Monthly Archives: July 2013

Changing Perspectives?

EDS103 has been an enriching journey. So much insights have been discussed, elaborated, pondered upon, and debated on, with much enthusiasm from the class. I must admit, I have never anticipated that it will be this enriching. I had been to school for a good sixteen years and I have never encountered such an overwhelming yet exciting subject that has nothing to do with numbers. It has certainly changed my perspectives on how to teach effectively. I have tutored my youngest sister, my four kids, my nephews and nieces, and about 30 students in our learning center, but I had never imagined how I lack so much more teaching skills.

First, I have always thought that multitasking is a good ability, and I am quite proud that I can do certain household chores at the same time (though it sometimes ends up with burnt meals and too long laundry time). But nevertheless, I had accomplished so many tasks all at once. I guess I was just trying to convince myself that this is a better option. Now, I have admitted to myself that the reason I had to do multitasking was because I procrastinated earlier.

And then, with regard to learning styles, I used to study in front of the tv or anywhere but quiet, because otherwise, I will just fall asleep. Now, with the many modules and assignments I had to complete, I had learned to value the quietness of solitude studying in order to focus, concentrate and have a deeper level of comprehension of my lessons. There is no other way. I had also said in my earlier post that I prefer studying alone than with a group. With so many enthusiastic classmates in the discussion fora, I had found myself enjoying reading their posts, sometimes agreeing, other times opposing insights. It somehow motivated me to take part in the discourses. To belong to this circle of eloquent speakers, was a challenge. And I have always faced challenges head on, so I took great effort to respond intelligibly, or so I think.

Next, we move on to learning theories. This encompasses behavioral, cognitive, social and constuctivist learning theories. Although this module dealt with all these, a more detailed discussion came later in the course. Reviewing my blog on this, I now know that I have substantial learning on these theories. Whatever insights I earlier had on guided opportunity (guided learning), critical thinking, and academic success, still holds true up to now.

On motivational discourses, I found it extremely challenging to connect motivational theories to experiences. It would seem too easy to connect almost every experience to self-efficacy, or self-worth theory. But then, if I dissect experiences and try to connect it to a certain theory, I find that another theory is most probably a better expalanation of the outcome than the former I am eyeing on. I am trying to distinguish self-efficacy and self-worth from each other (and goal orientation and self-determination) and define the border by which they differ. And so with social persuasion, is it under cognitive motivation or under behavioral perspective, or humanistic perhaps? And then again, I have yet to find a fitting experience to the expectancy X value theory.

Still on motivation, I may be in favor of using extrinsic reinforcers in motivating students to study (as it is an easier option), but I firmly believe that intrinsic motivations have a longer lasting effect on individuals. Intrinsic motivations drive a person to self-regulation and then eventually to self-actualization.

Now on behaviorism, I have always acknowledged the benefits of giving rewards and the positive results of punishment, but although I am aware that these rewards and punishments lose their effectiveness eventually, I have never thought that scheduling could be the answer to prevent this loss of effect. Nor did I have knowledge of the more positive impact of scheduled versus continuous reinforcement.

Social Learning Theory comes next, or more commonly known as observational learning or modeling. This theory, I can easily relate to, as I had a role model since I was about 7 or 8 years old which had shaped what I had become now. But social learning theory deals more than just imitation of the model. It goes on with the improvement of modeled behavior, owning it and eventually regulating one’s action so goals are achieved. My take on this is that teachers as role models should be credible and worthy of emulation by the students. They should exhibit an insatiable thirst for knowledge and a formidable character.

The module on cognitive theories reaffirmed my earlier views on how information is stored in memory. I may not know the terms rehearsal, implicit/ explicit memories as applied to memory retention and recall, but I somehow have an overview of their applications on memory construction. Mnemonics and drill-and-practice skills, I have been using since way back when.

