Seven Steps for Decoding Student Misunderstandings

David Pace and Joan Middendorf created a model for decoding the disciplines as a method for faculty to uncover the ways students think and learn in various disciplines. Following their seven step process allows faculty members to understand the role they play in students’ misunderstandings of course content.

Did you ever wonder why students don’t understand what you have told them over and over? When did you first notice that students were getting lost in your course? Recognizing the bottleneck is the first of the seven steps.  The second step is uncovering the assumptions you make about what students need to know to understand further the new knowledge. One way to determine your assumptions is to repeat the same explanation to someone, not in your discipline. Then, ask them what part they don’t understand. Suddenly you realize “Oh, I have to explain this first, so that can understand that.”

Step three then is to model your thought process or the mental tasks in your explanation. The fourth step involves having the students through exercises or some other type of reinforcement practice and receive feedback on what they just learned. At step five, you need to consider student motivation and work on their resistance.  Here Pace and Middendorf discuss three potential emotional bottlenecks that may be further complicating their learning: their lack of motivation, procedural bottlenecks, or narrative bottlenecks. To reduce these sites of resistance, they suggest to increase visibility, address preconceptions and model conceptions, and discover the preconceptions preventing overcoming the bottleneck, respectively.

In step six we pause to assess the students’ mastery of thinking and learning in the discipline. Lastly, Pace and Middendorf ask how you will share the decoding model with your colleagues.  As a faculty member, how will you spread the word to your colleagues so they too can discover their course bottlenecks? Rather than say, “Yes, this point is where most students have trouble, wouldn’t you rather say, “This point used to be a problem for students until I realized they also needed to understand X?”

The book can shift faculty perspective of thinking some students just don’t get it, to realizing more can get it if faculty do more to help students understand the disciplinary way of thinking.

Decoding Website.


Pace, D., & Middendorf, J. (Eds.).  (2004). Decoding the disciplines: Helping students learn disciplinary ways of thinking. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

David Pace, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor, Dept. of History, Indiana University – Bloomington

Joan Middendorf, Instructional Consultant, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, Indiana University – Bloomington

Playing Chicken: Knowing When to Adapt Your Teaching Strategy


Much of my professional research and career interests have focused on planning and designing education and training experiences. While research consistently supports the importance of effective instructional planning, there is also much to be said about mastering the role of adaptability in teaching. In other words, knowing when to change and adapt “the plan” is the art of teaching.

Those educators engaged in the study and practice of transformative learning can certainly relate to the need for adaptive teaching and learning methods. In many ways as we develop the skill of adaptability in learners, we also must become more adaptive as educators.

In this post, I unpack the idea of adaptability in teaching and highlight several ways learning technologies can serve as supports for this process.

Picture of chicks


Playing Chicken

I can remember as a kid playing the game of chicken on my bike with by neighborhood friends. The biggest challenging in the game of chicken is not only knowing when to move, but which direction to go. The same goes for teaching. We’ve all been in situations where our original plan was not working like we intended.

It may have been a reflection of quality of the plan, but most often the reality we face in the classroom is much different than what we anticipated. This might be due to the physical room environment, but often it is the characteristics or background experiences of learners.

Knowing when and how to adapt in teaching is often something that is acquired over many, many years of practice.

How can we accelerate this skill for educators so they can use adaptability effectively as a teaching tool?

What is teaching adaptability?

Adaptability is making an effective change when something does not quite go as originally planned. Collie & Martin (2016) explored the role of adaptability in primary and secondary school teachers.

Of particular note for adult educators is managing the thinking, behavior, and emotions that are often involved with changing an instructional strategy or approach.

Change Isn’t Easy… But There’s Hope

Once you’ve determined a teaching change is needed, how you approach the next steps are critical. Communicating why you’re making the change and addressing the thinking, behavior, and emotional aspects set the foundation for adaptive teaching.

For example, let’s say you have decided to adapt an assignment to better meet the needs of learners. First, communicating why the change will help their learning connects the reason for the change to a fundamental purpose of the course – helping the students learn. Next, clearly addressing what behaviors the student will need to change so they will be successful provides a clear orientation point and roadmap to follow. Finally, placing any emotional responses in the context of learning and their success will help to manage the change process.

