Teaching Naked: Significant Learning

Objective

Part Two of Teaching Naked highlighted ideas for designing courses like video games, using technology for information delivery, engagement techniques, and assessment strategies, and transformative learning environments.

Some of the most relevant points, relating to my experience, made by Jose Bowen (2012) in this section highlights that in:
     "individual courses, the increased specificity and the progression of cognitive skills can help                 students understand what they are supposed to be learning. For faculty, the process of connecting       content to levels of thinking can clearly help the order and purpose of specific activities. At the           program level, articulating learning outcomes with detailed levels and specificity allows                       departments to have necessary and serious discussions about what students need to learn, when,           and how (83)."

In addition, he states that “Fink’s (2003) taxonomy of significant learning extends beyond content to context. Unlike Bloom’s (1956) linear hierarchy of increasingly more complex sorts of thinking, Fink’s taxonomy is circular to show how each type of learning enhances all of the others” (83-84).

Reflective

When reading this chapter about taxonomies, two things happened. First, I thought of course Fink’s taxonomy and Bowen’s emphasis on the student experience contribute to greater potential for learning. This was followed by a brief moment of disappointment knowing that not all teachers and instructors think like I do, or have the passion for learning and reflection that I do. 

Secondly, it got me thinking about why the taxonomies are so separated from each other. The four common taxonomies teachers are trained to use are Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Processes, Fink’s Relational Taxonomy, Krathwohl et al’s Affective Domain Taxonomy, and Dave’s Psychomotor Domain Taxonomy (Bixler).

If the taxonomies exist to ensure goal-oriented and inclusive learning is taking place, then the student experience should be in the forefront of all of this. Unfortunately, from my experience, it is not. Teachers are not in the habit of asking what the student wants to learn and how they want to learn it? Should this not be considered in planning and design? And why can’t all of the taxonomies exist within one synergistic framework that is easy for teachers to apply?

Barkley states that emotions impact learning by inspiring students to put forth their best effort through the creation of an emotionally supportive environment, and associating emotions with the content (35). She also believes that teachers must incorporate multiple domains when identifying learning goals (33). 

Learning how to learn is now becoming a bigger part of creating courses with the use of a taxonomy. I think that Fink would say that every course requires teachers to teach students how to learn, as Bloom would say that every lesson needs to have a verb-based outcome. The challenge we face as program, course, and lesson designers is how do we fit it all in?

Interpretive

Four goals of using Fink’s taxonomy in course design are: Decrease the emphasis on course content and foundational knowledge, increase the emphasis on active learning, apply course content to real-life problems, and incorporate course lessons into life lessons (Fallahi, 2011). These goals should be any teachers’ priority in creating a positive and lasting student experience. There is much more to learning than simply studying the content. 

Fink (2003) was referenced by Karl Wirth in his paper entitled Learning how to Learn as stating that successful students "must also know how to apply knowledge to new areas; integrate knowledge with other aspects of life; understand the implications of knowledge for self and others; care about learning; and learn how to learn. None of these learning categories can be neglected because learning in one area enhances learning in other areas (2008).

Active learning creates a caring atmosphere, in my opinion. Students in my previous EAP classes did the tasks and assignments simply to get the grade. Once I spoke with some of the students and had them suggest what we could do differently, I learned that they wanted more choice. 

This can be done easily in a classroom. If I know what the learning outcome is, why not let the students choose how they demonstrate it, or if the outcome is specific, why not give them choice in topic. Once I made these changes, student satisfaction rates went up, my stress level went down, and all of our goals were met. Each individual has their own reason for being in class, and by providing choice, those goals, even the ones students do not tell anyone about, are achieved.

Decisional

Many language teachers that I have observed in my job do not spend adequate time preparing lessons with the student experience and lesson goal in mind. They hesitate to introduce new strategies into their lessons, and attend professional development seminars looking for ready-made materials. The lesson and experience improvements afforded by the use of a comprehensive taxonomy are simply too great to ignore.

There are a number of items I intend to create based on this reflection. I have developed a Taxonomies at a Glance reference page to be posted in an upcoming blog post. Using this reference, I hope to make a visual (possibly info-graphic) and podcast showing and explaining how to use this integrated taxonomy. From here, eventually, I would like to create a lesson planning tool (6th column) that will help teachers generate learning outcomes in 5 minutes or less by providing suggested teaching/learning strategies. I would also like to take this a step further and add an additional column to include a technology/media element. 

For example, in the Learning how to Learn section, the 6th column would show create a portfolio showing what you have learned from this 4 week course. The 7th column would show sites like mahara and pathbrite. In creating these resources, I hope to inspire those teachers I work with, and the new teacher I train to really consider the student experience in their classroom, and to deliver lessons to their full learning potential.


Bibliography

Barkley, E. F. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Bixler, Brett. The ABCDs of Writing Instructional Objectives.
Retrieved from http://www.personal.psu.edu/bxb11/Objectives/ActionVerbsforObjectives.pdf

Bowen, J.A. (2012). Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College
Classroom Will Improve Student Learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Fallahi, Carolyn (September, 2011). Using Fink’s Taxonomy in Course Design. Observer Vol.24, No.7 Association for Psychological Science. Retrieved from
http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications/observer/2011/september-11/using-finks-taxonomy-in-course-design.html

Wirth, K. R., Dexter Perkins (September 16, 2008). Learning to Learn. Macalester University.
Retrieved from http://www.macalester.edu/academics/geology/wirth/learning.pdf

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