Monthly Archives: May 2013

Humanism and Open Education

As described by Gage and Berliner (1991) there are five basic objectives of the humanistic view of education:

  1. promote positive self-direction and independence (development of the regulatory system);
  2. develop the ability to take responsibility for what is learned (regulatory and affective systems);
  3. develop creativity (divergent thinking aspect of cognition);
  4. curiosity (exploratory behavior, a function of imbalance or dissonance in any of the systems); and
  5. an interest in the arts (primarily to develop the affective/emotional system).

The SCANS report (Whetzel, 1992) as well as Naisbitt (1982), Toffler (1970, 1981, 1990) and other authors (see Huitt, 1997) point to the importance of these objectives for success in the information age. It is important to realize that no other model or view of education places as much emphasis on these desired outcomes as does the humanistic approach.

According to Gage and Berliner (1991) some basic principles of the humanistic approach that were used to develop the objectives are:

  1. Students will learn best what they want and need to know. That is, when they have developed the skills of analyzing what is important to them and why as well as the skills of directing their behavior towards those wants and needs, they will learn more easily and quickly. Most educators and learning theorists would agree with this statement, although they might disagree on exactly what contributes to student motivation.
  2. Knowing how to learn is more important than acquiring a lot of knowledge. In our present society where knowledge is changing rapidly, this view is shared by many educators, especially those from a cognitive perspective.
  3. Self-evaluation is the only meaningful evaluation of a student’s work. The emphasis here is on internal development and self-regulation. While most educators would likely agree that this is important, they would also advocate a need to develop a student’s ability to meet external expectations. This meeting of external expectations runs counter to most humanistic theories.
  4. Feelings are as important as facts. Much work from the humanistic view seems to validate this point and is one area where humanistically-oriented educators are making significant contributions to our knowledge base.
  5. Students learn best in a non-threatening environment. This is one area where humanistic educators have had an impact on current educational practice. The orientation espoused today is that the environment should by psychologically and emotionally, as well as physically, non-threatening. However, there is some research that suggests that a neutral or even slightly cool environment is best for older, highly motivated students.

Open Education

There are a variety of ways teachers can implement the humanist view towards education. Some of these include:

  1. Allow the student to have a choice in the selection of tasks and activities whenever possible.
  2. Help students learn to set realistic goals.
  3. Have students participate in group work, especially cooperative learning, in order to develop social and affective skills.
  4. Act as a facilitator for group discussions when appropriate.
  5. Be a role model for the attitudes, beliefs and habits you wish to foster. Constantly work on becoming a better person and then share yourself with your students.

A meta-analysis completed by Giaconia and Hedges (1982) of approximately 150 studies of open education suggest that this approach is associated with

  1. improved cooperativeness, creativity, and independence (moderate);
  2. increased positive attitudes toward teacher and school, creativity, adjustment, and general mental ability (slight);
  3. lower language achievement (negligible) and achievement motivation (moderate);
  4. no consistent effect on math, reading, or other types of academic achievement; and
  5. no consistent effect on anxiety, locus of control or self-concept.

It would seem, then, that open education, broadly defined in the terms used by Giaconia and Hedges, has not met the objectives and principles normally used to define humanistic education. While it has not been detrimental to basic skills achievement, per se, it has not had the impact on self-concept and locus of control as expected by its originators. In addition, the decline in achievement motivation is especially troublesome in light of the SCANS report (Whetzel, 1992) that highlighted the importance of striving for excellence in order to be successful in a world economy.

Carl Roger’s View (Facilitative Teaching)

One of the models included in the overall review of open education was facilitative teaching developed by Carl Rogers. Aspy and Roebuck (1975) studied teachers in terms of their ability to offer facilitative conditions (including empathy, congruence, and positive regard) as defined by Rogers (1969) and Rogers and Freiberg (1994). Teachers who were more highly facilitative tended to provide more:

  1. response to student feeling;
  2. use of student ideas in ongoing instructional interactions;
  3. discussion with students (dialogue);
  4. praise of students;
  5. congruent teacher talk (less ritualistic);
  6. tailoring of contents to the individual student’s frame of reference (explanations created to fit the immediate needs of the learners); and
  7. smiling with students.

