Week 15--Last Blog Post
I was really happy to read the chapters in Driscoll and Martinez this week regarding how the brain, biology, and neurophysiology plays a role in teaching and learning. I was wondering when we would address this area because I felt like this element was somewhat missing from previous readings on the frameworks we have discussed this semester. For instance, Driscoll speaks of how evidence based on evolutionary biology research can be applied to Behaviorism, particularly classical and operant conditioning through the lens of taste aversion in animals (Garcia and Koelling, 1966). While I can see how this research emerged from a different field than Behaviorism and can be talked about in the context of biology, I would have liked to see all the evidence across fields for this framework presented at once. In fact, Driscoll argues that “studying cognitive development from a neurophysiological perspective is no different from studying it from a cognitive perspective,” and combining fields can add new depth and perspective to research that might be missed if studied separately (p. 294). So I was excited to see what this week’s readings could add to what we have learned so far.
Some of what we read felt a little like we were reading an Oliver Sacks essay, which was fun! I was particularly interested in some of the case studies—the nature of the field since you cannot create a sample with brain damage or purposefully separate twins at birth. Some of the ones that stood out were the case of H.M. who lost the ability to form new memories after receiving an operation to relieve epileptic seizures, and the London taxi drivers who developed larger posterior hippocampus when learning the non-grid structure of London roads. But some of what was most interesting was how this information could be incorporated into teaching methods. The Martinez chapter was more technical, providing a good foundation of the structure of the brain, where certain processes tend to be centered, and the micro and macro levels of how the brain functions. Taking this into consideration, Martinez recommended instructors encourage metacognitive functions, make sure learners are well fed and active, and appreciate the plasticity of the brain. However, Martinez also warned of overextending neuroscience research into the classroom when it comes to things like hemispheric laterality and critical periods. Driscoll noted similar takeaways for instructors: include activities that access different sensory modes; take advantage of brain plasticity by creating enriched, active learning environments; teach language in a way that takes into account implicit, biologically programmed language; and take advantage of neurological testing to diagnose learning disorders.
This semester has been really fun—I very much enjoyed this class and the literature review assignment. I feel like this assignment has given me wonderful experience and has been a strong beginning to a much longer-term research process I am undertaking. At the end of the month, I will be presenting on the findings from my literature review and the progress of creating a metacognitive self-assessment tool encouraging students to reflect on their information literacy competency. Because of this class, I was able to get a little external motivation to push me to complete the rationale for this project and get great feedback on how to improve my review. Thanks for a wonderful class everyone!
This week’s readings reminded me a lot of the great media debate that we covered in ID&T 617. In that debate, many participated, but the big players were Clark and Kozma—Clark was actually cited in one of our readings from this week. The argument was that research methodology cannot demonstrate a causal relationship between the effect of technology on learning since it cannot hold all things equal in the classroom. The opposition made the point that the question should be shifted to look at how technology impacts learning, not if, so that the research can be more nuanced and insightful into actual practices. I tend to lean toward the latter—despite no empirical research that can prove technology improves learning, technology is not leaving the classroom anytime soon. It is important to ensure the impact of how we as educators are using technology is thoroughly studied so that we can understand best practices and how to use these tools most effectively.
This is why I found Junco, Heibergert, and Loken’s (2011) article to be most interesting and relevant to me. It not only took an element of learning, i.e., engagement, and examined it in light of how using a tool like Twitter could facilitate engagement—what Kozma argued for—but also presented the seven principles for best practice of engagement from Chickering and Gamson (1987). The recommended seven principles are listed as:
1. Student and faculty contact,
2. Cooperation among students,
3. Active learning,
4. Prompt feedback,
5. Time on task,
6. Expressed high expectations,
7. And a respect for diversity.
I thought these principles were very useful and something I would want to apply to my own instructional design. It is almost like a checklist to ensure the activities and tools used are purposeful for actively encouraging students. Additionally, in regard to the study described in the article, I can definitely see myself using some of the strategies used by the authors, though using Twitter in a community college environment might not go over well with all my students so I might explore other technology options.
One exciting thing about reading the Week 14 articles was that I feel like I am able to better understand some of the methodologies used and some of the terminology used to describe the results. In conjunction with my qualitative statistics course I am also enrolled in this semester, I feel like this class is preparing me well to understand the different types of qualitative research structures, as well as interpreting and critiquing the results. The literature review has given me a lot of opportunities to practice reading research articles strategically so I can immediately locate methodological limitations, research constructs, and theoretical frameworks.
Now that I have my first draft of the literature review complete, I feel like I have a good handle on my topic--I would hope so having spent so much time working on it! I am really looking forward to reading everyone else’s drafts as well as listening to the presentations and seeing the progress people have made. I can not only gain insight into my classmates' research interests, but also get some ideas for structuring and writing my own literature review.
