Developing a statement of teaching philosophy involves the analysis and evaluation of several elements. In determining an effective approach to training adult employees in an online environment, adult learning theory must be examined, specific goals must be established, and strategies must be developed to help fulfill these goals. These elements include having a thorough knowledge of how adults learn and various learning styles, understanding methods for how learning can and should be facilitated, developing employee goals for training, evaluating one’s own individual training style, having knowledge of how to effectively implement training theories within organizational constraints, having the ability to evaluate the effectiveness of training initiatives, and continually establishing and evolving one’s own future goals as a training professional.
What is adult learning? Also known as andragogy as defined by Malcolm Knowles, adult learning can be characterized by the need for adults to be motivated to learn only if and when it is necessary. Unlike younger learners who are motivated by parental expectations, adult learners want to learn what they need to know, and when they need to learn. While the advent of online learning applications continues to grow in acceptance and usage, it is important for the educational system to understand androgogical principles to effectively reach adult learners. So what is e-learning, and how does it apply to adult learning? As Stein (2011) explains, it is difficult to develop a specific definition of e-learning because it is currently in a constant state of evolution. The term may be used in a more inclusive context by some, and in a more limited context by others. However, Sangrà(2012) describes that at least for the time being, e-learning can be loosely described as an educational system that merges disciplines such as computer science, communication technology, delivery systems and educational paradigms, and that is continually evolving. As described in a study by James (2011), it is important to continually evaluate an organization’s learning participants using VARK or other learning style evaluation tools to make training more effective. By building awareness of how employees learn and by modifying training methods and strategies to adapt to these styles, training teams can improve learning outcomes and better evaluate training effectiveness. The next slide discusses various styles of learning: Visual, aural, read/write, multimodal, and kinesthetic.
As described by VARK designer Fleming (2007), there are five primary styles of learning preferences among learners. These include visual, aural, read/write, kinesthetic, and multimodal learning styles. The visual approach is more holistic than reductionist,meaning that a system and its properties are perceived wholly rather than as just a sum of its individual parts. A learner with a visual preference is significantly impacted by the visual look of learning material, and takes a marked interest in the color, layout and design used in training materials. Learners with an aural preference are focused on the verbal explanation of a learning topic rather than words. For this type of learner, the written word does not provide as much impact as a verbal explanation of the material, and they often have a desire to verbally discuss newly acquired knowledge with others.
Learners with a read/write learning style have a preference for written words and lists. These learners believe that the best knowledge delivery comes from a written explanation, and they prefer to use libraries and other sources of written references to provide support for their information. For learners with a kinesthetic style, their understanding of knowledge comes from experiential learning, meaning that as similarly described by Merriam (2007), ideas are only valuable if they are perceived as practical, realistic, and relevant. The kinesthetic learner must be able to apply and experience knowledge to their personal experiences to fully understand and retain the knowledge delivered. The multimodal learning style describes learners with no particular preference among the aforementioned learning styles. They may have one style that is somewhat more dominant, but they have the ability to either align or contrast their learning style with those around them depending on which suits their goals.
It is important to realize that e-learning is not, as Bach (2007) explains, a “magic solution” for solving training issues. Training teams should not assume that e-learning automatically lends itself to delivering knowledge to large groups of employees and allows trainers to provide information without hands-on involvement. Many of the same principles of traditional learning still apply to e-learning environments. For example, when learning new information, Merriam (2007) explains that adult learners must find meaning and be able to apply knowledge realistically to their own life experiences in order to relate and retain the information. Bach (2007) describes that it is important, as in traditional learning environments, to break employees into small groups to increase their interaction among each other and to make the facilitation process easier. It is also important for training teams to not simply distribute knowledge through e-learning methods and then remove themselves from the equation. Bach (2007) explains that e-learning training does not run itself, and trainers must stay involved in the process by ensuring that materials are kept up-to-date, that students are continually encouraged to provide feedback and given intervention when needed, and that trainers must be available as resources and tutors to aid in comprehension of the material. While e-learning is being increasingly embraced by organizations as an efficient training tool, it does not eliminate the need to stay involved in the training process.
What is teaching? In 1998, Nancy Chism provided a general definition of teaching in terms of several elements: Motivating students to learn and adopt new knowledge, facilitating the learning process to ease the acquisition of knowledge, providing a challenging environment in which students can learn, giving academic support to students as they pursue knowledge, and being able to accommodate different levels of learning abilities. She pointed out that each instructor’s definition of what it means to teach can vary depending on individual life and instructional experiences, and each instructor must ask these questions individually of themselves.
As we progress into the new millennium with a new and evolving emphasis on e-learning, it becomes necessary to expand and adapt the definition of teaching specifically in computer-based environments. Guasch (2010) summarizes the major dimensions of teaching in an e-learning environment as being the abilities to communicate and interact, instruct and learn, manage and provide administration, and use technology.
Guasch (2010) continues by describing specific skills and competencies that effective e-learning instructors should master. The first of these abilities is to design and plan e-learning course curriculum from start to finish, organizing and managing tasks to establish technical and educational coordination between the instructor and supporting staff. This includes following up to ensure participant communication. The second competency is social function, or the ability for instructors to improve their relationships with participants and among each other within the learning environment, particularly important in a computer-based learning environment where there is a lack of emotional expression and non-verbal communication. A third skill is instructive function, or the instructor’s expertise in the subject matter being taught, which allows instructors to provide participants in-depth and expert knowledge regarding complex topics that may need detailed explanation in an e-learning environment. Technological competency provides a fourth ability to provide expertise throughout the e-learning process, whether it is in the course design process, fostering positive relationships among participants, or providing in-depth knowledge on a learning topic. The ability to provide technical support or instruct participants in basic computer or software skills allows instructors to be able to improve the learning process. The fifth competency for e-learning instructors is the ability to manage the e-learning process, meet learning expectations and needs, manage the learning environment and communication surrounding it, and to generally oversee the e-learning process.
