Creative Lecturing : PDIP 3260

Sitting through lectures has always been a particularly boring event for me personally throughout my learning life . I am the type of person who needs to get into the focus of doing the learning hands on . I have come to understand that this is my learning style . I have underestimated the value in this process however in reading Brookfield’s study on creative lecturing .   The one single sentence that stood out to me in the sixth chapter of his book ” The Skillful Teacher ” was, ” A liberating Instructor will Illuminate reality “even” if he or she lectures “. I thought about this and I got the sense that the wording in this sentence assisted in demoting a lecture into a lower level of education that was seen in the eyes of learning as necessary but experienced as mind-numbing verbal diarrhea. Brookfield helps the reader understand that nothing could be further from the truth in this apparent stronghold that may be prevalent within the mind-set of many students before they come to class . I have sat through lectures where I believe the creativity was missing in the lecture itself and as I read through this chapter , I became interested in how to create an atmosphere of learning that would see discussion and lecture events come together symbiotically .  I believe that when these two learning events take place in the classroom , the room is will come alive with critical thought provoking dialogue which can be skillfully moderated by the Instructor .

I believe that lectures must begin as an introduction to establish the broad outline of a body of material needed for the learning goals of the Instructor and student alike. This does not need to be a boring process however and the creative aspects of this activity  will allow the students to become motivated in the over-all lecture/ discussion process itself . This will enable and ensure that an Instructor can introduce alternative perspectives , model intellectual attitudes and behaviours and further encourage student interest in a topic .

Characteristics of a creative lecture are found and best supported for learning by a variety of teaching and communication processes , modelling the learning behaviours expected in the program and most importantly , clearly organizing the lecture/ discussion so students can follow the thread of the lecturers thoughts .  This will allow for critical thinking and a discussion/ question time that would  allow for feedback from the Instructor .

One lecturing activity called “spatial separation “for  instance can show the same facts , skills , or content can be interpreted in different ways . The challenge for the Instructor I see here, is to not only plan and moderate the lecture/discussion , but allow himself to understand the need to implement creative or different ways to engage with his students in the lecture process. Other creative ways an Instructor can use to engage with students is to :

  • Break learners into well-paced 10 to 15 minute segments of time that deal with separate ideas or concepts .

  • Using clickers or other classroom response systems to ensure a response from the students to questions or statements given on material covered within the lesson plan .

  • Using social media . I belong to a group within a social media medium that allows for questions and answers to problems within the group . This is a wonderful way for students to get help and answer questions on the standards , codes and specifications within the course I want to teach.

The whole process of lecturing will of course play into a heavy emphasis on the students comprehension and ability to follow the lecturers train of thought . The foundation laid out here is in the sound planning and organization of the lecture/discussion itself . Brookfield helps us in his book to understand how this can be done in a couple of ways . He suggests that handouts are a good way to help students prepare in taking scaffolding notes that follow along with the lecturers progress . Brookfield also suggests that giving clear verbal signs is a way for students to comprehend an important point is being  made or a major change in direction will be initiated .

Modelling learning behaviours allows for the Instructor to draw the students into the behavioral attitudes expected of them in the course of subsequent discussions , team  presentations ,  and homework assignments . Brookfield helps us to create this atmosphere himself by suggesting four opportunities to model desired learning behaviours .

  • Begin or start every lecture with a question that allows for critical reflection in the answer that you are trying to satisfy.

  • End every lecture with questions that the lecture/discussion itself has raised or left unanswered .

  • Deliberately introduce alternative perspectives . * Note – In my opinion , this behaviour in and of itself would not work well within a curriculum where strict standards are taught (in my profession) that  require an adherence to .

  • Introduce periods of assumption hunting . *Note- because the course I teach is strict in its standards within , I would like to replace the word “assumption” with the word “facts” . This will allow students to look for the facts when they are not familiar in any process or come to their own conclusions on a particular process to use within a job assignment .

Having a sound understanding of the creative lecture process  will help Instructors to introduce and  support their presentations that will aid students in their quest to develop as learners within a given program .

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The Effect of the Quiz: PDIP 3260

  In a recent article posted in ” Faculty Focus ” , I wanted to share a few thoughts on the outcome of a study by Maryellen Weimer, PhD that conclude and support evidence-based instructional practices . In this article , Ms. Weimer seeks to find her way into the need for data that supports quizzing, and if it merits the evidence-based label.

