Challenging Learners to Reach a Higher Level of Learning

All colleges and university courses, including fourth semester courses, should begin with a review of basic theories and concepts. This is a refresher to students and also ensures that all students know the basics. One challenge in curriculum design is building the basic foundations in a progressive manner so that learners reach higher levels of learning.

All educators should be aware of Bloom’s 1956 Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Fink has taken Bloom’s theory to heart and created A Taxonomy for Identifying Different Kinds of Significant Learning, which is much needed and is a natural growth from Bloom’s work.

Fink’s six-step hierarchy begins with a Foundation, which is acquiring and retaining basic knowledge of a topic. The next step is Application. This is where the learner has the opportunity think or act on the knowledge acquired in Foundation. The next step is Integration, which is connecting ideas, theories, and knowledge from a variety of other topics of knowledge and integrating all of them into new ideas and theories.

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Motivating Learners by Encouraging Active Participation

Adults have a wealth of knowledge and experience and they generally like to share this with others. They have gained valuable insights into many topics from their work experience, cultural background, hobbies, and volunteer activities.

As an adult educator it is important to encourage adults to use their talents and experiences to the fullest. Instructors can often times bring out the best in their students by encouraging them to share their opinions and experience will others. This will engage the learners and also motivate them because they are now active participants in their education and not passively receiving information.

Some teachers may cringe at how this may disrupt their lesson plans; however, if an instructor sees it as a disruption, then the instructor is not giving the learners they best education they could receive.

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How to Write Clear and Effective Learning Objectives

Learning objectives, also referred to as learning outcomes, are difficult for many teachers and curriculum designers to create. This is because many instructors are not taught or shown the proper way to write them and the purpose earning objectives serve the instructor and the learners.

Let’s start with why learning objectives are needed, and then move on to how the create them.

Learning objectives are the foundation of any course or workshop. They identify critical elements that the learner must understand, and perhaps know how to apply, to successfully understand the depth and breadth of the course content. Without learning objectives, the learner cannot focus on the key concepts.

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Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory – Accommodators and Divergers

In this final post of a three-part series, I am providing a very brief overview of Kolb’s LSI quadrants of accommodating and diverging. These two quadrants represent those who learn best by experiencing and feeling. They tend not to learn best through abstract conceptualization, which is the domain of convergers and assimilators.

Accommodators use their senses and intuition to learn. More often than not, they rely on gut reactions or feelings to perceive information. Divergers make sense of information using cogitative means. They are thinkers and analyzers.

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Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory – Convergers and Assimilators

In this second of a three-part blog posting, I am providing a very brief overview of Kolb’s LSI quadrants of converging and assimilating. I hope that readers have taken the 20-minute test, which costs $25. Taking the test will give you insights into how you learn and which learning styles you should make stronger.

Convergers are those who process information by taking part or doing an action. On the opposite side of the scale are assimilators, who process information through watching others and reflecting on what others do.

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An Introduction to David Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory

Just as there are many ways to teach, there are many ways to learn. Learners generally have a dominant or preferred learning style. This style describes the best way an individual processes and perceives information.

There are many models of learning styles, including Jackson’ hybrid model, Myers Brigg Type Indicator, Fleming’s VARK model, and Kolb’s model, to name a few. All models are valid, but no one particular model is all-inclusive.

In the study of education, two forms of learning have been identified: Cognitive, which is how we perceive and process information, and sensory, which is how we use our senses to receive information.

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Teaching Students Learner Skills

Many college and university teachers assume that students who have enrolled in higher education know how to learn. This assumption is only partially true. Students know how to learn at a high school level and not in a college environment.

No matter how interactive a class is, there is usually a lecture component to it. Learners tend to have short attention spans. The general rule in adult education is to change teaching styles every 20 minutes. From experience, I have shortened this to every 15 minutes.

In addition, learners tend to “zone out” in predicable, cyclical phases, which occurs approximately every 30 seconds. This lapse in attention can last until the learner realizes their mind is wandering, can come back naturally after a few second, or the learner can get caught in the moment and completely lose track of the topic at hand.

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Using Key Concepts as a Teaching and Learning Tool

After I’ve created a course syllabus, I review both the learning objectives and the key concepts students must take away from the course. To succeed in my courses, student must demonstrate that they have met the objectives and understand the concepts.

The first day of every course is always exciting. There are new faces, a new or revised curriculum, and a new start to the semester. But most learners are more apprehensive. They are meeting new teachers, are given expectations for each course, and they quickly realize how much work the next 14 weeks will be.

Using key concepts instructors can help learners through these difficult first few weeks by showing students how well they are progressing. I do this by stating on every assignment what they key concepts are and what learning objectives the assignment helps them achieve.

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Students Should Treat College and University Should like it’s a Job

In my nearly eight years of teaching at a college, I’ve noticed that students generally fall into one of three categories: Those who believe showing up will allow them to pass, those that do the minimum to pass, those that use all their energy to succeed.

The key to success in higher education is treating every single course and assignment as if your future job depends on it.

I’ve seen students struggle and barely pass a course, and as an employer, I would much rather hire that student than the one who hardly showed up and achieved the same grade. But how would I, as an employer know the different?

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Engaging Students on the First Day of Class

With the start of the summer semester just around the corner, it’s a perfect time to review a few items that an instructor can do on the first day of class to help motivate the students to learn and to set the tone of the course.

Often setting the tone for the course and motivating students can be done at the same. All of my courses, without except, have a high degree of student participation and interaction. Sometimes, even before I’ve handed out the syllabus, I’ll ask students what they expect to learn or take away from the course.

I use the list to add their items to the course. Most of their ideas can be easily assimilated into the current syllabus. I will have to revise lesson plans, but that also helps to keep the content current and relevant to the students.

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