Adult Approach To Education


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This presentation was prepared and presented while undertaking the Graduate Certificate in Higher Education at Deakin University.

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  • What kinds of teaching methods/modes do we choose in occupational therapy education? Our students are involved in traditional areas of learning such as undertaking pre-reading from texts, attending lectures and tutorials and practicum sessions. In addition to these modes, we utilise group work, on-line activities and problem-based and self-directed study. OT students are required to complete 1000 hours of fieldwork in addition to their University contact hours. This is broken down across the four years of the programme, in line with the World Federation of Occupational Therapists Guidelines (see document for details). The Deakin programme offers fieldwork for 1 day per week for the first 5 semesters (2.5 years) of the programme. Students then have two eight week blocks of fieldwork, one in third year and one in fourth year.
  • Constructivism is an approach to teaching and learning based on the premise that cognition (learning) is the result of "mental construction." In other words, students learn by fitting new information together with what they already know. Constructivists believe that learning is affected by the context in which an idea is taught as well as by students' beliefs and attitudes. Students in the OT programme are required to complete a competency document through the 4 years of the programme (see document). The competencies have been prescribed by the Australian Association and have been expanded here at Deakin in consultation with the profession to identify how a student can demonstrate skill/competency acquisition.
  • The competency document has created an enormous amount of work for staff and students alike and at the end of our first four years we are about to review its size… however, it does reflect the constructivist approach to learning: It incorporates multiple perspectives and representations of concepts and content. The goals and objectives are set out, but the way and the timeframe that they are achieved derived by the student or in negotiation with the teacher or system. Students have a variety of teachers who serve in the role of guides, monitors, coaches, tutors and facilitators. These are the Deakin lecturers and tutors, the Deakin fieldwork supervisors, the occupational therapists who supervise the students in fieldwork and the clients or patients who allow the students to learn through their interaction with them.
  • Activities, opportunities, tools and environments are provided to encourage metacognition (thinking about thinking), self-analysis -regulation, reflection & awareness. Often this is the space for overlap with transformative learning, which will also be discussed in this presentation. The student plays a central role in mediating and controlling learning. Learning situations, environments, skills, content and tasks are relevant, realistic, authentic and represent the natural complexities of the 'real world‘ Primary sources of data are used in order to ensure authenticity and real-world complexity. The key principles here include a problem-based learning environment in the University setting, developing skills for problem solving in the fieldwork environment.
  • Knowledge construction and not reproduction is emphasised so that students do not learn prescriptions but consider the client, their environment and the potential opportunities that exist in individual contexts and through social negotiation, collaboration and experience. The learner's previous knowledge constructions, beliefs and attitudes are considered in the knowledge construction process. Students are asked to reflect upon their own knowledge and experience and to learn from this stance. Problem-solving, higher-order thinking skills and deep understanding are emphasized.
  • Errors… a dirty word? Being a perfectionist it is for me, but what better way to learn. In our programme we endeavor to provide the students with opportunities that may lead to “safe errors” occurring. We know that we can learn so much from these. Exploration is a favoured approach in order to encourage students to seek knowledge independently and to manage the pursuit of their goals. Independent exploration to seek knowledge is a key feature of the programme. Students can complete their portfolio in time over the four years, many finding that their part-time work also helps them to demonstrate competence in a broad range of areas. Learners are provided with the opportunity for apprenticeship learning in which there is an increasing complexity of tasks, skills and knowledge acquisition. Learners are provided with the opportunity for apprenticeship learning in which there is an increasing complexity of tasks, skills and knowledge acquisition. Our students often comment on the fact that their 4 year degree has parallels with an apprenticeship model and I often say “the apprenticeship continues well after graduation and into every new job!” Collaborative and cooperative learning are favoured in order to expose the learner to alternative viewpoints. Our programme is young and is now exploring the potential for developing knowledge complexity through an emphasis on conceptual interrelatedness and interdisciplinary learning. More inter-programme teaching between Nursing, OT, Psychology and Social Work is on the agenda. The personal relationships are building between these programmes, the challenge is to take it to a professional level. Imagine the benefits to our students… seeing us cooperate and then graduating believing that this is the right way to perform in practice!