In tracking down the evidence in this study , the findings were  challenging and not easily searchable. It is my opinion, the study was not as complete as Ms. Weimer wanted them to be . She found that although the research showed more positive than negative results, there were still researchers who found no evidence that indicated quizzes had an affect on learning outcomes. From personnel experience however , I have learned that quizzes have kept me sharp in the process of my learning . If I failed or did not do well in one , the challenge or motivation was to review where I may be falling short in my ability to understand or comprehend a lesson or concept previously given .

In reading this article , it seems to me , that this research study provided some beneficial fruits by which it was picked out to produce .  Although some of the research showed no positive results in learning outcomes, Ms. Weimer concentrated on a set of random studies that allowed her to review them collectively . She determined that the use of quizzes seemed to produce the fruit she was after and that they yielded some impressive benefits . Ms . Weimer indicates in this article that “students reported they spent more time reading and more time studying between tests, and that they were more motivated to come to class prepared when the course included quizzes. These quizzes also increased student participation, lowered failure rates, improved exam scores, resulted in better overall course grades, and did not lower course evaluations “. These results show that quizzes can be valuable to students who are motivated by them . These results are good news sure but also found to be somewhat skewed by the fact there were some variables that may have affected these results .  The array of detailed questions that potentially affected whether quizzes improved learning were :

  • Are they pop quizzes or scheduled on the syllabus?

  •  What types of questions are used (multiple choice, short answer, etc.)?

  • What’s the relationship between quiz questions and questions on the exam (same questions, similar questions, or completely different)?

  • How many quizzes are given throughout the semester?

  • When are the quizzes given—before content coverage or after? How soon after?

  • Do students take the quizzes in class or online?

  • Are the quizzes graded or ungraded? If graded, how much do they count?

  • Is the lowest score dropped?

  • What kind of feedback are students provided

In addition to these design variables ,  content variables derived from what’s being taught, the level at which it’s taught, the type of course, and the instructional method ,exist to help the student direct his/her own learning and comprehension . I believe that these variables can add meaning together with the previous studies , which would allow for some evidence to show quizzes do benefit the student and their learning out-comes . The research shown in this article helps us to understand this in three ways .

1) First, the research shows quizzes are an evidence-based instructional strategy only in a general sense.

2) The research recommends ,to be sure that your quizzes produce the desired results . An Instructor  can conduct his/her own empirical analysis. One of the benefits of all these different studies is that they provide a range of different ways quiz performance can be analyzed. This certainly would help the Instructor in his/her own over assessment of the class .

3) The research helps us to decide how to  implement quizzes in the Instructional scheme of student learning , or even if it illustrates the importance of instructional design .The evidence over-all shows us that quizzes can be an intricate part of learning .

References :

http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/quizzes-improve-student-learning/

Exercising Power Responsibly in the Classroom: PDIP 3260

After reading Brookfield’s chapter on ” Exercising Teacher Power Responsibly” in the classroom I came away with some things in the book (The Skillful Teacher) that were certainly worth reflecting upon .  In the book , Brookfield emphasizes the power within the classroom environment in which students judge how teachers are using their teaching skills to exercise their power in justifiable and helpful ways . In my understanding there has to be a balance in the mindset of the Instructor that will prevent the risk of discouragement or complacency  within the learning dynamic of the classroom . The balance lies within the Instructor being able to inspire , guide and encourage , just as much as to punish ,diminish or massage an ego . Wisdom , discernment and a strong sense of community is needed by the Instructor to communicate and establish himself to his classroom as an authority figure who is well grounded in his ability to skillfully administer this power responsibly .

