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Successful Teaching and Learning with Social Media and Triarchic Theory


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The following paper is a synthesis of teaching and learning using social media tools and the Triarchic Theory of Intelligence.

The following paper is a synthesis of teaching and learning using social media tools and the Triarchic Theory of Intelligence.

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  • 1. Running Head: Successful Teaching and Learning with Social Media and Triarchic Theory<br />Successful Teaching and Learning with Social Media and Triarchic TheorySteven PoastEDTECH 504 Dr. Ross PerkinsBoise State UniversityMay, 11 2010<br />Abstract<br />The following paper is a synthesis of teaching and learning using social media tools and the Triarchic Theory of Intelligence. The introduction reviews the importance of educational theory and its impact on modern educational methods. The first section of the paper reviews the background of triarchic theory including its three components; creative thinking, analytical thinking and practical application. The first section concludes with defining what qualifies as a social media tool and a look at the history of social media. The second section of the paper examines two cases studies of triarchic teaching in a traditional school environment. In the third section case studies of triarchic teaching combined with social media tools are explored at the secondary and post-secondary levels. The following section looks at the challenges teachers face in applying the triarchic method. Pre-service teachers are learning how to use computer technology within their teacher training, but will it be effective in the field? Finally the paper concludes with a review of topics covered, a call for more research and an endorsement for the integration of social media tools and the triarchic theory of intelligence.<br />Successful Teaching and Learning with Social Media and Triarchic Theory<br />Educational theory has been at the center of instructional design. The Socratic Method is a time tested practice which takes the teacher and student on a search for the truth. Behaviorism and constructivism lead the modern era of theoretical practices in education. Behaviorism focuses on the learner adapting to stimulus within an environment. Outside resources have direct influence on the behaviorist method of learning. Boghossian (2006) states, “constructivist learning theory is about the process of learning and helping people discover their truths” (p 719). As the modern era of high speed technology continues to impact industry and education, new approaches to how individuals can learn effectively is being researched. The advent of social media has ushered in a new phase of collaborative information sharing. As more information is posted to the internet, the idea of “what is truth” is being challenged. Today’s students need the critical thinking skills to sift through the vast fields of information and decide what is true and not true. The triarchic theory of intelligence provides a structure for teaching and learning in today’s world of social media tools. <br />The triarchic theory of intelligence was formulated by Robert Sternberg in response to earlier theories of intelligence which were based on analytical data from tests and lacked any insight into an individual’s differences (Clarke 1986). Sternberg’s theory centers on three main components of human learning: analytical, creative, and practical. Sternberg states one function of his theory is to “specify the mental mechanisms that lead to more and less intelligence behavior” (Richardson & Turner 2000). Today in education, there is a trend towards student-centered learning focusing on these three thinking skills and how they can be applied to online social media tools.<br />The creative subtheory looks at how intelligence is related to experiences outside of the individual. Creative learning takes place as the learner takes current content and is encouraged to invent, discover, or imagine alternate uses or means for that content. Analysis subtheory connects the relationship of intelligence and the individual’s internal world. Analytical learning may more commonly be referred to in the education field as critical thinking. A student focused in analytical learning will be involved in comparing and contrasting pieces of information, critiquing work by another student, or evaluating their own work, looking for way to improve what has been done. Practical Application subtheory centers on how the learner’s intelligence works to adapt and shape information to fit the current situation. Geometry students learning through practical applications may be seen using the Pythagorean Theorem to create a square frame for a wall. Students playing basketball in gym class could use the scientific method to pick out the right ball by analyzing the firmness and texture of all the balls available on the ball rack.