MHE 2018 Future Workforce Survey

Graph of student versus employer perception of skills

graphic from:

2018 Future Workforce Survey. (Spring 2018.) Students have a different perception of their skills than employers do. McGraw-Hill Education in conjunction with MMR Research Associates, p. 41. Accessed 12 July 2018 at https://s3.amazonaws.com/ecommerce-prod.mheducation.com/unitas/corporate/promotions/2018-future-workforce-survey-analysis.pdf

Research Regarding a Faculty TL Readiness Scale

Researcher Colleen Halupa, Associate Professor in the Doctor of Health Education program at A. T. Still University in Missouri, authored “Are Students and Faculty Ready for Transformative Learning?” (Halupa, 2017) to consider, among other things, how faculty could know whether they are personally ready (or perhaps inclined) to make the move to instructional strategies and the philosophy supporting Transformative Learning (TL). University of Central Oklahoma faculty may be interested to learn what Halupa says about reasons why faculty hold back from taking the TL plunge and may like to consider her “Transformative Learning Readiness Scale.”

Halupa says that both faculty and students must be ready to change to TL in order for the move to be most successful. UCO faculty, and probably faculty at any institution considering how to inculcate TL in their classes, have undoubtedly thought about and discussed some or all of the reasons identified in the article that easing into TL could be resisted by students: 1) enhanced critical thinking focus and student-centeredness requires more of students, and they won’t like the extra work, 2) students don’t know how to reflect on their learning and will resist because they just want to know what will be on the test, 3) active learning, peer-to-peer learning, and group work demand more of students, so they will rebel — and you can fill in your own continuing list, and you’ll probably include other of the reasons Halupa enumerates.

So worrying about potential student resistance becomes one reason why faculty can resist. Other reasons for faculty resistance, according to Halupa, are that changing one’s way of doing anything is disruptive and requires adjustment (in other words, it’s just plain irritating). On this point, Halupa refers to John Tagg’s (2012) statement that faculty resist change because they are human. (Faculty who attended John’s keynote and/or workshop at the 2018 Transformative Learning Conference can probably hear John’s voice speaking these words.)

Other reasons for faculty resistance are summarized from Lane’s (2007) writing and include department or disciplinary protection of curricular time, skepticism of educational theory or alternate pedagogies, not able to devote the needed time to designing and implementing the change, preference for an authoritarian teaching environment, and concerns that the switch will negatively affect student grades (with all the negative trickle-down from that, such as lower student end-of-term ratings).

As UCO has implemented the Student Transformative Learning Record (STLR) as its means of operationalizing TL, our own faculty have had to consider the issues raised above. The excellence of our faculty has resulted in strong, beneficial results when TL is made a part of the class, however, as shown in the double-digit increases in retention among students who do STLR-tagged assignments or activities and reflect on their learning. From a proof-in-the-pudding standpoint, faculty who have implemented STLR have overcome both student resistance and any hesitancies of their own as students have benefited both in terms of being more likely to remain in school as well as in terms of academic performance, as UCO’s large-N, p < .001 analyses show.

Rogers’ theory of adoption and diffusion (1962, with the book now in its 5th edition, 2003) posits a tipping point within populations for an innovation to take hold. When enough faculty and students overcome resistance to the TL-focused educational processes and strategies, Rogers’ tipping point is exceeded, and the innovation moves from being improbable to probable in terms of its acceptance. Halupa’s article provides some insights into the issues and conditions along the adoption-diffusion curve for TL in higher education.

Shown below is Halupa’s Transformative Learning Readiness Scale (2017, p. 19). Her citations refer to well-known references in TL — entering the name and date into an Internet search engine will quickly locate the resource.

 

Appendix B: Transformative Learning Readiness Scale

Faculty Personal Factors

Please answer the questions using the following Likert-type scale (which corresponds to the points allotted to the answer to each question).

