscoll chapters describing developmental theories and philosophies. It was interesting to see how significant Piaget has been to this field. I was somewhat aware of these stages, and the hierarchical structuring of the schemas, without identifying them as a Piagetian understanding of development. I also had no idea that these ideas were now considered out of style due to cognitive research demonstrating the stages occurring out of order, a lack of understanding about processes, and more. Both Martinez and Driscoll seemed pretty determined that this research had disproven Piaget’s contribution, without eliminating his influence on the field. Are there no longer practicing Piagetian educators, apart from neo-Piagetian scholars like Case who built on his research? Have any of you run across Piagetian instructional design in practice? As I teach in a community college setting (and also do not have any children), I do not often consider developmental stages when planning instruction.
I found the Bransford chapter to be of great interest to me, as I had already run into some articles citing some of this material in my research for the literature review. I think it comes as no surprise to most that experts and novices have different cognitive approaches to content in certain domains. I have looked at this research from the perspective that most studies in this area show a significant increase in metacognitive skills in experts versus novices. I have not come across many articles explaining why—I thought it might have something to do with cognitive load and experts’ abilities to chunk essential background material. This would allow experts to learn while freeing up working memory to assimilate additional information or critically engage with the content through self-regulation or self-reflection.
I am continuing to find the assigned readings extremely helpful to my literature review process. When I originally submitted my preliminary citations, I found roughly 30—it was a lot! Working on the data analysis spreadsheet, I have whittled that number down to 10 usable articles. Now I have to go back to the research stage and search again, but with the added benefit now of having a better idea of the direction I am headed in.
It is also perfect timing as I start planning my Week 10 discussion lead. I really liked the Google Doc-guided discussion questions that Dr. Luo used recently in class. I felt like it was a great way for us to get our thoughts organized around all the philosophies and approaches we have been discussing so far in class. At the same time, it also makes it easier for Dr. Luo to ensure we are not just on autopilot in class and actually engaging in the material. On top of it all, it allowed us to feel more comfortable speaking up without talking over one another, which I find to be one of the most difficult and frustrating elements of attending class in the online environment. I liked it so much, I hope Dr. Luo does not mind if I steal it for my teaching presentation!
Practical Lessons in Motivation
I am finding the further we progress in the semester, the more recent the philosophies we discuss, the more relevant I find them to be to my day-to-day teaching experiences. This is especially true as we get into more detailed perspectives of cognition –particularly with this week’s readings on the trilogy of the mind (Hilgard), motivation (Maslow; Harter; Schunk; Atkinson), and self-efficacy (Bandura). While the readings touched on much more, these three elements struck me as significant areas of cognitivism and significant to my own approach to instructional design.
Motivation, especially, stood out to me as a missing component to my current design practices. We have talked in class in relation to cognitive approaches about the frame of reference with which we approach tasks. I very firmly approach tasks and lessons in this class with a library frame of reference, and it was no different for me while I was reading this week’s assigned chapters. Instruction librarians are often not in classes for the entire semester but rather, similar to when Lucy Rush visited us in Week 4, come in for one session that we call one-shot IL sessions. The condensed nature of these one-shot sessions make it difficult to understand our audience and their motivation for learning.
I believe many instructors, as Dr. Luo did, invite librarians to class to prepare students for specific assignments, which automatically increases the relevance of our lesson. However, this is not always the case and a majority of instructors I deal with invite librarians to teach by means of a general introduction to the library and research. And, while I love the library and find any and all library-related topics fascinating, I know it is similar to the camouflage lesson example in Driscoll—seemingly irrelevant and a snoozer of a topic to many. Examining my lesson plans from the perspective of Keller’s ARCS model is going to be an extremely beneficial way of approaching this variety of one-shots in my future. Without an assignment to tie library research to an immediately relevant situation to students’ lives, I need to provide greater transparency about how library research will be relevant to students as they progress in college. In addition, it will be important to start off the lesson with an example or anecdote to grab students’ attention! The one area of the ARCS model that will be difficult to manage in the one-shot session is Satisfaction. I will not be present when students determine if and how to use the library content I teach, but I can create a hypothetical scenario for students to gain practice and estimate their satisfaction levels.
I have continued to make progress on my literature review—having the 10 articles due soon is helpful to ensure I am consistently working on this assignment! I think it has been helpful, since I am tying this review into a larger research project I am working on, to focus just on identifying trends in the literature rather than jumping ahead to other areas that I will eventually need to work on. Gaining this focus will help me feel more productive and less overwhelmed!
I also just wanted to say, I appreciated Dr. Stefaniak’s lecture about situated cognition during Week 5. It helped prepare me for the Dr. Luo’s Week 6 lecture and contextualized the readings for that week. I have already started using Articulation in my instructional practices to wonderful effect! It is such an easy way to encourage self-reflection and check in with students’ comprehension.