Now, constructivism, it is my view that this theory is an application and improvement of Robert Sternberg’s triarchic theory, since both theories deal with acquiring knowledge (knowing and understanding counterparts in Bloom’s taxonomy), applying or relating it to experiences (analyzing , evaluating and application) and innovating (creativity) solutions to novel situations. Constuctivists approach to teaching had been discussed as early as Huitt’s definition of learning, and I have since then been an advocate of this teaching strategy. I definitely do not agree with direct instruction approach because first, it is boring, second, it is boring, and lastly, IT IS BORING!

In summary, I can conclude that the learning theories I have studied in this course made me recognize the role that cognition, experience and environment play in the costruction of information and development of skills. I have also learned the importance of developmental stages and maturation’s impact on learning events. I also learned to value that higher order thinking skills can be developed through social interaction and the structuring of experiences within the learners’ zone of proximal development or readiness sphere.

Now, with all that has been said, am I a better learner and teacher now? I would assume so. Not only do I have the know-hows of teaching math, I also take into consideration various factors that may affect learning of my students. I had long wanted to optimize their learning, and now I have the perspectives to do it. In fact, I have started to incorporate these learnings I had in my dealing with students now, and I would say it is very effective. Once I understand where they are coming from, it is easier to lead them to where I want them to go in their studies. And that is towards academic success, in all its true essence. So, onwards we go, may the Good Lord be with us in this journey.

P.S. Since this is my final blog for this course, please allow me to extend my warmest gratitude to Teacher Malou and to all of you, classmates, for a very fruitful course. I shall carry the learnings I gained here all through my lifetime, maybe even use them to my grandchildren someday. Teacher Malou had been so effective in nurturing us all, not only did she walk the talk, she walked before she talked. She had been employing most of the teaching strategies even before we discussed them, so it was easier to connect the theories to her teaching style. Great job, Ma’am! And to my classmates, I know you’d be great educators someday. I hope we’d get to be classmates again soon (if I pass this trimester’s courses, hahaha) So, see you around guys. Ciao!

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Intelligence Strategies

What strategies do you use to learn?

When studying, I usually find a quiet place of my own. But if I cannot do this, I can substantially filter environment noise and just concentrate on my work. When my mind is busy reading or thinking, outside noise doesn’t matter anymore. I also do visual images in my mind for a better comprehension of what I’m reading.

How do you know how well you have learned; what are your indicators of learning?

If I can apply previous knowledge to novel situations or problems and emerge successful, then I can say that I have learned. Moreover, if I can successfully recall past informations, then I believe learning has taken place.

According to your learning strategies, where do you (in practice) seem to stand in the nature-nurture debate?

I stand in the middle, but more inclined towards the nurture side of learning.
I believe genetics play a substantial role in one’s intelligence, but without proper nurturing, optimization of potential is not possible.

Discuss your own perspectives about intelligence. In this light, address the following questions:
o How have your personal views about intelligence affected the way you approach learning?

With my view of learning as nurtured, I am motivated to always exert my best efforts in learning. I welcome new strategies that may help me optimize my potentials, I very much welcome challenges (mind exercises) which I know will hone my critical thinking skills.

o What are your ideas about the way teaching or testing can be done best?

Teaching or testing for transfer can be done best by assessing if learner can apply previously acquired information to novel situations. Essay questions define more of the learners’ knowledge than objective type of questions.

3. Are there ways in which you have already experienced multiple intelligence approaches in school, either with or without realizing it?

Yes, in school, we were taught different skills aside from academic ones. Physical education classes improved our mobilities and agility. Practical arts classes taught us vocational skills and life skills like minor house repairs, sewing and gardening. Music lessons enhanced musicality of each student. Social interactions between students developed my inter/intra personal skills.
Religion and values education provided me with existential knowledge.

4. How can you design your own learning (in your present courses) so that you can tap your multiple intelligences?

In my present courses (two subjects), I have involved myself in discussion fora with my classmates. It may be an asynchrounous discussion, but it has developed my interpersonal skills, and of my self-worth, my intrapersonal skills. Since most of my classmates can converse well in their discourses, and some module discussions use unfamiliar words, I have devised a vocabulary list to enhance my linguistic skills.