While I have been enjoying the weekly readings so far this semester, because I am the discussion lead for this week, I paid particularly close attention to this week’s readings—same reading interest as before just much more precise notes! And I had to a lot to note! Once again, I find a lot of overlap between the assigned readings and my literature review topic. Martinez, specifically, gave me a lot of insight into the creation of reliable, valid assessment tools, which will ultimately be my goal after developing a research rationale through the literature review. Reliability looks at if the tool is consistent in its measurements. Validity tests the construct validity—does it positively and strongly correlate with existing, relevant frameworks—and predictive validity—can it accurately predict performance. It seems there are a lot of ways that these two measurements can mess up and impact the usability of that assessment—over- and under-representation, testwiseness, washback effect, consequential validity, etc. Is anyone aware of methods used or resources to explore further on measuring a test’s reliability and validity? Any suggestions are appreciated!
The articles were also thought provoking. The Van Zundert, Sluijsmans, and van Merriënboer (2010) article demonstrated a connection between peer and self-assessments. I have been reading a lot of the literature concerning self-assessments, so it was interesting to look at this topic through the lens of peer-based feedback. There is overlap, namely, in the lack of strong correlation between positive peer (and self-) assessment scores and psychometric tests as well as how the experience of the learners affects this correlation. To encourage this higher-order thinking and self-regulation, learners must be exposed to opportunities for reflection. I am beginning to see the self-assessment tool more as an exercise to encourage this level of thinking rather than an authentic assessment tool that measures information literacy skills. This direction of my literature review was also encouraged by the de Grez, Roozen, and Valcke (2012) article utilizing an observational learning construct for peer assessments of performance skills. The results were interesting in regard to how the rubrics were created for the peer assessments. I considered, if encouraging self-reflection is the goal, why not include the students in the creation of the rubric for the assignments. It would allow the learners to think reflectively about what “quality” looks like as well as provide some buy-in for the assignment and encourage intrinsic motivation. I believe this would fit under a constructivist approach to assessment—if such an approach to assessment exists!
The Sadler (1989) article was also interesting, but a little older and less relevant to my topic. One big takeaway I had from this article, though, was that feedback—comments given directly to students meant to address the gaps in their understanding—is different from assessment in that assessment can completely bypass the learner. I can see how this distinction can often result in frustration on an instructor’s part who is constantly hearing about assessment from administrators, but who feel a disconnect between assessment and their goals in the classroom.
I found the literature review outline really helped me shape the draft that is due this week. It definitely gave me an opportunity to put a form to the thoughts I have had so far this semester and make what I have read more manageable. This has been a truly great exercise in preparing us for publishing.
This week’s readings mostly focused on various elements of constructivism, social constructivism, and generative learning theory. Constructivism has its foundations in many different educational approaches—Goodman, Piaget, Bruner, Vygotsky, Dewey, situated learning, even some behaviorism—all have fingerprints on what we read about constructivism this week. It is clear from these readings that constructivism cannot easily be defined, but constitutes a multitude of approaches. My general understanding of constructivism came from the Driscoll textbook and the metaphor of a passive empty vessel versus an active organism. Students do not learn because we as teachers pour our knowledge into them; if they are creating knowledge, it is because they are actively constructing connections between the material and their long term memory. While I do think there are holes in the constructivist approach, as we discussed in week five with the guest lecturer Dr. Stefaniak, I think constructivist theories encourage self reflection, self regulation, and active learning, all of which are important elements of higher order thinking.
Generative learning theory appeared to me to be one expression of a constructivist approach. In this theory, the instructor and designer are setting up students to be engaged in the content. This allows for the stages described in the Fiorella and Mayer (2016) article: generating connections, motivating learners, directing attention toward incoming material, and accessing prior memory storage. I found this to be an interesting design approach with constructivist principles, but I think I need greater parsing between instructional strategies and learning strategies as I feel the instructional strategy is what directs the learning strategy and is difficult to separate.
The concept of constructivism has some followers in librarianship—the thinking goes, we as librarians, can not provide judgment on the information patrons wish to learn as all information is useful if a patron wants it. We should provide equal access to information regardless of what that information is. I saw this reflected in what we read about constructivism that knowledge construction does not have to be objectively reflected in the world for it to be useful to the person who constructed it. I struggle with this concept in my field because while one can argue the nature of reality and truth, just because a patron believes the world is flat does not mean we should cultivate a collection that represents that belief. However, a constructivist approach would say that belief is equally valid and it is not our job to ignore collections that speak to that patron.
I am making progress on my literature review—it is a lot of work that is for sure! There is a lot of reading, it can be hard to balance with all of the reading that needs to be done for the literature review with all of the reading that needs to be done for this and other classes. I definitely have been guilty of mixing up one week reading’s with another’s and being lost. Having to dig in my notebook during the lectures is the only way I can keep things straight!
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!
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.
Reflections and updates in learning and cognition for IDT860.