1. Strongly Agree  2. Agree  3. Neutral  4. Disagree  5. Strongly Disagree

  1. I reflect on how I impart knowledge to others as an educator (Freire, 1973; Mezirow, 1990).
  2. I reflect on what I know (Freire, 1973; Mezirow, 1990).
  3. I reflect on what I do not know (Freire, 1973; Mezirow, 1990).
  4. I find I often do not know what I thought I knew (my beliefs have been challenged) (Freire, 1973; Mezirow, 1990).
  5. It is my job as an educator to deliver the information (Kitchenham, 2008).
  6. I know each of my student’s strengths (both academic and personal) (Kitchenham, 2008).
  7. I know each of my student’s weaknesses (both academic and personal) (Kitchenham, 2008).
  8. After I teach a course, I alter my curriculum based on what worked and did not work with that section of the class (Kitchenham, 2008).
  9. Student learning is of great concern to me (Kitchenham, 2008).
  10. I teach the way I do primarily for (Kitchenham, 2008):
    • Myself; I am the subject matter expert (5 points)
    • The most intelligent students in the room (4 points)
    • The struggling students (3 points)
    • The students in the middle who are not excelling nor struggling (2 points)
    • All students (1 point)

 

Score  Interpretation
0-25  Transformative
25-40  Somewhat transformative
41+  Traditional

 

References

Halupa, C. (2017). Are students and faculty ready for transformative learning? In J. M. Spector, J. M., et al. (Eds.). Learning, Design, and Technology: An International Compendium of Theory, Research, Practice and Policy. DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-17727-4_70-1

Lane, I. F. (2007). Change in higher education: Understanding and responding to individual and organizational resistance. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 34(2), 85-92.

Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations. New York, NY: Free Press.

Tagg, J. (2012). Why does the faculty resist change? Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 44(1), 6-15.

Three Ways to Grow a Learning Culture

At the Institute for Learning Environment Design, we recently launched a free email course titled Growing a Learning Culture. This course highlights a critical conversation we often encounter when working with teams and organizations to transform their learning environments.

We often find that when someone desires to implement new ways of learning, at the heart of this change is the capacity to learn.

All highly successful courses, companies, or communities share one thing in common: they have a culture that values learning and growth.

In this article, I highlight some of the core ideas contained in the Growing a Learning Culture course and offer three techniques you can use to grow a learning culture.

What is a Learning Culture?

For the purposes of this article, I define a learning culture as the interactions that create a set of norms for how a group of people think about and engage in learning experiences. For example, when teaching a course or workshop, what norms do you encourage (or discourage) about how people learn? What does it mean to be a “learner” in that environment?

The answers to these questions establish the default learning culture. If we are seeking to encourage a culture that values transformation, what activities do we support that encourages transformative learning processes? In contrast, if we value transformation, what artifacts in the environment signal more transactional approaches to learning (i.e. “learning” as a test-taking process).

The following sections of this article highlight three simple techniques you can use to begin growing a learning culture.

Diagram of 3 ways to grow a learning cultureTechnique #1: Be Intentional About the Learning Culture

Often times a culture emerges not because leaders were intentional about crafting and supporting a specific type of culture, but rather by accident. The first rule of growing a learning culture is to be intentional and clear about the learning culture you are seeking to grow.

You can begin this planning process by considering the following questions about learning cultures:

  • What assumptions are we making about how people learn?
  • What experiences are learners bringing with them?
  • What learning experiences does the environment reinforce or discourage?
  • What is celebrated?

Technique #2: Map the Learning Environment

With clear intentions about a learning culture established, it can be useful to explore the design of the learning environment. The learning environment is the spaces and places where people learn. If you are teaching a college course, this may include a physical classroom, but it may also include the digital learning management system, or other methods you may use to communicate with learners.

Spend some time to visually map out the learning environment. This process helps to take inventory of the make-up of the learning environment and changes that may need to be made to encourage specific types of learning experiences.

Technique #3: Celebrate Learning Artifacts that Reinforce the Learning Culture

Every culture creates artifacts that reinforce what it means to be in that culture. Think about what artifacts your learning culture creates. Does the culture value test scores? Does the learning culture value and celebrate work products? Does the culture not celebrate learning?