In addition to the general change management skills, learning technologies can often play a role by providing a mechanism to personalize instruction and create alternative learning paths.

For example, carefully curated videos provide an often engaging means for supporting learners through an adaptive teaching experience. Learners can often have some of the most effective ideas about how to adapt their own learning. Technology can provide a means for educators to connect with this insight.

Using technology such as social media platforms or learning management systems can place the learner in more control of their learning experience. This means educators adapt from the role of teacher to that of coach and challenger. Learning technologies allow educators to take on multiple roles for different learners and adapt these personal learning environments appropriately.


Adaptability is an essential function of transformative teaching and learning experiences. Learning technologies provide a layer of flexibility for creating environments around learners where they can customize and adapt their own learning experiences.

Scaffolding Eats Coddling for Lunch

[W]hy would we expect students who have come of age in neighborhoods and schools surrounded by people who largely look and think as they do to be highly skilled at handling personal insults hurled by those with different, yet similarly narrowly shaped, experiences and beliefs? Why should we expect that people who have experienced different outcomes of a society still struggling with racial and class issues will magically know how to get along? Why would we expect students to arrive a[t] college skilled at civil discourse when their only understanding of political debate consists of well-compensated people on opposing sides shouting to drown one another out? (J. C. & C. K. Cavanaugh, 2017)

John and Christine Cavanaugh (2017) worry that calls from many quarters for college students to grow up and get over insults imply a character defect among many college students and/or a poor job being done on campuses by institutions whose duties should include cultivating critical thinking and reflection. Whether the topic is supposed whiney students complaining about micro-aggressions or supposed over-protected adolescents requiring trigger warnings in syllabi or — in an opinion piece that may raise hackles for its implication that therapy dogs constitute coddling — coloring in coloring books and playing with puppies to help soothe the trauma of the Trump election (Ciccotta, 2016), there seems to have been a piling-on lately about this topic.

What is the Transformative Learning (TL) lens through which this can be viewed?

The quote from the Cavanaughs at the start of this article lays out an argument for why colleges and universities face the challenge of walking the correct, fine line on this issue: many students are simply not prepared to engage with a broad diversity of opinion.

Yet such preparation is necessary for life as a citizen, as an employee, as a life-long learner. And college seems a logical place for the preparation to occur.

Most germane to this discussion, though, is that helping students develop appropriate coping and thriving strategies in polarized and incivil times offers a multitude of opportunities for faculty to lead students to transformative realizations and subsequent internalizations.

In other words, we may be living in a Dickensian best-of-times-worst-of-times post-secondary milieu: societal events are providing a best-of-times opportunity to prompt transformative learning amidst a worsening-of-times environment in which hurtful, hateful speech and action have seemed to gain traction for some reason. In such times, how do we help our students develop the skills and perspectives they need?

Helping students develop the ability to observe non-judgmentally, and from that basis, begin the process of considering others’ beliefs, actions, and opinions, is at least a good first step. It is just as important that learners develop this capacity when considering their own beliefs.

be curious not judgmental image

You may recognize “non-judgmental observation” as a technique to help focus, to become mindful, and/or to meditate. Ellen Langer (2016) has long maintained that teaching students to observe non-judgmentally while looking for differences and similarities is one of the best ways to help them develop mindfulness skills.

Is a controversial speaker coming to campus? That’s an opportunity for students to dispassionately consider the speaker’s viewpoint, compare and contrast such a stance with their own, and draw reasoned conclusions in an atmosphere absent the poisonous rhetoric that might otherwise infect the classroom.

But helping students learn to disenthrall themselves from taken-for-granted assumptions developed during childhood, adolescence, and adulthood can be challenging. This is where faculty can scaffold developmental practices that will help students abandon the need for any coddling.

Scaffolding means providing a structure that initially props up student learning but is eventually removed because the learning has instantiated to the degree that it and the learner stand on their own, with new knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes in place and securely anchored.