Brookfield demonstrates his ability to show how student-centred learning intersects with how teachers exercise power in the classroom . He believes  ultimately, the power that is displayed during the learning process  in the classroom promotes an inherently valuable and/or social benefit . It is my opinion when this is modelled and implemented correctly , the students will reciprocate this  behaviour . Brookfield emphasizes this in his book which states ” learners exercise power when they suggest examples that clarify concepts and illustrate principles that help discussions gather momentum .  Support is gained in powerful ways that build confidence , provide encouragement and explains illustrations of complex ideas “. It is very apparent from Brookfield’s study that as classroom lessons progress , the balance of power moves around the room ,reconfiguring itself into new or familiar ways by students who are learning to exercise and find  their own personal power to do so . The ubiquitous student , teacher , institutional , cultural and subject narrative of power flows within the educational process that takes on new meaning to create a constant intersection of waves in unpredictability and surprise. Brookfield explains that this is why there is no such thing as a power-free classroom . Students view a justifiable exercise of power and authority and measure it as they watch instructors to see how they deal with issues such as  classroom events , policy ,assignments ,classes missed and tardiness . Brookfield then writes to see how we as teachers and Instructors can create an environment that will foster a way through feedback that will  make sure we are exercising our power in a justifiable manner . This is one very good example of how the instructor can manage his classroom . Students understand the need for Instructors to be transparent in the delegation of power , when they understand that Instructors are acting in ethical ways to assess the criteria they are using in their students work , pursuits and comprehension . Instrument feedback questionnaires can be a very useful tool in gathering information  where an Instructor may be having little progress in this area of instruction. From my experience , an instructors  response to student concerns can weigh heavy if left to do so . Brookfield suggests the emphasis on strong communication and the importance  for teachers/Instructors to answer any student concerns and to let them know their concerns are a priority that will be addressed . He also suggests not to mull over their complaints or objections privately and then change things without letting the students know that this has been done  . This will create a teaching personality within the learning environment that is not consistently authentic . Brookfield believes that this fairness in the classroom  will translate into an effective , authentic Instructor who can relate to his students . A big part of being seen to exercise power justifiably is the ability for the Instructor to apply rules on a consistent basis across the board . Fairness is also modeled in the way Instructors run classroom activities such as group work , so that they equalize participation and level the playing field in the classroom . In this manner it is important to include those who may show themselves unable or not wanting to participate in their learning. In his book ” The Skillful Teacher ” , Brookfield suggests again the usefulness of a feedback questionnaire as a useful tool that would help the Instructor in this process. It is understood that there will be times when the Instructor and students may come to a crossroads when power and instruction collide . I believe and agree with Brookfield that it is important for students to identify and question the assumptions that scholars use in their lesson plans that conflicts with the students conviction and their need to learn something they have no interest in . However , it is also equally important for a student to have the conviction to understand the need to aim for higher education and have the ability to critically reflect on these assumptions so that whatever discipline is introduced , it  is accepted as legitimate and the students can then open themselves up to consider new perspectives on the subject matter introduced . Brookfield suggests here , ” Being authentic involves staying true to one’s agenda , being open and honest about it , and sometimes placing one’s power behind it ” . He also suggests that there is a mandate within the power of the teacher that cannot avoid imposing their preferences and agendas on learners , but also that in certain instances they must do so . I believe it is important to have all the available facts on hand for students to direct their own learning and although this may seem like a contradiction as to whether the teacher is directing the learning or the students are , the choices made belong to the student in what they choose to learn in their own concluding reflections . According to Brookfield , ” Students will choose learning projects that support and confirm prevailing ideology and steer clear of anything they sense is deviant or left field . When we accept that learners need exposure to all available information and perspectives , they can make informed choices about what to learn , then the teachers duty is to spend a considerable amount of time insisting that students consider ideas and activities they would otherwise have avoided . This is the only way teachers can ensure students will be availed of the full range of knowledge , facts , and interpretations that exist on any issue” .  I like how power in the classroom is explained in this book by Brookfield and I understand the need to implement and practice these practical ways of responsibility .

References :

Stephen D. Brookfield; The Skillful Teacher, Jossey-Bass, 2015.

Core Assumptions Skillful Teacher: PDIP 3260

The core assumptions of a skillful teacher help me to piece together in my mind , how to relate to my own experience with students during the time I am supposed to be relating to them as well . Sounds a bit confusing but Brookfield helps to put this into simpler terms . The core assumptions he suggests help to aid the Instructor to understand that :

  • Skillful instruction is whatever helps the student learn
  • Skillful Instructors adopt a critically reflective stance towards their practice
  • Understanding  the most important knowledge that skillful Instructors need to do good work is to gauge and have a constant awareness of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving their Instructors actions .
  • All college students of any age should be treated as adults  

If I follow in the footsteps of this  understanding , then I can assume that this may develop into a working frame of strategies to teach students with a healthy regard to meet their needs in learning  .  These assumptions may not be the case for all students because as Brookfield notes , the problem is that an activity that helps one student may be confusing or inhibiting to another . These assumptions now according to Brookfield take in a roll that is serious and complex if we want to make sure our students are successful to whatever helps them to learn . The way to break through and overcome the learning barriers  in the diversities of ethnic , class , and cultural  (and I will add learning  style ) identities  is to make sure Instructors find ways to best  implement mix and matched different approaches in ways that correspond to the classroom differences discovered by the Instructor .

