Comprehensive instructional design book

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1. Running Head: COHESIVE INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN 1 Combined Understanding of Major Learning Theories Drives Cohesive Instructional Design John Blick DMET 540 – Selection…
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  • 1. Running Head: COHESIVE INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN 1 Combined Understanding of Major Learning Theories Drives Cohesive Instructional Design John Blick DMET 540 – Selection & Utilization East Stroudsburg University September 15, 2014
  • 2. COHESIVE INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN 2 Table of Contents Introduction .............................................................................................................................. 3 Behaviorism .............................................................................................................................. 3 Cognitivism ................................................................................................................................ 4 Constructivism ......................................................................................................................... 4 Experiential Learning ............................................................................................................ 5 TPACK .......................................................................................................................................... 6 Conclusion .................................................................................................................................. 7 References ................................................................................................................................. 9
  • 3. COHESIVE INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN 3 Combined Understanding of Major Learning Theories Drives Cohesive Instructional Design Introduction In education, a great deal of emphasis is placed on determining the manner in which groups of students learn. It is imperative that teachers have an ability to recognize differences in students, and work to achieve equilibrium in terms of different methods of delivery to ensure that all learners can succeed. A deep understanding about the way human beings process and retain information is paramount in becoming a successful teacher, but many theories have been proselytized to explain this phenomena. Having a basic introduction to the main theories is a promising start in determining which one aligns best with an educator’s style of teaching, but it is best to keep all theories in mind when developing instruction to ensure students have the best chance to learn. Behaviorism The first and most basic theory of learning is the behaviorist school of thought, where a student learns by responding to the teacher and what they are presenting. In Behaviorism all learning is done through observation and learning is evidenced through modifications of behavior. “The learner starts off as a clean slate (i.e. tabula rasa) and behavior is shaped through positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement” (“Behaviorism,” 2014). Knowledge is gained only through a series of exercises where the learners are guided by the conditioning of the educator. “To come to know something within a behaviorist framework is to come to engage in specific behaviors in the context of particular stimuli” (Schuh & Barab, 2007, p. 73). The behaviors gained then become the basis for further conditioning and new, more advanced behaviors. Behaviorism is the simplest of the major learning theories, relying on our most basic instincts to define learning, but it is still a relevant method of teaching, and one that many schools and teachers implement extensively. In a secondary school setting there are countless examples of the Behaviorism principle in action. Conditioning for students begins on the first day, as soon as they enter the classroom. They are quickly taught what is expected when entering to usher them into place so that the lesson can begin when the period starts. Students are conditioned to enter the classroom before the bell rings, find their desks, place their belongings beside or underneath their seat, and take out the materials that they will need for the day without being prompted to do any of it. The conditioning begins on first day of school with direction, seating charts, positive reinforcement for students who exemplify the desired behaviors, or negative reinforcement for students who do not follow the expected pattern. Further positive or negative reinforcement can come from the teacher or the administration in the form of punishment for undesired behaviors, or recognition for desired ones. It is a system that has been cultivated from early on in childhood, and requires only one week of true conditioning before the behaviors are ingrained and all
  • 4. COHESIVE INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN 4 that’s further required is occasional redirection. The desired behaviors become such a standard part of the beginning of class that many times students will call out a peer who is not following the set behavior routine. Cognitivism Though effective, Behaviorism appeals to the baser functions of our instincts and social predilections. Cognitivism deals with a much more prized commodity in education, the mind. Cognitivism was “a response to behaviorism, people are not ‘programmed animals’ that merely respond to environmental stimuli, people are rational beings that require active participation in order to learn, and whose actions are a consequence of thinking” (“Cognitivism,” 2014). Cognitivism focuses on the mind as an information-gathering machine that processes information by building connections for deeper understanding and longer retention. Schuh and Barab (2007, p. 73) explain that cognitivism focuses on the mind and its capacity for information processing like a computer and seeks to explain the organization, encoding, and retrieval of knowledge. New information is taken in, and processed by building symbolic mental constructions, schema, and learning occurs when changes are made to existing schemata. Many educators believe that an understanding of cognitivism is required when studying the way learners solve problems, and build meaning using previous information as the cornerstone to understanding new information. While difficult