Langer (2016) provides specific advice to teach students how to observe dispassionately in order to search for differences and similarities. This is a form of scaffolding the ultimate ability to engage with personally unsavory ideas in order to form reasoned conclusions. Students with such ability would not need to be coddled from contrary opinions in a protective cocoon.

Scaffolding eats coddling for lunch.

See Langer’s work (2014, 2016) for more ideas, but know this: the very act of searching for ways to compare and contrast two things privileges prefrontal cortex engagement over emotional center activity in the amygdala and other limbic system brain regions. That in itself launches, then reinforces, dispassionate consideration.

The power and importance of dispassionate observation is addressed eloquently by Zajonc (2006):

One of the most powerful transformative interventions developed by humanity is contemplative practice or meditation. It has been specifically designed to move human cognition from a delusory view of reality to a true one: that is, to one in which the profound interconnectedness of reality is directly perceived. Global conflict has its deep source in the privileging of worldviews, in the reification of our particular understanding and the objectification of the other. Such ways of seeing our world are, at root, dysfunctional and divisive. Contemplative practice works on the human psyche to shape attention into a far suppler instrument, one that can appreciate a wide range of worldviews and even sustain the paradoxes of life, ultimately drawing life’s complexity into a gentle, non-judgmental awareness.

“Gentle, non-judgmental awareness” sure sounds nice in an age of often high-volume, low-reasoned debate in which the other’s opinion is pilloried simply because it is “the other.”



Cavanaugh, J. C, & Cavanaugh, C. K. (2017, May 11). Not coddling but learning. Inside Higher Ed. Available:

Ciccotta, T. (2016, November 12). Report: University of Pennsylvania offer puppies, coloring books to students distraught over Trump win. Available:

Langer, E. (2014). Mindfulness (2nd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press.

Langer, E. (2016). The power of mindful learning (2nd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press.

Zajonc, A. (2006). Contemplative and transformative pedagogy. Kosmos Journal, 5(1). Available:

Transforming Students into Self-Directed Learners

I recently had the opportunity to read “Self-Directed Learning: A Guide for Students and Teachers”, by Malcolm Knowles. It was a quick and easy read that reminds us both as learners and instructors the need for learner-centered design. One of the best ways to encourage transformation in a learner is to put them at the center of their own learning. As a lifelong learner and a grad student, I find it most transformative when I am allowed a role in the learning that takes place in the classroom or online environment. I want a say in what is taught as well as the activities used during instruction. I am confident in my ability to direct my learning.

Knowles suggests in his book many practical tools to create an environment in which the learner is the focus. One of the tools is the learning contract, a negotiation between faculty and learner where the learner articulates their desired learning objectives, evidence of learning, and means of assessing that evidence. The faculty is there to guide the process and provide a framework in which the learner can develop learning objectives. Many courses call for learning objectives developed by the faculty to meet specific standards; this does not mean that some learning objectives cannot be contributed by the learner in addition to those faculty-set objectives.

“It is a tragic fact that most of us only know how to be taught; we haven’t learned how to learn” (Knowles, 1975, p 14).

Self-directed learning is a skill that all learners must acquire. With technology constantly changing and information rapidly increasing, the ability to direct one’s own learning must be a priority. An incoming freshman may not yet be ready to take on the role of self-directed learner, but you can teach them how. Faculty must first teach their learners how to learn, and then empower them with the tools necessary to become self-directed learners. As your learners become self-directed, they will transform into lifelong learners who maintain the capacity to stay relevant in an ever-changing world.

Try experimenting with a learning contract in one of your courses. Allow your learners to be part of deciding what and how they will learn. Below is a sample learning contract template you might wish to use.

Learning Contract

For more resources on self-directed learning, join one of CETTL’s 21st Century Pedagogy Institute book discussion groups: “Creating Self-Regulated Learners: Strategies to Strengthen Students’ Self-Awareness and Learning Skills” by Linda B. Nilson, and “Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses” by L. Dee Fink. Check out the Pedagogy Institute calendar and sign up for one of these book discussion groups at:



Knowles, M. S. (1975). Self-Directed learning: A guide for students and teachers. Chicago, IL: Follett Publishing Company.