Spend some time creating a list of things your culture celebrates? Is learning one of those celebration points? One example of this can be examining what happens when a project or task goes wrong. A learning culture embraces those opportunities as learning moments (artifacts) and adapts a fail fast approach.

Within environments designed to encourage transformative learning, a learning culture should value change, transformation, and reflection. The artifacts that support and celebrate these elements reinforce the learning culture.

Summary

In this article, I highlighted what it means to have a learning culture and three ways leaders can begin fostering a learning culture in their classrooms, companies, or communities. Being intentional about the learning culture, mapping the learning environment, and celebrating artifacts of a learning culture are all techniques leaders can use to grow a culture of learning.

Lessons from Having a Research Assistant

— By Laura Dumin, Ph.D., Associate Professor in English

During winter break 2016-2017, I began a research project that I had been talking about for years—learning about women’s relationship with breastfeeding knowledge. I asked a local International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Ashley Barrett, for help and then I did what any novice researcher does, I dove right in without really knowing what to expect. I hoped that around 100 women would respond. Imagine my surprise when one day later I had over 1,000 responses. Within three weeks, we closed the survey with over 4,000 responses. I was flooded with a whirlwind of emotions, including crawling into a hole and pretending that I had never received this data.

I chose not to hide. Instead, I asked for a research assistant (RA). Starting in August 2017, I received money for an RA from the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs, Academic Affairs. We brought Trinni, a senior in Technical Writing, onto the project. At that point, I felt like the project was moving forward pretty nicely. But then Ashley had some life events happen that pulled her away for a time. However, Trinni and I kept moving ahead as best we could until Ashley was able to rejoin us. The entire experience to this point has been a learning process for all of us. Trinni has graduated and moved into a real-world job, but the lessons gained through this project will stay with her.

Timetables are made to be broken: Trinni came to the project with the hope of learning more about research, but she came away with so much more. This was the first large-scale research project that either of us had taken on, and we were surprised by the ways that a large project takes on a life of its own. We had plans, but the project didn’t always seem to agree with our timetables. The University allotted Trinni five hours a week to work on the project and, at the beginning of August, we thought that this would be enough (or barely enough) time to get to where we wanted to be by October. It turned out that we didn’t finish the first pass on one qualitative question until December. We were surprised to learn how long qualitative coding can take. As of this writing, the paper(s) are not yet written.

Group work and why politeness theory matters: We learned the value of flexibility and a sense of humor. We also learned that working with other people comes with its own set of challenges. Sometimes having more people involved is great because you get more ideas. Other times, having more people involved creates more places for the project to get stuck or to veer off course. We worked together to find ways of getting the project back on track and of keeping ourselves accountable for the work that needed to be done. We learned how to be diplomatic when asking for things from each other. And we learned the value of writing emails with no recipient, walking away, and then coming back to rewrite them when we were calmer.

Knowledge is good, but persistence and heart can be more important: At the beginning, Trinni knew little about breastfeeding and I knew just enough to be willing to go all-in on the project. We learned that our lack of certain types of knowledge could be overcome through research. We spent a lot of time on the internet, learning as we went. We had a passion for helping women to have access to correct breastfeeding information, and there were times when that passion was all that kept us going. Knowledge can always be gained, but if you aren’t truly invested in a project, the hard times might be enough to sideline the project.

Confidence: When we started the project, I was probably overly confident in my abilities to complete the research and the data-coding. Trinni was the opposite. This project led us to become more appropriately confident in our abilities. Trinni realized that we valued her opinions and ideas as part of the research team. She learned that she was more than just a student to us because we really worked to treat her as an equal. I learned to take a breath and talk to someone else about the issue when I hit a rough spot. Often that was enough to help set me back on the right path. For the times that it wasn’t enough, I learned to take a day (or three) and then come back again. I was reminded that eating an elephant happens one bite at a time, and I was reminded that I do know how to do research.

