Hello Colleagues, My name is Tracey Bennett and I’d like to take a few minutes to share my Culture, Cognition, and Learning project with each of you.
This project will investigate and analyze four topics that connect the education and neuroscience communities: Cognitive Science (Executive Functioning), Connectivism, Technology, and Metacognition.
Pre-service early educators enrolled in the Early Care and Education (ECE) program at one of the community colleges located in a rural community in the southeastern part of the United States are the target audience of this project. Successful completion of the required coursework will put learners on track for earning an associate degree in the field of early childhood education. Earning an associate degree prepares learners to work in the field of early childhood education or a related field working with young learners in the capacity of teacher or teacher assistant. An overall goal of the community college’s pre-service early educator preparation program is to develop the pre-service early educator’s skills and ability to apply and implement newly gained knowledge, and to teach young learners to do the same. In doing so, the pre-service early educator must recognize, understand, and balance their role as both learner and learning leader. Pre-service early educators must not only learn course content, but it is also essential for the pre-service early educator to develop the skills, methods, and pedagogy to teach and implement that content. At the same time, as a professor for the community college pre-service early educator preparation program, must also recognize, understand, and balance their role as both learner and learning leader, especially as it relates to creating and providing ideal learning environments.
Additionally, Howard-Jones (2010) discussed executive functioning (EF) and described it as a predictor of academic achievement and social development.
Garner (2009) discussed the logical divide that exists between the science and educational communities with regard to the role of executive function. While clinicians according to Garner (2009) for example, conceptualize self-regulatory capacities as executive function abilities, educators on the other hand “typically conceptualize them as skills that support the metacognitive guidance of learning” (p. 405).
Currently, according to Howard-Jones (2010), learning leaders that are responsible for developing educational environments are becoming intentional. Learning leaders are beginning to develop and utilize intentional approaches to addressing and protecting the mental health of learners. Howard-Jones (2010) also explained that education is “becoming influenced by attempts to directly attend to the development of executive function, in order to promote emotional well-being, mental health, and academic achievement” (p. 191). Tang, Yang, Leve, and Harold (2012) for example, utilized a mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) which specifically incorporated an integrative body-mind training (IBMT) in an effort to develop EF skills in children and adolescents. Similarly, Helber, Zook, and Immergut (2012) utilized a mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) hypothesizing that the intentional incorporation and utilization of MBI in the form of meditation techniques would improve the executive function of students. Results of each study indicated a positive impact on the development of executive function skills with demonstrated improvements in academics. Understanding the learning process from a cognitive science perspective will allow professors the opportunity to consider a diversity of learning approaches that facilitate the development of executive functions.
Similar to the topic of executive functions, connectivism also has both educational and scientific perspectives with regard to the learning process. From an educational perspective and as discussed previously, connectivists view learning as an interactive process that occurs because of the interactions and connections between people, environments, or information as Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (2000) explained. From a scientific perspective, a basic tenet of connectivism, according to Del Moral, Cernea, and Villalustre (2013) is that learning is a process that includes the recognition of patterns through information networks. Del Moral, Cernea, and Villalustre (2013) further explained the role of memory in the learning process. While the brain is the control center for memory, connectivism views brain processes in terms of a retrieval system rather than a storage system. According to Del Moral, Cernea, and Villalustre (2013) for example, the brain acts as a network system, making it “more important to know how to access knowledge by patterns recognition and connection making than to maintain knowledge facts” (p. 108).
Understanding connectivism from both an educational and scientific perspective will provide a framework and guide for developing both the traditional and online learning environments for the pre-service early educator curriculum. Additionally, understanding brings into view the need to plan intentional opportunities for learners to interact with one another, professors, resources, and information.
Connectivism and technology are a natural fit for one another.
While the integration of technology into the learning environment appears simple, intentionality and preparation is essential. From a connectivist perspective for example, diverse and intentional opportunities for learners to engage one another, professors, and information is essential. Specifically, because learners within the pre-service early educator program must develop the necessary skills to utilize technology and to teach young learners how to utilize technology, intentional planning of the online environment is necessary. Smith and Greene (2013) discussed the importance of incorporating 21st century technology skills into the educator preparation content “one of the multiple realities of implementing quality preparation and support of teacher educators is inclusion of 21st century “technology” skills in teaching” (p. 121).
Although Greene and Azevedo (2010) investigated the role of self-regulated learning in computer-based learning environments, scientific perspectives regarding learning processes emerged. Greene and Azevedo (2010) for example, recognized the role of self-regulation in the learning process, an executive function skill necessary in everyday life, and especially in the online learning environment. Similarly, Lubin and Ge (2012) utilized a specific learning model, Learning Environments Approaching Professional Situations (LEAPS), which intentionally incorporated cognitive, metacognitive, and affective domains into the pre-service educator technology course and online learning environment. Findings from both Greene and Azevedo (2010) and Lubin and Ge (2012) further support the role of connectivism in the learning environment. Specifically, Greene and Azevedo (2010) and Lubin and Ge (2012) each highlight the role of teacher-student interactions and indicated that these interactions are what assists with facilitating the development of skills such as self-regulation.
According to Rahman, Jumani, Satti, and Malik (2010) the incorporation of metacognitive activities and strategies enhances the learning process. Rahman et al (2010) explained the role of metacognition for the learners and the educator. Metacognition as it pertains to the learner, as Rahman et al (2010) explained, enables the learner “to plan, sequence, and monitor their learning in a way that directly improves performance” (p. 219). Metacognition as it pertains to the educator, as Rahman et al (2010) explained enables educators “to regulate their teaching activities, according to students, goals, and situation” (p. 219).
Developing metacognition, which is also a component of executive functions, allows the both learner and professor to “think about thinking.” Similarly, both Denton (2010) and Rahman et al (2010) identified metacognition as a necessary skill for both the learner and professor. Denton (2010) further explained that while developing the learners’ metacognition skills and reflection capabilities is necessary, it is a challenging yet possible task. Essentially, recognizing the challenge with developing both the learner and professors’ metacognition and reflective skills indicate a need for intentionality with regard to developing the learning environment.
Executive function, connectivism, technology, and metacognition comprise both educational and scientific perspectives. While viewing each as individual topics within the educational and scientific field is permissible, the interconnectedness between each topic and field is evident. Metacognition for example is challenging to understand without recognizing that this skill is a part of the executive functioning of the brain. Having an understanding of this basic brain process has the capacity to shed light or facilitate the incorporation of specific strategies to address this skill. Although connectivism and technology are often viewed as natural pairings, recognizing the opportunities to develop the learners’ skills in metacognition within the connectivist framework and through the utilization of technology is also necessary.
1. COGNITION, CULTURE, AND
Specialization: Learning, Instruction, and Innovation
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2. COGNITION, CULTURE, AND
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3. EDUCATIONAL CONTEXT
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