<br />Social media tools, also known as Web 2.0 tools, include any online tool which allows its user to collaborate, evaluate and share web-based resources (Berger 2010). Tools such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, and RSS feeds place the user in a more interactive role. Prior to Web 2.0, individuals played a passive role as readers of information. They were at the mercy of those with the skills for displaying information and had to settle for only the information others posted online. Now those same individuals can move from being consumers to producers of information (Berger). Social media tools provide every online user the chance to personalize the information they wish to see as well as respond, make comments, and even post their own views and opinions through a self made website. “Web 2.0 learning spaces act more as points of presence or user-defined Web spaces, than as traditional websites or discussion fora” (Hemmi, Bayne, & Land, 2009)<br />While much of the content uploaded to the internet may or may not be seen as reliable, it does open up the opportunity for teaching thinking and reasoning skills with an entirely new perspective. Google Docs can allow students to collaborate on projects without the need to constantly email a revised document back and forth. All the creating and editing can be done at one site from any computer with internet access. The computer serves as a primary source of communication for teenagers with about two-thirds using instant messaging (IM) and 54% know more screen names than phone numbers (Berger 2010). Today’s students are actively seeking out computer and technology use whenever possible. Schools, teachers and instructional designers can benefit from the natural enthusiasm created by this generation. <br />The use of triarchic teaching and learning has been validated through many studies providing empirical evidence of its benefits. The following section takes a look at two different case studies of the triarchic method being applied in a traditional school setting. The first case study applies the triarchic theory with third- and eighth-grade students studying social studies and science. The second case study examines eighth-grade students from across the United States studying psychology in an advanced summer course.<br />In Successful Intelligence in the Classroom, Sternberg and Grigorenko conduct a study of third and eighth grade students learning social studies and science. The study included 225 third-grade students from low-income Raleigh, North Carolina and 142 eighth grade students from middle to upper-middle class schools in Baltimore, Maryland and Fresno, California. Students were assigned an instructional condition: taught as if there were no intervention, taught with an emphasis on analytical thinking, and taught with an emphasis on analytical, practical, and creative thinking. All students were assessed for memory learning through a multiple-choice test, along with performance-based assessments for analytical, practical, and creative learning.<br />The results show the successful-intelligence group out-performed all of the other groups in both the performance and memory-based assessments. The successful-intelligence approach allows students to utilize their strengths, while learning to correct and develop their weaknesses (Sternberg). The study was extended to the reading curriculum at the middle and high school levels. Students were taught either triarchically, involving analytical, creative, and practical learning, or through the regular curriculum. Again, students taught in the triarchic model out performed students taught through the standard curriculum.<br />In Teaching Triarchically Improves School Achievement, Sternberg, Torff, and Grigorenko describe the study of 141 eighth grade students (68 boys and 73 girls) from around the nation. Highly trained teachers were brought in for this project which involved two 3-week sessions of introductory psychology. Students covered topics from neuroscience to psychological disorders. During instruction of the psychological disorder depression, students were put into three groups: traditional instruction, critical-thinking instruction, and triarchic instruction. The traditional group focused on memorizing tasks and discussions while the critical thinking group was required to use analytical-thinking skills facilitated through a variety of questions. Students in the triarchic-instruction group were provided the opportunity to use the information in a variety of ways. Some students could develop their own theories, contrast ideas with learned theories, and design therapeutic plans. <br /> Student achievement was assessed through a mid-term and a final examination, along with three extended essay assignments throughout the course. Each exam consisted of 21 multiple choice questions and three short-answer essay questions. Generally, the triarchic group out-performed both the traditional and critical-thinking groups. The authors of the study do point out that more testing of the triarchic method is worthwhile and a more random approach may reveal different results. However, it is noted that even if the advantage of triarchic theory is that it is simply “more exciting,” it is acceptable by the authors (Sternberg, Torff, & Grigorenko, 1998).<br />It is important to also look at the triarchic theory being applied to learning with social media. The advantages discussed early of collaborative learning, instant communication, and creative publishing look to be a perfect fit in the triarchic learning model. Many online resources are free of charge, opening up endless possibilities for teachers looking to enhance their students’ educational opportunities. The following studies provide insight to teaching with social media and the connections made to the triarchic theory of learning.