Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Learning to learn

(pdf) If I'd wanted to study, I would have gone to a real college:
[p.1] ...the ability to learn independently is more important than a mastery of specific knowledge areas.

[p.2] It also dawned on my reluctant mind that our pedagogical model at the college was based around this same “fire hydrant” methodology: present an incredible amount of information in a short time, and hope
that students retain at least some of it... Not that students will actually retain all these things as they are presented, mind you, but an instructor faced with a long list of topics to cover is tempted to present them as quickly as possible due to time constraints... Whatever complexity I eliminated from the problem that enabled me to solve it was where my understanding was weak.

[p.4] becoming independent learners is not just important, it is all-important... the real objection here was not the method, but rather the radical idea that learning might require significant effort on their part.

[p.5] I resolved to become more pro-active during my students' research time: rather than wait for them to ask for help, I would actively monitor their study and discussion, offering assistance when needed.

[p.5] It is not helpful to assign active research and problem-solving work as supplementary activities. In order for students to see the value of self-teaching, it must be central to the curriculum, not peripheral.

When research projects are merely tangential to instructor-led learning, students perceive the exercises as unnecessary, and much of the value is lost. Assistance must be available at every step of the process to help students learn, or else they may become frustrated. This assistance must also follow the same "active" mode as the rest of their learning. When a student requires assistance in researching information or solving a problem, lead them to the answer(s) they seek by asking questions and involving them directly in the discovery process. Dispense direct instructor-to-student transmission of knowledge like a doctor would prescribe cortisone: with caution, knowing that it is highly effective for specific problems in the short term, but crippling if used over an extended period of time.

[p.6] All courses can and should teach students how to learn, and be accountable to this goal by directly assessing each student's self-teaching ability.

mp3: Madness - It Must Be Love

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