This semester in Teaching Human Abilities and Learning, I found many of the topics covered in class were very relatable and applicable to lessons I intend to teach. In Module 5 and 6, we discovered the truth about multi-tasking and the fact that it is virtually impossible. This topic was very interesting to me because it relates to student engagement, student interests, and how teachers can produce authentic learning experiences.
In the beginning of the module, I was much like the students at M.I.T. when asked if they felt they could multi-task efficiently. Most of them said yes with confidence and without hesitation. Some even said that it is necessary for them to stay awake, or pay any attention at all. However, it was evident that students weren’t truly multi-tasking, but switch-tasking at high rates of speed. “Switching from task to task, you think you’re actually paying attention to everything around you at the same time. But you’re actually not,” is what Professor Miller said in the 2008 article, Think You’re Multitasking? Think Again” (Hamilton 2008). The article emphasized that giving something undivided attention refers to keeping our focus on one activity, and making it important. Learning is better achieved when students can devote full attention to one task, and switch between tasks smoothly to ensure they understand the lesson being taught. I also found the information regarding catching and holding interests, discussed in the K12 Horizon Report. It related a lot to students being engaged, and holding interests when addressing authentic learning experiences.
“One participating teacher noted that students are more engaged and enthusiastic when performing authentic scientific investigations” (Horizon Report 2016). Facts like these are what prove that students have more enthusiasm when they are engaged. The switch-tasking that is provided by technology is usually between, options of their choice, and learning the lesson. This means that students should have a limited amount of access they have to the technology provided. Another source from our textbook relates this concept to technology, and how it has benefits and consequences. “For example, Mathew Mitchell (1993) found that using computers, groups, and puzzles caught students’ interest in secondary mathematics classes, but the interests did not hold” (Woolfolk 2018). This proves that excessive amounts of technology are not useful in teaching lessons and creating authentic learning experiences. The student’s interest can be lost to the visuals provided by technology, and their engagement directed towards interest in the technology and no longer aimed towards the lesson. In the article, Preparing Students for Life and Work by Margaret Hilton published by Issues in Science and Technology, Hilton states “They need deeper learning, which the committee defined as the process through which a person becomes capable of taking what was learned in one situation and applying it to new situations—in other words, learning for transfer” (Hilton 2015). Finally, Simulations and the Construction of Knowledge published an article by Lisa Galarneau in 2005 called “Authentic Learning Experiences Through Play. In the article Galarneau stated “An unmotivated learner is simply incapable of taking enough interest in something to engage in the process of construction” (Galarneau 2005). This statement further clarifies that students require a balanced level of engagement and interest in order to achieve authentic learning experiences. Engagement is interactively keeping interest, while interest is the sparking of curiosity. Being actively engaged and keeping a students’ interests will help to cement the understanding of the lesson or skill being taught.
Discussing these topics throughout the semester in this class helped me identify important concepts that need to be addressed in my teaching career. I will be able to use the information I learned in this class in developing and planning lessons for my students. With a diverse arsenal of approaches, tactics, and techniques to deliver to my students, I believe that my ability to relate with students and create authentic learning experiences will be more efficient. I do believe that identifying ways to make learning for children easier, instead of trying to control the way children learn, will benefit what lessons are for, and how they benefit individuals when they learn them.
Anita, W. (2008). Educational Psychology, Active Learning Edition.
Galarneau, L. L. (2005). Authentic learning experiences through play: Games, simulations and the construction of knowledge. Simulations and the Construction of Knowledge.
Hamilton, J. (2008). Think you’re multitasking? Think again. NPR: National Public Radio: News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts.
New Media Consortium. (2014). NMC Horizon Report 2014 Higher Education Edition.