Americans’ Literacy Levels

Infographic showing Americans’ Literacy Levels for interpreting prose narrative, document information, and quantitative information. Examples of the five levels of literacy included in the graphic: Level 1 — Locate the time of a meeting on a form; Level 2 — Locate an intersection on a street map; Level 3 — Interpret instructions from an appliance manual; Level 4 — Compare two metaphors in a poem; Level 5 — Interpret a brief phrase from a lengthy news article.

Infographic showing Americans’ Literacy Levels for interpreting prose narrative, document information, and quantitative information. Examples of the five levels of literacy included in the graphic: Level 1 -- Locate the time of a meeting on a form; Level 2 --- Locate an intersection on a street map; Level 3 --- Interpret instructions from an appliance manual; Level 4 --- Compare two metaphors in a poem; Level 5 --- Interpret a brief phrase from a lengthy news article.

Source: Nat’l Center for Educational Statistics: Adult Literacy in America. Infographic by Retrieved January 5, 2017, from

Building Teacher-Scholar Communities out of Silos

Written by Kristi Archuleta, Ed.D., Adult Education & Safety Sciences; Jody Horn, Ph.D., Center for Excellence in Transformative Teaching & Learning —

Epiphany is a common word in the world of teaching and learning.  When faculty attend book discussions or workshops on various aspects of teaching and learning, over time lightbulbs start to turn on. Faculty  often have epiphany’s as they discover through reading research or shared discussions why a student might not join in class conversations  or why one method might not work in class. As one language professor said to a music professor, “Oh, really that happens in my class too.” Another professor in math and science stated, “I came [to the book discussion] because of a colleague. When I discovered the focus was on approaches and questions about why students were having trouble learning, I was in. I couldn’t believe I found a group that discussed this topic.” Now, this professor comes to many of the events.

Photo of some of the recognized faculty

New Faculty Scholars. Left to right front row. Dr. Holmes (not new), Dr. Waters, Dr. Warehime, Dr. Steineker, Ms. Cristina Pickle, and Ms. Loucks. From left to right in back row. President Betz, Dr. Huneke, Dr. Fink, Ms. Covin, Ms. Blevins, Dr. Bentley, and Provost Barthell. Missing from the phot are Ms. Clark, Dr. Collamore, Ms. Dalinger, Mr. Dement, Mr. Fetty, Dr. Jackson, and Dr. Leon.

The new 21st Century Pedagogy Institute is part of the Center for Excellence in Transformative Teaching and Learning (CETTL). The Institute is a shared collaborative among faculty; they facilitate book discussions, share their pedagogy research, and hold discussions on issues related to teaching and learning across disciplines. Over the last few years more and more UCO faculty have been meeting to read, discuss, and critique research and books on students’ learning and learner-centered teaching. During the 2015-2016 academic over 20 separate workshops and book groups were offered for UCO faculty. Then, last year, during the 2016-2017 academic year all these workshops and book groups were systematically organized into seven faculty teaching and learning outcomes. These outcomes were a result of an intense literature review as well as discussion with academics from other universities. The Institute uses pedagogy in its title rather than andragogy because of its common usage in the higher education lexicon of faculty development. An unintended consequence of the Institute is what one faculty member stated, “Meeting colleagues from other departments makes the University more like a community and less like silos.” Teacher-scholars is an appropriate way to define faculty who use evidence-based research to teach and  a scholarly approach to teaching and learning.

CETTL hosted the inaugural Champagne and Chocolate Gala to recognize the 21st Century Pedagogy Institute faculty on April 10, 2017. Achievement awards were presented by President Betz and Provost Barthell across several categories, including New Faculty Scholars, SoTL Scholars and Mentors, and various levels of Distinguished Teacher- Scholars. The beautifully-catered event was held in Old North and was full of positive, celebratory conversations amongst Faculty-Scholars and invited guests, Department Chairs, Deans, and Cabinet Members.