<br />Richard Bryne’s The Effect of Web 2.0 on Teaching and Learning provides a case study in the use of social media tools within a traditional classroom setting. Through the use of a pilot program Bryne was able to provide laptop computers for each freshman in his social studies course. While studying a unit on policy-making and the United States Congress, students were given access to the Center on Congress at Indiana State University and their interactive website (Bryne). One such activity involved taking on the persona of congressman or congresswoman. The students would experience talking to constituents, meeting with special interests groups, and attending voting sessions in Congress. Rather than study a flow chart congressional activities from a text book, the students took a creative and practical approach to learning the methods and processes of creating policy in the United States Congress. <br />Bryne provides a second example with his United States History class for special education students. Many of these students only have the reading level of a third- or fourth-grade student. Creating differentiated and engaging lessons was a noted challenge, but access to an adjacent computer lab provided the opportunity use the internet as a means to actively engage his students in United States history. Using a video creation online program, Animoto, the students were able to create professional looking presentations as part of a summative portfolio project (Bryne 2009). As mentioned in the Sternberg studies, student enthusiasm was a key in the successful use of social media in this special education classroom.<br />The second study looks at how and why undergraduate students at the UK Open University use web service during the course of completing class work (Kirkwood 2008). Students, five male and five female, participated in selected courses from health and social care faculty, and science faculty. The integration of internet resources ranged from high – requiring use of web resources to complete activities and assignments, to very low – links are provided, but their use optional and no activities or assignments required using internet resources. Phone interviews provided insight into how and why each of the students used the internet. Some participants cited being able to use the internet to keep contact with friends and family, shop for products, and gather information from work via email. Other participants mentioned not using instant messaging or participating in online discussion groups. This group listed incentives such as pre-existing familiarity and activities making use of external web resources. Incentives also included the ability to use search engines like Google to find supplemental information to clarify a point made in the course required text. Disincentives included software problems and avoidance of non-essential course material. <br />Most participants cited assessment as their guided to what and how they studied course material. Topics that were to be specifically assessed during the module were more likely to get study time and attention (Kirkwood 2008). Work and family life also contributed to students’ decisions in how much time to allocate to assignments. This study shows how adult learners in higher education choose to use their time and resource when it comes to required and non-required course work. Many factors outside of the learning environment such as family, work, and social commitments drive the decisions adults make in how they approach education. Unlike traditional college students, the non-traditional adult learner has more to balance, therefore selects just what is needed to survive and advance in his or her studies. Instructors can note to provide a learning environment which makes appropriate use of student time, along with considering the alternatives in informational resources available via the internet.<br /> Triarchic teaching and learning faces many challenges. Information is just a click of a mouse away. Students have access to a plethora of facts and figures on nearly any and every subject known to man. The problem arises when students need to navigate the maze of data located on the internet and make sense of what they do find. It is not correct to assume all students growing up in this “digital age” know exactly how to use the internet, let alone all of the social media tools provided. This is where a new era of education comes into play. The triarchic theory of intelligences gives educators a framework for which to produce and develop effective and efficient instruction. Fogarty and McTighe’s article, Educating Teachers for Higher Order Thinking: The Three-Story Intellect discusses methods teachers can use to foster a climate of higher level thinking within their classrooms. The idea of content leading to critical thinking needs to be replaced with a new view of critical thinking as a content area all by itself. <br />The goal of teachers and instructional designer should be to take students from a skills acquisition level of thinking, through the meaning making level and finally to level of transfer and application. In their article, Fogarty & McTighe (1993) recommend teachers establish a climate encouraging thoughtfulness, develop a framework for thinking, apply a thinking skills process, utilize cooperative learning strategies, and encourage continuous reflections (p. 167). Hatcher (2008) points out that “lecture mode has the major limitations of not fostering critical thinking, not developing communication and not developing team skills” (p 10). So by adopting these strategies teachers make the transition from the