Final Course Reflection

(The following is a copy of my final course reflection which was required to be posted on my blog).

Although I generally dislike writing reflection assignments, I actually do enjoy non-compulsory informal reflection from time to time. I see the value in reflecting and at this particular moment in time, it is a good point to stop and reflect on my growth throughout this course. Luckily, this corresponds to a time when a formal written reflection is required. Reflecting on the suggested prompts definitely makes me appreciate what I have learned in this course.

What I found most surprising about how people learn is the fact that most people actually learn in very similar ways. During my teacher training, the concept of learning styles and differentiated instruction had been pushed on us by every one of our instructors, yet as it turns out, learning styles do not reflect how people actually learn (Costandi, 2013; Cuevas, 2014; Goldhill, 2016; Pashler, 2009; Pullman, 2017). In reality, matching a teaching style with a so-called learning style does not produce any improvements upon student learning or understanding (Glenn, 2009; Pashler, 2009).

As far as my personal learning process is concerned, this course has helped me recognize two aspects of my learning that I hadn’t fully appreciated in the past: my requirement for new knowledge to be based upon prior knowledge, and my requirement for relevance of the content in order to keep me motivated in my learning. I have always been a fan of the constructivist viewpoint, which states that new knowledge is filtered through the prior knowledge and experiences of the learner (Ertmer, 2013; Jenkins, 2006; Ormrod, 2009), but it wasn’t until this course that I thought about how my understanding of course content might be different from how others understand it. I also now recognize that basing learning on prior knowledge is a method of increasing motivation in learners (Keller, 1987; Keller 1999). The use of content and teaching methods that are relevant to the learner is another method for increasing motivation in learners that has a huge impact on me (Keller, 1987; Keller 1999). In the future, if I take a poorly designed course, I will do my best on my end to make the course relevant to myself, and to recognize when my prior knowledge and experiences are being used.

In studying the connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation, I realized that it is not just about psychologists trying to understand how we learn, but rather about how to make us better learners. Although each learning theory is quite different, they provide information about how we learn, which can be translated into learning techniques (Ertmer, 2013). Although learning styles are not real, the learning preferences can help an instructional designer develop better teaching and learning strategies (Laureate education, n.d.). Although not all educational technology is useful, some is absolutely transformative and can bring about better learning apps (Borovoy, 2013; Burns, 2014a; Burns, 2014b; Dabbs, 2014; Davis, 2014; Davis, 2017; Miller, 2012; Richards, 2015; Robledo, 2012). The cherry on the top is motivation, which although it is internal to the learner, can be affected by the course design (Keller, n.d.; N.A., n.d.; Small, n.d.).

As a result of this course, I will be sure to use three things in my instructional design career. Firstly, I will base courses on the prior knowledge of the learners (Ertmer, 2013; Ormrod, 2009). Secondly, rather than relying on learning styles, I will use dual-coding theory to differentiate my instruction (Cuevas, 2014). Thirdly, to motivate my learners, I will use Keller’s ARCS model to ensure that all aspects of motivation are covered (Keller, 1987; Keller 1999).

 

References

Borovoy, A.E. (2013, August). 5-Minutes film festival: mobile learning. Retrieved from

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/film-festival-mobile-learning

 

Burns, M. (2014a, January). Android Apps: math, ELA, and video streaming. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/android-apps-math-ela-video-monica-burns

 

Burns, M. (2014b, October). Using scannable technology to reach parents year round. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/scannable-technology-to-reach-parents-monica-burns

 

Costandi, M. (2013; April). The myth of learning styles. Retrieved from https://thinkneuroscience.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/the-myth-of-learning-styles/

 

Cuevas, J. (2014, October). Brain-based learning, myth versus reality: testing learning styles

and dual coding. Retrieved from https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/brain-based-learning-myth-versus-reality-testing-learning-styles-and-dual-coding/

Dabbs, L. (2012, October). Mobile learning support for new teachers. Retrieved from

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/mobile-learning-support-new-teachers-lisa-dabbs

 

Davis, V. (2014, January). 20 Awesome BYOD and mobile learning apps. Retrieved from

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/20-awesome-byod-mobile-apps-vicki-davis

 

Davis, V. (2017, June). The epic BYOD toolbox. Retrieved from

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/the-epic-byod-toolchest-vicki-davis

 

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (2013). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing

Critical Features from an Instructional Design Perspective, Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26, 43-71.

 

Glenn, D. (2009, December). Matching Teaching Style to Learning Style May Not Help

Students. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/Matching-Teaching-Style-to/49497/

 

Goldhill, O. (2016, January). The concept of different ‘learning styles’ is one of the greatest

neuroscience myths. Retrieved from https://qz.com/585143/the-concept-of-different-learning-styles-is-one-of-the-greatest-neuroscience-myths/

 

Jenkins, J. (2006). Constructivism. In Encyclopedia of educational leadership and administration. Retrieved from the e-Reference from Sage database.

 

Keller, J.M. (1987). The systematic process of motivation design. Performance and instruction, 26(9), 1-8.

 

Keller, J.M. (1999). Using the ARCS motivational process in computer-based instruction and distance education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, (78).

 

Keller, J.M. (n.d.).  ARCS model of motivational design (keller). Retrieved from

https://learn.vccs.edu/bbcswebdav/institution/SO/IDOL/Unit%201%20-%20Analyze%20Learners/ARCS%20Model%20of%20Motivational%20Design.pdf

 

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Learning styles and strategies [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

 

Miller, A. (2012, October). Practical tips for mobile learning in the PBL classroom. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/mobile-learning-in-pbl-classroom-andrew-miller

 

N.A. (n.d.). Instructional strategies for stimulating motivation. Retrieved from

http://peru.tamu.edu/Portals/18/Modules/Strategy_Motivation.pdf

 

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate

custom edition). New York: Pearson.

 

Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2009). Learning Styles: concepts and

evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9(3), 105-119.

 

Pullman, J. (2017, March). Brain scientists: ‘learning styles’ like auditory, visual, and

kinesthetic are bunk. Retrieved from http://thefederalist.com/2017/03/22/brain-scientists-learning-styles-like-auditory-visual-and-kinesthetic-are-bunk/

 

Richards. R. (2015, March). The qualitative formative assessment toolkit: document learning with mobile technology. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/qfat-document-learning-mobile-technology-reshan-richards

 

Robledo, S.J. (2012, October). Mobile learning: 6 apps and web tools for high school students. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/mobile-apps-for-high-schools

 

Small, R.V. (n.d.). Motivation in instructional design. Retrieved from

http://www2.oid.ucla.edu/units/tatp/old/lounge/pedagogy/downloads/motivation-eric.pdf

 

Fitting the pieces together

This week we were asked to reflect on our first discussion posting of the Learning Theories and Instruction course (Swanson, 2017) and how our views have changed as we progressed through this course. To be honest, my opinion of the most relevant learning theory has not changed since that post, however, what has changed is the amount of evidence I have to back up my opinion. The more I learned about constructivism, the more I agreed about its central tenets, and the more I learned about other learning theories, the more I disagreed with their views.

Based on the research I have performed for this course, I believe that constructivism best explains how we learn. I agree with the notion that when we learn something new, it is filtered through our prior knowledge and experiences, mental structures, social interactions, motivations, and beliefs (Ertmer, 2013; Jenkins, 2006; Keesee, 2011). I agree with the principle that “learners construct much of what they learn and understand” (Ormrod, 2009), rather than acting as empty vessels to be filled with knowledge (Ertmer, 2013). Although I view some aspects of cognitive theory (such as research on encoding, storage, and retrieval) as beneficial to understanding how we learn, I still view the overall learning process as one of construction (Ertmer, 2013). I do not have confidence in the assertion of social learning theorists that social interactions are a requirement for learning, nor do I have confidence in the assertion of connectivism theorists that knowledge being stored in a group of people counts as a method of learning (Davis, 2008; Kim, 2001; Ormrod, 2009; Siemens, 2004). As far as learning styles are concerned, I believe that a better term would be learning preferences, as these represent differing opinions of learners on how they learn best, rather than distinct differences in their learning abilities during different methods of instruction (Armstrong, 2009; Costandi, 2013; Gardner, 2003; Goldhill, 2016; Pullman, 2017).

As far as my own learning preferences are concerned, in order to remember new information, I have always found a need to elaborate on the information and this correlates well with the cognitivist principle of encoding and the constructivist principle of filtering knowledge through prior information (Ertmer, 2013; Ormrod, 2009). I also prefer to both see and hear presented information simultaneously or near-simultaneously, and this corresponds well with the idea of dual-coding. According to Ormrod, “dual-coded knowledge may be remembered better, which has important educational implications and confirms the general teaching principle of explaining (verbal) and demonstrating (visual) new material” (Ormrod, 2009). This makes sense based on the explanation of Cuevas that “conceptual knowledge is widely distributed among neural networks throughout the brain, but the pathways connecting those networks appear to be separate, particularly for auditory and visual stimuli … the combined power of bringing both hemispheres into use will increase our ability to retain information without pushing us into cognitive overload.” (Cuevas, 2014).

Although I am doubtful of the validity of connectivism as a learning theory, I must confess that technology does play a role in how I learn these days. To date I have completed nine online certificate programs, six in-depth online courses (once complete, this current course would bring the total up to seven), and a myriad online personal interest courses through organizations such as Coursera and Udemy. I also perform a good deal of academic research through online university libraries and Google Scholar, not to mention general research on Google and YouTube. Not only does technology help me research, but I also use technology to complete assignments (Word, PowerPoint, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro, Audition, Camtasia, Storyline, Captivate, etc.), to collaborate with others (Dropbox, Google Drive, OneNote, WordPress, Twitter, etc.), and to keep in touch with knowledgeable contacts (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).

Although I have been stubborn in my views on learning, this course has helped me better understand the viewpoints of others and the weaknesses in their arguments. It has also helped me better understand the arguments over learning styles, to which I had only been recently introduced. With the information I now possess, I feel that I would be a much more successful instructional designer.

 

References

Armstrong, T. (2009). Multiple intelligences in the classroom. (3rd ed.) Alexandria, VA:

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

 

Costandi, M. (2013; April). The myth of learning styles. Retrieved

from https://thinkneuroscience.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/the-myth-of-learning-styles/

 

Cuevas, J. (2014, October). Brain-based learning, myth versus reality: testing learning styles

and dual coding. Retrieved from https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/brain-based-learning-myth-versus-reality-testing-learning-styles-and-dual-coding/

 

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.),

Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Connectivism

 

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (2013). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing

Critical Features from an Instructional Design Perspective, Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26, 43-71.

 

Gardner, H. (2003, April 21). Multiple intelligences after 20 years. Paper presented to the

American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL. Retrieved from

http://cte.dce.harvard.edu

 

Goldhill, O. (2016, January). The concept of different ‘learning styles’ is one of the greatest

neuroscience myths. Retrieved from https://qz.com/585143/the-concept-of-different-learning-styles-is-one-of-the-greatest-neuroscience-myths/

 

Jenkins, J. (2006). Constructivism. In Encyclopedia of educational leadership and administration.

Retrieved from the e-Reference from Sage database.

 

Keesee, G.S. (2011). Learning Theories. Retrieved from

http://teachinglearningresources.pbworks.com/w/page/19919565/Learning%20Theories

 

Kim, B. (2001). Social constructivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning,

teaching and technology. Retrieved from http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Social_Constructivism

 

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate

custom edition). New York: Pearson.

 

Pullman, J. (2017, March). Brain scientists: ‘learning styles’ like auditory, visual, and kinesthetic

are bunk. Retrieved from http://thefederalist.com/2017/03/22/brain-scientists-learning-styles-like-auditory-visual-and-kinesthetic-are-bunk/

 

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. [online] Retrieved from

http://www.elearnspace.org/articles/connectivism.htm

 

Swanson, P. (2017, July). Understanding the learning process [discussion post]. Retrieved from

https://www.waldenu.edu