Stepping outside of ourselves: Finally, we learned that the research isn’t about us or our preconceived notions. We learned to be open to the voices of the women who were sharing their experiences with us and to put our own value judgments aside. We had to stay as impartial as possible.

The lessons learned from this transformative project have helped to make us stronger people and better researchers. If you are on the fence about taking on an RA, I would say, “Stop worrying and go for it.” My stumbles helped Trinni to see that I am human and to gain more confidence in her own abilities. I also gained confidence in my ability to research and persevere. And I learned that large projects are enjoyable, even with the inevitable stops and starts. This had made me more willing to take on future projects and to work with other RAs.

So what’s stopping you from requesting an RA? Funding, time, lack of confidence in in supervising a student? Post your answers to these questions in the comments and perhaps our community can give some resources or encouragement.

Search for “Dumin, Breastfeeding” in the coming months to hopefully read more about our study and the results.

Unlocking the Secrets of Learning Innovation

Written by Bucky J. Dodd, PhD –

The Institute for Learning Environment Design recently attended the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Innovate conference in Nashville, Tennessee. In addition to catching up with many of our collaborators from other institutions, we also unveiled a new visual analytics tool for accelerating learning innovation called the Learning Environment Innovation Inventory (LEI2). We had the privilege of sharing this tool at a collaborative workshop.

Bucky Dodd presenting at the 2018 Learning innovations Summit

This tool is comprised of an online assessment that is used to generate a visual analytics report. This report, called the “Landscape” visualizes key factors that influence learning innovation with teams and organizations. The landscape report organizes these factors in the team’s innovation mindset, values of learning environment elements, and capacity across the innovation cycle.

The LEI2 offers educational institutions, businesses, and associations a simple and powerful way to grow their capacity for new learning approaches.

During our workshop at OLC, we discussed a wide array of learning innovations from video conferencing, technology selection, program development, and course design.

The success of each of these approaches is dependent on the capacity to create new value through innovation processes.

 

Innovation is a Balancing Act

One topic we discussed during the OLC workshop was drivers of learning innovation.

People and organizations are driven to innovation by efficiency and effectiveness. However, the degree to which each of these drivers influence change and value creation are often different.

In one case, an organization may be driven by efficiency to increase enrollment, raise the number of student being transformed through their education, or reduce the time to a credential.

In another case, an organization may be more driven by effectiveness and thus achieving a certain performance outcome. The balance and make-up of these drivers can determine the dynamics of innovation activities.

The results of the LEI2 from the OLC workshop participants indicated a slight preference towards a drive toward learning efficiency. This suggests if the group of workshop attendees were collaborating on a project, they would be more likely to preference innovations that advance learning efficiency over effectiveness.

Effective-Efficiency Graph

The following diagram indicates the combination of drivers of learning effectiveness and learning efficiency are aligned most with a “preparing for the future” theme. This priority index is another way of examining how drivers of learning innovation ultimately frame the way teams and organizations prioritize change.

These results suggest a team that is future-minded and emphasizes the value of preparation and capacity growth. We’d expect a similar result at our University, where a campus culture of providing transformative experiences for students exists in order to better prepare them for their futures.

Drive Toward Effectiveness-Efficiency Chart

Managing Innovation Priorities

Learning innovation presents a rather large challenge when it comes to execution of new ideas and plans. Until now, the variables that relate most to how teams and organizations advance new approaches to learning has been invisible. The LEI2 unlocks these secrets into how new approaches to learning are generated, tested, and scaled.

 

Summary

We valued the opportunity to share the LEI2 with the OLC community and look forward to seeing how these visual insights will enhance the way teams and organizations support new learning opportunities.

Focus and Verbs: Attending the 2018 Transformative Learning Conference

Written by Beth Allan, PhD, Coordinator of Secondary Science Education, Biology Department –

 

Learning. Student. Transformative. Teachers. Discussion.  