  • Collaborative and cooperative learning are favoured in order to expose the learner to alternative viewpoints: Through our fieldwork model all students are exposed to 7 different fieldwork settings in the four years of the programme, this exposed them to a range of practitioners in OT and other disciplines. Of course, through Deakin they are also exposed to a wide range of people who are their lecturers and tutors. We encourage the fieldwork supervisors to create an environment that facilitates students performing just beyond their limits of their ability… with each student being different, this means that the supervisor needs to be student centered to create a “just right fit” for the student and the fieldwork environment. In constructivist understanding of learning this is called creating “Scaffolding”. Assessment is authentic and interwoven with teaching. The fieldwork model of assessment is competency based as is our teaching programme. We weave theory and practice at all times in both the formal and field learning environments.
  • Transformative learning involves a deep shift in consciousness that alters our thoughts, feelings and actions. Often these changes mean that we explore our understanding of ourselves, power relations in society, our concept of race and gender, class, and social justice. As a result, we may envision a new way to interact at work, with family and in society that expands our capacity for tolerance, acceptance, understanding and compassion.
  • As a field of study, transformative learning has grown to include multiple and diverse areas of educational concern. As a field of practice, transformative learning ranges across a wide diversity of practice settings, including adult and continuing professional education, higher education, workplace learning, and education for social change. I believe that OT education has undergone a great deal of transformation under the “relevant, innovative and responsive” agenda of Deakin University. We have challenged the profession’s ideals of how students should be educated, our fieldwork model being one such example, our approach to problem-based learning (we call it occupation based learning) is another.
  • The teacher's role in establishing an environment that builds trust and care and facilitates the development of sensitive relationships among learners is a fundamental principle of fostering transformative learning (Taylor 1998). Loughlin (1993) talks about the responsibility of the teacher to create a "community of knowers”, individuals who are "united in a shared experience of trying to make meaning of their life experience" (pp. 320-321). As a member of that community, the teacher also sets the stage for transformative learning by serving as a role model and demonstrating a willingness to learn and change by expanding and deepening understanding of and perspectives about both subject matter and teaching (Cranton 1994). ( Undertaking the Graduate Certificate in Higher Education has enabled me to reflect upon my own teaching theories and create an expanded and deepened understanding of my role.
  • There is not time to explore this topic however I am hopeful that I am becoming a creative teacher who is continually critiquing my own teaching. This includes being critical of curriculum content and design, assessment tasks, understanding the boundaries of my role and developing sustainable relationships with students, creating positive learning environments both in the classroom and on-line, actively seeking feedback from my students about all of these aspects of teaching. I would hope that taking an eclectic approach to teaching will meet the needs of a range of students. I wonder sometimes how I can be “everything to everyone” and I need to remind myself that constructivist understanding means that I am not the font of knowledge , the group of students are the tools for learning and I am a facilitator. That is transformative learning for me! It challenges my notions that the teacher knows all and imparts knowledge to the waiting masses! 
  • Adult Approach To Education

    1. 1. Transformation to adult learning Through the lens of transformative and constructivist understandings of learning
    2. 2. Typical learning activities in Occupational Therapy Education <ul><li>Pre-reading </li></ul><ul><li>Lectures </li></ul><ul><li>Tutorials </li></ul><ul><li>Workshops </li></ul><ul><li>Reports </li></ul><ul><li>Fieldwork </li></ul><ul><li>Portfolio </li></ul><ul><li>Group-work </li></ul><ul><li>On-line activities </li></ul><ul><li>Self-directed study </li></ul>
    3. 3. Constructivist Understandings of Learning <ul><li>Learning is affected by: </li></ul><ul><li>context of learning (classroom & field) </li></ul><ul><li>beliefs and attitudes (why I am here) </li></ul><ul><li>culture (where I come from) </li></ul><ul><li>Learning is a process of fitting new information with what is already known </li></ul>
    4. 4. Zone of Proximal Development student metacognition competencies self-efficacy Current zone of functioning Future zone of functioning <ul><li>Constructivist learning: </li></ul><ul><li>Curriculum design </li></ul><ul><li>Curriculum delivery </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment tasks </li></ul>Pre-programme During OT programme Post-programme Adapted from:
    5. 5. Constructivist Understandings of Assessment <ul><li>Assessment tasks are: </li></ul><ul><li>Varied and or negotiable formats </li></ul><ul><li>Related to learning goals (not just for the sake of assessment) </li></ul><ul><li>Clearly related to professional skill development </li></ul><ul><li>Designed to qualify students to be accepted by the profession </li></ul>
