Thinking about the QCT Professional Standards
Q1: How might you design engaging and flexible learning experiences for your class?
The aim of engaging and flexible learning experiences is to ensure that every student understands the concept being taught in the way it is intended (Schelly et al, 2011). People have different understanding levels (Felder & Brent, 2005). There are several designs guaranteed to ensure that the learning takes place. To ensure that I design engaging and flexible learning experiences, I would include the following;
Lecture with discussion: this strategy is most appropriate for theory classes. The lecture serves to introduce the content to the students. Then to engage learners, discussions come after the lecture (McGill, 2009a). Discussion is an opportunity for the students to ask questions, give ideas on the lecture content and request clarifications. The design of the discussion session can also bring in the flexibility aspect of learning. The lecturer can ask questions to trigger different perspectives of thinking (Schelly et al, 2011). Lecture and discussion can be within a single learning session or in different session. For example, if a single session runs for two hours, the last twenty minutes can be reserved for the discussion.
Brainstorming: this is one of the best strategies of engaging the students. Brainstorming in a learning design not only engages the learners, but also allows for flexibility, which bring in new ideas and widens the subject. According to Zepke & Leach, (2010) brainstorming enhanced creating thinking which is vital for new ideas. To use brainstorming in a learning session, questions can be posed within the learning exercise. In brainstorming, a single idea can trigger off other ideas that enrich the session (McGill, 2009a). In this way, it can be used to bring in live into a otherwise boring learning experience. In addition, it bring is the spirit of congeniality which is important in encouraging engagement and flexibility of the students.
Role-plays: for a learning design to use role-plays to engage the students and promote flexibility, the content has to be dramatized (Schelly et al, 2011). The problem-solution platform has to be dramatized with different members of the class participating in different roles. Role-play is a learning experience that presents and opportunity for the learners to assume the positions of others (Felder & Brent, 2005). This way, they get to better understand the idea and appreciate different points of view. This is a perfect way to make a learning experience not only memorable, but also lively (Zepke & Leach, 2010). In addition, role-play allows for exploration of solutions as each member of the play seeks for the best way to present their roles. Above all, this is a perfect opportunity to practice theoretical ideas and skills.
Guest speakers and panel of experts: These strategies serve the same purposes: exploring the topic for better understanding (Zepke & Leach, 2010). They both bring in engagement and flexibility though ion different ways. Pane of experts allows for exploration of the topic in different perspectives while guest speakers serve to breakdown students stereotypes. Panel of experts engages the audience by change of speakers while a guest speaker does so through the “guest” factor. According to Schelly et al, (2011), the fact that this is a new speaker causes the students to concentrate in an effort to grasp the speaker’s argument. In addition, a guest speaker is normally attributed as an expert in the field.
Q 2: How might you design intellectually challenging learning experiences for your class?
Intellectually challenging learning experiences are important to ensuring that learning takes places. However, different students have different leaning capabilities (Roberts et al, 2011). For learning to take place in a class, teaching sessions have to be intellectually challenging to the audience. To do this, the teaching design used for the class should embrace the certain experiences essential for intellectually challenging the learner (Killin, 2004). Intellectual challenge helps the learner grow intellectually for the next level in the learning program.
One of these experiences is by designing an experience that provides for opportunities and scaffolding to assist the learner delve deeper into the problem or idea (Brabrand & Andersen, 2006). The nature of scaffolding is that, the idea or the problem should be introduced to the students then left to dissect it in their own perspectives. This coupled with opportunities allows individual learner to bring in their own intellectual capabilities to solve the problem or understand the idea. The goal of scaffolding is to model a task, provide coaching, and advice to help the student (Roberts et al, 2011). This should be done to point the student in certain direction and it should be withdrawn with time and allow the student fully controls the learning process.
Second, the design should provide for an opportunity for the students to investigate the central objective of an idea or problem. By investigation of problems and ideas allows for better understanding of the problem or idea on personal level (Brookfield, 2006). This way, the student grows intellectually and allows for diversification of ideas, views, and concepts. It is only through investigations that students get to discuss alternative viewpoints, justify opinions, formulate new ideas or problems, and establishes varied communication formats to present ideas correctly to different audiences. This experience has the prime advantage of producing persons who are well adapted to cope with the dynamic problems in the society when they are done with education and out as experts/workers.
