Huwebes, Mayo 9, 2013

May 10, 2013

Education 23

Essay Questions: Choose only one to answer. Place your answer as a comment of this blog.

1. Delineate at least five (5) ways to teach students with special learning needs.

2. Give at least five distinguishing features of children,adolescent and adult learners.

Martes, Mayo 7, 2013

Adult Learners
Below is a comparison of the learning characteristics of adult learners and youth learners. Of course, these are generalizations with exceptions occurring in each group of learners, but you may want to keep these differences in mind as you consider the learner population you expect in your online course. The design of your course would be influenced by your expected student population.

Adult Learners

Youth Learners
Problem-centered; seek educational solutions to where they are compared to where they want to be in life

Subject-oriented; seek to successfully complete each course, regardless of how course relates to their own goals
Results-oriented; have specific results in mind for education - will drop out if education does not lead to those results because their participation is usually voluntary

Future-oriented; youth education is often a mandatory or an expected activity in a youth's life and designed for the youth's future
Self-directed; typically not dependent on others for direction

Often depend on adults for direction
Often skeptical about new information; prefer to try it out before accepting it

Likely to accept new information without trying it out or seriously questioning it
Seek education that relates or applies directly to their perceived needs, that is timely and appropriate for their current lives

Seek education that prepares them for an often unclear future; accept postponed application of what is being learned
Accept responsibility for their own learning if learning is perceived as timely and appropriate

Depend on others to design their learning; reluctant to accept responsibility for their own learning

In summary, adult learners usually approach learning differently than younger learners:
  • they are more self-guided in their learning
  • they bring more, and expect to bring more, to a learning situation because of their wider experience - and can take more away
  • they require learning "to make sense" - they will not perform a learning activity just because the instructor said to do it

Teaching Strategies for Adult Learners
This means that you may find certain teaching strategies more effective than others with your adult learners.
Adult Learner Characteristics

Teaching Strategies
Adults have years of experience and a wealth of knowledge

Use your adult students as resources for yourself and for other students; use open-ended questions to draw out students' knowledge and experiences; provide many opportunities for dialogue among students
Adults have established values, beliefs, and opinions

Take time to clarify student expecatations of the course; permit debate and the challenge of ideas; be careful to protect minority opinions within the class
Adults expect to be treated as adults

Treat questions and comments with respect; acknowledge contributions students make to the class; do not expect students to necessarily agree with your plan for the course
Adults need to feel self-directed

Engage students in designing the learning process; expect students to want more than one medium for learning and to want control over the learning pace and start/stop times
Adults often have a problem centered approach to learning

Show immediately how new knowledge or skills can be applied to current problems or situations; use participatory techniques such as case studies and problem-solving groups
Adults tend to be less interested in
survey types of courses and more interested in straightforward how-to

Focus on theories and concepts within the context of their applications to relevant problems; orient the course content toward direct applications rather than toward theory
Adults have increased variation in
learning styles (individual differences among people increase with age)

Use a variety of teaching materials and methods to take into account differences in style, time, types, and pace of learning

We hope you see that instruction designed for adults tends to be more effective if it is learner-centered than if it is instructor-centered. The instructor must maintain a careful balance between the presentation of new material and its applications, discussion and participation among students, and the quarter's calendar. Actually the instructor must wrestle with the paradox of establishing control by risking giving it up! By giving up tendencies to feel good about expertly delivering information to the students and to feel threatened by student challenges to the course plan, the instructor gains the kind of facilitative control that is most effective for adult learners. The following chart gives some more explanation.

Teaching Styles
No one model of instruction will be the best for all situations. Two contrasting models are shown below; one or both or a combination could be used in online courses:


The learning objective is usually the transfer of knowledge, information, or skills from the instructor to the students. The instructor more or less controls the material to be learned and the pace of learning while presenting the course content to the students. The purpose of learning is to acquire and memorize new knowledge or learn new skills.
The underlying philosophy is that students learn best not only by receiving knowledge but also by interpreting it, learning through discovery while also setting the pace of their own learning. Instructors coach and mentor students to facilitate their learning, designing experiences through which students acquire new knowledge and develop new skills.
In general, student controlled learning (learner-centered) works best when the learners are relatively mature and possess significant related knowledge or where there is no particular sequencing of the material to be learned. Instructor control of the presentation of course materials (instructor-centered) is more appropriate when learners are less mature and lack necessary prior knowledge. Learners who are immature or lack necessary prior knowledge frequently make poor instructional choices if left on their own (e.g., they are unlikely to estimate correctly whether practice is needed, when sufficient mastery has been attained, etc.).
Thinking Styles
Here is a brief comparison of some different thinking styles of learners. Again, these are generalizations - some people use more than one style, but generally each person has a preferred style. Your online course will be most successful if you vary your style to meet the variety of thinking styles among your students.