to clarify in practice, cognitivism is evident throughout secondary education culture. The scope and sequence of a curriculum is completely based on this theory. The idea that what is introduced in one unit or grade is then practiced and reinforced with related material to help build schema along the way. When a teacher receives a group of students at the beginning of the year there are some clear differences in the building blocks of a student’s information processing that depend on which teachers they have had in previous years. In many cases, students will have strengths and weaknesses that are based as much on the content and delivery of their previous teacher than on any difficulties they may possess innately. The hills and valleys of their knowledge can be read just as a computer program, where some programs are coded to write and conduct research, students who had a specific teacher usually are better at writing and research. Others from another teacher may have spent more time on poetry and literature, and will, therefore, have a much deeper understanding of literary terms and the structure of a piece of fiction. If students’ minds are like computers in the cognitivism metaphor, then teachers are certainly its programmers. Constructivism Where cognitivism uses the metaphor of the computer to describe a learner’s mind, constructivism uses the idea that all learning is achieved through active participation in the learning process, and building knowledge and meaning one level at a time. “The learner is an information constructor. People actively construct or create their own subjective representations of objective reality. New information is linked to prior
  • 5. COHESIVE INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN 5 knowledge, thus mental representations are subjective” (“Constructivism,” 2014). The constructivist theory posits that learning cannot be an objective practice. Learners come into the learning environment with a knowledge base that has been built up over time, and any new information will be added to this existing knowledge and changed by it (“Constructivism,” 2014). Where cognitivism is passive and behaviorism is programmed patterns, constructivism is active, where learners construct knowledge rather than acquire it. The construction of new knowledge is built upon the framework of existing knowledge, colored by personal experience, and altered by the environment in which the learning takes place. Essentially, the learner is not a “table rasa” as they are for the previous two theories, but bring baggage and other cultural factors with them (“Constructivism, 2014). There’s no better example of the constructivist theory of learning in action than a problem-based project. Given a specific problem, as a group or individually, students must work their way through the problem and devise a suitable solution. This method of learning takes into account the differences between learners and their perceptions of the environment to create an outcome where the final product may be, and many times is encouraged to be unique. Students’ learning is shaped more by the process of solving the problem than by the knowledge gained from the solution. Unlike cognitivism or behaviorism, constructivist learning activities like the problem solving approach take into account a student’s previous experiences and ask them to build on them by taking an active approach in their learning by devising their own solution. If students were expected to come into the activity “Tabla Rasa” as they are in the initial theories (“Constructivist.” 2014), it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for them to achieve any realistic solution. Without the base knowledge that makes them unique as a learner, they would require the educator to lead them through the process and would not receive the benefit of participating in the meaningful portion of the activity. Experiential Learning The final theory for learning is perhaps the most difficult to pinpoint, but can be the most fulfilling when engaged properly. Experiential learning is the belief that people process and retain information at a much higher level when they are an active participant in the learning process, and then reflect on what they’ve experienced. Kolb and Fry explained that, “immediate or concrete experiences are the basis for observation and reflections. These reflections are assimilated and distilled into abstract concepts from which new implications for action can be drawn” (as cited in “Learning Theories/Adult,” 2013). Carl Rogers, one of the early proponents of experiential learning distinguished two distinct types of learning, the cognitive (meaningless) and the experiential (significant). Cognitive learning is academic learning, where knowledge is memorized and practiced in an abstract sense. Experiential is applied learning, where a student would learn about an engine in order to repair a car (Culatta, 2013). The core of experiential learning is in its real-world application, and in the learner’s ability to reflect upon the experience after applying the concepts they learned. According to Rogers, learning is facilitated when: (1) the student participates completely in the learning process and has control over its nature and direction,
  • 6. COHESIVE INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN 6 (2) it is primarily based upon direct confrontation with practical, social, personal or research problems, and (3) self-evaluation is the principal method of assessing progress or success (Culatta, 2013). Of the four methods, experiential learning is the most involved and, possibly, the most difficult to adapt to traditional academic disciplines, but it can produce the most lasting connections with a subject. Following the experiential learning process can create the most intense, longest lasting knowledge because of the connections that are established and built upon applications to the real world. Experiential learning is probably the most difficult to find an application for in the traditional classroom, but by using 21st century instructional strategies it can be accomplished. When faced with an abstract concept, it is difficult to find a way to make the idea concrete enough to develop a relationship with any kind of real-world scenario. If that concept were assigned as part of a project where a learner had to work as a team to create an instructional presentation where they were responsible for teaching the concept to a class, it