Third, the design should have learning experiences that allow students share and discuss ideas, information, knowledge, and data gathered and challenge one another (Killin, 2004). To do this, the learning design should promote inquiry models that allow students to identify problems, gather and share information related to the problem, manipulate and modify data to suit desired conditions, and test ideas and opinions to justify or nullify them. The goal of this is to enable students form or justify conclusions, make dependable predictions, interpret data correctly, analyze and refine ideas, and provide solutions to problems. This strategy serves to engage the intellectually capabilities of the student as well as teach then to be confident of their work.
Lastly yet important, the design should include activities that require the student to involve high-order thinking skills, creativity, imagination, intellectual risk taking, and problem solving (Brookfield, 2006). The most common strategy to employ this strategy is to ask students to read forward. This helps engage the intellectual capabilities of the student by requiring them to do activities slightly higher than their grade. Forward reading encourages students to reflect on what they learn and apply them for future learning.
For the above designs and strategies to work, there should be the right environment for the learner.
Q 3: How might formative assessment techniques (choose two) support students’ learning?
Formative assessment includes both formal and informal assessment procedures used by teachers to modify teaching and learning activities to improve student attainment (Douglas & Nancy, 2007).it involves qualitative feedback for both the student and the teacher with the focus on content and performance details. Here are two techniques, which are used for formative assessment.
Learning progression: this technique is to be considered key to every learning activity. Learning progression should clearly articulate the goals and the sub-goals of the learning process (Cauley & McMillan, 2010). In common classroom language, learning progression is simply the plan to be used for teaching the students. This plan should clearly describe how and what is to be covered in the learning process. It should show the skill and concepts in the domain and a curve of how learning among students should progress (Heritage, 2008). There should be strategies of how to determine growth of the student both intellectually and in understanding the underpinned knowledge.
Learning progression presents to the teacher a picture of what students need to learn. In addition, it is an opportunity and source for details for the teacher to make plans on meeting short-term goals in the teaching and learning process (Heritage, 2008). This way, a teacher is able to keep track of how students are moving forward in understanding the ideas at hand as well as in intellectual growth. For example, as the learning process moves on, the students should be able to employ complex and more sophisticated analysis strategies to understand given problems or ideas. The most common analysis strategy is observation, and as a student progresses, they should be able to use other complex strategies based on indirect observation and analysis of multiple information sources (Cauley & McMillan, 2010). Otherwise, the teacher should be able to diagnose the issue and design the right strategy to bridge the gap accordingly.
Self and peer assessment: students should be able to think meta-cognitively about their learning and both self and peer assessment present the opportunity (Cauley & McMillan, 2010). While formative assessment involves both the teacher and the student, self and peer assessment presents a critical opportunity for students to share and get opinions. The opinions help students think about their learning and help them come to an understanding that learning is their own responsibility (Heritage, 2008). This understand has a primary role in fostering students take an active role in planning, monitoring, and evaluating self progress in learning. According to Douglas & Nancy, (2007) this understanding has an added advantage in promoting self-drive towards learning.
To support and promote self and peer assessment, the teacher should design a learning structure that allows students to reflect on their own work and that of their peers, and form constructive feedback (Cauley & McMillan, 2010). Self-assessment is based on clear and explicit criteria of success and peer assessment is based on a rubric and provides descriptive feedback essential for continued improvement. Peer assessment works on a competitive basis with the urge to emerge a winner or the best among the class. For self and peer assessment to work, the teacher needs to create a favorable environment by determining a universal status of how good feedback looks like.
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Felder, R.M. & Brent, R. (2005). Understanding student differences, Journal of Engineering Education, 94 (1), pp 57-72
Zepke, N. & Leach, L. (2010). Improving student engagement: ten proposals for action, Active Learning in Higher Education, 11 (3), pp 167-177
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Killin, R. (2004). Effective teaching strategies: Lessons from research and practice. Katoomba, NSW: Social Science Press
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Douglas, F. and Nancy, F. (2007). Checking for Understanding: Formative Assessment Techniques for Your Classroom. Alexandria, VA: ASCD
Heritage, M. (February 2008). Learning Progressions: Supporting Instruction and Formative Assessment. Council of Chief State School Officers: Washington DC.
Cauley, K, M. and McMillan, J. H. (2010). Formative Assessment Techniques. The Clearing House 83 (1)