These are the most common words from the 2018 Transformative Learning Conference Program. That student, learning, and transformative are the most common words is both encouraging and accurate for what it was like being at the conference. There were presentations and plenaries and workshops across the disciplines and about any subject. Conference attendees were from Oklahoma, Texas, California, and beyond. It was a well-attended and well-organized conference. So what sets the Transformative Learning Conference (TLC) apart from other conferences?  For me, it was the focus on action.

At the heart of all the conversations, presentations, and even water cooler (ok- mostly coffee and cookie table for me) comments, was a focus on student learning and success. The TLC was two days of focus on students and how we, as educators, can continually evaluate what we are doing to ensure an educational environment that gives our students the opportunity to be transformed in the way that is appropriate for them.  Because the conference is not geared toward a particular content area or pedagogical methodology, the participants are there because they are focused on student learning and the desire to interact with other educators who are actively involved in processes to support student success.

Word Cloud image

Action Verbs

I had the privilege of working with Dr. John Wood (Department of History, University of Central Oklahoma) on a roundtable discussion, “How Can We Transform Generation Z?” As most presentations go, it came out of a conversation about our students and a book we had decided to read (Seemiller & Grace, 2016).  The topic was on identifying just exactly who is in our classrooms and how they are similar or different from other generations.  We weren’t sure whether or not there would be many or a few in the room, and what kind of interactions we might expect, and if others had the same questions and challenges we were seeing. We were amazed at the interest and in the thoughtful, inquisitive, informed, and often humorous contributions by the attendees. It was the best kind of session to be responsible for – one where you get a conversation started and then learn a lot from those who are in attendance. I didn’t learn that the other educators were frustrated, or resentful, or resistant to the changes in this generation. I learned they had thoughtful observations and actions. I heard ideas about what, how, and when things worked for them. Some were funny, some poignant, all were actionable (ok- maybe one or two were just funny).

It wasn’t just in that session.  I was struck while scrolling through the titles of the other sessions that they almost all start with an action verb. That was my other experience with the conference. In the plenary, groups were working together; roundtable discussions were actually discussions; and the topics were how we, as educators, can act. Action verbs. And participants were talking about those actions together.  It’s pretty cool to be an educator when I get to learn about actions that focus on transforming my educational practices to help my students succeed.

I can only say that I’m glad that those were the words the TLC focused on. If the conference hadn’t focused on action, those cookies might have not been worth the calories.

 

Seemiller, C., & Grace, M. (2016). Generation Z goes to college. John Wiley & Sons.

An Increasingly Diverse South

Bar chart showing increasing diversity of the Southern U.S. population as represented by the mix of ethnicities among residents in age groups: under 15 years old (most diverse) to 75 years old and older (least diverse)

Source: Chart from p. 5 of “State of the South: Recovering Our Courage — Executive Summary,” published 2018 by MDC at https://www.mdcinc.org/home/knowledge-bank/state-of-south/. MDC calculation of 2016 data using Economic Modeling Specialists International (Q1.2017).

Attending the Transformative Learning Conference as a First-Time Attendee

Picture of Therese Williams

Written by Therese Williams, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, UCO College of Business ISOM – 

As a first-year Assistant Professor at UCO, I received a wonderful opportunity to attend the 2018 Transformative Learning Conference in Oklahoma City.  In exchange for volunteering one day of the conference I was able to attend one day with the registration fee waived.  I worked at the registration desk for the first day on Thursday.  I believe that I enjoyed that as much as I did attending the conference on Friday!  I met wonderful people who volunteer their time to make sure that the conference runs smoothly.  I was able to meet and visit with many other attendees at times registration was not slammed with those picking up name tags and programs.  It was a great experience.

Word Cloud with words describing 2018 Transformative Learning Conference

On Friday, I attended sessions.  I especially enjoyed Peter Felten’s Plenary Session “Partnering with Students for Transformative Learning” and his afternoon workshop “Viewing Transformative Learning through the Lens of SoTL.” (http://sites.uco.edu/central/tl/conference)  As a new professor, the ideas of Transformative Learning and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning are all new to me and I find them enlightening.  I was able to take this opportunity to learn more about them and to focus on how I would be able to use these concepts in my own growth and the growth of my students.