At the onset of each academic year, faculty are encouraged to review the list of the Institute’s activities and to join them to reach participant or engagement levels across several categories. Faculty achievements will again be recognized at the end of each year. CETTL, and this new Institute, are excellent resources to improve what you do within the classroom and to establish connections outside of one’s discipline. Learn more at

Designing a Transformative Learning Community for Online Learning Excellence


Screenshot of the Oklahoma Learning Innovations Summit homepageApril is poised to be an exciting month for educators in the State of Oklahoma. Through support of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the Council for Online Learning Excellence is coordinating the first Oklahoma Learning Innovations Summit. This “blended” learning summit is aimed at helping educators share effective practices and knowledge about how to promote excellence in teaching and learning.

In this article, I “un-pack” the design considerations for planning a state-wide learning event such as the Oklahoma Learning Innovations Summit. Often as educators, we have a set “community” for a defined period of time such as students who enroll in a course or colleagues in a department. This helps define who the members of the community are and the roles each will likely play.

Creating an engaging learning experience that engages people in a more informal and across conventional groups creates a rather unique an interesting challenge.

The Transformative Learning Connection

Transformative Learning is a primary philosophy shaping the design and launch of the Oklahoma Learning Innovations Summit. The growth and complexities associated with online learning often creates a sense of questions and potential.

It is in between these two perspectives that Transformative Learning provides an ideal framework for creating an environment that helps educators realize the truly innovative potential their teaching and facilitation practices. The summit places each educator in the role of learner, contributor, teacher, and leader. This mix of roles shapes the goals that bring this community together.


The Oklahoma Learning Innovations Summit set out to provide high-quality professional development experiences to educators across the State of Oklahoma. This means addressing both geographic and logistics barriers (financial, time/schedules, topics of interest etc.) in ways that offer effective learning opportunities in a sustainable way.

People who participate in the summit will likely have very diverse sets of goals, needs, and interests. This creates unique challenges for learning designers because the environment must have high levels of flexibility, while also offering structure at needed points. It is also critical to provide diverse, yet clear entry points for people to interact within the learning environment.

Design SolutionScreenshot of Learning Innovations Summit ways to participate page

The Oklahoma Learning Innovations Summit uses blended learning methods that incorporate three design elements: live online sessions, on-demand content, and in-person meet-ups.

The live online sessions are delivered completely online using a webinar platform (Adobe Connect). Facilitators are identified topic experts from around the state and are asked to share a presentation at a scheduled point in time. The goal driving this features is to open access to live learning opportunities while reducing travel time and expenses.

The On-Demand content elements are resources curated from leaders across the state with the purposing of providing access at anytime. These are posted on a website “hub” and are available throughout the summit. Additional resources are also added as the summit progresses.

The third component is the in-person “meet-ups.” While summit participants are located across Oklahoma (and beyond), there is still a desire for people to come together in-person to share ideas and build relationships. To meet this need, in-person meetings are scheduled at key locations around the state and specific times. This allows people to come together in-person while minimizing drive distances and time away from their jobs. The nature of the meet-ups are informal conversations and knowledge sharing.

Growing CommunitiesScreenshot of OK Learning Innovations Summit facebook page

Addressing design considerations and providing access opportunities are important; however, providing facilitation that allows the community to grow and develop is essential to the long term success of the summit learning environment. Weekly update emails will be provided to registered “participants” while a Facebook group is used to provide participant-driven connection and engagement.

The issue of sustainability is also an important consideration related to growing the summit learning communities. Ideally, the community begins to establish self-determined goals for itself and members take on the role of facilitating, contributing, and leading.

One goal I had when helping to design the community for the summit was to allow connections to be developed long after the summit “concludes.” In many ways, the summit becomes a focused time to develop connections and share ideas, while the community continues to grow. This allow educators to leverage their community at their future “moments of need.”

Concluding Thoughts

The Oklahoma Learning Innovations Summit is a unique and innovative way for educators around Oklahoma to connect and share their ideas and perspectives on how to help students succeed. It’s exciting to think of the collective knowledge and wisdom contained in such a community. The capacity and potential for the Oklahoma Learning Innovation Summit is a wonderful example of how Transformative Learning can extend and be applied to professional learning environments.