Notice that all of these actions are congruent with a direct instruction model of teaching.

In a subsequent study involving 600 teachers from kindergarten though 12th grade, Aspy and Roebuck (1977) found that students in classrooms of high facilitative teachers:

  1. missed four fewer days of school (5 as compared to 9 for low facilitative teachers);
  2. increased scores on self-concept measures;
  3. greater gains on academic achievement measures, including both math and reading scores;
  4. presented fewer disciplinary problems and commited fewer acts of vandalism to school property; and
  5. were more spontaneous and used higher levels of thinking (knowledge versus comprehension through evaluation).


In summary, the purpose of humanistic education is to provide a foundation for personal growth and development so that learning will continue throughout life in a self-directed manner (DeCarvalho, 1991). A lack of cohesiveness with respect to defining the critical components of the humanistic approach has hampered its development. However, the results of Aspy and Roebuck’s (1977) study of facilitative teaching in comparison with the Giaconia and Hedges (1982) meta-analysis of open education suggest that Rogers’ (1969; Rogers & Freiberg, 1994) approach may be more descriptive of the critical conditions for achieving academic success as well as important affective and volitional outcomes. This is especially important in terms of the multiple dimensions of the components for success as described by the SCANS report (Whetzel, 1992) and Huitt’s (1997) summary of the requirements for success in the information age. In many ways, the positive psychology movement has its roots in humanistic psychology (Robbins, 2008), adding a more empirical, quantitative approach to humanism’s more philosophical, qualitative methodology (Seligman, 2002.



Educator’s Pledge

imageEducator’s Pledge

By Barbara H. Wagner

I accept not only the responsibility to instruct my students, but the responsibility to take advantage of the opportunity to stimulate and excite young people educationally.

I accept the responsibility to encourage my students to believe in themselves, and I will do this by helping them to develop specific awareness of the power that each one of them possesses to determine their own destiny.

I will challenge my students to reach just beyond that point where they are comfortable, so they will discover that their own perceptions of their potential are not their true limits.

As I set challenging tasks and goals before my students, I will guide them through the specific steps that will enable each one to reach these goals. This setting of high standards and giving the proper guidance to achievement will enable my students to become aware of their true potential, which is, through step-by-step disciplines and hard work, to go beyond what they ever thought possible.

I will take advantage of the opportunity to guide my students to a concrete understanding of their own abilities:
to question, rather than to just accept what they are told,
to seek answers, when there are no simple solutions,
to seek to understand, when true understanding requires grappling and wrestling with difficult concepts and ideas,
to reason, using their own minds as sources of original thought,
and to become contributors to, rather than just partakers of, the well-being of the world in which they live.

My educational goal is the empowerment of my students.

