Module 3 Blog Post – Perspectives of Learning

Learning is defined as “the process through which experience causes permanent change in knowledge or behavior” (Woolfolk, 272). How people learn and retain information are most commonly divided into two perspectives. These perspectives try and help education professionals figure out the best approaches when it comes to teaching students. The two perspectives I will be talking about today is the behaviorist and cognitive approaches to learning.

The behaviorist approach is an explanation of learning that focuses on external events as the cause of changes in observable behavior (Woolfolk, 272). It claims that all behavior is determined by the environment either through association or reinforcement. The other perspective is the cognitive approach of learning. The cognitive approach focuses on the internal mental processes of acquiring, remembering, and using knowledge (Woolfolk, 312).

The best example I can use to explain these two approaches is wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle or skateboarding. When you see a child out and wearing a helmet, you usually don’t ever think twice about it. But what made them put a helmet on in the first place? Unfortunately, it probably wasn’t for safety reasons. Children learn what to do through their experiences. Behaviorist would say that the child learned to wear a helmet through association or reinforcement. They probably saw famous X-games athletes wearing helmets and winning medals and wanted to be just like them. On the other hand, the cognitive approach would say that children learn to wear a helmet for a different reason. They would say that after years of their parents nagging them to “always wear a helmet” when riding a bike or skateboard, they subconsciously put their helmet on because their brain associates the two activities together after years of hearing it.

 

This video is from Sarah O. Weiler who is an expert on teaching and learning approaches. It does a great job summarizing the differences between the behaviorism and cognitive approaches when it comes to education and learning.

As a future teacher, I will probably use both of these approaches. I think it is important to always have an open mind and be flexible when it comes to teaching. I do not want to make a decision of how I want to teach because I think that is unfair to my future students. I need to teach with an approach that will help all of my students and more likely than not, it will be some kind of combination of both the cognitive and behavioral approaches. I think it is important to combine teaching strategies that combine both mental processes and association. Not only will it help all the students no matter how they learn best, but it also acts as another way to reinforce the knowledge.

 

References

Woolfolk, A. (2014). Educational Psychology: Active Learning Edition. Pearson.

 

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Module 2 Blog Post

Figuring out how individuals develop and construct knowledge is a burning question in all walks of life and is truly the key in the teaching of anything. If you can not figure out how people learn and retain information, no matter how well you teach a subject, no knowledge will be gained. General knowledge is most commonly defined as, “information that is useful in many different kinds of tasks; information that applies to many situations”. This is the most commonly accepted definition by society, however according to most researchers, knowledge is based on experiences. According to the cognitive approach, “one of the most important elements in the learning process is what the individual brings to new learning situations” (Woolfolk, A. (2014). Educational Psychology(12th ed.). S.l.: Pearson.). In other words, if you are learning about a subject and have prior experience in that subject, you are more likely to retain the information you learned.

This video shows how knowledge is developed and does a really good job explains cognitive development.

Knowledge is developed in many ways. In a school setting, students need to be able to make sense of new information in order to acquire new knowledge. They need to be able to relate it to something that is important to them. If they do not have this emotional attachment to the subject matter, nothing will be learned and no knowledge will be retained.

The developmental characteristics impact teaching and learning in many ways. Piaget, Vygotsky, and Erikson all provide some sort of guidelines and parameters regarding development and when the best time to teach is. Being able to know what your students enjoy and value can help my teaching greatly. I want my students to really grasp what I teach and respond positively. By knowing how to relate the subject matter to each student and by knowing what the most optimal time to teach what would be greatly beneficial for my students.

Growing up, my parents exhibited an authoritative parenting style. This type of parenting has both high control and high warmth. They set clear limits, enforce rules, and expect mature behavior. I think this style of parenting influenced my development in a positive way. It allowed me to be more independent from an early age and think for myself. I was never afraid of my parents getting mad at me or not being there to support me, so I took more chances in life and was not afraid of failing. My parents helped me think through the consequences of my actions and were comforting and did not really punish at all.

This style of parenting has its limitations as well. I was never really able to experience punishment or failure on my own which is not realistic in life. Punishment and failure often teach kids more than any other type of experience. I was never able to have those experiences and had to learn them on my own.

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Module 1 Blog Post

The link between teaching and research is most often overlooked and assumed to not be connected whatsoever. However, in reality, quite the opposite is true. Research has a large influence on teaching as teaching does on research. Teachers can use data and findings of researchers to better themselves and their classrooms. Teachers can also be researchers because they can conduct their own research and reach out to researchers to broaden the data. This research stimulates conversation in the classroom and it gives the ‘why’ to the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. Teachers should be constantly learning inside and outside the classroom. Research is more quantitative and teaching is more qualitative; they both need each other to flourish. In the end, the eventual goal of research’s involvement in education is to “enable teachers, teacher educators, and institutions to make sound decisions about the educational activities and experiences that will best serve students”. (“Understanding the Relationship between Research and Teaching.” NCTE Comprehensive News. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Feb. 2017.)

In this video, Dr. Nick Grindle, does a nice job explaining the best ways of incorporating research into teaching and encouraging students to do their own research projects.