The Transformative Impact of Sustainability Pedagogy and Andragogy

Critical Transformative Learning goes beyond the personal toward community action, even societal transformation. Approaching sustainability education through transformative experience could have pragmatic impact on the learner, the community and the environment. (Singleton, 2015)

Education for Sustainability is “defined as a Transformative Learning process that equips students, teachers, and school systems with the new knowledge and ways of thinking we need to achieve economic prosperity and responsible citizenship while restoring the health of the living systems upon which our lives depend” (Mofid, 2016).

One example of Transformative Learning (TL) approaches in education to achieve sustainability is in management education, where Closs and Antonello (2011) propose that

[T]ransformative Learning theory, which stimulates critical reflection that favors autonomous thinking and liberates conditioned assumptions about the world, others and oneself, may contribute to management education development, encouraging more collaborative, responsible, and ethical ways to manage organizations. (p. 63)

Each of the above comments about TL for sustainability places the reader into a forward-looking perspective. Whether for the community or the environment or the organization, acting in certain ways as a result of experiencing a transformative education means something about the future for the students and graduates who have undergone a shift and/or expanded their personal perspectives about contributing as opposed to merely consuming.

It also means something for the societies and cultures into which the graduates of TL-committed institutions will enter.

It means the institutions are educating for a new future, not merely for a continuance of the past.

And it means new sources of hope for sustainability of culture, language, society, and environment.

University of Eldoret in Kenya, one of the institutions participating in the Transformative Learning International Collaborative (TLIC) based at UCO, reports that the Kenyan Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has said the old teaching paradigm — stand-and-deliver, rote-memorization, teacher-centered — simply does not serve the needs of 21st-century Kenyan society, which is faced with challenges addressed only with creative problem-solving generated by graduates trained beyond textbook case study approaches.

The president of Ashesi University in Ghana, Patrick Awuah, agrees, saying universities can no longer afford to, for example, graduate engineers only capable of following directions; engineering graduates must be equipped and compelled to ask, “What ought to be?” (P. Awuah, webinar, Feb. 8, 2017).

For colleges and universities in places like the state in South Africa where TLIC partner institution University of the Free State says unemployment ranges from 27% to 90%, how and what students learn at university must not be mere academic exercises — societies where these institutions are located are literally depending on graduates to have the skills and the motivation to solve grave challenges to the sustainability of the culture and environment.

A final example: Universidade Presbyteriana Mackenzie, TLIC partner institution in São Paulo, Brazil, reports that the municipal government expects universities to provide graduates who will find solutions to the challenges the São Paulo metropolitan area faces: pollution, infrastructure, intractable poverty, etc.

Figure showing "Place" in a large circle, with 4 circles inside (Transformative Experiences linked to 3 circles: Head, Heart, and Hands)The head-heart-hands model of sustainability education and its overlap with TL as developed by Sipos, Battisti, and Grimm (2008) and discussed by Singleton (2015) — with the figure to the left appearing in Singleton, Battisti, and Grimm — illustrate the transformative potential in educating for sustainability.

The blending of Transformative Learning and education for sustainability is a natural partnership because sustainability and Transformative Learning requires a change in perception, a change in values and active engagement. The model reflects that transformation is a multi-dimensional process and that changing sustainability values and environmental paradigms require more than a logical argument or an emotional appeal. Experience and reflection along with awareness and caring are needed to initiate a true transformational event. (Singleton, 2015)

The point is, it is transformative experience in learners that commits them to the motivation to contribute to the social good. Postsecondary institutions around the world understand the power and the potential in Transformative Learning and are looking to TL as a necessary component in bettering society, culture, and environment. TL can be the mechanism to “effectively address increasingly well-known sociocultural and ecological problems in ways that transform learners and empower them to make change based on a sense of civic responsibility and sustainability” (Burns, 2013, p. 166).



Burns, H. (2013). Meaningful sustainability learning: A study of sustainability pedagogy

in two university courses. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher

Education, 25(2), 166-175. Available:

Closs, L., & Antonello, C. S. (2011). Transformative learning: Integrating critical reflection into management education. Journal of Transformative Education, 9(2), 63-88.