The workshop that was held by Peter Felten was particularly helpful in working out a problem that I experienced just the evening before in a class.  In technology classes I tend to demonstrate concepts while discussing them and encourage students to work along with me.  During this particular class, it was apparent that the majority of students were not working along with me and were not really paying attention but were probably working on the assignment that was due later that evening.  Because of the nature of the class I cannot really restrict computer usage during this time.  I really do want them to work on the computer on the examples that I am demonstrating.  At the end of class when I asked if there were any other questions and I received several that were exact duplicates of questions that had been asked (and answered) at the beginning of and during class, I became very frustrated.

When Peter Felten encouraged us to use our classroom experiences to develop a research idea I was eager to zone in on this problem.  My original question of “Why don’t students pay attention when I’m discussing and demonstrating technical issues?” went through several iterations until, with the help of others at my workshop table, it became “In your opinion, what is the best use of your time during the class period?”  While I attempted to make it a research problem; it became a simple question to ask my class.  I created an anonymous online poll that asked this with multiple-choice responses of “Working examples along with the professor”, “Working examples on my own”, “Working on assignments”, “Working with other students on group projects” and “Something Else”.  Sixty-two percent of the class chose “Working on Assignments.”  Based on responses to this one question, I have begun to make some changes to how this particular class is organized.  I am in the process of ‘flipping’ the classroom so that students will review the material before the class period and come with questions.  I spend a few minutes discussing questions and then giving them assignments they can begin to work in class.  It is too early to tell if this will be successful, but at least the students were involved in the decision and will have some ownership of the results!

I also attended a roundtable session “Interdisciplinary SoTL Scholar Research” which was very informative and furthered my interest in planning a research project in this field.  Marty Ludlum, Linda Harris, Sam Ladwig and Jill Lambeth from UCO were all very sharing with how they developed their projects and some of the insights they were able to publish as a result.

Another valuable roundtable session was “Transformative Learning Across Business Disciplines” led by Marty Ludlum and Randy Ice of the UCO College of Business.  I enjoyed hearing how they were implementing other disciplines into the study of another.  I would really like to have the opportunity to have more exposure to transformative learning trends in business areas.

The day ended with short poster presentations of various projects including many that involved students in the research.

I considered both of the days that I attended the Transformative Learning Conference as a valuable use of my time and I hope that I will have the opportunity to attend one or both days next year!

(The word cloud above was created at https://wordart.com/ and used the words from the 2018 TLC program.)

Daring Greatly through Peer Communion

Picture of Steven DunnWritten By Steven Dunn, M.A., Office of Research Integrity and Compliance; and Psychology – 

With a background in psychology, I was aware of Dr. Brené Brown’s work and had a strong curiosity towards her book, Daring Greatly. Reading the text alone offers any reader a communal exchange between zirself and the voice of the author in the narrative. By participating in CETTL’s faculty book club, I was offered the opportunity to read and discuss this book with approximately eight regularly attending faculty and staff members. Outside of merely reading the book and exchanging ideas with peers, I was charged with leading the group.

Daring Greatly Book Cover

Adding this additional responsibility to my participation was a compelling way to absorb material with higher retention. Isn’t this what we tell students, “Study as if you will be teaching others the material?” This is the same concept all educators should use in approaching the effort of teaching; however, teaching peers felt different. These are individuals with the same as or better skills at deciphering material and finding application of said material. I would say that this move transcends teaching or leading in the traditional sense, becoming more of a communion of material with others. The group I was to lead could not have been a better group with whom to feel this communion of information. Most of the group participated with a willingness to exemplify Dr. Brown’s words through their experiences, which added multiple layers of understanding of the material revealing several instances of growth for myself and most of the group.