This resent growth and importance in the relationship between research and teaching means a lot to me and my future career. The more and more that research is being incorporated into teaching, the more I have to be prepared to conduct my own research, collect my own data, and be open to learning more about my students.

In the case of the teacher who decided to remove homework entirely; I like that idea too. There are things far more important in a young students life than homework. Spending time with family and playing games, eating, and reading together all have more positive effects for kids than homework does.

In my personal opinion, I think homework is necessary. Of course that is what I say now looking back on my years throughout school. When I was in high school and doing hours upon hours of homework every night, my thoughts were drastically different. However, as I reflect now, I believe homework is in fact important. I think homework reinforces the lessons covered during the school day and teaches the students responsibility and independence.

I believe it is necessary, but am all for reducing the amount. I think the amount of homework assigned in some schools is ridiculous. Homework effects students way more than just in the grade book. In a school where the seniors received an average of three hours of homework a night it was found that, “students who did more hours of homework experienced, ‘greater behavioral engagement in school but also more academic stress, physical health problems, and lack of balance in their lives’”(Galloway, M., Conner, J., & Pope, D. (2013). Nonacademic effects of homework in privileged, high-performing high schools. Journal Of Experimental Education, 81(4), 490-510. doi: 10.1080/00220973.2012.745469).

Beyond that, most of the homework assigned is just “busy work”. They are just assignments that teachers use to add more grades to the grade book. According to an article that explored the history of homework, it was stated that “homework is either manful or meaningless depending on the education system around it”(Watkins, P. J., & Stevens, D. W. (2013). The Goldilocks Dilemma: Homework policy creating a culture where simply good is just not good enough. Clearing House, 86(2), 80-85. doi:10.1080/00098655.2012.748642). It is proven that homework that is not content based hurts students more than it helps them.

Lastly, high schools are supposed to prepare kids for post secondary education and colleges look at a lot more than grades on homework. Students already say that they, “don’t have time” and that “there’s no point in doing homework”(Hinchey, P. (1996). Why kids say they don’t do homework. Clearing House, 69(4), 242.). Kids are constantly doing this busy work and have no time to make themselves better like join a club or other extracurricular activity. “…counselors, parents and college-admissions officers now urge students to start taking advanced-placement courses — often with a minimum of 90 minutes of homework a night — in junior year, as well as to start building a portfolio of extracurricular activities and community-service projects to bolster their applications”(Kaufman, J. (2008, May 24). High school’s worst year?; for ambitious teens, 11th grade becomes a marathon of tests, stress and sleepless nights. Wall Street Journal Retrieved from https://libproxy.uww.edu:9443/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/399061049?accountid=14791). There just isn’t enough time for kids to do everything that colleges want from them, especially when given hours of seemingly useless homework.

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Introduction

My name is Sean Williams and I am from the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. I knew I wanted to go into professional education ever since the sixth grade. It was at that time that I had a few teachers that really impacted me (most positive and some negative) to become a teacher. It was not until my junior year of high school however, that I knew physical education was the career for me. I had a teacher who showed me how amazing P.E. class can be and how it is so much more than just a “boring old gym class”. He incorporated leadership, teamwork, and other life lessons into the class and made it the one single class I took in high school that truly prepared me for the real world. I hope to be exactly like him some day. Having the privilege to go back and teach high school students physical education is  a dream of mine.

A section in the reading really caught my eye when thinking about my own experiences with teachers. It is stated that  common sense says that, “Teachers should offer help often” because “lower-achieving students may not know when they need help”. The answer based on research however is the exact opposite. “…when teachers provide help before students ask, the students and others watching are more likely to conclude that the helped student does not have the ability to succeed” (Woolfolk, A. (2014). Educational Psychology(12th ed.). S.l.: Pearson.). The teachers that truly inspired me the most were the ones who let the students handle things on their own and would only interject if need be. The ones that follows the conclusion of the research.

In the scene from Ferris Bueller’s day off, the teacher stood in front of the class and spewed information. He used a monotone voice and did not change his inflection. He never once asked for input from the class and all the questions he asked were rhetorical and quickly answered by him. The teaching example from Dead Poets Society is quite the opposite. The teacher urges his students to engage with him and pushes them to think for themselves and develop their own opinions and feelings. He is constantly engaging his class and very rarely ever just spews information at them or even writes on the board. He tells his class to, “dare to strike out and find new ground”. Most teachers do not speak to their students like that and the teacher in the first video is about as far away from that as you can get. The second video is by far the more effective teaching strategy. The students respond to this style of teaching better and will most likely learn and retain more information that they learn in this class. The teacher has a personal relationship with each of the students that makes them feel comfortable to share about themselves and to open up to learning.

This video is a montage of what I think a teacher should look like. This shows coach Eric Taylor from the TV series Friday Night Lights. Coaches, like teachers, need to posses the same qualities to be successful. A coach who can inspire his players like this is something I dream of being. And the way he carries himself inside and outside of the game is the type of man I want to be.

A good teacher, in my opinion, encompasses many things. A teacher is a friend, a parent or guardian, and a mentor all in one. They are all these things and know when to be, and more importantly when not to be, each. They are knowledgeable about their field, but never satisfied. They are open to more learning and advancing their knowledge through their students as well as their colleagues.

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