Mofid, K. (2016, February 27). Education for sustainability [Blog post]. Available:

Singleton, J. (2015, March). Head, heart, and hands model for transformative learning: Place as context for changing sustainability values. Journal of Sustainability Education, 9. Available:

Sipos, Y., Battisti, B., & Grimm, K. (2008). Achieving transformative sustainability learning: Engaging head, hands and heart. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 9, 68-86.

College Enrollment Among Oklahoma Residents, ages 18-54

This graph shows college enrollment among Oklahomans aged 18-54 compared to the U.S., based on U.S. Census 2014 data. U.S. to OK data show: total enrollment, 14.6% U.S. vs 12.0% OK; for ages 18-24, 41.6% vs 34.4%; for ages 25-54, 4.9% vs 4.4%; Hispanic, 11.3% vs 7.7%; African-America, 14.6% vs 18.2%; Native American, 9.3% vs 8.1%; Asian/Pacific Islander, 25.2% vs 31.7%; White, 15.0% vs 11.95.

This graph shows college enrollment among Oklahomans aged 18-54 compared to the U.S., based on U.S. Census 2014 data. U.S. to OK data show: total enrollment, 14.6% U.S. vs 12.0% OK; for ages 18-24, 41.6% vs 34.4%; for ages 25-54, 4.9% vs 4.4%; Hispanic, 11.3% vs 7.7%; African-America, 14.6% vs 18.2%; Native American, 9.3% vs 8.1%; Asian/Pacific Islander, 25.2% vs 31.7%; White, 15.0% vs 11.95.

TL Conference 2017 Reflections

Written by Mark Maddy, Ed.D., Educational Sciences, Foundations and Research – 

The concept of transformation and Transformative Learning have been hallmarks of the educational practice at the University of Central Oklahoma for many years, creating an atmosphere that inspires creativity and diversity in instruction and assessment. I have had opportunities to incorporate some of those lessons learned from earlier conferences, professional developments on campus, and more. The 2017 Transformative Learning Conference was another example, and provided new opportunities for exposure to new ideas that I plan to integrate into my own learning and teaching.

Photo of Mark Maddy at a TL Conference 2017 roundtable discussionBeginning with the panel discussion and responses to audience questions, the conference provided a unified look at Transformative Learning through the diversity of its presenters and subjects. The session that I attended on reflection expanded some of my ideas of reflection to be more intentional as a progression from entry-level through capstone courses. The discussions of the myriad definitions of diversity and how to create transformative opportunities when our students are so diverse encouraged me, as a teacher of teachers, to share these ideas with the perspective teachers that come through my courses.

The keynote address on Friday continued my growth in the area of Transformative Learning by reminding me of old tools that can be used in new ways with her addition of an additional two “Rs” to SQR3. I had used similar study skills methods when I was a counselor working with 3rd, 4th and 5th grade children, yet I had taken for granted that university level students had learned better study skills and didn’t need as much guidance from me. Because I primarily work with junior and senior level students and had a “sink or swim” mentality regarding their preparation for my class, I hadn’t considered incorporating a study skill lesson. That’s not a good thing for someone who is working with future teachers. This reminder of the diversity of backgrounds regarding level of preparation and proficiency of study skills made me rethink some of the ways that I will be presenting information.

This was the fourth Transformative Learning Conference that I’ve attended, and each has provided new insights.

Photo of Mark, Kathryn, and Jeff in a triad at a TL Conference 2017 sessionThis was the fourth Transformative Learning Conference that I’ve attended, and each has provided new insights. I spoke with someone after the conference and tried to summarize what we were doing and what transformative learning is. The question that was asked of me was, “Isn’t that what education is supposed to be?” The question is a valid one, yet we all know how common it is for professors to stick with what is comfortable, and for many, that is straight lecture with little or no student interaction. We are all students in our classrooms because it is imperative that we improve and transform our learning in order to be more effective in teaching our students how to transform themselves. Our learning comes from listening: listening to the words our students say, as well as listening to the unspoken/unwritten messages that those students are sending us. We can only guide them toward transformation if we are willing to transform ourselves. We must continually tweak our instruction in order to create opportunities for students to learn new skills, such as how to gather and integrate new information that may lead to their transformation from a consumer of knowledge to a creator of learning opportunities.