would give the concept a more realistic application even though it remains abstract. When a learner is required to teach something, they have to find a way to make it manageable for their peers, and consequently themselves. By creating a presentation, they are building something that has real-world connections since they could easily be asked to teach a co-worker something in any job setting. Once the presentation has been completed, a reflection on the process then completes the cycle and forces them to assimilate the experience. TPACK Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) deals with the requirements on a teacher to understand the technology they will be using to teach their students. Technological requirements on teachers are placing ever-exceeding demands on their preparation and training, but are an absolute necessity in terms of providing a well-rounded curriculum experience. According to TPACK and Koehler (n.d.), the framework of TPACK addresses the knowledge required to integrate technology into instruction and the complex and extensive base of teacher knowledge. It seeks to simplify an abstract concept into a cohesive set of descriptors and contexts. At the heart of the TPACK framework, is the complex interplay of three primary forms of knowledge: Content (CK), Pedagogy (PK), and Technology (TK). The TPACK approach goes beyond seeing these three knowledge bases in isolation. The TPACK framework goes further by emphasizing the kinds of knowledge that lie at the intersections between three primary forms: Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), Technological Content Knowledge (TCK), Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK), and Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) (TPACK & Koehler, n.d.). By categorizing the contexts in this way it is possible to bring together each separate piece and show the interaction of the concepts as a whole. Refer to the venn diagram on page eight for a visual representation of the interplay of these contexts at work. In actuality it is difficult to define exactly where the different contexts of TPACK lie in a specific setting or teacher’s instruction. It is only stepping back and attempting to observe
  • 7. COHESIVE INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN 7 the broad scope of instruction that the interaction of the different areas of TPACK comes into focus. In a classroom everything begins with content. Today’s classrooms are standards driven and curriculums are aligned with standards, so that content is specified by definitive alignment to a given standard. A teacher’s knowledge of content is where every lesson begins, but it is their understanding of the ways in which their students learn that guides them in their approach to the lesson and the scope of their instruction. Based on a teacher’s pedagogical understanding of their students needs the create lessons that present the content in a context and format that is going to be most palatable to the largest number of students. In most cases teachers will further present the content in different ways in order to create the best chance of student comprehension and knowledge retention possible. Technology comes in at this stage where teacher’s understanding of how to use the available technology best to both make the content palatable and differentiate it in such a way that the greatest number of students have the best chance to be successful at assimilating the content and building upon that knowledge for further instruction. TPACK is this precarious balance beam that teachers walk where they find the right mix of technology, pedagogy, and content to enrich their instruction and gain student comprehension. Asking too much of the technology can be as bad as asking too much of the students, causing a ripple effect that will effect their understanding and retention of knowledge. Teachers must understand the limits of each of the areas, as well as where to push those limits if possible, to create these opportunities for student learning. It is a difficult task that many teachers struggle with because they lack the necessary understanding of one or more of the TPACK contexts to confidently step across that bar, but when all three aspects are working together it creates a classroom atmosphere that fosters learning opportunities. Conclusion While the proponents of the different learning theories may argue for their singular importance over all others, as educators it is important to understand that they are all valid ways of learning and processing information. Understanding how they all work and can be utilized together can help manage a range of learning opportunities that work together to create a well-rounded educational experience. Even though they were never intended to be part of a combined approach, these theories can function well together, and are perhaps each stronger as a group if handled correctly. After all, some very intelligent people working to find better ways of communicating information distilled these theories from hours of hypothesizing, study, and reflection. Discounting any one of them would be a mistake.
  • 8. COHESIVE INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN 8
  • 9. COHESIVE INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN 9 References Behaviorism – Learning Theories. (2014). Retrieved September 8, 2014. From http://www.learning-theories.com/behaviorism.html Cognitivism – Learning Theories. (2014). Retrieved September 8, 2014. From http://www.learning-theories.com/cognitivism.html Constructivism – Learning Theories. (2014). Retrieved September 8, 2014. From http://www.learning-theories.com/constructivism.html Culatta, R. (2013). Experiential Learning (Carl Rogers). Retrieved September 8, 2014. From http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/experiental-learning.html Learning Theories/Adult Learning Theories. (2013, November 3). Retrieved September 8, 2014. From http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Learning_Theories/Adult_Learning_Theories Schuh, K. L., & Barab, S. A. (2007). Philosophical perspectives. In J. M.Spector, M. D. Merrill, J. van Merrienboer & M. P. Driscoll (Eds.), Handbook of research educational communications and technology (pp. 69-82). NY: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Taylor Francis Group. TPACK & Koehler, M. J. (n.d.) TPACK Explained. Retrieved September 14, 2014. From http://www.tpack.org/
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