Improve Your Learning!

The Chronicle of Higher Education published an interesting article entitled:

How One University Uses ‘Sneaky Learning’ to Help Students Develop Good Study Habits

“Colorado State University has been experimenting with the role that science and technology can play in breaking those bad habits. Anne M. Cleary, a psychology professor who studies human memory, has helped develop a number of those efforts, including the creation of a course called “The Science of Learning,” which is open to all undergraduates. The primary message, says Cleary, is don’t trust your gut. Learning is not intuitive. Research shows a disconnect between what people think are the best ways to learn and the habits that actually lead to true understanding and retention.”

The bottom line is that what we might think are effective ways to learn may not be. Rather than doing what you think is best, consider using best practice from cognitive science and learning theory.

Here’s the complete article:

Jim O’Connor Ph.D.

Transparent Learning

Dear Colleagues,

Consider adding more active learning into your classroom by using some of the “transparent methods” described below.

This information is taken from the website: from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and was developed by:

Mary-Ann Winkelmes, Ph.D., Coordinator of Instructional Development and Research, Office of Faculty, Policy, and Research as part of the Transparency in Learning and Teaching Project.

Transparent Methods

Transparent teaching methods help students understand how and why they are learning course content in particular ways.
This list of options is adapted frequently as faculty participants identify further ways to provide explicit information to students about learning and teaching practices.

These methods include:

  • Discuss assignments’ learning goals and design rationale before students begin each assignment
  • Invite students to participate in class planning, agenda construction
  • Gauge students’ understanding during class via peer work on questions that require students to apply concepts you’ve taught
  • Explicitly connect “how people learn” data with course activities when students struggle at difficult transition points
  • Engage students in applying the grading criteria that you’ll use on their work
  • Debrief graded tests and assignments in class
  • Offer running commentary on class discussions, to indicate what modes of thought or disciplinary methods are in use

Interested? Comments? Questions?

Let us know how we can assist you.

Jim O’Connor

Thoughts on Student-Centered Learning

Some ideas to consider.

Student-centered teaching is a philosophy of teaching originally shared by Dr. Carl Rogers in his book entitled Freedom to Learn (1969). Aspects of this philosophy were also put forth even earlier by other famous educators including John Dewey and Maria Montessori.

You can see a brief Prezi presentation on Rogers’ ideas by clicking on:

Briefly, Rogers believed that the most important aspect of effective teaching was the development of trust between the teacher and the student. Trust could be built when the teacher demonstrated empathy, unconditional positive regard, and genuineness towards her or his students.

A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Medical Education (Int J Med Educ. 2014; 5: 157–164)  entitled “The evaluation of student-centredness (sic) of teaching and learning: a new mixed-methods approach” by Ana R. Lemos,John E. Sandars,Palmira Alves, and Manuel J. Costa. (See focused upon the  development and consideration of  the usefulness of a new mixed-methods approach to evaluate the student-centredness of teaching and learning on undergraduate medical courses.

The authors describe the the Bologna Process in Europe, which states “student-centred learning (SCL) is an approach to education, which aims at overcoming some of the problems inherent to more traditional forms of education by focusing on the learner and their needs, rather than being centred around the teacher’s input.”

Simply put, the philosophy of student-centered teaching suggests that the teacher be a “guide on the side rather than a sage on the stage”. I further distinguish the student-centered approach to teaching by suggesting that there is a significant difference between presenting information to students and assisting students to learn. Student-centered teaching focuses on the students taking responsibility for their own learning with the teacher serving as a facilitator of learning.

Consider reflecting upon your teaching as related to these concepts of student-centeredness. Remember, we can give a dynamic lecture and present information to a wall, but is there any learning taking place?

For further information about student-centered learning, feel free to contact me. As well, feel free to share any comments about this e-mail posting.

Let me know how I can assist you in improving the quality of your teaching, and student learning.

Thanks for reading this.

Jim O’Connor