Insights on Complex Cognition

Reflect on your learning habits and strategies. In what ways might you have you been either nurturing or neglecting your own complex thinking processes?

I have always regarded myself as an analytical learner. I am more inclined to subjects requiring analysis, calculations and problem solving more than subjects requiring memorizations and generating opinions or sypnosis. But over the course of time, as I guide my children through their lessons and assignments, I have learned to express my thoughts in writing with ease. What used to be a hard endeavour in answering essay questions, eventually became a second nature to me. This improvement came as a result of my carefully understanding discussions on my childrens’ textbooks in order to help them answer assignment questions. (Oops, I realized a few weeks back that this was not truly helping them). But it has definitely honed my skill in comprehension and application.
With regards to creativity, I admit I have yet to conquer this stage of complex cognition. I am more comfortable with doing things conventionaly, following known systems and being assured of positive outcomes. I will usually do new things (for me) if there are already credible testimonials to its positive effects.
I guess I should be more experimental and explore situations I have never imagined possible.

What strategies are you currently using to promote critical thinking among students (peers/ siblings, if not yet a teacher)?
Are your current teaching methods effectively meeting / approaching critical thinking goals? How do you know that your students are utilizing critical thinking strategies?

Eversince I learned from this course the different perspectives of teaching strategies and their learning outcomes, I have started to incorporate them in the way I handled my children and my students. I have learned to appreciate the individual learning styles of each of my students, I have been properly scheduling the reinforcements I give them, and I have more than ever exercised guided learning to optimize their learning. I am now more patient in establishing basic math/algebra skills in them so they would be ready to tackle advanced lessons, where I just point out basic rules to be used and guide them to discovering answers on their own. This usually gives them pride and a feeling of self-worth and makes them eager to tackle more challenging problems.

Constructivism in Action

When I was a student, much of the teaching strategies used was those of traditional pedagogies ordirect instruction or  teacher-centered wherein information are fed/given to the students. We employed rote memorization of concepts, however abstract they may be. And I despise memorizations, more so of concepts which I cannot relate to my environment or experiences. Maybe this is why I concentrated on honing my skills on mathematics where I am not required to do memorizations, and where I just have to utilize analyzation skills to solve problems. Our math teacher would give examples, then we are given seatworks or homeworks pertaining to the topic at hand, a feature of constuctivism. However, there are rarely any student interaction in discussions encouraged, except when the teacher gives boardwork recitations which are administered to assess our skills, not to elicit reactions. Much rarer are social interactions among classmates inside the classroom, but there are a great deal of it done outside when students copy classmate’s assignments or when we do group review before quizzes/tests were given. Much of our motivation comes from fear of failing exams, recitations and of course quarterly grades.

So it is quite alarming when I noticed some of my children’s teachers require them to do research as assignments. I thought then that the teachers are being lazy and are just finding an excuse not to do their job of explaining. I also disliked the many projects given to my kids in the pretense of applying acquired knowledge in real life scenarios.

Now I understand. I am now in complete agreement of such pedagogies. I have in fact incorporated much of the learnings I have gained in this course in my teaching job at a learning center. It may not be a classroom set-up but I have employed approaches that are designed to address individuality of each of my students. We are advocating self-learning or self-discovery, but I often use guided learning even before knowing what ZPD is and its impact in maximizing potential. I have always encouraged student participation while discussing the lesson, and since it is quasi-tutorial or one-on-one, this is easily done. It has also been my practice to analyze my students’ answers and how they arrived at those answers. It helps me easily communicate to them where they started making a mistake and thus correct any misperceptions they have (schema accomodation, now I have a term for that style!). And if they have a short cut and correct way of solving problems, I acknowledge that and even admit to them how I learned from their style.

Then again, I also use positive reinforcements to motivate my students, and try to be a good model of competency for them to follow. I also have always been an advocate of positive affects in learning, so I try to reach out to each of them. Aside from constructivism, I also perceive good effects of social learning theory, behaviorism, and cognitive theories. It would be the most effective teaching strategy, I believe, if I can incorporate all the best in these theories in my teaching stints.