I see the need to have a stance and to think critically in terms of my approach to this type Instruction . I don’t want to just to teach the way I was taught while in trade school . I want to share through my own personality , and check my instruction through the lens of my students , colleagues , trade literature and forums and my own knowledge as a tradesman . This will help in my ability to make informed decisions in the way I instruct students . It is my hope that this ability can be shared in the classroom and that in doing so , this will  show students that I am critical of my own actions that hopefully will translate into a confidence and an earned trust within the student body to ask them to engage in the same process. This practice will also help against any apathy that may want to creep into my own teaching methods because when critical thinking is continually practiced , apathy and staleness erode away which gives way to motivation . Teaching in the key of reflection is the tune I want to hear that will keep me awake and alert to my students needs .  

Being constantly  aware of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving their Instructors actions is the very foundation that is needed to teach knowledge of a given course . I have quoted this before but I really like how Brookfield relates to this topic of awareness ,” We may exhibit an admirable command of content and possess a dazzling variety of pedagogical skills , but without knowing what’s going on in our students heads , that knowledge may be presented and that skill exercised in a vacuum of misunderstanding”. ( Brookfield , 2015) I really like that quote ; it shows me the importance of why it is important to understand how students learn , reflect and retain their own discoveries of learning in the process  . I believe this helps students feel empowered to move forward in their studies and feel safe in the process of doing so , knowing their Instructor has their best life long learning interests at hand . I say life long , because teaching should have a life long impact on our students and this is my own personal opinion . I once joked to a young tradesmen that I was the best foreman he had ever worked for . It really was a joke but I did hold this young mans learning interests as a concern on the jobsite we were working on . When it came time to leave , this young man told me the very same sentiment I joked to him about previously . I felt very grateful for this .

College students need to be treated with respect and dignity as adults who are able to see their own way in life . In my opinion , the development of our young adults into life long habits of work and learning can bare a tremendous amount of social responsibility in the climate of the home , work and play . I believe this is why Instructors can have a part to play in this when we model the initial engagement in any kind of  learning task or activity ( work or group ) that is required of our students . This shows that we take their learning seriously and their participation is vital and important in the process . As students engage in the required activities , they understand the logic of leaving child like attitudes behind that allows the  growth of being  transformed into mature adult students . According to Brookfield , this incremental transformation takes place and is influenced by  the sequencing of curricula and classroom activities . I am encouraged to move forward to put some of these core beliefs of a Skillful teacher into practice . I don’t believe that when these practices are successful , they should be assumed any longer , but take on a roll of successful strategies that will prove the test of time .  

References :    Stephen D. Brookfield; The Skillful Teacher,  Jossey-Bass, 2015

Attributes of a good teacher: PDIP 3260

I wanted to write about what I believe are the attributes of a good teacher . After reading the first chapter titled Experiencing teaching in the book  ” The Skillful teacher” by Stephen Brookfield , I am not sure the word   ” good ” would be the correct decription or proper pro-noun for a career of teaching and Instruction . In this book , the issue is raised on how teachers can even survive the day to day soup bowl of irresolvable dilemmas in teaching yet, still feel convinced they can make a difference to their students ? After reading this chapter , I am convinced that the word “good” just does not cut it in the realm of teaching . Teaching and dealing across multi faceted cultures , learning styles and personalities would have me pulling my hair out as well if I did not feel I had something to offer into the soup bowl of day to day activities of teaching . I think the better word would be ” effective ” teacher . This word reaches into the heart of why I need to be an effective Instructor and allows me the heart to persevere and bring meaning into the lives of students  I would like to teach , learn and grow with . All is not lost either ,my hope is to look into the aspects of how students learn so that out of my personality as Brookfield puts it , ” there is a ability to recognize the fact , in the context in which I work , I am often the expert “.  (Brookfield 2015) I am excited to carry in this adventure on how to learn to teach , knowing confidently I can .