Thinking Styles


Reflective Thinkers
  • view new information subjectively
  • relate new information to past experiences
  • often ask "why?"
  • examine their feelings about what they are learning

Creative Thinkers
  • like to play with new information
  • always ask "why?"
  • make excellent troubleshooters
  • create their own solutions and shortcuts

Practical Thinkers
  • want factual information without any "nice-to-know" additions
  • seek the simplest, most efficient way to do their work
  • not satisfied until they know how to apply their new skills to their job or other interest

Conceptual Thinkers
  • accept new information only after seeing the big picture
  • want to know how things work, not just the final outcome
  • learn the concepts that are presented but also want to know the related concepts that may not have been included

Learning Styles
Here are some of the main learning styles. Most people are predominantly one type of learner, but usually they can adapt to another style. Learners do tend to look for their preferred style in each learning situation because they associate that style with learning success. A online course that provides learning experiences for a variety of learning styles will increase the likelihood of learner success in the course.

Learning Styles


Teaching Strategies
Visual Learners
process new information best when it is visually illustrated or demonstrated
  • graphics, illustrations
  • images
  • demonstrations
Auditory Learners
process new information best when it is spoken
  • lectures
  • discussions
Kinesthetic Learners
process new information best when it can be touched or manipulated
  • written assignments, taking notes
  • examination of objects
  • participation in activities
Environmental Learners
process new information best when it is presented in surroundings that match learner preferences (room temperature, lighting, seating, etc.)
  • online learners can control their own learning environment to a larger extent than on-campus students!