traditional stereotype of “sage on the stage” to the modern model of “guide on the side.” <br />However another major hurdle to be cleared for teacher education involves the use and fluency of social media within classroom instruction. Many of today’s teachers could be labeled as digital immigrants, not knowing or being familiar with the new generation of digital technology. Pre-service teachers using digital media embedded into content will be a valuable commodity as schools and communities look to provide 21st century level education for their children. In Learning to design and implement educational websites within pre-service training: project-based learning and its impact on student teachers, Papastergiou looks at student teachers creating educational websites for primary schools. This project-based learning environment helps introduce future teachers to how the internet works along with the insight on how it can be used to engage and enhance student learning. Prior to beginning the web development course, each of the 46 students attended a semester-long computer literacy course. The content of the web development course consisted of three weeks of lecture, eight weeks of laboratory workshops, and 13 weeks of collaborative projects. The students were taken through a five stage planning process which lasted the entire duration of the course. <br />Pre- and post-tests were given to assess students’ view of difficulty and interest level. Pre-test assessment showed 54.3% of students believe web creating to be difficult, but the percentage dropped to 21.7% in post-test assessment. Interest in web creation in pretest assessment came in at 63%, but climbed to 87% during the post-test assessment (Papastergiou 2005). Results from student assessment showed that within a project-based environment students were able to increase interests and confidence in designing and creating websites. Papastergiou (2005) stated, “Furthermore, they acquired web design and development skills, developed a substantial understanding of the potential and the multi-dimensional role of the Web in the educational process…” (pg. 276-277). Throughout their learning process the student teachers encountered a triarchic approach to learning web design. That experience will serve them well as they develop instruction for students in each of their classes. <br />Teachers face many options when exploring educational theory. Today’s age of social media and instant access to information sets the stage for a change in educational methodology. Traditional learning theories such as behaviorism and constructivism provide a starting point to introduce learning. However as students evolve in their learning they need to be able to distinguish between quality information and random nonsense posted on the internet. The triarchic theory of intelligence provides a framework for teachers to develop critical thinking skills, analyze information, and apply information to different situations. Though there is empirical evidence illustrating the benefits of the triarchic learning theory more research is necessary. As more educators embrace the use of social media in their classrooms, it is important to study the methods being employed along with the results being produced. Instructional designer who appropriately incorporate social media tools with the triarchic theory of intelligence provide a model for student success in the 21st century.<br />References:<br />Berger, P. (2010). Student Inquiry and Web 2.0. School Library Monthly, 26(5), 14-17.<br />Boghossian, P. (2006). Behaviorism, Constructivism, and Socratic Pedagogy. Educational Philosophy & Theory, 38(6), 713-722. doi:10.1111/j.1469-5812.2006.00226.x.<br />Byrne, Richard. 2009. The Effect of Web 2.0 on Teaching and Learning. Teacher Librarian 37, no. 2: 50-53.<br />Clarke, A. (1986). Beyond IQ: a Triarchic Theory of Human Intelligence (Book). British Journal of Educational Studies, 34(2), 205-207.<br />Fogarty, R., & McTighe, J. (1993). Educating Teachers for Higher Order Thinking: The Three-Story Intellect. Theory into Practice, 32(3), 161-69. <br />Hatcher, M. (2008). The Impact of Cooperative Learning and Structure Educational Processes in Web Based and Web Supported Course. International Journal of Learning, 15(1), 9-15.<br />Hemmi, A., Bayne, S., & Land, R. (2009). The appropriation and repurposing of social technologies in higher education. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 25(1), 19-30. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2008.00306.x.<br />Kirkwood, A. (2008). Getting It from the Web: Why and How Online Resources Are Used by Independent Undergraduate Learners. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 24(5), 372-382. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2007.00265.x.<br />Papastergiou, M. (2005). Learning to Design and Implement Educational Web Sites within Pre-Service Training: A Project-Based Learning Environment and Its Impact on Student Teachers. Learning, Media & Technology, 30(3), 263-279. doi:10.1080/17439880500250451.<br />Richardson, J., & Turner, T. (2000). Field Dependence Revisited I: intelligence. Educational Psychology, 20(3), 255-270. doi:10.1080/014434100750017986.<br />Sternberg, R., & Grigorenko, E. (2004). Successful Intelligence in the Classroom. Theory Into Practice, 43(4), 274-280. <br />Sternberg, R., Torff, B., & Grigorenko, E. (1998). Teaching Triarchically Improves School Achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(3), 374-84. <br />