Brookfield tells us that the best attributes a teacher can have are credibility and authenticity in chapter four (4) of his book. I asked myself what these terms meant when it comes to my own personality and I find that if my credentials are good , then my integrity to teach has to be that much better . Its not about being perfect but being honest with yourself to prepare for days that may not be what is expected in the daily life of instruction . Brookfield does suggest however that a good inventory system is in order to make sure teachers can anticipate the gaps and shortfalls of student expectations . He says ,”The key to a good teacher is to regularly collect data from students concerning how they are learning , week in and week out , and then using this information to guide your teaching decisions “. I am looking forward to completing this task in the feedback assignment of the 3260 module .

References:

Stephen D. Brookfield; The Skillful Teacher, Jossey-Bass, 2015.

Preparing For Instruction

Motivation : PDIP 3100

Motivation is based on needs in life and allows a benefit that is neither felt nor seen but it  enables us to keep moving forward in the directions we feel are most valued for our own learning experience. Finding ways to keep adult students interested and motivated is needed to help these learners stay focused. This may come as a result of little interest in an induced program or course needed for knowledge upgrade or skill enhancement. Others may find that the facilitator or Instructor may not be effective or boring in their approach to the course outline that at first, caught the interest of the learner as they searched for a new learning experience. Whatever the case may be in the waning interest of the learner, it is incumbent upon the instructor to come up with ideas and strategies to keep the motivation and curiosity alive in a learning environment of the student. Fortunately there is a variety of learning and training exercises that help us as Instructors to keep adult students focused and motivated. Wlodkowski (2004) shares some of his ideas for motivating adult learners in an education setting that include; establishing inclusion, developing a positive  learning environment, enhance meaning and engendering competence. I see these experiences as the tip of the iceberg because once a common communication is established through ; introduction,  positive attitude, shared expectations and experiences, then an Instructor will gain the confidence of the students which in-turn will allow the introduction into other concepts of motivational strategies. This will help to improve and develop a vibrant working, collaborative and expected familiarity within the classroom atmosphere.

Other ways we can encourage motivation is to allow for or set into place problematic situations that can spill over into the participation of critical thinking, brainstorming and structured critical dialogue. This designed atmosphere can and will allow all to take part in the process of gaining knowledge.

References : 

    Merriam & Bierema , (2014 ) Adult Learning

   Wlodkowski, Raymond J., (2004) Creating Motivating Learning Environments

 

Student Engagement Techniques

Characteristics of an Adult Learner : PDIP 3100

After doing some reading on the topic, it seems to me that the characteristics of adult learners are driven by similar values in their approach to higher learning.

As an adult learner myself in the past , I can relate to how decisions are made that reflect these characteristics that work best with my lifestyle and work commitments.

Given to the fact that no two people are alike , the adult learner may be striving to meet or exceed their ambitions and goals that will help improve life for themselves and family.

According to the course handbook given, (Merriam, 2014), I can see how a life of these learning characteristics can take on attitudes within the adult learner that would enable the student to perpetuate new ideas and goals for learning.

The adult learner may have the confidence to take on a new learning experience because he/she feels they offer a variety of life experiences into the realm of a particular course or program.

The student as well may be inspired and show results of work done in the classroom teaching environment that will help in their vision to see that learning is a development task in their life which rewards the learner with the ability to apply the practical skills in the present rather than in the future.

Skills can be developed in the acquisition of knowledge by creating problem centered ideas that will develop, and show in the characteristics of the students curious mind thus, give reason in their need to know and how to apply a lesson now, which realistically is what the leaner is looking for to gain confidence.

According to an online article I read, other characteristic traits of an adult learner are noticed by; their maturity, motivation, comprehension with the ability to assess and take control over their own learning.

The article goes on to say that this will allow the learner to take on other traits of advancing capabilities to learning, and show how past experiences can be drawn on to promote and validate new ideas and concepts .

Ultimately , the primary characteristic for the adult leaner is the ability to  self-direct and evaluate in their learning experience that will lead to greater autonomy in their ability to further themselves with confidence .   The challenge of course is for the Instructor to discern areas where the student may be lacking understanding and facilitate in these areas of learning needed so that motivation and curiosity are not lost.   .

References:

Merriam & Bierema , (2014 ) Adult Learning