My Learning Style

imageAfter reading the articles on learning styles and after participating in two learning style assessment tests, I have found out that I am a reflective, intuitive, visual, and sequential learner who prefers learning alone by assimilating and converging. By Kolb’s descriptions of assimilating and converging, I prefer to study theories and concepts rather than social and interpersonal issues. I also do not prefer studying with a group and I am not good in brainstorming.
These preferences post a challenge for me when it comes to the open forum discussions and commenting on my classmates’ posts. I have been amazed at how my classmates seem to easily come up with good discussion questions. What usually happens is that I would read posts and  try to answer the ones whom I can easily relate to. Even that is a challenge because of the many questions and replies posted.
I am also a visual learner, I learn most by studying graphs, charts, maps, etc. In most articles where I have to read long texts, I usually have to picture the ideas in my head or correlate it to past experiences (which also comes in pictures) for me to have a deep level of understanding. This usually takes time and eats up my study time.
Classmate Catherine helped me out with these challenges. Her reply was:
As I read your post about your difficulties on giving comments to some of our open forum discussions, I can see that this is my strength and allow me to share my suggestions on how I give comments the easy way. Based from Kolb’s Experiential Learning, experience determines Learning. Just like what you said choose a topic that you can relate to and then give comments according to your experience. Relating your past or present experience from the topic you choose makes it easy for you to share ideas and it will give you spontaneous thoughts because you have learned from that kind of situation. Using Kolb’s Learning Style Grasping Experience, how we feel or think on a certain task, relating to a certain topic is already having a FEELING to that situation and then comes the THINKING in which how you share your thoughts or ideas to the discussion wherein some may learn from your experience or ideas as well.
I hope that I have helped you in my own little way. Thanks!
In the same way, classmate Adrian has this to say:
I have the same view Ma. Lissa, I am feeling rather overwhelmed with how our other classmates come up with pretty  straightforward responses yet still precise and clear. They all seem to be very quick-witted. In the end I feel very apprehensive whether my response would just turn out to be relatively generic.
Also, I can really identify with your learning style, I tend to read over and over again in order to have a deep understanding about a certain topic and it really does eat my time also.
Here are some of my suggestions for you and me:
Read and Pause- Of course, careful reading is really crucial for us be succesful with this subject. We should read carefully to fully understand the subject matter at hand. Next, we should pause before we respond so that we can collect ourselves and thoughts.Burting out a response without thinking it through just makes us look insecure and anxious.
Be organized- I found this structure very useful.
    PEP- Point, Example, Point (PEP).
     In this one you start by briefly making a point or stating a key idea or objective. Then you give an example or story that proves your point. Then you wrap up by restating the main idea, or your main point. When you are short on time, this is the way to go.
Time management- Juggling between and study is really hard so we really need to find the best time of the day for us to study.
Practice- this is pretty self-explanatory and a cliche but practice really makes perfect.
I hope this could help us both. Thank you!
Then, I also helped out Cathy with her personal challenges.Turned out we both experience difficulty with loads of modules to read. My advice to her and to myself:

Hi Cathy. Like you, I also experience difficulties coping up with the loads of modules that we need to study on our own and coming up with ideas to support answes on discussion fora. I may have some tips for both you and me. After reading an article, we may pause and reflect on what we have studied, then write a short summary, or take down important points or think of possible applications or connections to the real world. Our journal or a notebook/ notepad will be a good vehicle for this. Then, when writing answers to the discussion fora, it is easier to refer to our summaries than to go back to the long articles to find the answers.

And, like you, I also want a quiet place to study. So minimizing distractions to maximize focus and concentration is the key.

Lastly, Adrian needs my help too, so here’s what I told him:
Hi Adrian. Since you mentioned that your learning style varies depending on your personal feelings and state of mind, I would suggest that before you start studying, take a rest and collect positive thoughts. Reflect on your motivations in taking up this course. I know this is hard, especially after long hours of work and stress, but resting and doing stress-free activities may recharge your energies. As for me, I prefer watching TV while taking a snack first. Then start your studies with positive emotions, they really help you process informations faster.

Module 1- Functions of Teaching

What is Huitt’s view about the function of teaching?  Do you agree that “teaching is not giving knowledge or skills to students”? How does his view differ from your own?  How will teachers who share his view that “teaching is the process of providing guided opportunities for students“ do things differently from those who believe that teaching is “giving knowledge or skills to students”?  

According to William G. Huitt, the aim of education or teaching is to develop the capacities and potential of the individual (by transmitting values, beliefs, knowledge, and symbolic expressions) so as to prepare that individual to be successful in a specific society or culture. Teaching, then, can be thought of as the purposeful direction and management of the learning process.  

I agree with Huitt that teaching is not giving knowledge or skills to students, but rather giving guided opportunities for students to explore on their own, and providing helpful hints or corrective feedback only if needed. Teachers, I believe, could give the basic principles of a concept, then encourage students to relate this with prior knowledge and either write or verbally express their own thoughts on the subject. Teachers may also form groups where students can research affirming or contrasting ideas on the lesson at hand then collaborate these with their own interpretations. Active participation always enhances students’ confidence or morale. Positive emotions help students to think critically, perform a learning task, and process new knowledge. (How People Learn: Introduction to Learning Theories- Hammond, Austin, Orcutt, and Rosso. p.12)  

For teachers who believe in giving knowledge or skills to students, it would be be enough that they supply the necessary facts and concepts, require students  to memorize them and expect them to do well in exams. Although learning may occur in this manner, it is not optimized, and attitudes and skills are not developed.  