…shame anchors students and faculty from moving along in the stream of living, learning, and growing

The book covers several components of what the author identifies as daring greatly but the central point that resonated in the group was the notion of shame and how shame anchors students and faculty from moving along in the stream of living, learning, and growing. It was fascinating to see faculty come to terms with elements of shame that they deal with, which instantly connected them with the students in their course. This felt connection led to a few group members developing insights on possibly understanding struggling or at-risk students better, as well as generating novel ways by which these students could be better encouraged to engage in class. This encouragement was applied both through class assignments as well as updates to the educator’s classroom environment. Learning with my peers seemed first nature as we discussed the several how’s and why’s about feeling brave and empowered. Riding such positive feelings is exactly why it is important to have this communion with peers, because life isn’t a field of daisies (this analogy is supposed to represent that life isn’t easy – if you are reading this and suffer from extreme allergies, my apologies).

The most important component of this communion was that working with peers presented a grounding to realism. I would say that this is most important because we as educators walk into very different atmospheres of discipline, making certain changes easy or not possible. It was in the struggle of communal application that real and honest considerations of application could be seen and understood in a concrete way. Being peers, the effort of communion in dipping into the material for usability generated a more realistic and considerate use of the material and growth, with advancement as an educator.

Brown, C. B. (2012). Daring greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York, N.Y.: Gotham.

Starting the Intellectual Engine Online

Picture of Tracey FearlessWriten by Tracy Fairless, M.A., Director of Learning Design, Center for eLearning and Connected Environments –

“Students should be made to grapple with the material and receive authentic practice in thinking like an expert,” said Carl Wieman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. In The Chronicle of Higher Education (2012) article entitled “Harvard Conference Seeks to Jolt University Teaching”, Wieman addressed the need for applying new approaches to teaching and learning. There is no mistaking the importance of covering concepts and theories in core undergraduate courses. However, emerging research calls to question the traditional teaching practice of lectures and standard forms of assessment and seeks to challenge professors to place emphasis on questions rather than answers.

How do we move our classrooms from a torrent of content and obscured answers to one driven by critical thinking?  Perhaps even more challenging, how do we develop eLearning classrooms that challenge thinking and give rise to transformative learning experiences?

The learner experience in the college classroom [intellectual engine] is not far removed from that of the driving experience of a well-designed automobile. There are individuals that prefer to drive only when necessity calls and they have limited knowledge of the automobile and how it functions.  It is simply a mode of transportation. There are those that may enjoy the driving experience but never question the mechanics of the automobile and take for granted the engine will start with the turn of the key.  Then, there are the auto enthusiasts that want to know every detail of the engine and how it can be tweaked to improve performance. The enthusiasts ask questions, seek more information, and compare and contrast to shape their driving experience. Interestingly, the enthusiasts will experience driving in a much richer and memorable way. They are likely to share their knowledge with others and may find their path is altered by the driving experience.

Coming back to learning, how do we start the intellectual engines in students? How do we encourage learner enthusiasts? Perhaps one essential part requires the use of logical questions that incite reflection, reasoning, analysis, and lead the learner to identify connections and draw conclusions.  Online threaded discussions, blogs, vlogs, and other tools can be used as a tool [medium] for interactions, however, the tool is not the driver of the experience. In fact, the tool has little impact and can easily be substituted for one of many alternatives. Regardless of discipline, teaching students to be the author of questions that prompt critical thinking places the student in the driver’s seat. When used in conjunction with the professor’s expertise [transfer of knowledge], teaching through creative questioning can lead students to move beyond the exposure to new concepts while exploring complex ideas, issues, and problems. Students that are led to create their own questions, to reflect, and to judge underlying assumptions are provided the opportunity to develop problem-solving skills and a more personal connection with the subject. The learning experience can include exposure to information previously unknown or blind to the learner.  Such personal recognition lends itself to deeper integration with the potential for a transformative experience.

 

The Role of Socratic Questioning in Thinking, Teaching, and Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved February 1, 2018, from http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/the-role-of-socratic-questioning-in-thinking-teaching-amp-learning/522

Berrett, D. (2015, February 5). Harvard Conference Seeks to Jolt University Teaching. Retrieved February 1, 2018, from https://www.chronicle.com/article/Harvard-Seeks-to-Jolt/130683?cid=rclink