This week’s readings were an interesting look at complex cognition—the readings also happened to be extremely beneficial to me as I am writing my literature review for this class on an aspect of metacognition! Great timing! For that reason and since I am interested in looking into this topic for additional research opportunities, it was great to read more about the theoretical framework and the seminal researchers in this field. Complex cognition requires a multifaceted approach and I like how Martinez divided chapter five into the significant cognitive areas of problem solving, critical thinking, inferential reasoning, and creative thinking with the underlying concept of metacognition related to all as well as tying each of the elements together.
Martinez broke down each of these facets of cognition, defining problem solving as pursing an uncertain path, critical thinking as evaluating ideas for quality, inferential reasoning as using available information to generate a conclusion, and creative thinking—as Martinez pointed out, a difficult one to define—as unstructured thinking processes. I liked the view of metacognition as linked but independent of these knowledge processes, an outside look at what we know and how we are learning.
All of these “habits of the mind” or “thinking dispositions” have important considerations when planning instructional design and I think Osman and Hannafin’s (1992) literature review did a good job providing an overview of these instructional design applications. It makes sense that trying to engage metacognition in the classroom itself can overload the working memory so that these principles are most useful for older, more experienced learners. In this article, the authors recommend using Embedded Content-Dependent Strategies, Embedded Content-Independent Strategies, Detached Content-Dependent Strategies, or Detached Content-Independent Strategies, with the instructional designer applying the strategies based on teaching method, content, and how far the material should transfer. I think it is important to engage these self-reflective thoughts when teaching—they are particularly relevant to me as I teach information literacy. My goal is always to instill self-control training where learners are self-sufficient and are able to independently employ, monitor, and evaluate their learning strategies.
My progress in class is moving along slowly. I have been feeling like there are significant numbers of articles that are essential for my literature review and it is a lot to read in addition to the weekly course readings. Even with the overlap in my review topic and the course readings for this week, it is still a lot. It even gave me more ideas of where to search and additional articles I should consider including. I am struggling with limiting these articles by identifying the trends and allowing the literature to naturally focus my topic. I definitely need to work on targeting the areas that will be featured in my literature review, but I get distracted by all the interesting side issues I discover! The data analysis worksheet is a helpful tool that I hope will allow me simplify and reduce my workload. I knew the literature review would be a lot of work, but I am only now beginning to understand what that actually means!
This week’s reading was an interesting examination of meaningful reception learning, a parallel approach to cognitivism. I appreciated Ausubel’s work, but I did not quite understand why he never combined his theories with that of cognitive researchers. I see such overlap between the two schools of thought. For example, I had a hard time drawing clear distinctions between the mental models Ausubel described, and the schema theory that exists within cognitivism. I see both as being akin to the computer metaphor for the mind—mental models and schema both act as a structure that can assist in memory storage and retrieval, which should result in meaningful learning. Did anyone come up with an understanding of mental models and schema that differed, apart from the theories they emerged from? Is there a way to clearly tell the two theories apart?
This chapter and theory stood out to me because I see its application and practical use in my day-to-day work as a librarian. My professional field has struggled with creating meaningful learning opportunities that allow for transfer of information literacy skills beyond the most common teaching activity we do. Typically, we go into a classroom to teach skills that are relevant to searching in general, but apply specifically to an assignment that students are currently working on. This seems to result in rote memorization—students might be able to apply the material to one assignment, but I will see them in the library asking questions about a similar skill that is just in another context. That meaningful learning does not occur in this scenario.
Another way I see its application is when I find myself trying to think of metaphors to relate library searching to things students already do--these days that mostly means I describe library searching in the same terms as Google searching. It is interesting to think that I do this naturally because the concept of subsumption feels very logical to me. It is easier to incorporate new ideas when you can incorporate them into an existing mental structure either derivatively or correlatively. Perhaps this is why this week’s readings were so interesting to me—they quickly related to a concept for which I had already created a mental model. When I read about this, I immediately jotted a note in the margins about flipped classrooms. I see this instructional method as being a practical extension of meaningful learning that allows for students to absorb and subsume the material into mental models prior to class and then work on applying the material in multiple contexts with the guidance of an instructor. Similar to the cognitive apprenticeship idea proposed in the Collins, Seely-Brown, and Holum article.
As far as progress in class, now that we have our literature review topics picked and an introductory list of articles found, I feel things are really taking off and starting to get busy! Just starting to get into research mode and I feel like I could probably read 100 articles on this topic and still have more to learn! I think it will help as I learn more about metacognitive assessments to narrow my focus so that I do not feel so overwhelmed with everything that is out there!
Reflections and updates in learning and cognition for IDT860.