Facilitating Learning:
Issues on Learner-centred Teaching

Enhancing study skills
For students to engage productively in their own learning, they need to be competent learners with the requisite skills (e.g. skills in thinking, reading, writing, presentation, note-taking, writing examinations and time management). At NUS, all freshmen are provided with The Effective Student: A Guide to Learning for the NUS Student and The Write Right Guide: An NUS Writing Guide. The Centre for Development of Teaching and Learning runs workshops and offers other publications (e.g. Ideas on Teaching) and some faculties provide for their students more discipline-specific guidance. Some students, however, need more help than others. So you may wish to take time and ensure that your students have the skills necessary for effective learning.
Improving instructional design
Design instruction to facilitate learning.
  • Capture and sustain attention.
Make use of such stimulus tools such as intensity, contrast, change and repetition.
  • Enhance reception.
Recognise factors affecting reception of information such as students’ interest level, physical comfort, fatigue and anxiety.
  • Introduce diversity.
Develop a wider repertoire of teaching approaches and styles, both to create interest through variety as well as cater to different learning tasks. For instance, project work and case studies demand higher input from students.
  • Organise information.
A structured presentation provides a conceptual framework that enhances reception and enables students to fit in their knowledge and ideas. These principles suggested by Gestalt psychologists may be worth keeping in mind:
    • continuity (stimuli that have continuity will stand out from the background and be organised together);
    • proximity (stimuli that are close together will tend to be grouped together);
    • similarity (similar things tend to be grouped together);
    • contrast (stimuli that are different from their surroundings are organised together and are seen as the figure);
    • ‘chunking’ (grouping information makes them more manageable);
    • ‘closure’ (perception is conditioned by prior experience).
Stimulating critical and independent thinking
At the tertiary level, it is crucial that students learn to think for themselves.
  • Guard against spoon-feeding.
Students must be encouraged and trained to fend for themselves. Instead of providing them with copious notes, teach library skills and guide them with a reference list to obtain information for themselves. Handouts have their uses, but ensure that they are used judiciously and not to perpetuate spoon-feeding. Consequently, summaries/outlines, diagrams, problems, questions and reading lists, are pedagogically more defensible than a copy of the full text of the lecture.
  • Do not condone low-level responses.
Make clear to students that they cannot get by with regurgitating factual information (e.g. by setting challenging tasks; by announcing that an assignment that merely catalogues facts will get a low grade).
  • Demand demonstration of deep understanding.
Use teaching activities that require students to engage in deep-level processing of what is learnt.
    • Raise pertinent questions and present problems rather than provide all the answers.
    • Set assignments that demand investigation, correlation and application rather than a ‘repackaging’ of lecture notes and recommended readings.
  • Prioritise understanding.
    • Spend time helping students to grasp fundamental principles and concepts.
    • Keep the factual load that has to be memorised to a minimum. This will, of course, vary among disciplines.
    • Get students habituated to seeking/giving explanations for answers that are given by others or made by themselves; this will discourage ‘stock’/rote-learnt answers.
  • De-emphasise didactic teaching.
Allocate more time to interactive group work and self-directed learning.
  • Review assessment procedures.
Ensure that procedures are consistent with encouraging deep processing and understanding:
    • While multiple-choice questions are effective in checking knowledge of facts, they are less effective than essay-type questions in testing for critical thinking and understanding.
    • Excessive weightage given to summative assessment may discourage risk-taking and independent thinking.
Promoting active learning
Much significant learning is acquired through doing.22
Research suggests that where students are passive observers or receivers, they may lose as much as 50% of substantive content within a few months. Conversely, long-term mastery is more likely when learning is active and meaningful. Active learning implies the involvement of the student in the learning process, as opposed to the monologic mode.
  • Encourage more active and interactive learning.
Students need to participate, not merely receive; they need to understand, organise and encode information into their long-term memory. They must learn to relate it to their own experience and knowledge and be able to use it logically and creatively. Small-group work and project work are particularly conducive to such activities.
  • Practise effective questioning skills.
Properly applied, this can provoke thinking and expression, encourage discussion and debate, prompt further and more probing investigation of the subject as well as provide opportunities for students to ask questions to clarify their understanding.
    • Stop for questions or comments when the need arises. Many teachers tend to wait till the last ten minutes but this is unlikely to be productive; there is perhaps no greater technique for stifling an intellectual exchange than to wait until the end of a fifty-minute period before asking: “Are there any questions?” Also, by then students are anxious to dash off to their next class.
    • Once in a while, pose questions: e.g. “What do you perceive as the most significant thing/major points made in the last twenty minutes?”, “What is the question/thought uppermost in your mind now?”, “What is your view (about some controversial issue)?”, and ask students to write down their responses. Have some of them read out their responses in class and collect the rest at the end of the session. This trains students to listen and process information and organise their thoughts instead of blindly transcribing the lecture.
Encouraging reflective learning
What characterises ‘high grade’ learners is the capacity for thoughtful and critical reflexivity. Reflective learning goes beyond active and experiential learning to explore what has been experienced in order to extend understanding and effect self-transformation. Reflective learning is not only cognitive, but also metacognitive—addressing not only what and how to, but why and what if —and it is essential for real mastery and independent, lifelong learning. Some ways to help students become reflective learners are suggested below:
  • Train them to think critically.
Clarify the criteria for performance and help students to cultivate a habit of mind which:
    • tries to make sense of the learning experience (e.g. validity/usefulness of claims, questions asked/unasked, completeness of data/records);
    • questions the assumptions upon which knowledge is predicated;
      challenges established definitions;
    • makes informed and discriminate choices, thus continuously re-assessing and adapting their learning; and
    • relates validated new learning to his/her existent conceptual framework and behaviour, with the consequent projections of how the integrated learning may be applied to future actions.
  • Develop their confidence in self-evaluation.
    • Value their ideas/views.
    • Give practice in making independent judgements.
    • Help them describe as objectively as possible their perceptions and views, avoiding interpretations and judgemental pronouncements.
  • Allocate time for reflection.
Ensure that time/opportunity for reflection is factored into any planning of learning activities (e.g. set aside time for briefing/debriefing, provide opportunities for clarification, ask students to keep a journal recording the processes and outcomes of their learning 23) to habituate students into associating learning with reflection on learning.
  • Train students in the requisite skills.
If students are to become sophisticated learners, they must have the essential basic skills (e.g. thinking, study, research, writing, presentation, and time and stress management skills).
  • Energise the learning process.
Stimulate thinking and engagement with what is being learnt (e.g. ask questions, brainstorm, suggest buzz-group and syndicate-group activities).
  • Listen attentively.
Initially it may be difficult to persuade students that it is more productive for them to talk through and formulate their ideas rather than be fed with ready-made ones. But persistence in this is essential if autonomous learning is the goal.
  • Help students recognize barriers to learning.
Lack of self-confidence, for instance, may require efforts at validating the worth of the individual and/or group. It is important to give positive reinforcements24 and be sensitive to non-verbal signs betraying negative emotions.
  • Offer strategies for productive reflection.
Use supportive questioning; introduce learning techniques25 (e.g. learning conversations, concept maps, free association methods or repertory grids to clarify learner’s constructs).
Some possible problems of learner-centred teaching
  • It involves much more time and thought.
  • It may not be able to cover as much ground (but the printed page and computers can effectively deliver a good deal of information, with the advantage of individual pacing).
  • Not being the controlling figure may be potentially threatening for the teacher.
  • There may be resistance from students and possibly other sources.