Personal anecdote- I once attended a training where we were asked to decipher how a certain “Martian math” is solved. After the exercise, the trainer asked how we felt when we finally decipher the operation. Everyone agreed feeling good about themselves and this is true for whatever number of attempts tried. The trainer further explained that this is the same feeling experienced by children if they get to solve problems on their own. This boosts their confidence and they will be eager to tackle more challenges on their own. And the process is never-ending. We call this self-learning and is the principle of our Math and Reading Programs.

Module 1- Maturation and Learning

What events constitute learning and what events do not? As a learner yourself, what are your ideas about learning?
 Look up the difference between maturation and learning and the role of maturation in learning.  Why should teachers be aware about the realtionship between maturation and learning?  Cite personal experiences or observations where the learning processes are impaired when the teacher/s fail to value this relationship.
Events that constitute learning:
1. Imitation/Modeling- learning is acquired thru observation or impregnation, also called vicarious learning since the learner observes what happens to others or what are the consequences of their actions. This can happen without the use of communication code or language.
2. Reception/ Transmission- learning is acquired thru reception of information (oral or written) transmitted in an encoded communication.
3. Exercising/ Guidance – learning by practice and exercises (e.g. drills, exercise booklets, etc.)
4. Exploration/ Documentation – learner-initiated action of searching answers to a personal query.
5. Experimentation/ Reactivity – learners can manipulate the environment – and, when necessary, can modify it.
6. Creation / Confortation – creating something new and producing concrete works.
7.  Self-reflexion / Co-reflexion –  judgements, analysis and regulations operated by a person on his/her own cognitive processes or products.
8. Debate / animation – learning takes place during social interactions between learners or between trainees and trainers provided there are conflicts of views or challenging discussions forcing the opponents to justify their position…or to modify it.
There are a multitude of definitions of learning available online, but the one that mostly resembles my personal idea of learning is this.
There are three components to the definition of Learning:
-“Learning is a process, not a product.”
Exam scores and term papers are measures of learning, but they are not the process of learning itself.
-“Learning is a change in knowledge, beliefs, behaviors or attitudes.”
This change requires time, particularly when one is dealing with changes to core beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes.
-“Learning is not something done to students, but something that students themselves do.”
If you have ever carefully planned a lesson, only to find that your students just didn’t “get it,” consider that your lesson should be designed not just to impart knowledge but also to lead students through the process of their own learning (Ambrose 2010:3).
Maturation –  is the process of learning to cope and react in an emotionally appropriate way. It does not necessarily happen along with aging or physical growth, but is a part of growth and development. A situation a person must deal with at a young age prepares them for the next and so on into adulthood. Maturation does not stop when physical growth ends – it continues through adulthood. An adult who loses a parent, for instance, learns to cope with a new emotional situation that will affect the way he or she deals with situations that follow.
Read more:
From this definition of maturation, it is evident that for learning to be most effective, the learner must be mature enough to handle the knowledge presented to him at a particular stage. A good teacher must know this relationship so as not to prejudge students who may find difficulties in grasping the concepts of a lesson. In our learning center, where we have a diversity of students from preschoolers to collegiate ones, from fast learners to not-so-fast learners, from advance students to behind-school level ones, it is so easy to compare one with the others. Doing this may impede the teacher’s pedagogical approach to students. Thus, it is our policy to employ individualized learning instructions for each student.