One expectation in a training environment is that employees will adopt new knowledge and establish ways to apply this knowledge in practical, workplace-based situations. The ability to apply and put new information and skills to use in day-to-day work interactions and projects helps to ensure that employees will retain the information and continue to grow in their knowledge of the subject. For example, if the learning topic is improving time management skills, the goal is to work with each employee during the training process to identify specific situations, such as a daily job task, where new knowledge such as how to segment the workday can be applied to see measurable and immediate improvement soon after implementation. Adult learners must be able to relate to information and apply it to their lives in order to find value in it, and therefore retain it. By ensuring that each employee has a specific instance where new information can be applied, the knowledge delivery process is put to its most effective use. For additional retention, selected employees who have found particular value in the new information can be used group leaders to inspire their co-workers with ideas for applying the knowledge.
Among the ways this philosophy can be implemented is by providing a select number of visual references that each employee can take back to their work environment that are easy-to-read and practical to keep within reach, aiding the mature learner’s need for visual acuity. Providing opportunities during training for small group interaction and independent reflection among participants is particularly useful, since adult learners need to be able to apply knowledge to their life experiences to see value in new information. Older workers in particular want to feel valued by their employers, and peer training opportunities with younger co-workers helps to fulfill this need and provide them with needed wisdom.
Setting a direction for professional growth involves analysis of teaching goals and aligning growth opportunities accordingly. Coordinating training initiatives to support organizational goals goes hand in hand with helping employees utilize knowledge swiftly to ensure retention of information, putting organizational resources to effective use. Continuing educational growth in the area of adult training and development will build the skills to help participants apply new knowledge in practical situations. Expanding knowledge of I.T. and help desk procedures helps to support participants in maximizing their comprehension of new information. Building relationships with organizational leaders and department supervisors will help to encourage the use of peer training between mature and younger employees to make optimum use of differing experience and wisdom levels. These steps will ensure professional growth and effective training skills, building stronger organizational morale in the process.
Philosophy of TeachingStatementAngela Bryan BryanAEL5006-3 July 16, 2012
Developing a TeachingPhilosophy Knowledge of learning methods Facilitation of learning Development of employee learning goals Evaluation of teaching style Implementation of elements in organization Evaluation of training delivery Establishment of future goals as a training professional
How Do Adults Learn? Read/Write Multimodal Kinesthetic
Adults and E-Learning Principles of traditional learning still apply ◦ Adult learners need experiential meaning and realistic application to increase retention ◦ Break employees into small groups to increase interaction and ease facilitation ◦ Stay involved with learning process, do not leave it to run itself
Conceptualization ofTeaching What is teaching? ◦ Motivating students to learn ◦ Facilitating the learning process ◦ Challenging students intellectually ◦ Supporting students academically ◦ Accommodating different learning abilities
Conceptualization ofTeaching What is teaching as it relates to e- learning? ◦ Major dimensions Communication and interaction Instruction and learning Management and administration Use of technology
Conceptualization ofTeaching What specific skills are needed? ◦ Core competencies Course design and planning Social function Instructive function Technological domain Management domain
Goals for Students Apply new knowledge in practical situations Use information quickly to ensure retention Identify specific situations where knowledge can be applied Utilize employees with effective application to lead by example
Implementation of thePhilosophy Provide easy-to-read visual references Small group interaction Time for independent reflection Peer training
Professional Growth Plan Align training initiatives with organizational goals Continue educational growth in adult training and development Expand I.T. knowledge Build relationships with organizational management and supervisory personnel
References Chism, N. V. N. (1998). Developing a philosophy of teaching statement. Essays on Teaching Excellence 9(3), 1-2. Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education. Fleming, N.D. (2008). VARK. A guide to learning styles. The VARK Questionnaire. Retrieved from: http://www.vark-learn.com/english/page.asp?p=questionnaire Guasch, T., Alvarez, I., & Espasa, A. (2010). University teacher competencies in a virtual teaching/learning environment: Analysis of a teacher training experience. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26(2), 199–206. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2009.02.018 James, S., D’Amore, A., Thomas, Theda (2011). Learning preferences of first year nursing and midwifery students: Utilising VARK. Nurse Education Today 31(4), 417-423. Ohio State University (2009). Guidance on writing a philosophy of teaching statement. University Center for the Advancement of Teaching. Retrieved from http://ucat.osu.edu/portfolio/philosophy/Phil_guidance.html Sangrà, A., Vlachopoulos, D., & Cabrera, N. (2012). Building an inclusive definition of e-learning: An approach to the conceptual framework. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 13(2), 145-159. Stein, S. J., Shephard, K., & Harris, I. (2011). Conceptions of e-learning and professional development for e-learning held by tertiary educators in New Zealand. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(1), 145-165. Tufts University (2011). Best practice and core competencies. Academic Programs in College Teaching: The Graduate School. Retrieved from http://www.cs.tufts.edu/~ablumer/portfolio.html#best