    6. 6. Constructivist Understandings of Fieldwork learning <ul><li>Key features: </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple perspectives and representations of concepts </li></ul><ul><li>Goals and objectives are derived by the student in negotiation with the “teacher” </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers serve in the role of facilitators </li></ul>
    7. 7. Constructivist Understandings of Fieldwork learning <ul><li>Key features: </li></ul><ul><li>Activities encourage reflection and self-awareness </li></ul><ul><li>Student plays central role in mediating learning </li></ul><ul><li>Learning occurs in authentic situations </li></ul>
    8. 8. Constructivist Understandings of Fieldwork learning <ul><li>Key features: </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge construction not reproduction </li></ul><ul><li>Learner’s previous knowledge is considered </li></ul><ul><li>Problem solving and higher order thinking emphasised </li></ul>
    9. 9. Constructivist Understandings of Fieldwork learning <ul><li>Key features: </li></ul><ul><li>Errors provide opportunity for re-construction </li></ul><ul><li>Independent exploration to seek knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Apprenticeship learning opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>Interdisciplinary learning </li></ul>
    10. 10. Constructivist Understandings of Fieldwork learning <ul><li>Key features: </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative and cooperative learning </li></ul><ul><li>Scaffolding facilitates students performing just beyond limits of ability (just right challenge) </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment is authentic and interwoven with teaching </li></ul>
    11. 11. Transformative Learning <ul><li>“ A defining condition of being human is that we have to understand the meaning of our experience” (Mezierow, 1997, p.5) </li></ul>
    12. 12. Transformative Learning <ul><li>Involves a deep shift in consciousness: alters thought, feelings and actions </li></ul><ul><li>Leads to exploration of self, power relations, concept of power, race gender, class, social justice </li></ul><ul><li>Challenges beliefs and values </li></ul>
    13. 13. Transformative Learning <ul><li>Approach to teaching </li></ul><ul><li>Self-Reflective </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitator </li></ul><ul><li>Provocateur </li></ul><ul><li>Not the font of knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Enable discourse </li></ul><ul><li>“ Just right challenge” </li></ul>
    14. 14. Transformative Learning <ul><li>Role of the teacher: </li></ul><ul><li>Establish an environment that builds trust and care </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitates the development of sensitive relationships between learners </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher serves as a role model </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher demonstrates willingness to learn & change </li></ul>
    15. 15. Summary of Transformative and Constructivist approaches <ul><li>Critical reflection of self and curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>Discourse is a feature of curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>Authentic assessment tasks </li></ul><ul><li>Boundaries of role (facilitator) </li></ul><ul><li>Positive learning environments </li></ul><ul><li>Actively seeking feedback and using it constructively </li></ul><ul><li>Being student-centered </li></ul>
    16. 16. Bibliography <ul><li>Australian Association of Occupational Therapists. (1999). Australian Competency Standards for Occupational Therapists in Mental Health . [Fitzroy, Vic.]: OT Australia - Australian Association of Occupational Therapists. </li></ul><ul><li>Biggs, J. B., & Society for Research into Higher Education. (2003). Teaching for quality learning at university : what the student does (2nd ed.). Buckingham ; Philadelphia, Pa.: Society for Research into Higher Education : Open University Press. </li></ul>
    17. 17. Bibliography <ul><li>Costa, A. L. (2001). Developing minds : a resource book for teaching thinking (3rd ed.). Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. </li></ul><ul><li>Characteristics of Constructivist Learning & Teaching accessed April 2005. </li></ul>
    18. 18. Bibliography <ul><li>Funderstanding, first accessed April 2005 </li></ul><ul><li>Kief, C. A., & Scheerer, C. R. (2001). Clinical competencies in occupational therapy . Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall. </li></ul>
    19. 19. Bibliography <ul><li>Lazear, D. G. (1999). Eight ways of knowing : teaching for multiple intelligences : a handbook of techniques for expanding intelligence (3rd ed.). Cheltenham, Vic.: Hawker Brownlow Education. </li></ul><ul><li>Mezirow, J. (1997). Transformative Learning: Theory to Practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 74 , 5-12. </li></ul>
    20. 20. Bibliography <ul><li>Napier-Tibere, B., & Haroun, L. (2003). Occupational therapy fieldwork survival guide : strategies for success . Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis. </li></ul><ul><li>World Federation of Occupational Therapists. (1998). Minimum standards for the education of occupational therapists . West Perth, W.A.: The Federation. </li></ul>
    21. 21. Zone of Proximal Development student metacognition competencies self-efficacy Current zone of functioning Future zone of functioning <ul><li>Scaffolded learning </li></ul><ul><li>Guided participation </li></ul><ul><li>Socially shared cognition </li></ul><ul><li>Reflective practice </li></ul>Pre-programme OT programme Post-programme Adapted from: