Professor Marcia Devlin: "Learning Theories and Interdisciplinary Epistemologies"

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Professor Devlin was an invited speaker at the International Conference on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: National University of Singapore, Dec 3-5, 2008

Professor Devlin was an invited speaker at the International Conference on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: National University of Singapore, Dec 3-5, 2008

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  • 1. Learning Theories and Interdisciplinary Epistemologies International Conference on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: Frontiers in Higher Education   December 3-5, 2008 National University of Singapore Singapore Professor Marcia Devlin (PhD) Deakin University
  • 2. Overview
    • Why interdisciplinarity in higher education?
    • Variants of disciplinarity
    • Pedagogical challenges in interdisciplinarity
    • Four learning theories and ideas
    • Which theories/ideas are ‘best’ for interdisciplinary teaching and learning?
    • Your questions and comments
  • 3. Why interdisciplinarity?
    • ‘ Big topics’ such as climate change and the AIDS pandemic
      • Are global topics of interest and relevance to international community
      • Are difficult to study from a single disciplinary perspective – require more than one
  • 4. Why interdisciplinarity?
      • As the world becomes more connected and integrated in managing these issues, interdisciplinarity increasingly has a place in higher education
      • W e need graduates who can work across disciplines and with others who ‘see’ things differently
  • 5. Variants of disciplinarity
  • 6. The interdisciplinary continuum
    • Elective subjects that relate to a topic (Women’s Studies)
    • ->
    • Entrenching discipline boundaries while leaving open possibility of mutual critique
    • ->
    • Integration/modifications of sub-contributions while inquiry proceeding
  • 7. The interdisciplinary continuum (cont.)
    • Pluridisciplinarity: two or more disciplines combine their expertise to jointly address an area of common concern
    • ->
    • Transdisciplinarity: collapse of academic boundaries and emergence of new disciplines
  • 8. Pedagogical considerations
    • Two major challenges
      • Dissonant/different cognitive maps, ways of seeing and knowing
      • Disciplinary language
  • 9. Pedagogical considerations (cont)
    • Dissonant/different cognitive maps, ways of seeing and knowing
      • Each discipline has a way of seeing, a way of knowing
      • Members of a discipline community ‘see’ things differently to other communities
      • Students learn disciplinary maps and models when inducted, hard to see things another ways
  • 10. Pedagogical considerations (cont)
    • Disciplinary language
      • Strong linguistic preferences within disciplines in choice of, and meanings of, language
      • As important to teach language as concepts, methodologies
  • 11. Pedagogical considerations
    • Other challenges:
    • Preparation and curriculum implications
      • Assessment
      • Tutor training
    • Other considerations
      • Rewarding disciplinary/interdisciplinary efforts
  • 12. Four learning theories and ideas
        • Constructivism
        • Situated learning
        • Experiential learning
        • Phenomenography
  • 13. Four learning theories and ideas
    • 1. Constructivism
      • Learners ‘construct’ new ideas or concepts themselves, dialogue encouraged
    • 2. Situated learning
      • Learning a function of the activity, context and culture in which it occurs, social interaction and collaboration necessary
  • 14. Learning theories and ideas
    • 3. Experiential learning
      • Ideas can be formed and re-formed through experience or learning by ‘doing’
    • 4. Phenomenography
      • A research method that focuses on how people experience phenomena. The focus in teaching and learning is on the student experience of learning – there are different understandings of reality
  • 15. Which theory/idea is ‘best’?
    • 1. Constructivism
      • Recognises that students need to build their understanding of concepts – such building is critical with multiple ways of knowing are involved
    • 2. Situated learning
      • Promotes interaction to build knowledge – particularly important if knowledge is construed from different perspectives
  • 16. Which theory/idea is ‘best’?
    • 3. Experiential learning
      • P oints to the benefits of learning by doing, ‘application’ of multiple perspectives may assist in understanding the contributions of various disciplines
    • 4. Phenomenography
      • Highlights the fact that there are different understandings of reality, reminds us of the centrality of the student experience in learning
  • 17. Which theory/idea is ‘best’?
    • It depends what you believe about teaching and learning, that is, what theories or ideas you adopt
  • 18. Y o ur comments
  • 19. References
    • Davies, M. & Devlin, M. (2007). Interdisciplinary higher education: Implications for teaching and learning. Centre for the Study of Higher Education, The University of Melbourne. Retrieved 25 September 2008, from http://www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/pdfs/InterdisciplinaryHEd.pdf
    • Devlin, M. (2002). Taking responsibility isn’t everything: A case for developing tertiary students’ conceptions of learning. Teaching in Higher Education, 7 (2), 125–138.
    • Feyerabend, P. (1993). Against Method. (3rd ed.). London: Verso.
    • Kearsley, G. (2008). Experiential Learning (C. Rogers). Retrieved 25 September 2008, from: http://tip.psychology.org/rogers.html
    • Kuhn, T. (1962). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions . Chigago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press.
  • 20. References (cont.)
    • Lave, J. (1988). Cognition in Practice: Mind, mathematics, and culture in everyday life . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    • Marton. F. (1986). Phenomenography—A research approach to investigating different understandings of reality. Journal of Thought 21 (2) , 28–49.
    • Petrie, H.G. (1976). Do you see what I see? The Epistemology of Interdisciplinary Inquiry. Educational Researcher, 5 (2), 9–15.
    • Rogers, C.R. (1969). Freedom to Learn . Columbus, OH: Merrill.
    • Rogers, C.R. & Freiberg, H.J. (1994). Freedom to Learn (3rd ed.). Columbus, OH: Merrill/Macmillan.
    •  
  • 21. Learning Theories and Interdisciplinary Epistemologies International Conference on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: Frontiers in Higher Education   December 3-5, 2008 National University of Singapore Singapore Professor Marcia Devlin (PhD) Deakin University