On Learning Theories

After reading the modules on Learning Theories, I became familiar with behavioral and cognitive approaches on educational psychology, the role of maturation on learning and the “guided opportunity” vs. traditional approach to teaching. This learnings opened my mind on why at some points of my student’s life, I experienced difficulty, and sometimes boredom, on subjects where my teachers do not provide conducive environment for learning. And why some teachers left a mark on my life by providing us experiential learning. Since I’m aspiring to be a classroom teacher someday, I shall take note of these differences in teaching approaches so that I can optimize learning of my students and then leave a positive mark on their lives.
To answer the question on the “fairer definition” of learning and academic achievements, I believe that academic achievements mean good grades, medals, awards or distinctions. Though academic achievements are a good measure for successful learning, those who were not so fortunate to be called academic achievers may well be called successful learners if they can apply and relate prior knowledge and experiences to new concepts, and if they have developed their attitudes and skills for the better. Then learning has taken place.
The discussions on maturation’s role on learning helped me to understand the different learning capacities of my students, and why some, though they have the potential to learn, cannot cope with the concepts presented to them at one stage of their education. With this knowledge, I shall exert more patience in understanding the individual needs of my students. I shall also make sure that basic concepts or ideas are mastered before proceeding with the next lesson, and will always relate new concepts to their past knowledge so that students will best comprehend and accept new learnings, and also validate past knowledge.
This module also focused on empowering the students to do critical thinking and exploring on their own. Although I have previous knowledge of this, I sometimes question if this is the right approach to every student. Since majority of the students prefer spoon feeding, and are reluctant to try on their own, it is always easier to just give them knowledge, and everyone is happy. But my thoughts on this changed after reading Huitt’s articles on learning theories. Though providing “guided opportunities” may seem a rigorous approach to learning, it will in the long run contribute to the self-development of students.  I shall slowly but definitely shift my teaching method to this kind of approach especially to spoon-fed students.
The topic on the types of educational research- descriptive, correlational and experimental- as well as the scientific ways of collecting data are significant tools which I hope to use in addressing teaching-learning issues in the future.
Right now, I can think of possibly researching the relationship of why students dislike self-studying and their past learning experiences.
To conclude, in just barely two weeks of studying pthis course, I have acquired a great deal of information which would be very useful in my future teaching endeavours. I have not anticipated this, and is completely amazed, sometimes overwhelmed, by the magnitude of learnings I have gained. I may have known the concepts of what I’m teaching but had I not learned these teaching approaches, I will not be an effective educator as I wish to be.

On Metacognition and Self-Regulation

Learning about metacognition and self-regulation has helped remind me of my commitment to this course. I have often told myself that being a DE student actually doesn’t give me the luxury of being complacent in my studies. The only difference I can see from going to a traditional school is that I don’t have to attend classes on a scheduled day and time. And that is it. That in itself, is already a big difference for me, a full time mom, a part-time teacher and a student. But as to the luxury of studying when I want to, I didn’t think it would be an easy task. I wouldn’t want to cram for deadlines. What if something comes up right before the deadline and I still haven’t done any reading yet? I hate to think of not passing this course and wasting one trimester. I don’t have much time in my hands, I’m no longer young, and I want to be a full-pledged teacher soon. So I need to pass this course, right here, right now. No ifs, no buts. And why should I not aim of passing this course with very good drades? What my mind can perceive, my whole being can achieve.

The learnings I had from the videos of Prof.Stephen Chew, plus the wikipedia material on self-regulation has helped me in planning how to go about in this course. I must admit, when I was a lot younger I was guilty of some bad study practices. In tutoring my children, I have discovered a lot of facts which I know I took for granted when I was in school. That is why, as much as possible, I try to maximize my kids’ learning by making sure they gain most, if not all, of the knowledge they they should get. Much pressure, I know, but I was with them in their journey. Now, as a matured student, I already know what not to do, but I am also human and commits mistakes every now and then. My motivations, therefore, would keep me focused on my goals. With God’s grace and blessings, I plan to manage my time effectively, submit well-prepared assignments and devote energies/efforts which UPOU expects from all its students.

When I finally become a teacher, I hope to impart this study strategies to my students, so they too, would have maximized learning and would pass it on to their children, and then the world will be a better place than when we found it. So help us, God.